POSITIONING THE YOUTH FOR A PROPEROUS ECONOMIC FUTURE – BEING THE TEXT OF A LECTURE DELIVERED BY RT. HON HAKEEM JAMIU AS PART OF A WEEK LONG ACTIVITIES MARKING IGEDE DAY 2019 CELEBRATION ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2019.

By Roundoffnews

Protocols!


Let me thank the organisers of this event for finding me worthy of speaking at this occasion and most especially on the topic, ‘Positioning the Youth for Prosperous Economic Future’ which has placed on me the task and burden of charting the right course for our teeming youths. I equally wish to congratulate the organisers for choosing such a life lifting and path finding topic towards guiding Igede nay, Ekiti youths aright. It means there is still hope for our generation and those coming after us. It is my pleasure to be here and do justice to this topic to the best of my ability.


I must equally confess that any topic concerning guiding our youths aright is always my delight because the current disorientation among our youth with the concomitant syndrome of get rich quick is a cause for concern. We will be deceiving ourselves to pretend that all is well with the current army of restive youths who after acquiring digital knowledge-Information and Communications Technology (ICT), applied this to negative activities like yahoo, yahoo (Internet Fraud) with the soul aim of getting rich quick. I will go back to this later in the lecture.


Who is a Youth?
If we are discussing the economic positioning of our youths for the future, it is necessary to know who a youth is. The Chambers Concise dictionary defines the word youth as, the state, quality or fact of being young; the early part of life, often specifically that between childhood and adulthood; the enthusiasm, rashness, etc associated with people in this period of life; a boy or young man ; young people in general. ( Chambers Consice Dictionary, 2009).

The United Nations for statistical purposes defines youth as the group of people between the ages of 15 and 24 years without prejudice to other definitions by member states. This definition which arose in the context of its preparation for the International Youth Year (1985) was adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 36/28 of 1981. All Un statistics are based on this definition as is reflected in the annual yearbooks of statistics published by the UN system on demography, education, employment and health (https://www.un.org, 2017)


This means that the definition of who a youth is vary from one country to another. This is why in some countries, a youth may mean those between ages 18 and 35 while in other countries, a youth is defined as somebody within the age bracket of 15 and 64. This explains why a certain political party in Nigeria elected a 60 year old man as its youth leader. This notwithstanding, many states have adopted the age of 18 as ‘the age of majority’ which is assumed to be the age of maturity.


Wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia, 2019) defined a youth as the time of life when one is young and often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity). It is also defined as “the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one who is young”. Its definitions of a specific age range varies, as youth is not defined chronologically as a stage that can be tied to specific age ranges; nor can its end point be linked to specific activities, such as taking unpaid work or having sexual relations.


The definition of youth in Nigeria includes citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria aged 18-29 years. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with one of the largest populations of youth in the world comprising 33,652,424 members. The Nigerian Government characterizes youth as ambitious, enthusiastic, energetic and promising. They are considered vulnerable in society because of the rapid change they experience at this time in their lives (htpps://en.m.wikipedia.org, 2019). This description of youths by the federal government is very encouraging and interesting. However, it is doubtful if this aptly describes Nigerian youths including our own Ekiti youths. I will get back to this later.

What is a Prosperous Economic Future?
A prosperous economic future simply means preparing youths on how to be economically independent and viable in a competitive world in the face of general economic meltdown being experienced in Nigeria and in the world generally. Therefore, positioning or preparing the youth for a prosperous economic future means a secured future which is a product of a legitimate and productive venture of youths in a country that ensures individual prosperity on the one hand and prosperity for the nation or state on the other. The simple interpretation of this is that with a prosperous economic future, live will be good for all.
For the purpose of this paper and for our own peculiarity in Nigeria and Ekiti State, I have decided to categorize our youths into two groups so that we can be clear about the suggestions I will offer and those it will be beneficial to. The first group are those youths as defined by the United Nations in the age bracket of 15 to 24 who in Ekiti State are just leaving secondary school, have proceeded to higher institutions while many in this group have graduated and joined the unemployment market. The second group will be the youths between the ages of 18 and 35 majority of who are unemployed, unemployable, frustrated and hopeless.


