It is imperative and essential to attempt to define or at least explain who a youth is. The dictionary says it is the period between childhood and adult age. A UNESCO report explains it this way, “’Youth’ is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of our interdependence as members of a community. Youth is a more fluid category than a fixed age-group.
However, age is the easiest way to define this group, particularly in relation to education and employment. Therefore “youth” is often indicated as a person between the age where he/she may leave compulsory education, and the age at which he/she finds his/her first employment. This latter age limit has been increasing, as higher levels of unemployment and the cost of setting up an independent household puts many young people into a prolonged period of dependency.
When carrying out its Youth Strategy, UNESCO uses different definitions of youth depending on the context. For activities at international or at regional level, such as the African Youth Forum, UNESCO uses the United Nations’ universal definition.
The UN, for statistical consistency across regions, defines ‘youth’, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years without prejudice to other definitions by Member States. All UN statistics on youth are based on this definition, as illustrated by the annual yearbooks of statistics published by the United Nations system on demography, education, employment and health.
For activities at the national level, for example when implementing a local community youth programme, “youth” may be understood in a more flexible manner. UNESCO will then adopt the definition of “youth” as used by a particular Member State. It can be based for instance on the definition given in the African Youth Charter where “youth” means “every person between the ages of 15 and 35 years”.
But in Nigeria, the definition is more fluid and with no official boundary, with many taking a Nigerian youth to be within the working class of ages 15 – 64, with many disagreeing with the latter end of that population distribution.
But whatever definition and age distribution we may choose to adopt in the Nigerian context, here is a disturbing statistics someone shared with me recently about some Nigerian youth (past and present);
Below is something I would like us to consider as part of the drive to have youths at the helm of affairs.
- Bukola Saraki is only 55. He has been Governor for 8 years and Senator for 7 years. Which means he was a Governor at around 40.
- Babatunde Raji Fashola was Governor at 44.
- Donald Duke was around 40 when he was Governor.
- Rotimi Ameachi is 53. He was a two term Governor, a senator and now a Minister. So he probably was a Senator in his 30’s when he started his political career.
- Dino Melaye is 44. He was a Rep for 4 years and now Senator
- Kayode Fayemi is 53, he was Governor for 4 years before being a Minister
- Goodluck Jonathan is 60, he was a Governor, Vice President and President, which means he was a Governor in his 40s.
- Nyesom Wike is just 50, he has been a Minister and a Governor before 50.
- Dogara is just 50. He has been in the National Assembly for over 10 years.
- Femi Gbajabiamila is 56, he has been in National Assembly for more than 12 years
- Abdulmumin Jibrin that was suspended from House of Reps recently is only 41
- Aminu Tanbuwal Governor of Sokoto is 52, was in National Assembly for 12 years before becoming Governor of Sokoto.
- Today many more in the House of Rep are in their early 40s and early 50s. So are many more commissioners around the country and State Houses of Assemblies.
The big questions are these;
- What have ALL these (except a few) youth in their time and now done for the Nigerian society and their communities?
- Is youth a function of chronology or something more psychological?
- As a youth, can you really be trusted to act differently than those who have gone ahead of us?
Pause and ponder!
In order to have a genuine discussion on this matter we should also be talking about what have the youths done with or are doing with their highly placed responsibilities and leadership roles across the country?
Another big question; “Are the youth now willing and ready to be different from what had obtained in the past?”
God bless Nigeria.
God bless us, too.
Join our movement (#MYNEWNGR movement) through the following media;
Invite your friends and share widely with others, especially the youth, and together we shall build and create our own future.