When Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany, one of his first statements was, “I want to raise a generation of young people devoid of conscience, because he who owns the youth gains the future”. And according to the respected American cleric, Dr Tony Evans, “when conscience is absent in a nation, everyone is at risk”. The government of every nation is the default bridge between morality and immorality.
The unfortunate descent of a segment of the Nigerian youth population into a generation of money ritualists is a reflection of the collapsing value system of the larger society that the government has helped to nurture. And in every incidence of value degeneration in youths in any part of the world, the government has always been found culpable, whether in America or in Europe or in Asia or in Africa. The government has always played a crucial role in shaping the direction of values for the younger population in particular.
Among others, the government of every nation is saddled with the responsibility of helping her vast array of citizens across multiple demographics to discover and maximize their innate potentials. However, it is also possible for a government to embrace and promote socio-economic policies and ideologies that do more damage than good to the psyche of their young population, including for example, what Karl Marx’s socialist ideologies did to the young population of many western nations.
Karl Marx was an historian who pioneered the socialist movements in Europe. Historically, one of Karl Marx’s goals was to entrench socialist ideologies in the politics of Western nations. Marx introduced a theory that necessitated economic and social controls with the goal of bringing equality and justice to an oppressed people. But to achieve this, the family unit was considered a major barrier. Consequently, Karl Marx proposed the disintegration of the family unit where mothers who were traditionally involved in the process of nurturing their children at home would now be expected to join the workforce, rather than staying at home to care for their young children.
As one author puts it, “Marx believes one of the benefits of mothers joining the workforce is that children must then attend state-sponsored care centers and schools where they can be indoctrinated about the evils of capitalism, and for this to be effective, the education of children has to be taken out of the hands of the parents and surrendered to the state. The negative effect of Marx’s ideology on western civilization—till date—remains significant because these same socialist ideologies were embraced by many western governments, ultimately hurting many families with children with warped values. In fact, many historians have unanimously said, “Marx is still ruling from the grave”.
In the Nigerian context, the socialist ideologies of Karl Marx may not have been embraced by many past and present Nigerian governments, but most of the past and present administrations have for the most part neglected the younger population in their quest for political relevance. For the most part, the Nigeria’s case can be attributed to a society with no specific ideology.
The quest for perpetual relevance in politics by many actors has extended the frontiers of under-development to many strata of the Nigerian society, including for example, the perennial neglect of the development of our academic institutions, health sectors, sports industry, information technology and many other youth-intensive domains of national development.
Aside from the impressive impacts of respected elder statemen like the Awolowos, the Ahmadu Bellos, and the Azikiwes, none of the military and civilian governments after these stalwarts have led the country in the direction of any recognizable ideological stance. Consequently, the Nigerian youth have remained a leaf, tossed to and fro on the waters of the Nigerian state. The youths have become a group of people to be sacrificed as tools for achieving selfish political interests across party lines.
The Nigerian youth population has a very interesting demographic characteristic—they are represented by populations from Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones. This diversity has not produced many significant opportunities for our youth population to leverage on home-grown resources and opportunities, but for the most part, many of our higher fliers were able to catapult themselves to the top echelon of their careers by virtue of luck or sheer personal sacrifices. Thankfully, these personal sacrifices from some of our youths have produced winning teams at the Olympics and at many age-group competitions, such as the Under-17 world cup. Also, many Nigerian youths—under very harsh socio-economic environments have, fortunately, become inventors, innovators, and globally recognized entrepreneurs.
It is a common saying that the youths are the future of any nation. If that is true, it then follows that if Nigeria will rid herself of the rising spate of money ritualists, the current government or the coming one must wake up to her responsibilities to create enabling environments for the youths to thrive. I am fully aware of the present constitutional crises facing Nigeria in terms of the weaknesses and gaps in the present constitution which this article is not trying to address.
This article is not a one size fits all strategy for changing Nigeria or its constitution. It is just a little attempt at pointing the attention of policy makers and government agencies at all levels of governance to the few adjustments that can be made to better the lots of the youths. And in making these adjustments, I am proposing that new sets of competitive ideologies must be developed, promoted and socialized across every segment of our society.
This ideology would drive the psyche of the Nigerian youth in the direction of strong and healthy values. It would be branded, broadcast and circulated on all news platform and entrenched into the fabrics of all existing institutions. Also, globally accepted standards of education in content and in infrastructure must be introduced into our academic institutions, from primary school to tertiary institutions.
And as a matter or urgency, mass industrialization must be the focus of every government through the setting up of high-tech manufacturing hubs across the nation so that jobs that pay competitive salaries and wages can be made available for every qualified Nigerian. Finally, the government must take research and development very seriously, while massive funding must be poured into every cadre of education to promote scholarship at all levels. All of these and many more that have not been mentioned would position the youth population of this nation on a very competitive ground.
Consequently, lost hopes will be rekindled. Frustration and depression that trigger the passion for criminality will be drastically reduced, and by extension, the widespread lust for money rituals would die a natural death for when your hard work could assure you of jobs that attract competitive wages that could afford you the car of your dream and the house of your choice, the temptation to shed blood to acquire these things would be massively discounted for many or ultimately eliminated for all. And Nigeria would become a much better place.
Ayo Akerele holds a doctorate degree in employee turnover, human capital development and organizational tacit knowledge from the prestigious Edinburgh Business School and has worked extensively for more than twenty years as a consultant for multinational corporations in Africa, Europe, and North America
He is the author of twelve books; the founder of the Rhema For Living Assembly ministry in Toronto, Canada, and the host of Rhema Hour on 32fm—a radio ministry to a network of five million people in South West Nigeria. He is also an entrepreneur, as well as a leadership and national transformation consultant. Ayo Akerele is married and blessed with children.
Dr David Ayo Akerele
Founder, Voice of the Watchmen Ministries, Ontario, Canada
Director, Flock Keepers International (a leadership & value system development organization)
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