CAUSES OF YOUTH RESTIVENESS AND SOCIAL VICES IN OUR COMMUNITIES
INTRODUCTION: It gives me a great pleasure to be here today in the midst of an audience constituted of dynamic people of Isoko extraction from the various communities of Isoko nation of Delta State, Nigeria, living in the United States.
This gathering, no doubt, is intended to lend your support to various efforts of our people and Government back home towards the socio – economic development of our dear motherland.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Youth restiveness and social vices have apparently become a threat to the realization of our individual’s potentials in our communities, that we need concerted efforts to win the battle against them. Your commitment to this effort is portrayed by the radiance on your faces as men and women seeking our communities’ future progress and development. I cannot but commend this effort in putting together this gathering of Isoko people here in United States. I am optimistic that this gathering would live up to its objective of lending support to programmes geared towards making the Isoko nation peaceful, dynamic, progressive and development friendly community in Delta State, Nigeria.
The youths remain one of the greatest assets that any community can posses. Potentially, they are the greatest investments for a society’s sustainable development and future. This is why is universally acknowledged that positive fundamental and meaningful changes across cultural settings are usually engineered, fostered and or shaped by the generation of youths in that society. Therefore any culture or community, whether macro or micro that allows a good percentage of her youths to be misdirected, risks her future viability and survival.
Youth restiveness is a despicable act being perpetrated by a significant proportion of our youths in our various communities that can no longer be ignored. As the name implies, it is a combination of any action, conduct or act that constitutes unwholesome socially unacceptable and unworthwhile activities engaged in by the youths in any community. It is a phenomenon which in practice has led to a near breakdown of law and order, low productivity due to disruption of production activities, apparent increasing crime rate, intra – ethnic hostilities, harassment of prospective developers and other Sundry criminal tendencies. The phenomenon of youth restiveness is relatively a recent one, which has emerged from the lack of foresight of the past years. Isoko nation, just as most of Delta State is blessed with petroleum (oil and gas) resources. These communities and indeed the state until this democratic dispensation had faced abject misrule due to the long years of military rule and the deceitful and selfish attitudes of our past leaders. In spite of the presence of oil, gas and a number of petroleum resources prospecting and marketing companies, the community / state still lacks basic social infrastructures culminating largely into a high level of poverty, mass unemployment, environmental degradation, and other social vices. The result today is that, we have a near dicey situation in our hands as far as the youths are concerned. We now have in our communities a predominantly idle young population, which by rough mathematical estimation can be put at between 40 – 55%.
Apparently, the source of this explosion in youth population can be traced to the so- called oil boom of the ‘70s during which period our people began to bring forth offsprings recklessly with the perception that everything will continue to be rosy and that things were never going to be as bad.
Apparently, this is partly why we have the challenge of providing, infrastructure and social services that would have to meet this population. Yet, our economy does not seem to be meeting these challenges. So in this population of youths, we have a small group of them that have access to formal education and a larger majority that could not access formal education and therefore possess no marketable skills.
The causes of youth restiveness are legion ranging from individual to societal factors. The causes continue to widen everyday though just as the sophistication of the means through which the perpetuators thrives this condemnable act, appear to be ever changing. However, there appears to be a general consensus that youths tend to resort to restiveness due to a number of reasons viz.
- Youths want a piece of the action. For sometime now, the notion appears to have gained ground that the youths resort to restiveness because of their perceived marginalization by the selfish elders and leaders in the scheme of things in the communities.
It is believed that the elders in these communities have for long sidelined the youths without an appreciable benefits accruing to them. So in order to get attention, partake and or get their “share”, they resort to taking on these selfish elders headlong culminating in the restiveness rampant in most of our communities today.
- Youths want to Rebel. The youths constitute a large army of the unemployed. Therefore, there is a tendency for them to look at their plight as the making of a cruel society that does not seem to care for them. Since our society places high premium on money and those who has “made it”, there is a strong negative feeling of dissent which drives them to rebel against society. Tied closely to this, is the issue of availability and accessibility of drugs in street corners, which predispose the youths to abnormal behaviours when they come under their influence.
- Youths want to express Exuberance: Very often, the youths are described as full of youthful exuberance. This raw energy has of late been channeled into unwholesome and socially unacceptable venture that threaten the very fabrics of the community. It is also believed that some disgruntled leaders, elders and politicians in our communities resort to recruiting youths for settling scores or using them against, perceived enemies. With this trend, the activities of these youths have degenerated bordering on outright criminality .The problem here is, once these youths get mobilized for these nefarious activities, they become uncontrollable and the communities are worse for it.
