YOUTH RE-ORIENTATION & MORAL EDIFICATION.
DR SEO OGBONMWAN MMED, FMCOG, FRCOG, KSC.
EDO GLOBAL ORGANIZATION ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2012.
Mayor of South Dublin,
Representative of the Nigerian Ambassador to Dublin
President Nigerian Community Ireland,
Members of Board of Governors Edo Global Organization
Representatives of Edo Organizations in…
Members of Edo Global Organization,
Our Host : BCI, Edo Global Organization Ireland and Edo State Community Ireland.
It is an honour to deliver this speech on the need for re-orientation of our youths to the straight and narrow path so as to sustain Edo genealogy in this global village of survival of the fittest. If our race must not become extinct as a result of emigration then our youths must toe the path of honesty, honour, transparency, hard work, self dependency and acquire entrepreneurial spirit and be home based. We must reclaim our lost glory in our father and mother land in the confines of the ancient Benin Kingdom in today’s Nigeria nation.
Youth have many connotations to different people, countries and organizations. The definitions range from those that are purely of a legal nature to those that are of a functional one; so a youth can be an adolescent, a teenager or young individual undergoing physical, mental and cultural transition from childhood to adulthood.
For legal purposes the World Health Organization defines adolescents as people age 10 to 19 and young people as being between the ages 10 and 24 so for the purpose of this discussion, we shall regard a youth as being between the ages of 10 – 24 years.
Whereas orientation is an integrated set of attitudes and beliefs, then re-orientation is a changed set of attitudes and beliefs; that is a fresh orientation.
Reorientation is also the act of changing direction in which one is orientated; a turnaround, a reversal or a change of course. A change from idleness to productive work, from despair to hope; from checking out of Benin Kingdom to staying-in in Benin Kingdom; a change from fear of youths to love of our youths, a change from lack of integrity to overflowing flow of integrity because our youths are our future and must be sustained and directed.
Edification means improvement, teaching, instruction; that is moral instruction, teaching or enlightenment which can be spiritually uplifting; the act of edifying or state of being edified.
There are a number of major youth issues like social, economic, cultural issues that need to be dealt with as part of the numerous developmental programmes and strategies in many countries. Some of these issues constitute serious obstacles to youth development and to improving the quality of life of the whole population. Development is an increasing capacity to produce and build upon what was inherited while advancing steadily; but what we see in Nigeria is lack of continuity and policy reversals by every new government hence national growth is stagnant that affects the youth negatively.
- The Demographic Situation
We are Edo from Nigeria and Nigeria is the most populous country on the continent of Africa and accounts for a sixth of the population of that continent. The population of Nigeria is over 167 millions and the youths account for nearly 50% of this population. That is why looking after the youths, their reorientation, providing them with gainful employments, and occupying their time must be a major preoccupation of governments at local, state or national level and in fact all the citizenry.
Edo State which is our home occupies a land area of about 17, 802 squared kilometres with a population of 3.2million and rising; that is a very homogenous population of Edo speaking people who have one ancestral home which is Oredo the area within the moat in Benin City. The present day politicians are doing very well in putting us asunder. We pray that our Supreme God and our Ancestors will never let them succeed because Edo people are one people with one heritage and one destiny. Amen.
The celebration of birth, mourning of death, morning salutation, farming methodology, our staple food, our names and their meaning, mode of dressing are the same because we are one people hence we must work together and support each other as Edo People wherever we may be on the surface of mother earth.