As Olenik (2017) rightly observed, “like an infant who sees rapid physical changes in the short amount of time to toddlerhood, adolescents experience the same kind of rapid change in their social and emotional development on their way to adulthood. Traditional thinking on adolescence characterizes this as a time when youth display negative risk-taking behaviors. A Positive Youth Development (PYD) approach, long used in the United States and other industrialised countries takes a different view. It treats adolescence as an opportunity to harness the great energy and emotional growth that takes place during this developmental stage. PYD supports young people in building a foundation of skills needed to develop a positive self-concept, healthy relationships, and the motivation to engage in a meaningful way in their communities.


In 2007, the World Bank published a report that suggested investments in youth development translated into benefits for society by increasing young people’s connections to their communities and helping them to make successful transitions to adulthood. Since then, there has been increased attention on the needs of youth and the usefulness of the PYD approach (op.cit)

The concept of Positive Youth Development is based on the belief that, “given guidance and support from caring adults, all youth can grow up healthy and happy, making positive contributions to their families, schools, and communities (US Department of Health and Human Services).” Programs that use the PYD approach intentionally focus on “developing cognitive, social, emotional, behavioral and moral bonding competencies; self-efficacy; pro-social behavior; a belief in the future; a clear and positive identity; and self-determination.”
According to the University of Chicago, it is in adolescence where we must be sure to set the stage for success in adulthood. In particular, they suggest that we need to ensure a young person can “fulfill individual goals and have the agency and competencies to influence the world around them.” This includes helping them to be aware of the possibilities in life, to find the motivation to pursue those opportunities, and to develop the positive decision-making skills to make wise choices. This exposure is fundamental to young people having the ability to set and achieve education and career-related goals (op.cit)

From the above, it is clear that that we have a lot of jobs on our hands and perhaps if we had paid attention to our youths by mentoring them and bringing out the best in them in their adolescence stage in accordance with the principles of Positive Youth Development, we would not today have yahoo yahoo youths, yahoo plus youths and youths who engage in other fraudulent practices all in a bid to make quick money.
In order to appreciate the enormity of our present situation with our youths especially their moral bankruptcy, lack of empathy, adherence to the ruthless Machiavellian dictum of the end justifies the means which accounted for the mad craze for instant riches and the total loss of the omoluabi ethos without which prosperous future will be near impossible, we must go a little bit back to history and ask questions about how we got to where we are.

Where are we coming From ?
When somebody is referred to as Omoluabi in Yorubaland, he is an epitome of a ‘thorough bred’ such that he or she is regarded as worthy of being entrusted with positions of responsibility. Such a person, if he is a man, parents would want their daughter to marry him and if she is a lady ripe for marriage, parents would want their son to have her as a wife. On the other hand, when an expression is made in Yorubaland saying that ‘Ko si omoluabi kankan lara e’ (he possesses no single attribute of a thorough bred) such a person has lost all. Nobody would want to associate with such a person except his likes. The concept of Omoluabi encompasses all the good attributes an individual must possess before he could be regarded as a good person and the lack of these qualities mean that the person will be described as a bad person.
The attributes include honesty, decency, hard work, contentment with what is
yours, integrity and selflessness. These attributes are the core values very
much cherished in Yorubaland. On the political scene, the core values as exemplified by the concept of Omoluabi was elevated to state policy in the Western region in the first republic especially under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the Premier of the Western Region. Because Awolowo himself was an ‘Omoluabi,’ he succeeded in garnering the followership of many ‘Omoluabis’ and this impacted positively on the people of the western Region as they enjoyed good government at that time. (Jamiu, 2007).

Chief Awolowo had such able lieutenants as Chief Lateef Jakande, Late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Lanlehin, Late Chief Sabiru Biobaku, Chief Ayo Rosiji, Late Chief Bola Ige and late Alfred Rewane. From Ekiti State were late Professor Sam Aluko, Chief Ehinafe Babatola and Chief Akin Omoboriowo among others. The development that was witnessed in Yorubaland including Ekiti state was unprecedented. The region became the envy of other regions. It was in Ibadan, then capital of Western Region, that the first television station in Africa was established even when some European countries like France were yet to have television. Cocoa house was the first building of its kind in Nigeria at that time and Cocoa farmers majority of who were Ekitis benefitted immensely from the incentives of the Awolowo led government. It was the period when free and qualitative education was introduced which was responsible for the high rate of literacy in the Southwest today. There was an effective and functional healthcare delivery system that made the level of sanitation very high. There were farm settlements in urban centres and remotest villages which provided jobs for our teeming youths at that time. In those days, the core values of the Yorubas were intact and imbibed. Good upbringing at the home front and respect for elders were the cherished values of the Yorubas. Decorum, modesty and decency were in abundance in our women of those days. Those were the days when you dare not go home with a car that was not commensurate with your income. Your parents will be the one to shout “thief’ on you! (Jamiu, 2017) But sadly today, we have the association of Yahoo boys’ mothers encouraging their children to commit internet fraud and they even organize prayer sessions and spiritual fortification for them.