It is also believed that the activities of some of the oil prospecting companies predispose our youths to restiveness. This is because, these oil companies come, destroy our environment, disrupt production and economic activities, dislodge social structures without commensurate compensation and or programme of sustainable rehabilitation. The result is that while the oil companies make huge profits, nothing appears to change in the lives of communities. Instead, they leave behind; low productivity, intra – ethnic hostilities, unemployment, poverty, prostitution and environmental degradation.
Today the consequences of youth restiveness stare us in the face as they are short and long term. Whichever way, the truth is that youth restiveness and social vices are devastating both to the individual and the society. No doubt, youth restiveness makes the youth to be disabled for their expected role as leaders of tomorrow. They destroy productive lives, potentials, future as well as the social fabrics of the society. In fact, the risks involved are too numerous to be taken for granted. So, it remains a condemnable and unacceptable phenomenon. It is therefore our responsibility to take care of all those who have some skills and those who could not. We have to look for ways of bringing this large army of unemployed youths into the mainstream of society and make them economically and socially viable so that they can become creators of jobs and wealth for themselves and others. Unless we are able to do this, significantly, the consequences may be too great for our communities, society and the nation at large.
Therefore, the first step is that we must try to understand the dimension of this problem and then begin to look at ways of getting these youths to be useful and viable. Unless new behaviours are learned and adopted, restive youths will be restive for a long time. Hence, it is important to say that parental role is significant in protecting youths from restiveness and violence. As parents, we are the first line of defense in the war against youth restiveness. Sadly, not all parents in our communities may grasp how important this role is. Parents are by far the most important factor in the protection of children because they must be a source of example. If you do not want your child to become a restive youth, you need to teach him by word or by example how to treat others with respect and dignity.
Secondly, all stakeholders must strive to increase the participation of youths in the civic processes of community and nation building. The bottom line is to empower young people to contribute positively to the economic and social progress of the community and instill in them, a sense of purpose and discourage youth violence, since Government alone no longer has the capacity to provide jobs for this large population, it has become pertinent to reach out to parents and other stakeholders who will assist to engage the youths in productive ventures while government provides the enabling environment.
In realization of the need to encourage the private sector to contribute positively and compliment the efforts of the pro-active government of His Excellency, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, in the area of capacity building for our teeming army of unemployed youths, the Delta State Ministry of youth and Sports Development, has set up and is ready to implement a Youth Engagement Program (Y.E.P.) as part of the Delta State Government's response to its citizens' needs. This scheme also represents a key mechanism of the Delta State Government to build and focus on empowering the youths to adequately participate in the development efforts in our various communities. In this way, it is hoped, we would have empowered the next generation of young leaders in the different communities. To actualize this, the Delta State Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has commenced the construction of 5 modem Youth Skills Acquisition Centres located at Asaba, Warri, Sapele, Bulu Agiama and Aviara, which will serve as the backbone for the rollout of the Youth Engagement Programme across the State.
I therefore call on our people, captains of industries, top politicians and corporate establishments to partner with government in this mission so as to build and sustain abroad based partnership focused on youth empowerment programmes including skills acquisition, employment, leadership training and capacity building. That is the only way youth development can have significant impact.
Today, more than ever before in the history of our development as Isoko people, the need has arisen for all stakeholders to join hands to wage a concerted and coordinated war against youth restiveness and social vices. There is no better time for it than now/. We should all support and sustain programmes that could produce the kind of youths with the attributes and value traits of creativity, determination, self-confidence that are required for the actualization of one's potentials.
It is against this background that the National Youth Policy and Plan of Action (2001) envisages for the Nigerian Society among other things;
· Youths with a sense of hope, self- confidence, imagination, creativity and pride in the nation’s heritage;
· Youths full of the spirit of entrepreneurship, Mutual co-operation, understanding and respect;
· Youths who art not corrupt and self- serving;
· Youths with equality of opportunity………………………
as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian.
Finally, let me observe that I am full of expectations that this gathering will have a tremendous impact on the current efforts to eradicate youth restiveness and social vices from our communities and state. I therefore seize this opportunity to thank the organizers for this initiative.
Thank you for listening and God bless.