Re-writing the Nigerian Story through Youth Development
By Philip Amiola
Recently, I met a bright American chap who is not favourably disposed to watching CNN because as far as he’s concerned, CNN is an acronym for Constant Negative News. I didn’t find it difficult to understand his viewpoint as I have often thought along those lines myself. Really, I believe my friend has only helped to intelligently articulate the thoughts of hundreds of millions of people who are becoming overwhelmed with the volume of negative events that have come to characterise our everyday life. However, one thing that my friend doesn’t know is that in Nigeria, you don’t have to tune in to CNN to be assailed with a barrage of constant negative news.
Ranging from ASUU strike to Boko Haram insurgence, intractable corruption, lawlessness, police brutality and everything in between, we swim in a tide of negativity every day. Unconsciously, we have grown numb to the plight of people who happen to be the direct victims of these problems. Apart from occasional sighs and lamentations, most of us feel helpless against the hordes of hell that seem to have been unleashed against us. But can I encourage us to think differently? As bad as the situation is, every cloud has a silver lining. Change is possible, and it is imminent.
All over the nation, there are pockets of people warming up to the task of national transformation; and because of this, there is hope. There are change agents investing their time, resources and entire personalities towards cultivating a new generation of young men and women who will change the Nigerian story. Most of them are relatively unknown but their impact is undeniable. And it’s only a matter of time; the synergistic effect of their collective efforts will reverberate across the nation.
During the last Independence Anniversary celebrations, I was greatly inspired by a group of young people who set out to kick-start a process of leadership development and value reorientation among secondary school students whilst uniting them as agents of positive change in their various communities. Branded as Alliance for Youth Development (AYD), the group seeks to create positive change by implementing projects that transform young people’s mindset on leadership whilst equipping them with life building skills; thereby creating a new generation of visionary, ethical, creative and disciplined leaders who share the same vision and readiness to change their communities and the larger society simply by working together.
Amidst the jamborees that usually characterise the first day of October in Nigeria, AYD mobilised students from secondary schools in the city of Ibadan, Oyo state, in an event tagged Ibadan Youth Development Day to take a critical look at the problem of corruption and identify practical ways to arrest the trend before it has time to blossom amidst the younger generation. Gathered at Ibadan Grammar School, participants marvelled at the quality of thoughts and articulation of ideas by the Government secondary school students who pledged their allegiance and reaffirmed their commitment to the evolution of a new Nigeria.
Led by Oluwatoyosi Feyisitan, a seasoned accountant and passionate change agent, AYD believes that it is better to train a child than repair an adult. Consequently, the initiative seeks to support youths through a process of intentional growth, self discovery and personal development whilst assisting them to understand their roles in societal development. As part of its commitment to ensuring the achievement of these goals, AYD presented every participating student with books and educational materials while the most outstanding student, Olayinka Adu from St. Theresa’s College, went home with a tablet.
Particularly encouraging is the selflessness and sacrificial commitment with which representatives of other youth-led bodies including Save Our Youths Initiative (SOYI), Youth Rescue Club and New Breed Youth Project collaborated with AYD towards achieving the common objective of national transformation through youth development. I strongly believe that as we have more people who are willing to sow seeds of faith, love and commitment in the younger generation, we will raise a critical mass of Nigerians that will take personal responsibility for precipitating the much needed transformation; thereby re-writing the Nigerian story.