Where did we go wrong?
The first onslaught on this cherished value of Omoluabi in Yoruba politics
came from Chief S.L Akintola when he came with his idea of ‘mainstream
politics’ which was more of personal aggrandisement and inordinate ambition
than the collective interest of the Yoruba as claimed by him at that time.
Needless to add that the idea of mainstream politics has remained a fallacy
till today. It marked the beginning of departure of Omoluabi from politics.
It was then we began to hear such slogans as ‘bamubamu la yo awa o mo
pee bi n pa omo eni kan’ (We are well fed with our tummy threatening to burst and we don’t care if others are hungry).This is an evidence of wickedness and selfishness. It marked the beginning of the culture of impunity and power -at -all -cost. During one of his campaign tours in the then Western region, Chief Akintola was quoted to have said ‘Whether you vote for me or not I will win and I will deal with you thereafter’. (Jamiu, 2017)

The Oil boom was also a major problem. It was supposed to be a blessing but it became a curse such that we neglected agriculture leading to rural –urban –migration with farming relegated to the background as everybody wanted to live in the city. Everything became dependent on Petroleum while our exports of cash crops such as palm oil, peanuts (groundnuts), and cotton became insignificant and eventually neglected. Nigeria became a rentier state with attendant high crime rate and social insecurity.

Instead of creating enabling environment for business to thrive and for our youths to be gainfully engaged, the government embarked on business ventures and sadly almost all of these ventures liquidated and were privatised in most ridiculous manner when it became obvious that government could no longer run the businesses. NICON Insurance, NITEL, Nigeria Airways, Nigeria National Shipping Line etc were examples of businesses that went under.

The military is another problem. First to suffer among the values is respect. The military took away respect. Next is the era of mega stealing. Large sums of money more than that of the budget of a region were stolen by the military. It was the military that halted the rate of socio economic growth of the South West by tampering with the federal principle and instead, introduced Unitarianism and the rest is history today. The attitude of the military sent a wrong signal to our youths such that they don’t want to work again before getting rich. Babangida institutionalized corruption and elevated it to the level of state policy; advance fee fraud called 419 became the order of the day. Women no longer fall in love with genuine men who earn meager but decent living but they will rather go for criminals with mega bucks to spend while parents looked the other way.

When civil rule was restored once again in 1999, there were great expectations that the core values of the South West shall be restored and development shall be
attracted more so when their son is at the saddle but it was a forlorn hope. What we have instead was further denigration of our core values, monumental corruption and a very glaring selective anti-corruption fight. At the prompting and machination of former President Obasanjo, the South West (except Lagos) either by hook or crook was dragged in to the so called mainstream politics in 2003. Obasanjo was the only President in the history of Nigeria who increased the price of petroleum products for record eight times in eight years. He is the leader that has inflicted the most gruesome economic pain on the Nigerian people despite the fact that Nigeria earns more money from petroleum in his time than any other time in the history of the country. Ironically, it was only Lagos that was not captured that witnessed development in infrastructure and human capital and yet, it is the only state in the ‘opposition’ at that time.

Religious bigotry and fanaticsm is another bane of development. All manner of fake prophets and Alfas have invaded our space and have brainwashed many of our youths such that they couldn’t think straight apart from expecting a non- existent miracle! Youth who are supposed to be productive have become emergency prophets , prophetesses and sheiks.
How can we position our Youth for a Prosperous Economic Future?
Dear youth, before I begin to show you how to achieve prosperous economic future, certain basic facts must be noted. The first is that, anything without a small beginning cannot last. What this means is that you must start from somewhere to be successful. Look around you and tell any successful man or woman who did not start small and go through the vicissitudes of life. There are many examples. Late business mogul, MKO Abiola was very poor that he sold firewood and sang before he could go to school and feed, Chief Obafemi Awolowo also sold firewood before he could go to school. Coming nearer home, our present Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi drove taxi in London to be able to go to school, Chief Afe Babalola, founder of Afe Babalola University had a very poor beginning as a child and yours truly, the Deputy speaker once worked in a construction site as a labourer, (birisope), I hawked with my siblings for my mum to make ends meet. There are many other examples but what is common to the people I have mentioned is that they overcome poverty and hardship because they were determined to succeed and they remained focused so you must be determined. Always remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) who asked, “Can anybody remember when the times were not hard and money not scarce? He went further to add that, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm!


