In the bygone era, Nigeria took pride in its industrious youth population. They were focused, engaged, and busy with productive pursuits. Back then, the educational system and regulations were held to exceptionally high standards. Primary schools instilled in pupils a diverse curriculum that encompassed subjects like history, social studies, moral instruction, and practical skills such as handicrafts.

In Lagos state, for instance, senior primary school students had the opportunity to attend weekly technical centers, where they could choose to learn trades like woodwork, metalwork, catering, and sewing.

Secondary education, whether in public or missionary schools, was marked by high standards and strict discipline. Graduates from these schools formed the backbone of clerical departments in government ministries, corporate enterprises, and international companies.

Youth development advocates;Mr & Mrs Olaseni Egbeyemi

Many students, after completing their education, secured employment and worked briefly before furthering their studies. Even during holidays, it was the norm for students to engage in holiday jobs.

After completing their basic education, those who didn’t pursue university or polytechnic education had the option of vocational and technical schools. These institutions equipped them with professional skills of various kinds.

The nation greatly benefited from this skilled workforce, and graduates from universities and polytechnics were a source of immense pride for their parents and communities. Some communities even organized grand welcome ceremonies for graduates returning to their hometowns.

However, today in Nigeria, the standard of education has drastically declined. Many students are entangled in vices such as drug abuse, prostitution, cultism, and, alarmingly, some turn to robbery and banditry. Secondary and tertiary institution students are often involved in fraudulent activities and examination malpractices, tarnishing the reputation of the educational system.

An odd trend is the prevalence of off-campus living arrangements for higher education students, which exposes them to more vices. Recently, male and female students have even been known to enter into informal living arrangements during the academic year, returning to their parents’ homes only during holidays. This has eroded morals and decency.

All these issues are taking a toll on the nation’s development plans. Nigeria is now producing youths who are often unemployable and lacking in basic moral values, posing a significant threat to national growth. Despite the proliferation of religious organizations, family values, and decency have suffered.

The nation urgently needs comprehensive youth reorientation programmes. The Ministries of Education, Youth, and Women Development must collaborate to formulate a new Youth Development Policy that can bring about positive change in values and attitudes. Nigerian youths have lost their way, and the lack of guidance is a serious impediment to national progress.

In recent times, it has become painfully easy to incite the youth to action through simple calls. Politicians, by perpetuating poverty, have contributed to this problem. They lure young people with meager incentives, turning them into political tools and thugs against their opponents.

The End SARS protest, which began as a peaceful demonstration and later descended into chaos, resulting in loss of lives and property, is a prime example of this new trend. The unguided nature of these protests is evident. The tragic death of a promising young musician, Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba MOHBAD, could have been prevented had his pleas for protection been heeded. His tragic demise raised questions, and many, especially the youth, demanded justice.

Regrettably, these protests are often marred by questionable tactics. Political elements infiltrate them, leading to anarchic situations that hinder the pursuit of genuine solutions. Drugs and alcohol are freely consumed, and some participants engage in indecent behavior, undermining the credibility of the protests.

The federal, state, and local governments must act swiftly to develop programmes that engage the youth, create jobs, and establish vocational centers. The youth are on the edge, and if their pent-up energy is not channeled constructively, it may spell doom for the nation.

We must collectively address these issues to secure a better future for Nigeria.

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