COVID-19 Ushers in a Rethinking Phase for Nigerian Youths

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Isaac Balami

Isaac Balami an aviator and former President, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers argues that participation from her vibrant youths is one of the surest ways to reengineer the recovery of the Nigerian economy after the Coronavirus pandemic

As we sit home under the COVID-19 lockdown in our various cities across the country (and even in diaspora where we also find ourselves as Nigerian youths), this time should indeed be a precious moment set aside for critical introspection, a time which we may use to do “a rethink”. A rethink on where we have been, a rethink on where we are currently and a rethink as to where we should be going to, where we envisage being in decisive matters of Nigeria’s sustainable developmental ambitions and future as well as global partnerships.

As is verifiable and cannot be denied, youths are the ones who run the show in various key sectors of both the private and public sectors of many countries (especially developed countries) venturing at supersonic speed in critical areas such as entrepreneurship and business, aerospace, robotics, medicine, public service as well as in politics. This norm (mostly the case in developed countries) is different when considering our context in Nigeria where our youth is said to have become inactive. This “inactive” realism seems to be surprising especially when considering what our fathers and mothers did in the past, when for instance the founding fathers of our nation’s independence made that possible in their youth.

Across other parts of the world Nigerian youths are making huge inroads and contributing to the success stories of many societies. But what about the Nigerian society where they all emanate from? What is the situation? What is their impact here and where do we go from here? Regrettably, the success stories of the Nigerian youth as mostly evident in diaspora seems totally different from what we have here in Nigeria. The impact of the Nigerian youth is not positively felt in Nigeria as it ought to be and something drastic must be done about it.

Here, I must also point out that there needs to be some form of mentorship from our experienced leaders. There is an old saying by the Igbo people of Nigeria that “what an elder sees while seated, younger folks will be unable to see it even when they climb a tree”. This saying exemplifies the virtue of seeking mentorship from elders and this as a virtue can never go out of fashion. There is no doubt how so vital it is for the African youth to tap from the wealth of experiences of our good leaders. They have done us proud and we ought to learn something from them and build the African continent to our desired height.

I will also like to prick the conscience of African leaders, especially our leaders in Nigeria, that they should engage the youth more on policy formulation especially the ones which tend to project the future. Concerted efforts should be made to groom aspiring Nigerian youths for leadership positions and entrust such persons with considerable responsibilities.

Looking at the COVID-19 surprise, it is not selective in its attack. It is no respecter of race, faith, persons and status. More disheartening are the startling predictions that Africa will be hit the most by this disease and by benefit of our population, Nigeria could be mostly affected. The scourge has come to wage war against humanity, and to win this war, Africa (especially Nigeria) and her youths have to come together as one to give it the blow it deserves. The Nigerian youth have to take lead in this fight! And we can do it! Yes, we can! The good news is that Nigeria can only win the war against COVID-19 through the ingenuity and resolve of its youth. It is a known fact that human resources are desperately needed at a time like this and the youth need to get ready. For Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth, a country with an estimated population of over 200 million people, having over 70% of its population below 35 years is a huge benefit.

I can comfortably say that Nigeria is one of the countries in Africa with the greatest youth projection, a growing youth population which by this, one can easily conclude that the future of Africa lies in the hands of the Nigerian youth. This is a clarion call on every Nigerian youth reading this to help wrestle COVID-19 off and not give up the hope of the greater things that lie ahead of us as a people and a nation.

I also believe there is a “mindset defeat” that reigns in the minds of the Nigerian youth who live here in Nigeria and which needs to be eradicated. The mind of the Nigerian youth needs to be reawakened or “rebirthed” if you may. The mind of the Nigerian youth has to be rebirthed anew to enable her operate in the new direction the world wants her to operate in, in a manner which would see her catch-up with what her peers are doing as Nigerian youth in various sectors in other countries of the world.

Indeed, one may say that there are better opportunities abroad but the truth is that there are many needs here which require solutions and our talents can be used to proffer such solutions for such needs. In entrepreneurship for instance, when you provide a solution to a need, it translates into a service which is payable or dividend-earning. So as you identify a need and proffer solutions, you get paid and get relevant! Government also has a role to play in supporting whatever the Nigerian youth will do in this reawakening plan.

Our economy can never bounce back
after the Coronavirus pandemic without a vibrant and participatory youth in the development of our nation. It is the vibrant youth that would reengineer the bouncing back of the Nigerian economy after the Coronavirus pandemic and help fulfill government’s policy. Whichever way one chooses to look at them, the Nigerian youth are strategic enablers of sustainable development which our country can never do without in critical times like these.

I should hope that by the time the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Nigeria, through the wisdom of her youth (against global predictions), will have no significant loss and consequently be found worthy of emulation. So let us use this season of sit-at-home and lockdown to reflect on who we are as the Nigerian youth and what we want to do, and launch with all vigor and vibrancy, armed with stronger ambitions whenever the lockdown is lifted and make our mark.