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Frances Okoro: Are Nigerian Youths Really Ready To Be Leaders Of Tomorrow?

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I always look back with fondness at the period of my life spent in primary school. I absolutely loved the songs we used to sing in morning assembly.
One of those songs was:
Children listen to your parents, we are the leaders of tomorrow…
Try to pay our school fees and give us the best education”

Oh, we had such fun times in primary school(but I digress)

That same song was sung at the Nigerian Youth Service Corp camp when I was there; but the reaction that welcomed the song was different from the reaction we gave it when we were kids. Instead of smiles and legs lifted higher in march past like we did in school then, the song was greeted with snickers and sighs.
I wondered, and I am still wondering…are youths really ready to be leaders of tomorrow (or today as the case maybe)? Are we as lazy as the older Nigerian generation seems to believe we are? Or are we simply not being given a chance to lead.

The debate as to whether the Nigerian Youth Service Corp programme is still necessary in today’s society is one which I do not want to delve into. But I couldn’t help but be in awe of the billions of Naira that is being invested into this programme each year.

My awe is on a positive note – If the Government can invest this much money in youths, then they must really believe in the potentials of youths.
But do youths really have this potential?

My time spent in camp was very interesting to me. I am not a sociologist but I had a great time observing the variety of characters I met. I saw the youths who saw NYSC Camp as a place to just spend their money on pepper soup and beer in mami market. I spoke to the youth who really wanted to make his year count but was skeptical on how to get the resources needed.
I saw the girls who still let boys treat them as objects – girls who saw nothing wrong with a boy making jest with their bodies while touching their “bom bom”.
I saw the girl who couldn’t wait to get out of camp and out of NYSC service year. The girl who had a business to run and had eyes only for her business and not for impacting Nigeria positively.
I saw the lawyer who really wanted to work in a great law firm, one from which he could gain experience and possibly, extra money. Not for the country but for himself.
I saw the youth who really wanted to take advantage of the skill acquisition programme so as to be financially independent afterwards.

And I saw myself, torn between wanting to work at a great law firm so as to gain experience for myself and not give a hoot about my nation and looking deep into the state I was posted to, for ways in which I could impact lives and leave this state in Nigeria better than I found it(at least with the little I can do)
And even with all the youths with different mind sets I met including myself, I was still left wondering…
Are youths really ready to be leaders of tomorrow(or today)?
Why do we still have youths who binge on beer like no man’s business?
Why do we still have youths who would think nothing of bribing officials for great places of primary assignments?
Why do we still have youths who just want to make the money for themselves without regard to how they can make the society better?
Why do we still have youths who have no interest in impacting other lives for good?
Why do we still have youths who are totally immersed in the “me syndrome”?
We say that the older generation do not want to create opportunities for us to lead but are we really ready to lead?
Are we really ready to serve others?
Are Nigerian youths really different from the older generation or are they still working with the same mind sets that have got us all trapped in Nigeria?
The mind set of “as long as I and my family are alright, all others can burn to blazes?”
Some NYSC youths who get posted to Secondary schools to teach just want to teach and get out. But do we realize that that’s an open opportunity right there to sow good seeds in the lives of the young students?
To implement great things you’ve seen in modern schools in those village schools?
An opportunity to redirect that young girl who only sees marriage as her all in all?
An opportunity to tell those young ones that they are meant for greater things?
And do you see your time at that company as an opportunity to add value?
You just want to go to work and be done with the service year but don’t you think that if you just put in a little more into that company then perhaps the leadership traits needed in Nigeria will be built in you?

As I met youths from all over Nigeria in NYSC camp, I couldn’t help but put my thinking cap on.
If almost all Nigerian youths do not care about impacting lives for good in Nigeria with this opportunity we have been given, then how can we really be leaders of tomorrow?
If we show such nonchalant attitude towards helping the states we have been posted to, then how can we help Nigeria improve?
It all starts with the little things.
I have read some blogs of Nigerians who had such negative views of the year spent in NYSC and I think “what a wasted use of blog space”.
Some other youths went to the same Place of primary assignments you went to and when they left, they left behind people who would never forget them for as long as they live.
We need to stop the negativity.
We need to see just how much we can create a positive change in Nigeria in our own little way.
You cannot be given a larger platform if you did nothing with the little platform you were given.
I believe that the NYSC programme is to be lauded. I personally do not think that the Government is wasting funds on us, they must believe in us so much as to spend this much money on us.
Some youths I met proposed that instead of having the NYSC scheme, the Government should calculate the total amount of our monthly allowance and give it to each graduate to start up their lives after their graduation from tertiary institutions.
And I think that that’s just typical of youths. We want everything for free. We do not think that we should work for anything – to some of us, hard work is not a desirable trait to be inculcated.

