April 19, 2011, 3:27 PM
Last I year I read a quote by a young Nigerian on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals page that ‘young people are the least consulted in the nation”. One of the secrets of the development and advancement of ancient Greece was the principle of consultation before decision making. No one was an island of himself, regardless of the position he is occupying. Even the wisest king in all history according to the Holy Scriptures in his writing in proverbs, Solomon made reference to the importance of counselors three times, hear him “Where there is no wise guidance, the nation falls, But in the multitude of counselors there is victory”. “Where there are no wise suggestions, purposes come to nothing; but by a number of wise guides they are made certain”. “For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety” end quote. In national development, we cannot remove the place of wise counsel in decisions that will eventually lead to our success or failure. But the big question is who can give this counsel or suggestions that can aid our national development. Is to be left for the technocrats alone, the educated and the elites? No a thousand times No. I think part of the people who should make positive contribution to the national issues are the down trodden, the minority, the oppressed and most especially those in the rural areas who knows where the shoes of poverty, deprivation and lack of infrastructural facilities is paining them. Let me paint a picture here that may help us, do you know that the average young student in a rural secondary school may never have set his eyes on a chemistry chemical? Not to talk of a computer? Then you cant imagines he knows what email, blogging, ipod, flash drive is in the 21st century so in essence they are been trained not to be able to function in a modern society. While their counterparts in the cities attend “British model” schools, go for exchange in Europe and America or Abuja and Lagos. The issues is don’t these same secondary school students have the same basic rights to quality education?is it a crime to be born in the rural area of Nigeria? This article is may not be an intellectual master piece, but just a simple awakening of the voice of reason to see that we progress in our bid to build a new Nigeria. How can the young people in the rural area participate in decision making? I feel it has to start with all those who are into developmental work, if we are really into development and not just developing our ‘pockets” and catching fun by attending workshops, summits and conferences, a larger percentage of our projects and porgrammes should be focused on rural young people and in the rural areas. These programmes should be interactive and participatory. With this we can by observation and their input feel their pains and get their voice on major issues then direct to appropriate quarters, by placing them on our websites, blogs e.t.c on their behalf, or a written report to the people concern. Open forums in the rural areas should be encouraged, where young people are called upon to openly voices their opinions, the recordings of these open forums should not just be in a writing format but video format, this would help to make the voice of rural young people known and thereby participate in decision making. In these open forums, their local government chairmen and councilors should be present, it could even go beyond open forums and also include accountability sessions where the chairmen give account of what they have received and these young people can b part of the monitoring process whether elections or budget. Our conferences, summits should start taking place also in the rural areas so that rural young people can adequately participate and get abreast of current issues. The use of local dialect in the production of IEC materials should be encouraged, so that youths in rural areas who cannot read in English can also get informed about current happenings and make contributions in their own language, which can later be translated to English. When workshops, conferences and summits are being organized special preference should be given to them to encourage there active participation, this will encourage them to have the required self esteem to start contributing to national issues. These same young people in the rural areas are the people politicians pick as thugs to the city during elections, if they can come and fight in the city during elections, why cant they come an attend summits where they can give positive contributions in the city or have we turned our rural youths to political animals serving the interest of the high class thieves amongst us? Or those of us in development have we turned them to statistic that improves our report for funds and grant to be released to us without us giving them the opportunity for their voice to be heard? We should not forget that these same young people if given the right environment have the capacity to help turn our nation around, because within them lies innate potentials that need to be awaken. Lets empower our rural youths, let them be part of the decision makers in the society, if not now? When? If not you who?