Youths and roadmap to greater Kwara
K WARA State was founded on May 27, 1967 with the Yoruba people as the major ethnic group. The Nupe, Bariba and Fulanis constitute the minority group.Kwara is a citadel for recreation and tourism. The Esie Museum, Sobi Hill, Kainji Lake National park, among others, is fresh in our memory. The state stadium complex promotes sporting activities and also serves as recreation center for the state. Kwara is endowed with notable activists, philanthropists, business tycoons, academics, lawyers, diplomats, doctors, artists, security chiefs, bankers, among others who can turn its fortune around for a better tomorrow. It is blessed with vibrant youths who are leaders and giants in their various endeavours. One, however, wonders why Kwara is in its current state of development.
Since May 29, 1999 when Nigeria returned to the democratic system of government, various states in Nigeria have moved from one level of development to the other both in their political system and in human development. This is not to say that Kwara has not achieved any development at all over this period. But more really needs to be done considering its human and natural resources. We cannot underplay or relegate the various efforts of successive government to ensure the development of the state, but it is very important to expedite action in ensuring a more palpable and holistic development, especially in human capital development, structural amenities and drastic unemployment popular among its citizens.
Kwara is largely a one-city state and most areas, apart from Ilorin, are rural, lacking good roads, drainage systems and other infrastructure. The intra-town/intra-city road network through Obo- ile and Obo Ayegunle, Oke-Opin, Osi, Odo-Owa, Ayedun, Ekan-Meje, Idofin, Ilale, Erinle, Iloffa, Oko, Imode, Egosi, Omu-Aran, Edidi, Oke Onigbin, Oro, Ajase, Offa, Omupo and most of the southern part of the state is grossly inefficient and requires speedy rehabilitation.
There exists a wide gap between the poor and the rich in terms of quality of life. Poverty is rife in the state and hunger is palpable among its people. In fact, many refer to Kwara State as a civil service state because most Kwarans are civil service workers. The political elite constitute the majority of the upper class. They take advantage of the hunger among the people, sharing peanuts to indigent Kwarans to buy their votes in the name of charity. Local investment in the state by the elite is abysmal, as they prefer to invest their wealth in Lagos and other south-western state, building nothing but cottages in their hometowns.
The political system has been dominated by the same set of people since the creation of the state. The leadership cadre is filled with aged politicians who think nation building is their exclusive preserve and, as such, youths should not be involved and given any chance no matter how small. They prefer to use the youths as political thugs. Youth leaders in the major political parties are mostly above 40 years. Youths refer to persons with energy, vigour, ideas and enthusiasm for a brighter future. They normally range from age 18 to 35 years. Why do we still languish under the umbrella of massive underdevelopment when there are vibrant and able bodied men and women who are filled with various talents and drive to bring a positive change?
The future of the youths has been mortgaged for selfish gains. They have been denied quality education across all levels. The state owned tertiary institutions bill students huge amount of money. Many students drop out of these institutions due to the exorbitant school fees in the face of bad and unstable economy. Scholarships, bursaries and other government functions to alleviate their sufferings have hit the rocks.The minds of many youths have been infested chronically with low morality and loss of values.
Skills acquisition which could be a means of youth empowerment has been crippled. The youths are trustees of posterity and should be held in the highest esteem. Many student organisations and youth forums have been disconnected from their core values. We really need to wake up. Our future is priceless and invaluable. The National Association of Kwara State students and other similar groups have all lost track of their purpose.
The youths should be willing and ready to join the formidable force in order to champion the course of development. Kwara youths should be ready to shun all social vices and corruption as they are tools of relegation. We should be ready to sacrifice our time and youthful ideas towards its development. We should be united in one accord, accommodate our differences and be ready to stand for the welfare of entire youths in the state. We should avoid bias, sabotage, nepotism and corruption in their entirety. The bright future of the state should be our watch-ward and, as such, no amount of money should be big enough to jeopardize the health of the movement.
Our unity and accord should remain concrete. It is not a window to either join a political party or get affiliated to one. It is a movement that seeks the development of Kwara through youth participation. Members should, however, beware of political party affiliations in order to preserve her objectives. We shall speak with a common voice to protect the rights of youths in kwara state and ensure the development of our immediate environment through concerted efforts.
Our youths must seek and desire education across all levels. Nelson Mandela said: “No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.” Acquiring qualitative education is not pocket-friendly; government should assist the citizens by subsidizing the fees of the state-owned institutions and also provide scholarships for indigent students. We should be ready to sacrifice our talents, experience and knowledge to improve the intellect of the less privileged so that they can also attain their potentials.
Vocational training is another alternative for youth empowerment. We can meet with philanthropists who will engineer this project and promote its sustenance. Re-orientation of Kwara youths is sacrosanct at this point if we really need development. There should be massive campaign against drug abuse, hooliganism, thuggery and other social vices among youths. Youths should know that their future is in their own hands. The era where politicians buy off their conscience should be thrown into the bin of history. Youths should stand firm and be united in their advocacy for the rightful candidates during elections to move the state forward. We should support purpose driven candidates even no matter how popular the party is.
- Anifowose is currently a student of the Nigerian Law School.