The second important cardinal fact to note is that education is key no matter what anyone may say. Knowledge is power! On one occasion Aristotle was asked how much educated men were superior to those uneducated; “As much”, said he, ‘as the living are to the dead”.-(Diogenes, 2nd B.C) Don’t also be confused about the popular but deep saying of Coco Channel (1883-1970) that, “There are people who have money and people who are rich. Yahoo boys have money but they are not rich but you can say Dangote is rich! In Yoruba, this means ‘ Olowo yato si Olola. It is good to be rich but you must work for it but if your riches don’t follow the natural process of nature which is that it must be gradual and steady, it will not last! You may have money but may not be rich as we witness in the case of yahoo boys of today. Do their money last? The answer is no!


I asked earlier if the adjectives used to qualify our youths by the government as hard working and enthusiasm aptly fit them. Many of our youths need reorientation about how to be successful. The principle of hardwork and perseverance is not recognised by many of our youths as the urge to get rich quick has taken over. Any nation where this is happening is sitting on a keg of gunpowder as we are presently!


While I appreciate some of our youths for being creative and innovative especially in the field of music where their tracks are making waves, it is a pity that the kind of music that made them popular and which was made popular by their fellow youths are nothing to write home about as such music teach and preach the end justify the means which is our current problem! What do you make of such songs like,” Kin sha ti lowo? Ole lo bomoje? So what of Yahoo? Ko bomo je? Of course yahoo bomoje while yahoo plus which is the advanced version of yahoo that involves rituals tun ba omoje ju! It is very sad that recently a newspaper quoted the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that there is now an association mothers of yahoo boys! This is how low we have sunk! This is different from such songs like Ise ori ran mi ni mo nse, eni to jale iyen lo bomoje by late I. K Dairo. Music of those years preached hard work, dignity of labour and integrity and not a veiled support for fraud. I wish to also commend similar youth musicians who have used their songs to begin a campaign of reorientation of the youths about the beauty of hardwork and honest living. Sola Shittu (SMS) is in this class with his song titled , ‘ Mei somo yahoo” (I am not a yahoo boy). This gives us hope that all is not lost.


I also wish to draw your attention to certain recent events concerning fellow youths like one Mustopha alias Mopha and his gang who were recently arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Mopha is the number one internet fraudster who has laundered about N30 billion naira. His conduct is a negative influence on the youths. He lives as if there is no tomorrow. He displayed expensive cars, wristwatches and other items to show that all that matters is money! Let me tell you, Mopha has money but he is not rich because he will end badly!


As we have youths like Mopha who believe that money is all that matter, there are other youths who also believe that although money matters, the way to go about it must be gradual and decent. In this category is a former youth corper from the Eastern part of the country who did his youth service in Ado Ekiti and stayed back in the town to fry akara! Yes you heard me! AKARA is bean cake! He is making waves in the town as people from all over the town queue for his akara from morning till night! He has many branches of this akara in the state capital. This is what is called innovative thinking! He will not only have money, he will be rich!


There is a serving youth Corp member called Stephen Teru of 2018 batch C serving in Cross river state. He is 26 years old from Michika, Adamawa State and studied Zoology from the University of Jos. From his meager allowance as a youth corp member and with the support of wood from the community, he started making desks, benches and tables for school children in community secondary school and St. George’s primary school, old Netim, Akamkpa, Cross River State. He is known all over the country for this innovative act. (The Punch, 2019)
With Teru and the youth frying akara, all hope is not lost. I have cited these examples for you to be able to make a choice and to guide you aright, that it is better to be patient like that akara frying youth and Teru than to be in a hurry to get rich like Mopha and end up badly. Also know that success is not about where you graduated from, or what grade you graduated with, but what graduates out of you. As Roberston Davies noted, “What we call luck is the inner man externalized. We make things happen to us” Sophocles (496-406 B. C) noted, “Fortune is not on the side of the faint-hearted”
Let us now come home and be practical about all of these. I strongly advise our youth to be guided in the choice of careers. Only go for a career that you are passionate about and make responsible figures in society your mentors. Also for those youth who are in the second category between the ages of 18 and 35 who are at cross roads of what to do with their lives, I implore them to take the advantage of various youth empowerment programmes of the state government like the Youth in Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) which was introduced by Dr. Fayemi in 2012 and is now being expanded. This is another success story as it has transformed the lives of many youths who took part in the programme and are still on it.

