African Youth Development Through the Eyes of African Leaders
In the last week’s edition of this column, we rummaged over first two of the resolutions of the African Union 17th ordinary Session in Malabo, Guinea, that dwelled on the employment of youths and creating an avenue for vocational training in the areas of ICT and agriculture. In this concluding part, we shall take a critical look at resolutions three, four and five, that pertain to the provision of adequate resources for youth agenda cum funding of the Pan African Youth Union, and organizing training summit at the middle of every year for youth volunteers, and subsequent posting within the region possibly to serve as volunteers on the bill of the African Union.
African resources have been frittered away to foreign lands for non-economic activities, that had left the continent worse-off than it were in the last 50 years. Each dying year witnesses the pomp and pageantry of expensive Independence celebration ceremonies round the continent, but they celebrate underdevelopment and poverty and dwindling economies. We often hear stories of the ‘good old days’ of the seventies and early eighties, when young graduates had their job placement before they write their final examinations. Civil servants could buy new cars with ease, but what we have today is an array of over-used cars that are only fit for scraps in developed countries, running in African major cities partly because people cannot afford the cost of new ones. What happens to these jobs and new cars? Why are the industries closing shops as the universities churn out thousands of young graduates into the already over-blotted labor market? Does that portend a good future for the present generation, if past years are better than now? This is the bane of brain-drain syndrome plaguing the continent. African leaders must wake up to their responsibilities and provide purposeful leadership in the area of economic empowerment for their young population.
I keep wondering why these leaders have not seen it fit to empower their young population over the years. The scenario has been build-up factions that will empower the youth with guns to sack the entire citizenry and create huge refugee population in order for them to be political saviors. One of the basic problems of youth in Africa is lack of access to quality education. In places where schools are available, young people there do not see the need to go to school as it takes a long time to reap its dividends because the value for ‘quick wealth without labor’ is on the increase. Those who have the gusto and drive to acquire education/skills do not have the financial capacity due to chronic poverty ranging them, as the government care a little less. Moreover, skill acquisition centers that would have been the alternative mode for equipping the youth with technical and entrepreneurial skills are nowhere to be found. Thus, young people are left with no plausible option than to engage in all kinds of unwholesome activities that tend to undermine the moral fabric of their societies just to make ends meet. The example of pockets of insurgent groups in various parts of the continent is a clear case at point, each seeking to be heard depending on what the grievances are, at the expense of civilian casualties.
The Pan African Youth Union has more or less been left moribund for years. Why is it now the leaders deem it fit to dust it up from the shelve in the organization’s archive to give it a new look? African youths are despondent and frustrated because they have been denied opportunity for empowerment economically and politically for the past fifty years. Organizing youth summit in every June/July to train youth volunteers is not a bad idea, but do they have the political will to make it real? How far would the leaders go to move the proposal from paper to practical action? Do all the countries that signed that pact have the capability to absorb these young volunteers (as proposed by the AU), into their economy to participate in the program marshaled out considering the volatile nature of many of these countries? Which country would allow her young people to be sent to a place like Somalia or the DRC? Would this attempt not be another pipeline for the siphoning of public funds without tangible results? Your guess is as good as mine!
Truly, there is nothing nobler than planning for younger generation by their leaders. Nonetheless, the abhorrence of youth by some of these leaders make the whole resolution looks as if that summit in Malabo, was another gathering for our ever- complacent leaders who gather to drink expensive wine, lodge in five-star hotels with tax payers’ money, and consolidate on their business links and forget the plight of their suffering masses back home. Future studies have demonstrated that equipping young people with profound strategies for the unknown is the best way to galvanize any country into prosperity. Until the right atmosphere free of internal conflict, youth unemployment, hunger, militancy and poverty is created in Africa by the leaders; the impossibility of incessant youths’ unrest in the forms of violent protests and demonstrations would continue to be a mirage.