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{OBSERVATION} Reorientation Of Nigerian Youth: The Government Role

{OBSERVATION} Reorientation Of Nigerian Youth: The Government Role
  • PublishedAugust 21, 2020

By Yaya Ademola

When I was growing up in the South-West Nigeria in the late 70s, morality, integrity, honour, hardwork and visible means of livelihood, amongst others, were held in high esteem. As a child, you either went to school or embraced apprenticeship.  Virtue was upheld over and above material things. This was reflected in the entertainment industry, arts, parenting, dressing, orientation, etc. Three to four decades down the line, the drastic degeneration and summersault of virtue and the choice of new values and national acquiescence to claptrap is gargantuan!

Big Brother 9ja, a TV Reality Show organised by Multi-Choice, readily comes to mind. Grown-up men and women are locked up for three months with attendant licentious conducts with little or no redeeming engagement. In the 2019 edition, Mercy Eke, the winner, walked away with N30 million and other mouth-watering gifts. In the ongoing  2020 edition, the winner will go away with a whooping N85 million – N30 million cash prize; a 2-bedroom apartment; a top of the Range SUV from Innoson Motors; a trip to Dublin, courtesy of Guinness; home appliances; trip to Dubai; trip to watch UEFA Champions League final; among others. The organisers, the ultimate winner indeed, walk away with billions of naira, made from unthinking Nigerians through sponsorship, promotions and their voting exercises!

Instead of the National Broadcasting Commission to wield the big stick for breaking of its codes on unwholesome and obscene contents and vulgar lyrics, it has remained a lame duck!

Rape is another of the repugnant decadence. UNICEF 2015 report on Nigeria states that one in every four girls has experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. Their first sexual encounter had been rape or forced sex. According to the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, between January and May 2020, 717 rape cases were recorded, while some of the victims have been killed!

Considering that rape, fraud, drug abuse, human trafficking and prostitution, sense of entitlement, huge unemployment and violent crimes have risen to epidemic proportion today, what manner of mass media programmes should a responsible government permit or promote? The freedom of choice, based on adult rating and parental control option, is a blatant shamefaced escape. If good conduct and righteous choices were that easy to make, and crime and evil that easy to ignore and refuse, why does society have so many sensors and punitive laws in place, and yet daily battles against so many crimes nevertheless?

Governments of serious and forward-looking countries put in place strict policies, are aware especially of the power of mass media, to guide their population, especially the youths, towards meeting great goals and overcoming challenges of modernity and development in a highly competitive world in which Africa, especially Nigeria, is nowhere to be found!

All hope, after all, seems not lost. In this year’s 2020 Young Scientists Competition organised by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology from 774 local government areas to state and Federal levels, a 17-year-old Akintade Akanbi, student of Osogbo Government High School, Osogbo emerged as the overall best. The young boy was granted presidential handshake and a full scholarship up to the Ph.D. level with the two runners-up. Akintade’s father is a poor retired teacher while the mum is also a teacher, still in active service.

Again, in 2019, a 15-year-old, Ekene Franklin Ezeunala, scored the highest mark, 347 of 400, in the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board’s (JAMB’s) Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). However, his first choice University of Lagos would not admit him because he was less than 16 years of age. Academic City College, a Private University in Accra, Ghana, admitted Ekene because it has a system in place to monitor a student of his age. He was offered a scholarship worth $40,000.

There are many other talented young men and women in all areas of life – music, arts, fashion & designing, sports, etc.

In commemorating this year 2020 International Youth Day, members of the ruling elite, especially Governors, have outpoured their usual sweet speeches from their speech writers, “we are poised to fortify the youths for productive engagement”; “we will build a better future for the youth”; “youth should take over from older generation,” etc – all lip-service!

A serious government would have, in addition to the exhibited hand shake by the executive and scholarship for the best student, encouraged the child’s parents who are very poor and living in a rented room-and-parlour apartment. Handing such parents a befitting bungalow apartment and other material rewards as benefits will have a very vibrating effect on other children, their parents and the society at large.

European countries where the Big Brother show originated have since jettisoned it, replacing it with various talent-hunting, educative and positively orientating shows, while we continue to cling to a show of debauchery, at the expense of deflated, sensible shows like Gulder Ultimate Search, etc. We cannot continue in this fashion.

This is why the call by The Arole Oduduwa and Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Eniitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, on this year’s International Youth Day (12 August, 2020) becomes important.

Ooni condemned the Big Brother 9ja, describing it as a misrepresentation of the goodness and enterprise of the Nigerian youth and urged the government to ban it and get it replaced with a restructured show that will exhibit young professionals, talented individuals in all facets of life. If these elements are showcased and bountifully compensated and assisted to reach their peak, they will be seen as role models. With this in place, reorientation processes of the Nigerian youth and renaissance for a new age of development would have begun.

Yaya, a researcher wrote from Osogbo, State of Osun. He can be reached via 08037127929 and [email protected].

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