Of the total population of Edo State, the youths (adolescents and young adults) that is between the ages of 10-24 years of age account for over 42% of the population, making Edo State one of the States in Nigeria with a very high concentration of young people. This very high population of youths are made up of young school leavers, drop-outs, apprentice; job seekers, undergraduates and graduates who are very restless with so much time in their hands and very desperate for a job or a means of livelihood. When the government of the day delay in creating opportunities for jobs, leisure, after school activities, sports and recreational activities, involvement in youth clubs like Man o’ War Bay, Boys Scouts and Girls Guide, the youths are left to be swallowed up by gang lords, gang bosses, cults leaders, political god fathers thus derailing their lives for ever. It is to prevent such that we have been campaigning to Edo State Governors to take a critical look at the youths and take the matters of the youths seriously because if our youths have no future, then the state has no future whatsoever. Those who are diverting resources meant for youths programme will all be consumed when the youths explode. We are here because we have foresight to proffer solutions to the youth’s restlessness and thus prevent the likely explosion of the youths that may inevitably occur if the situation is not remedied now.
- The Socio-Economic Situation.
Edo State is in the South-South Zone of Nigeria a country the United States Energy Information Administration puts its crude oil reserve at between 16 and 22 billion barrels (3.5×109 m3) while other sources claim the reserve could be as much as 35.3 billion barrels (5.61×109 m3). This amount of reserves makes Nigeria the tenth most petroleum-rich nation in the world, and by far the most affluent in Africa. Today the crude oil daily average production is put at 2.2 million barrels per day. The collusion of the former Nigerian Military leaders, the multi-national corporation and the very corrupt civil servants and today’s politicians ensure that Nigerian youths never benefit from this huge national resource. The Military Heads of State with the possible exception of General Yakubu Gowon and PDP politicians distributed the oil bocks to their friends who have no knowledge about prospecting, extraction, conversion and marketing of oil and oil products who in turn sell these oil blocks to foreigners at give away prices. In prospecting for oil, these foreign companies bring their nationals as workers in these companies making Nigerian Youths to be on-lookers whilst others take the jobs in their back yard. This primary error results from over dependence on anything foreign by our country men, lack of foresight by our leaders and putting those who are not qualified to lead in sensitive positions due to ethnicity, tribalism, favouritisms, corruption, vote rigging at elections, thuggery and god-fatherism. The youths look at these few affluent Nigerians and copy their attitude and behaviour against our traditional and ancestral customs and our unique tradition of taking one step at a time on the ladder to progress. Owę ϙkpo kpa aze vbę okedin. On graduation from the university they want to drive a Mercedes Benz car or an SUV like the oil barons or profiteers without working for it. This is the root of militancy, kidnapping, armed robbery, burglary which was unheard of when we growing up as children in Mid West region /Bendel State of Nigeria.
Another ill effect of poverty and lack of youth empowerment in Edo State and Nigeria is migration to Europe and America. In this journey of no return for many, a lot of our youths are lost in the Sahara deserts, lost to prisons of many countries on the migration route but some are still struggling on that you now have Edo unions in Mali, Upper Volta, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Algeria stranded on this perilous journey to Europe by land which you all will agree is a very treacherous path to take to beat the poverty at home. If you have a brother or a sister who is stranded somewhere in the desert on his or her way to Europe; advice him/her to go back home. ‘ode magia la, aghi la weriegbe’ This migration of Edo Youths have to be stopped as it has depleted our home stead so that others have encroached on Edo land especially Benin lands around Ughoton, Gele gele, Abiala and have taken over the graves of our forebears while our youths are doing everything possible to get to Europe and America, to become cleaners, sweepers healthcare assistants with a university degrees in their pockets. This is not right; and we should do something about it collectively. There are still opportunities in Edo State but we have to have the will and the trust of the system and have the courage to start a business. Remember, Rome was not built in day. The IBRU conglomerate started from a single shop and today it is a business empire everyone looks at with awe. I know that an insignificant percentage of all of us that left Edo State for the Golden Fleece succeeded but how many lives were ruined in the process of going abroad, overseas, for the Golden Fleece, Europe and America. We should no longer throw our lives away in the African desert in the pursuit of going abroad.
Asese ewi ye evbo no ma yaen.
Osa no sui mahia so owa vbe ofunmwegbe.
