IDENTIFY AND DISCUSS THE CAUSES OF YOUTH RESTIVENESS IN A PARTICULAR COMMUNITY IN NIGERIA.
The words ‘youth’ and ‘restiveness’ have become so commonly used together in the last couple of years that it seems to have taken on a life of its own. In the last decade and more there has been a proliferation of cases all over the country and indeed the world, of youth agitations which have tons of people dead and valuable infrastructure as well as personal properties lost and destroyed.
A sustained protestation embarked upon to enforce a desired outcome from a constituted authority by an organised body of youths, fits the label of youth restiveness. It is also a combination of any action or conduct that constitutes unwholesome, socially unacceptable 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, increasing crime rate, intra-ethnic hostilities, and harassment of prospective developers and other criminal tendencies.
This scourge has been around for a long time and it looks as though it is defying solutions. Maybe the question that needs to be asked is what is truly responsible for this expression of dissatisfaction by the youth? Have their complaints over the years not been heard or attended to? Is there more to the killings and destruction than just drawing attention to the needs they want met? Are the youths trying to draw society’s attention to themselves more than the issues they appear to be fronting? These and more are the questions we would try to tackle head on today.
In Nigeria for instance, the Niger Delta region which is unarguably the bedrock of the oil industry in Nigeria permeated the news for a lengthy period of time as the youths of that region tried various means of getting government and oil companies to pay attention to their dire conditions of living and alleviate their sufferings since according to them, the resources which is building the nation is flowing from their land so by virtue of that they should also be partakers of its benefits.
This strife led to a rise in kidnapping and vandalization of oil pipelines as well as other vices that were being perpetrated. After a period of …. Years, the Nigerian government intervened and the Amnesty program was created to help deliver some of the promises which government had made to the youths in those areas.
The baton was soon handed over to the Eastern Nigeria. Increase in the rate of armed robbery attacks, kidnappings as well as unbridled thuggery became the order of the day.
Today the Northern part of Nigeria has literally erupted with unrivalled violence. Bomb blasts, kidnaps and killings of Nigerians and others have become the prevailing trend. Despite beefing up of security in these areas, the problems still looms. This situation begs the questions, ‘’what is the government of the day willing to do to put a permanent end to these problems.
CAUSES OF YOUTH RESTIVENESS IN MY COMMUNITY
A number of studies have identified factors responsible for youth restiveness. Elegbeleye (2005) identifies three major factors: the peer motivated excitement of being a student, the jingoistic pursuit of patriotic ideas, and perceived victimization arising from economic exploitation.
Another study carried out in Niger Delta region by Ofem and Ajayi (2008) identified lack of humanitarian and social welfare, lack of good governance, corrupt practices of government officials, inadequate training programmes, unemployment, inadequate recreational facilities, lack of quality education, and so on, as the reasons for incessant youth restiveness. This implies that catalogues of closely-related factors are responsible for youth restiveness.
1. Bad Governance
Good governance is required for the growth and development of any nation. Unfortunately, in Nigeria bad governance is more common than good, resulting in disjointed development. The World Bank (1992) identifies the main characteristics of bad governance to include:
• failure to properly distinguish between what is public and what is private, leading to private appropriation of otherwise public resources;
• inability to establish a predictable frame work for law and government behaviour in a manner conducive to development, or arbitrariness in the application of laws and rules;
• excessive rules, regulations, licensing requirement and so forth which impede the functioning of markets and encourage rent-seeking;
• priorities that are inconsistent with development, thereby resulting in misallocation of national resources; and
• exceedingly narrow base for, or non-transparent, decision making.
These and more are the features of most administration in Nigeria. For instance, Onyekpe (2007) observes that successive administrations in Nigeria have not allocated much to the needs of the youth, and, worse still, the meager allocation are often diverted by government officials to their private accounts and projects. Thus, youth are restive and agitated when they perceive that resources meant for them are being wasted by those in authority.
Unemployment is a hydra-headed monster which exists among the youth in all developing countries. Experts believe that the number of jobless youth is twice as high as official estimate. Ozohu-Suleiman (2006) notes Nigerian youth are trapped by unemployment. Zakaria (2006) believes that “the rising tide of unemployment and the fear of a bleak future among the youth in African countries have made them vulnerable to the manipulations of agents’ provocateurs”. These include aggrieved politicians, religious demagogues, and greedy multinationals that employ these youths to achieve their selfish ambitions. Zakaria (2006) strongly believes that the absence of job opportunities in developing countries is responsible for youth restiveness with disastrous consequences.
Poverty connotes inequality and social injustice and this traumatizes the poor. More than 70 percent of people in Nigeria are in abject poverty, living below the poverty line, and one- third survive on less than US $1 dollar a day (Zakaria, 2006). This figure includes an army of youth in urban centres in Nigeria who struggle to eke out a living by hawking chewing sticks, bottled water, handkerchiefs, belts, etc. The sales-per-day and the profit margin on such goods are so small that they can hardly live above the poverty line. Disillusioned, frustrated, and dejected, they seek an opportunity to express their anger against the state. Aworawo (2000) and Zakaria (2006) agreed that there is a link among poverty, loss of livelihood, inequality, and youth restiveness as evidenced by the numerous violent protests against the wielders of power in Nigeria.
4. Inadequate Educational Opportunities and Resources
Quality education has a direct bearing on national prestige, greatness, and cohesion. The knowledge and skill that young people acquire help determine their degree of patriotism and contribution to national integration and progress. Between 2000 and 2004, about 30 percent of Nigerian youth between 10 and 24 were not enrolled in secondary school (Population Reference Bureau, 2006). Perhaps the prohibitive cost of acquiring education is responsible.
The aftereffect of this situation is that thousands of young people roam the streets in cities in Nigeria. Those who manage to complete secondary school have no opportunities for tertiary education. Having being denied the chance to reach their potential, they are disorientated and readily available for antisocial actions (Onyekpe, 2007).
Worse still, some who struggle to enroll in various educational institutions drop out due to lack of basic learning facilities. This situation is attributable to the dwindling resources of government at both federal and state levels as a result of an economic meltdown.
5. Lack of Basic Infrastructure
Most rural communities and urban slums in Nigeria have no access to potable water, health facilities, electricity, communication facilities, industries and commercial facilities, etc. Behind social unrest and youth restiveness in the country is the agitation for equitable distribution of resources.
6. Inadequate Communication and Information flow
Communication creates room for sharing information. It helps people express their thoughts and feelings, clarify problems, and consider alternative ways of coping or adapting to their situation. Such sharing promotes social cohesion.
People must have access to communication facilities, to communicate with the people making the decisions that affect them. Sadly, rarely do people in Nigeria participate in decision-making processes on issues that affect their lives. Ifidon and Ahiauzu (2005), in their study of Niger Delta, revealed that inadequate communication and information flow is one factor responsible for youth restiveness in the area.
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Federal Government of Nigeria (2001). National Youth Policy. Available: http://www.thepresidency.gov.za/docs/policy /national _ youth _ policy.pdf
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Ofem, N.I., & Ajayi A.R. (2008). Effects of youth empowerment strategies on conflict resolutions in the Niger Delta of Nigeria: Evidence from Cross River State. Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development 6 (1,2): 139-146.