Sunday, 02 June 2019 09:54

[OPINION]: Lost generation? - Ralph Egbu

Last week, two important events happened in our country and both are of great significance to the country. The first and most important is the celebration of our children under the popular theme “Children’s Day” which takes place on May 27 every year. The other is what the political class now calls Inauguration which we the ordinary people know as swearing in of elected citizens into public offices. Last week, the incumbent President and some Governors were sworn into office for fresh tenures, as is customary the event provided some citizens opportunity to engage in some sort of celebration. The two events will come under critical review because as we would soon see, both are very important for the proper development of the country. In today’s discourse the focus would be on the children and national development drawing inspiration from the celebration of last Monday.

Children’s day was the creation of the Nigerian military when they were in power, the motive for doing so is not clear but it would not be too far from the desire to have opportunity to reassess the state of the youths, contribution of the society to their well-being and to ascertain their roles in building a dynamic society. This could well be it but I can bet that as noble as the motives were at the time, the decision to so designate a day did not come from the objective condition existing at the time. It was not original to the thought process of the leadership at that time, many of us believe it would have been suggested to imitate and like our leaders often do, it was taken. We took the form and not the spirit, so the celebration has become like a ritual, something that must be done, not because it is very important or necessary.

There is no rigour to it. Chief Executives hardly remember this date, a confirmation that the essence is not within their grasp, many of them would have to be reminded of the event by means of a memo before the process can begin. The most regrettable aspect is that this event that should serve the purpose of elevating a successor generation has become a conduit pipe for siphoning public resources. Those who know can attest to the intense struggles that go into appropriating and disbursement of funds for this event. The general organization has been abysmal. The speeches and focus most often are rudimentary. This year the focus was on drug addiction, the President gave out a speech that was read generally across the nation and the content was on the problem, reason to avoid it and on the need for collective efforts to stem the tide. In other places where the issue of the young generation is taken more seriously, we did see a bit of statistics, of-course there would have been concise description of the trend.

 

The truth is that we have not handled matters concerning our youths very well. We have left them to float the way they deem fit and the consequence is that our country has the largest population of traumatized youths in the whole world. You encounter most of them today the impression you get is that you have come face to face with a variant of wild animal; they lack decorum and in most cases don’t know what vision is about. Their attention is taken by mundane things; only few in this population can stand the test of robust intellectualism. This trend is not positive for any nation, more-so for a country like ours languishing under the yoke of the worst kind of underdevelopment.

There is nothing good about the state of underdevelopment. It throws up almost every time what scholars often refer to as Negative Indices. It provokes rat race because opportunities would always be far lesser than the population. It is the cheap source of tension and hatred, it is also the major reason why the sanctity attached to human life can be desecrated and nobody would feel any revulsion. One of the ways societies get through this is by raising a vey equipped and foresighted young generation. This is what we are supposed to be doing but unfortunately we seem to be working from the opposite. What was before has suddenly given up to what should not be. At the time of independence, the family was intact and parents were in-charge but today, parents have given up on their cardinal responsibilities to their children. They want more money and greater comfort so everybody is out there working and relegating the home front. There is this erroneous belief that what the parents abdicate the schools would fill, but the truth is that the parents, schools, social organizations and governments have their different roles and any of them that fail leaves the society with a different kind of problem. The unique thing about our case is that all of them have performed far below expectation.

The parents as observed earlier have abandoned core responsibility and in few instances where they have anything to impart, it is mainly about bad example. Many a cultists, many others wear poor character as a garment. Things are so bad to the point we have evidences of parents subverting examinations and job recruitment processes on behalf of their children. As the popular saying goes if gold can rust what would iron do. In developed worlds the justice system make it possible for parents to share in punishments of children’s misdemeanor, it is time such is made applicable in our society. It is time we take a look at the school system, privatization is good but it is proving costly in terms of character molding. Profit motive is taking precedence over more serious issues. It is an act of folly to destroy public schools, for a fact public schools are most suitable for producing the kind of future generation we desire.

 

They have adequate space and there are provisions for other facilities other than classrooms. In the past public schools had the best of professional teaching staff and going by current development teachers in those schools earn far better wages than what the private schools can offer. So what is lacking include adequate vision, direction and supervision by the government. Government must design a vision for this country, it is the vision that would enable the subunits specify in detail how to deal with the successor generation. We need to change our educational curriculum and point it towards productive kind of education. Education should be free from primary to university and emphasis should be on studies that impact education and skill. We need counseling and career departments in all institutions. We need productive economy so that we can create spaces to absorb millions of these graduates. In-fact given what we see, by now the federal, state and local government should be working in partnership to undertake job creation ventures. This is what it should be but unfortunately it is not so, we rather waste money, energy and time developing cattle routes and colonies and licensing tribes to own radio stations. What a people what a country!

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