Empower idle youth else they turn into a tinderbox harmful to society

Friday August 12 2022

When a society abandons its youth, they become its menace and destructive seed. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


A powerful statement, whose author is not verifiable, has made the rounds on social media over the years:

“Black people cannot rule themselves because they don’t have the brain and mental capacity to govern a society … Give them guns, they would kill themselves; Give them power, they will steal all the government money; give them independence and democracy; they will use it to promote tribalism, ethnicity, bigotry, hatred, killings, and wars!”

Since February 2022, the academic staff union of universities in Nigeria has been on strike. This is the second strike in two years. In 2020, they embarked on a strike that lasted nine months. The effect on learning has been devastating. Yet, the political class is busy flaunting its wealth. Indeed, recently presidential hopefuls in the ruling party each paid millions just to acquire the party presidential nomination form.

One allegedly gave $50,000 tokens to each of the 2,000 party delegates. With over 2,000 delegates, you do the math.

Was the author of the quote wrong? The BBC, recently released a brilliant piece of investigative journalism, by venturing deep into the forests to interview the people behind the kidnappings across Nigeria. The leader is the most wanted man in Nigeria.

But recently some school girls that had been kidnapped were released.


While the government insisted it did not pay ransom for their release, the bandit alleged millions in payoff and bragged that his militia was buying more guns. Again, was the author wrong?

Whenever elections approach, governments spend a tidy sum buying ammunition and weapons. Is the quote apt?

The root cause of all this is hunger. It has been said that food security constitutes national security. Hungry people become vulnerable. When young, energetic, hungry people are not placed at the top of the priority list, they become vulnerable and become cheap labour to fund the agendas of the power elite — the same people who would not pay attention to the needs of the youth.

Destructive seed

Certainly, none of the terrorists that have taken over Nigeria had terrorism as their childhood dream career. They all started out their lives with lofty dreams of some day becoming responsible citizens, landing good jobs, raising families and building society.

When a society abandons its youth, they become its menace and destructive seed. It is evil when a politician holds a rally on a weekday morning and attracts thousands of mainly young people.

The only reason they are there is that they have no work. It is doubly sad that the politicians are elated to see such masses without it once occurring to them that the only reason these young people are available is because they are jobless. When youth are constantly available, society will pay the price.

We started Street University with a focus on supporting youth entrepreneurship through three pillars — training, funding and launching and made an immediate impact as it proved an inexpensive way to lift youths out of poverty.

The key to nation-building is in building the young people. The future is as bright as the empowerment of the youth. As long as leaders see the youth as weapons they can deploy for violence when needed, there is a problem and the future looks bleak.

Wale Akinyemi is the Chief Transformation Officer, PowerTalks. Email: [email protected]