Igho nima khuan vbisi, I ma ghaya niyen so wa vbe Edo.
Vbe etin Osanudazi.Isę!!!
The slow growth in the economy, the rising unemployment, difficulties associated with the provision and protection of basic social services in the face of a changing economic environment with slow growth, associated with the importation of luxury goods create difficulties for the youth especially of agreeing to be on the slow lane when their contemporaries are on the fast lane by cheating, ‘who know man; favouritism, ethnicity and sometimes religious affiliation.
The problem in a country like Nigeria where you have a vast desert of poverty and want, with very few oasis of affluence is a recipe for violent revolution. It is this type of knowledge and feeling of being completely lost coupled with the manipulations of the youths by the rich politicians that has led to the militancy in the Niger Delta and the Boko Haram in the arid North East zone of Nigeria. I am sorry, I keep talking about Nigeria but you will agree Edo State is an integral part of the Nigerian nation.
In pre-election campaign as it is happening in Edo State presently, politicians arm youths to man election booths, to harass opponents, to seize ballot boxes for their godfathers but at the end of such elections, the arms and dangerous weapons are not returned and as such become the means of livelihood for these youths in armed robbery, kidnapping and burglary. These elder politicians should stop misleading our youths for their selfish political ends.
My appeal to Edo youths is not to allow themselves to be used by those who do not care about their welfare or their future, to resist the temptations of bearing arms or planting bombs to kill or maim fellow Nigerians on behalf of conscienceless politicians who want to win an election at all cost or influence political situations by unleashing violence on innocent people. The politicians will never request members of their families to bear arms on their behalf; you as a Nigerian youth should also not do it no matter the financial consideration. In my search of the literature, I have never seen the hall of fame of criminals, the hall of fame of thugs, the hall of fame of kidnappers, burglars, armed robbers etc; but I have seen the hall of fame of music stars, celebrated novelists, athletes, soldiers, academics, dancers etc. Make a good choice today and give honour to your family names. You may not eat honour but it is greater than wealth or riches. You do not want people to spit at the mention of your family names so do everything to preserve your family good names; as our people say ‘a good name is better than riches’’ and once a name is spoilt by any excess on the part of the youth, that name can never be repaired so guide against your family good name by leading the path of honour, respect for constituted authority, dignity, integrity, honesty, openness, candour and forthrightness.
However, the magnitude and implications of the problems enumerated above may affect all Nigerian citizens but they are more severe for the youth. Moreover, the youth population lacks various basic opportunities, the means; the resources; the enabling environment for their physical, psychological, financial development and growth.
The youth should sit back and think. Is it morally right to kill, maim, and destroy others so that one may be heard or to prove a point? All the higher Beings we worship either God as a Christian, or Allah as a Moslem or the Ancestral Sprit as in Customary Religion, there is non of them that agree to killing, maiming others to win an election as happens in our country. They all preach love, kindness, respect, humility, truthfulness, charity etc. It is therefore important to have a change of heart from a non-caring person to a thoughtful and kind and loving individual; from an arsonist to a community builder; from a system demolition gang to a community construction crew so that love and peace will prevail in our community; so that our community will be a place we are glad to visit regularly without fear of banditry or kidnapping; so that our community will be a place we love to live in. ne emwienren ma yę agha mu vbe ogheęrę
- Education and Vocational Skills Acquisition.
Nigeria has achieved excellent progress in education since our independence in 1960 but the gains after the independence in the 1960s and 70s were lost due to incessant military incursions into politics and the ill advised action of always restarting projects or programmes without building on the foundations already set up by their predecessors in office. This is a corrupt practice so as to re-award contracts and collect the usual 15% of the contract fees thereby depleting the resources of the nation for creating the wellbeing of our youths.