A good example is Temitope Aroge and Ayodeji Owoeye who I believe are here present to shed more light on it.
Dear youth, also take the advantage of many other empowerment programmes by the Micro Finance and Enterprise Development Agency who are currently training youths for Agric business, Micro credit lending, CBN Medium and Small Enterprises Development loan (MSME) and other businesses that would ensure a prosperous economic future.


Fountain Holdings also offer a lot of business opportunities for our youth who are ready to think and go for the ball. Similarly, in the area of Arts and Culture, there are opportunities to excel while sports equally provide ample opportunity for our youth to excel.
Knowledge Economy which is one of the pillars of the Fayemi Administration is a good innovation aimed at preparing our youth for a prosperous economic future.

This entails developing our knowledge quadrangle along Ijan Road where there is Afe Babalola University, the Afe Babalola Multi systems hospital reputed to be the best in the country as at today, the cargo airport project that is ongoing, the proposed railway terminal around Ijan and the federal polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti have naturally made that area the Ekiti knowledge zone which will provide ample business opportunities for our youths who can see into the future and tap into it.
The resuscitation of Technical and Vocational education by the state government is to enable our youth to be armed with skilled education to compete in the future against the backdrop of dwindling white collar job. Our technical colleges have been renovated to best standard found anywhere in the world. It is also erroneous to think that Technical Education is meant for dull students. It is good to have skilled education in our present economic situation.
Also take the advantage of the opportunities in the mining sector and there is a lot of loans to be accessed in this .


In conclusion, it is good to chart the course for our youths by introducing them to the above opportunities but it is more important for our youths to be ready to take the advantages of these. They must be able to do this by determination, steadfastness, imbibing the virtues of Omoluabi and the core values of hardwork, honesty and integrity. No wonder that the main theme of the present administration is “Restoring our core values” which were eroded in the past. This has been opening doors for the state as many international donor agencies that left the state due to unfavourable environment in the past are now back. As it is with our state, so it is with individuals. If you lose Omoluabi, you have lost all and no decent person or group will be ready to associate with you. The future is bright only if you as young people are ready to go back to the modest and decent way of acquiring wealth by being innovative as exemplified by the successful and rich people I have mentioned. Remember, “It is a grand mistake to think of being great without goodness; and I pronounce it as certain that there was never yet a truly great man that was not at the same time truly virtous.-Benjamin Franklin” ( 1705-1790). Never kill a Business Plan because it sounds crazy to you, remember someone thought of metal floating on water (SHIP): sounds crazy but today, it’s happening. If you try and succeed, cool you will make a great mentor to someone. Never quit without a try, don’t be a coward go get your goal.


Also remember the popular saying of Sir Richard Steel, 1672-1729, “Every man is the maker of his own fortune”. The choice is yours!
Thank you for listening
Rt. Hon. Hakeem Jamiu
Deputy Speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly

References:

Benjamin Franklin” ( 1705-1790), quoted in Book of Quotations, 2009, Geddes & Grosset, New Lanark, ML119DJ

Christy .Olenik, 2017; Positive Youth Development: Setting the stage for future Economic success accessed @http://www.youthpower.org,2017 on November 11, 2019

Definition of youth; accessed @ (https://en.m.wikipedia, 2019)- on November 13, 2019
Definition of youth in Nigeria; accessed @ (htpps://en.m.wikipedia.org, 2019); accessed on November 13, 2019
Jamiu. H.A 2017, Bringing Back Omoluabi into Ekiti Politics: Panacea For Development, quoted in Adesina Adetola, Ekiti State: Beyond Rhetoric, Myths & Sentiments, A collection of Articles, Thoughts and Papers towards rejuvenation of Ekiti Core Values and Bond for Socio economic Transformation & Genuine Development of the State
Jamiu H. A 2007, Yoruba Politics and the Concept of Omoluabi, Daily Independent, November 14, 2007
( Chambers Concise Dictionary, 2009)

The Punch on Saturday,October 26, 2019
Richard Steel, quoted in Book of Quotations, 2009, Geddes & Grosset, New Lanark, ML119DJ
Roberston Davies, quoted in Book of Quotations, 2009, Geddes & Grosset, New Lanark, ML119DJ