I chose to believe that I can go a different way from the majority of youths in this Youth Corp scheme in Nigeria.
I chose to believe that I can inculcate attributes this year that can help me in the long run.
I am not just going to go to work each day like a zombie in this state I have been posted to while counting down to this time next year.
I hope to live each day with purpose, looking out for ways to make things here better.
Looking out for how I can touch lives positively. Not because there is an award to be won at the end of the day but because I truly want to be a youth who can indeed be a leader of tomorrow.
And I think that beyond the NYSC programme which I have used as an example in this article, all youths should aspire to make Nigeria a better place in their own little way.
We need to think, and we need to start thinking rightly and positively.
By all means, acquire a skill and aim to make yourself financially independent but also aim to leave where ever you are better than you found it.
If we keep acting the way we do…
If we keep thinking the way we do…
Then I assure us, that the reality of that song we all sang when we were in primary school will forever elude us.
The older generation will not think that they can pass the baton over to us and we won’t have the attributes needed to take over the baton of leadership ourselves.
I am aware that this period in Nigeria is awash with arguments about politics but please, this article isn’t meant to spark arguments about politics.
This is simply a clarion call.
A clarion call to all youths including myself to change and redirect our mind sets towards the things that matter.
Let us indeed lift our nation high.
Let us indeed lift our States high.
We need youths who will be different from the rest.
We need youths who can be leaders of tomorrow.
We need youths who can be leaders of today.
Let that youth be you and I.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Piotr Kozikowski

Hephzibah Frances is a Lawyer and author currently based in Lagos Nigeria. She is an author of more than 15 books including the best-selling book “Prayers for your future husband”. She is a Voice for the Lord. She proclaims God to the Nations through her songs, books, podcasts, talk-shows, movies and the new media. Carrying God’s word to her generation on the wings of the wind. She is the founder of two women ministries, The Women At The Well and The Deborah Generation She is also the founder of Awakening Youthful Seeds For Christ Initiative a Non-Governmental Organisation focused on raising purposeful youths. She runs a business to help authors and aspiring authors BIRTH THEIR BOOK DREAMS at Beautiful Feet Publishing - Email: [email protected] for help with all things publishing and marketing your books. ***** KEEP IN TOUCH: Email her at [email protected] Follow Her On Social Media: On Facebook: HephzibahFrances On twitter @Hephzibahfran/ On instagram @hephzibahfrances Listen to her Podcasts At: Podcasts By Hephzibah Frances Watch her videos on her YouTube Channel at - Hephzibah Frances Read her blog at www.hephzibahfrances.com Download FREE eBooks written by her from here

25 Comments

  1. Mo

    April 9, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    God bless you for this article. I have. Often asked myself the same question. Very few nigerian youths demonstrate good leadership qualities, many are just looking for what to eat (hungry man syndrome). You ask some youths what they’ll do if they become the president and they say that they’ll also chop money, very soon we’ll be complaining of corruption and how Nigeria is not growing!

    • Most Honestly

      April 10, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      They are not ready to lead. Just look at one of the organizations that calls itself “Nigeria Young Professional Forum” that hosted President Jonathan in Lagos before the elections. Their Chairman is i heard him right talked about giving youths an opportunity to serve, but he, himself has been running around politicians and getting this huge funds without using them judiciously. The politicians we have now are creating monsters who will be worse than them. Watch it, so long as you are willing to do the bidding of the godfathers, there is no value and honor in serving. Crossing my finger

  2. bbbsmiles.blogspot.com

    April 9, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    LOL.
    youths are busy leading on social media-Instagram,Twitter, Facebook,Blogs,Whatsapp, BBM, Youtube and Skype. they are too busy taking selfies to hear the clarion call. sorry!

    • Frances Okoro

      April 9, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      Lol bbsmiles!
      Thank God that they are on social media, they’ll read this hopefully…

  3. Minister Ade

    April 9, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Great Piece.

    First.. Change is inevitable! This Generation has everything fast and still want it faster… Also note youths are fast to give up their morals..

    Everything begins with a “mindset” and modus “Operandi”

    If you can change a mindset positively… you have saved an individual from decadence.

    How do you change a mind-set

    EARLY IN LIFE- Family

    MID LIFE- Good books and great video and audio messages, mentor-ship and spiritual guidance.

    They also say.. “GOOD BOOKS PUT TO STOP PERSISTENT STUPIDITY”.

    I believe in people because their is hope!

    • Frances Okoro

      April 9, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Thank you minister Ade.
      Great points! Will also help me(us) to be more intentional with what we feed our minds.
      They go a long way towards shaping who we are/what we believe in.

      + the early life-Family upbringing you mentioned cannot be more emphasized.
      It has a major role to play in this.

