[OPINION] Nigerian Youths As Agents Of Peace Building In Nigeria

By Comrade Sunny Idika

The increasing participation of youths in violent activities in Nigeria in recent times is a source of worry to both policy-makers and researchers alike. Most violent activities, ranging from kidnapping, armed robbery, Pipeline vandalism, cultism, rape, street fighting, electoral violence etc. are being perpetrated by youths in Nigeria.

Yet, the very future of our dear Country depends on these youths the present generation is able to nurture.

The most worrisome of these vices, is the agitation for succession by IPOB and MASSOB; the vacation order by a coalition of Northern youths to Igbos residing in the northern part of the country. These urgly scenario will do us no good as a country with great potentials.

These negative trends, obviously, is a product of leadership failures by governments at all level of governance. Our leaders are obviously using a divide and rule syndrome to cause ethnic and religious crisis among the youths, thereby, taking advantage of our weaknesses as unemployed youths to enrich themselves and their generations yet unborn. We must realize these factors on time to advert the looming dangers ahead of us.

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How long do we fold our hands and watch these destiny robbers continue cheating us? Majority of them have their children schooling in foreign universities with VIP treatment, while they plunder our tertiary institutions in a state of rigor mortis with sub standard learning facilities. The real enermy of our destinies are within us; They are the ones threatening our unity as a nation. They are those looters we worship as governors, senators, house of reps members, ministers etc.

Nigerian youths are too intelligent and talented to be treated unjustly.  We are blessed with a numberous characteristics, which include  Charisma, Creativity, intelligence, and perseverance, among others. All these potentials, if properly harnessed, constitute an invaluable asset to any nation. Failure to fully harness these potentials in youths only spells disaster for the future of any nation in three different ways. Which are: direct violence; structural violence; and cultural and religious violence.

Direct violence is any action that inflicts physical harm on an individual or group of persons. It includes things like killing and maiming, burning of peoples’ property, and rape, among others. Structural violence on the other hand means those structural deficiencies in a society which make the society not to function effectively, so as to create the enabling environment for its citizens to realize their aspirations. These include, but are not limited to corruption, lack of good governance, lack of functional institutions, lack of critical infrastructure, abuse of human rights, and massive poverty.

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Cultural violence to refers to all the values, traditions, beliefs, and norms in a society, which promote or reinforce direct violence.

Peace-building should be the responsibility of all in the society. Peace-building on the other hand refers to the steps taken by multiple stakeholders towards establishing positive peace in the society.

Youths, just as they are very active in perpetrating violence, they can equally be effective instruments of peace building in our society. Viewing youths as agents of peace challenges the traditional conception of youths as agents of violence.

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Nigerian youths should serve as a breeding ground for peace. When peace virtues are inculcated in the youth, they will certainly grow up to be peaceful in the society. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs, 22:6).

The youths can utilize the opportunity provided by a democratic system to build peace in our society. In this regard, associational life can bring all the Nigerian youths together for the purpose of peace-building, rather than violence and division.

We can organize ourselves and make our voices heard on matters that affect us and our society. By this, we can influence positive action on any matters from government and stakeholders.

Youths are very critical to the development of any society, the world over. Without a well-educated and therefore, empowered youth, no society can have the needed peace and stability to fast-track development.

Finally, I want to use this medium to specially wish the youths of Presbyterian Church of Nigeria a blissful youth/Pypan emphasis. God bless you all.

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