Edo people and Edo State government have maintained the position that education is a basic human right and should be committed to the provision of a relevant, quality education available to everyone. This is the reason our parents did everything within their means to educate us. This is responsible for the high university graduate rate in Edo State and the Basic Primary Education is almost universal in Edo Kingdom. Some of us believe that our concept of education is wrong in today’s world as it is geared towards having an office job rather than becoming an entrepreneur by starting our own business. Our education should lead us into making engines, motors, managing foundries and forging car parts and other instruments. It is time to industrialise the foundries at Igun Street, diversify it and produce for export; Edo contribution to world civilisation. There are opportunities in Edo State and other parts of Nigeria that needs exploiting rather than waiting for government and the revenue allocation from the central government or to completely leave the shores of Edo State or Nigeria for Europe and America for a perpetual state of secondary citizenship.
One of the most important factors to ensure young peoples active involvement in the implementation of social reforms and the emergence of economically strong and politically stable countries is their social and psychological mood, their willingness to take action in accordance with definite civic attitudes and value reorientations (Petrov, 2008).
All hands must be on deck to improve the social, psychological mood and the willingness of our youths to take progressive actions and create a better society for the children yet unborn. We Edo State ‘Eghele’ must play our roles well for the wellbeing of our youths.
It is the duty of government, community leaders and elders, church leaders, priests and pastors, imams and the keepers of our various shrines to facilitate this process of moral edification and youth re-orientation so that we can have a better Benin Kingdom and a better nation.
I will like to state here the basic tenets of moral re armament which is the reformation of the youths that can only be achieved by creating a moral and spiritual force, by convincing all Nigerians especially Edo State youths of the necessity of absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness, absolute love and absolute integrity. The practice of these cardinal virtues and to further the development of the youth’s moral life, our youths must engage in the exercises of sharing what is available, surrender to the will of God, substitution of good for evil thoughts, and the guidance of community elders and religious teachers as they all teach LOVE which is a virtue and is the basis of kindness, compassion, charity, obedience, honesty, affection, chastity, unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of others.
Unfortunately our youths are copying the politicians who themselves have derailed as they worship only the god of money obtained through massive corruption. They will do anything to get money like lying, killing, maiming, defrauding, and kidnapping which money enables them to ride big cars, live in big houses and have at their beck and call sophisticated women of low virtue. Since the societal role models are themselves behaving below expectation, we have to turn to God, Allah, or our Ancestors for guidance.
God or whatever we believe in individually will show us the right path and by His grace, he keeps us on the straight and narrow and prevents our feet from straying off the right course into diabolical cults, kidnapping, armed robbery, assassination and other vices. God will show us the way if we are willing to listen to Him. When man listens, God speaks. When man obeys, God acts. The secret is God-control. We are not out to tell God what we want our lives to be; we are out to let God tell us what our lives should be and He never fails. It is not just enough to listen, and to plan, you must manifest God’s love and wishes in your life. If you are Muslim substitute Allah wherever you see God and if you are believer in traditional religion, substitute Ancestral spirit wherever you see God. You must believe in an entity, love and respect an entity and fear and submit to an entity in your life to keep on the straight and narrow and be each others’ keeper. Anyone who does not believe in anything will fall for everything and what a fall that will be.
When we listen to God, we should test the thoughts that come into our minds by comparing it to biblical teachings if we are Christians, to Koranic laws if we are Moslem or to oral traditions of our respective families if we are Traditionalist. ‘About to commit a crime, ask yourself, will God do this? The second test is to listen what our friends and families say of us. No man should walk alone. We must fellowship with others to maximise God’s grace in our lives. That is the underlying factors that Edo Global Organization is striving to reach all the Edo Communities in the Diaspora because we are better as a TEAM and Together Everyone Achieves More.
The need to increase young people’s access to their rights is beyond controversy. Many countries have stated their youth policies, but are they executing them? Do these policies support young people to achieve their rights? In which ways do specific youth policies and broader policies affecting young people interact and with which results for young people? What measures might ensure that young people get their fair share of policy attention, annual national budgeting and resources?