  4. Dr. N

    April 9, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    You can only give what u have. I remember a story my dad told me. When he was a young man, a corp member was posted to a community. He went to see the principal of the only secondary school there. The man was so impressed with his result he nearly fell out of his chair. As in all except 1 of the subjects. He immediately asked him to teach Further Maths (which he scored an A1 in) to the SS3 class. My guy refused. How about Biology? He declined. On and on till the principal asked which he wanted. He chose Geography; the only subject he wrote by himself ( and in which he made a pass). Unfortunately, the school did not offer it. He left to try to effect a transfer.
    Moral of the story? You can push a youth to the water but u can’t make him think (See what I did there? Drink for think) lol.
    By d way Fran, u know I love u right? Thumbs up

    • Frances Okoro

      April 10, 2015 at 4:17 pm

      Awww Dr N, I love you much too…*muah muah*
      My boss laments about the state of “certificate and the real deal in youths brains” too.
      It was one of the first things he talked about when I met him.
      *sad situation*

  5. Diesel

    April 9, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    No, they re not diplomatic & logical @ all. .They don’t even have a mind of their own, they follow trend too quickly , & get 2 carried away by the good things of life making it easy for people to easily deceive & penetrate them.

    • Tkum

      April 9, 2015 at 5:24 pm

      gbam!!!

    • Frances Okoro

      April 10, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      The rate at which we do “follow follow” is alarming Diesel.
      “Bisi has this and I must have it too”
      Even with all the financial wisdom out there, so many youths still live in debt..the “follow follow” syndrome is real.

  6. Frances Okoro

    April 9, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    It’s a serious problem Mo.
    I listened in on an exchange btw two corpers here. One assumed that the other will “chop” money if he had a government appointment and was so shocked when the other guy said “I’m not you, not everyone wants to chop and clean mouth”

    I was proud at the other guy..we still have good heads in Naija, there’s hope

  7. naijapikin

    April 9, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Lmao…..I have a friend who says, if I ever reach there eh, when others are using table knife to cut their own share, me na chain saw I use commot my own cake.

    Its sad, but our youths are busy thinking of “importantly mundane” issues, to bother with their contribution to the nation, common guys na our own naija oo. Everybody is thinking of how to get rich quick, or how to get many likes on fb….

    Thanks for this article @Frances,like you say, they are on social media, so they will read this….I hope!!! Maybe you should have titled it…”Genevieve breaks the internet” or something similar, i bet you, dem go click the thing faster than my village winch dey fly……

    • Frances Okoro

      April 10, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      @naijapikin, your comment almost had me laughing but held some worrisome truths.
      Articles like this do not get a lot of comments online..maybe we should change the title indeed..its sad but we hope that as many that read will be changed…somehow, someway…

  8. nene

    April 9, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    if you ask me na who i go ask

  9. fleur

    April 10, 2015 at 2:26 am

    Sorry Frances for your disappointment. they learned from watching their parents and elders. Some of them were born of parents who survived and in fact thrived from focusing on self. Others were raised by parents who suffered societal rejection and humiliation because they sacrificed self for the common good and ended up with poverty; the “na only you dey do good work for government” syndrome. So the individuals in any society are a reflection of the processes that churn daily to keep the society where it is. For Nigeria, we are in the doldrums. Why worry about anything other than self when it yields no dividends?

    • Frances Okoro

      April 10, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      I agree with you that the experiences of our parents influence us too fleur, but we can’t be dictated by another’s experience
      We must blaze our own trail and yes, there are dividends from caring about others, we leave and sow good seeds in their lives that sprout into trees that will bear fruits. That’s dividend enough for me.

  10. Alfred Emerson

    April 10, 2015 at 6:58 am

    nice one!!

  11. Efe Anita Kotor

    April 10, 2015 at 9:55 am

    You”ve said it all. what a powerful Re-awakening! More Grace Sweetheart!

  12. Terv

    April 10, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Am I the only one who noticed she wrote ‘children listen to your parents’ and not ‘parents listen to you children’ ….

    • Frances Okoro

      April 10, 2015 at 3:49 pm

      Oh thanks terv for bringing that to mind, I didn’t even notice it, but you are right. It’s parents listen to your children…

  13. Tessa Doghor

    April 13, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    I am.

  14. Amakamedia

    April 14, 2015 at 7:33 am

    That’s my sister! Let the youths arise and shine!

  15. vicky

    May 2, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    We are not. We are not. I speak to a lot of youths aspiring to be leaders tomorrow and they keep saying they are waiting to eat their own share of the national cake. I was discussing with my friend last week about how the corruption have seeped even into the youths and she asked if their was hope for nigeria. We need to get this word out there to create a consciousness for the good of our country in the hearts of youths.

  16. wisdom

    July 8, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    I really love this pls this exactly what is in my mind, I’m currently serving I was looking for what to write on and circulate to my entire corp member via my cds edidting group pls my sweet sister frances okoro permit me to help u disseminate this vital message to our youth. I pray it will go a long way thanks and God bless u, u too much

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