It can only be imagined that whatever intergenerational contracts may have been in place – spoken or unspoken, real or perceived – are largely gone. When an elder dies, a community library is destroyed and that is what happened when Prof. Iro Eweka transcended in March 2012. The promise and hope of previous generation, the majority of young people around the world could never dream of such things to begin with; which is to lead a better life than their parents is a flickering image of the past. It’s not the lack of economic prosperity alone that infuriates young people. Not that it wouldn’t be reason enough as close to 67 million young people are unemployed in Nigeria, about 80% of all unemployed people in our nation which unfortunately should not be the case if our oil wealth has been carefully invested in setting up factories, assembly plants, research institutes that would have absorbed the teeming youth population.
Add the un-sustainability of the current growth and screw the environment mantra and the massively rising social injustice to the colossal employment mess, and you get a highly explosive mix, which keeps bubbling to the surface on the streets across the planet. Young people have to watch how the world as we know it, its economic, social and political fabric, disintegrates, day by day. They don’t like the combination of the cocktail of political, economic and social disfranchisement, and have begun to show their anger about being robbed of their own future which someone called “the sacred rage of the young.”
At the beginning of the month of May this year in Benin City at the TY Danjuma Foundation Career Day 2012, the Minister of Youth Development, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, lamented the unemployment rate in the country, declaring that about 67million young people are jobless and that, of the figure, 80 per cent of them do not possess a university degree. He attributed the high unemployment rate to years of failure at different levels, explaining that lack of job is a consequence of lack of skills. The event has as its theme ‘’Developing capacity of youths to build successful careers and businesses’’ We all need skills acquisition to start our business.
Employers are more interested in what you can do, and not the kind of certificate you have acquired the Minister said. We are pleased that our thoughts about how to solve the problem of youths’ restlessness are reaching the heart of government of the day in Nigeria. We welcome the announcement of the sum of N1.2bn in the 2012 national budget aimed at training and grant for youth unemployment in agriculture, ICT and the creative industry, paltry as the sum may be, we hope it is not diverted to private pockets by corrupt civil servants. For those who have relatives who may wish to seek help from this Foundation, they should contact Mrs Thelma Ekiyor who is the Executive Director of the Foundation
In addition to appealing to the youths for the purpose of re-orientation; teaching them for the purpose of edification, practical steps must also be taken to ensure that the youths are completely occupied from the waking hours to bedtime to prevent the adage of the ‘idle mind being the devil’s workshop’ There must be opportunities for recreation, purposeful education, vocational training and skills acquisition which will ultimately be developed by the Youth entrepreneurship.
Job creation and construction of suitable recreational infrastructures must not be left for the government alone. The three tiers of government must be involved as well as non-governmental agencies and the corporate social responsibilities of the local companies, industries and conglomerates.
The creation of youth clubs for competitive sports develops the minds of the youths about good sportsmanship which translate into humility in winning or victory in tournaments and being hopeful and cheerful as losers which will translate into a graceful loser and a humble winner in elections unlike the violence and litigation that occurs now after every election in Nigeria.
Youth re-orientation and moral edification of our youths is a continuum throughout the formative years which must include the inculcation of traditional values system of honour, hard work, respect for elders and constituted authorities as well as traditional institutions, disregard for ill-gotten wealth and corrupt affluent individuals.
Schools should be constructed to be attractive to the youths; there must be correctional institution for those who offend consistently but this must be handed with the carrot and stick approach. Finally there must be appropriate places of worship depending on one’s believe systems.
I thank you for this opportunity to talk about my fears of the future of our youths and our Kingdom and I hope the discussion wasn’t too long; you must remember that as a leader you must be the good Shepard who leaves his flock to search for that one sheep that has gone astray.
Thank you and I wish you all a safe journey back to your respective homes.
Oba ghator Okpere! Ise!!!
SEO Ogbonmwan KSC
© June 2012