A Manifesto For The Advancement of The Nigerian Youth: 6 Steps To Rise Above Mediocrity

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The recent stampede that led to the death of 23 lives during the Nigerian Immigration Service’s recruitment exercise is one of the symptoms of the malignant growth of corruption and irresponsibility in our nation.

We can no longer ignore the sustained evidence that this malignant growth has greatly metastasize in inordinate and uncontrolled proportions.

After the die is cast and the agitation of the masses over this sad event has abated, what will be done to prevent a future occurrence? As the President has summoned the Director General of NIS and Minister of Interior for interrogation, what will become of the investigation? Another cosmetic committee? Another long winded investigation that will in effect validate our apparent disregard for human life? Only God knows.

My concerns and hope is that the event will fuel discussions, ideas and actions that will restore some modicum of sanity (at least) to a deplorable system. I hope it will not just be dismissed as one of the many deaths we are now used to (no thanks to Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen etc).

My recommendations about our current situation as a country are by no means exhaustive but I believe it will add fuel to the combustion of ideas, concerns, hopes and solutions in the minds of many Nigerians. National conference has commenced (or rather is going to commence) and I want to encourage youths to lend their voices on social media platforms, blogs, websites, broadcasts etc. We must be heard!

For sake of emphasis, we must not lay the responsibility for change at the feet of the political or ruling class (and now our esteemed national conference delegates). The mediocrity behind the national conference is also why it was adjourned due to lack of rules of proceeding, inability to decide on sitting arrangements and division over language of communication.

Can you now see why all hands must now be on deck; businesses, schools, individuals, religious institutions, NGOs all have a role to play in national transformation.

In this post, I will be recommending solutions along the lines of self responsibility (our circle of influence) and not necessarily what government must do (our circle of concern). In this light, I believe Nigerian Youths must take these six steps to rise above mediocrity and help our nation experience the desired transformation:

1. Education
It is true that our current educational system no longer empowers the youth for productivity in the market place and upward mobility in life. However, what the youth must focus on more than ever is self-education. Even the western world is struggling with its educational system in view of the mammoth changes caused by globalization, rapid and sweeping technological advancement.

At no point in history is the opportunity for real world education more available than now. Information is no longer locked up as classified documents that only professors or priests are privy to. The internet has provided a leverage. More Nigerian youths are now using smart phones.

My concern is not the wide spread availability of internet facilities. The question to those who have these smart devices is if they are using it to upgrade their education beyond social media use, keeping up with latest gossips and entertainment?

What is your education/ entertainment ratio as a young person? If its tilted towards entertainment, you can’t always blame the government for all your all your troubles (now and possibly in the future unless….) Why? You daily trivialize the education that can improve your economic potential.

Stop wasting time and put Google to good use henceforth to upgrade what is lacking in your education. Besides, it gives you more relevant, current and varied information than your lecturer at school can provide. There are also free online courses or MOOCs.

2. Employability
I will no longer belabour the workplace mantra that most Nigerian youths are not employable even with a university or polytechnic degree. It all started with a faulty educational system but it doesn’t end there. It continues with the failure of the youth to take responsibility in identifying and acquiring the skills that employers and businesses place a premium on.

My sympathy goes to the youths who know only know how to play video games and watch movies with their laptops when they should be honing their skills on Microsoft office tools on the least.

My sympathy also goes out to the youth who gives his resume to a road side typist to arrange the information and experience you painfully acquired for four years (without adding ASUU strike if you are one of us who attended a federal or public institution). How cheap and flippant you are with your life. Yet you say you need a well paying. A well paying job doesn’t deserve a mediocre employee.

My sympathy also goes out to the youths who wasted their time in school, going from party to party, sleeping when they should be studying, yet are now complaining that there are no jobs. They were never serious with life hence a lack of preparation for a well paying job. They lament they have no connection yet they lack competence. At least have one (competence).

It is never too late to start being the person you should have been. Starting from today, channel your energy towards learning what will help you get your dream job and achieve your dream life. Your current university grades doesn’t seal your fate unless you allow it.

3. Entrepreneurship
My opinion is that not all of us would be entrepreneurs but we need more of us as entrepreneurs. I agree there is lack of capital and ideas are a dime a dozen. What we need is people with a different mindset about entrepreneurship.

Folly is the thinking that believes that capital is its greatest limitation. Wise is the thinking that knows that any big idea can start small. A lot of people are not pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams because they focus on what they don’t have rather than what they have. Steve Jobs started apple in his garage. To generate the $1,350 in capital they used to start Apple, Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagen microbus, and Steve Wozniak sold his Hewlett-Packard calculator.

Start with what you have! Howard Stevenson, distinguished professor of entrepreneurship at Harvard University said, “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources currently controlled.” Don’t wait for perfect conditions or else you will never begin. You think you should be an entrepreneur? Again, start with what you have. Bootstrap your way if you can. You definitely have something even if you are belittling its potential. Resources come to those who maximize what is at hand.

I will also mention that your goal of entrepreneurship should raise its sight above a fat bank account. Youths must move into the horizon of seeing entrepreneurship as a vehicle for employment creation and economic growth, strengthening the free market and encouraging innovation. This is the greater good.

4. Responsibility
Government has not done this. Government hasn’t done that. Haven’t we had enough of these complaints. We need to remind ourselves or come to the consciousness that no society has ever been transformed by the sole effort of its government.

What we need now is a radical set of youths who strongly believe – IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO ME.

Whatever we desire to see in our lives will never materialize as long as we believe the power to make it happen lies outside ourselves. We must first look within and then without and not the other way round.

Responsibility here is broad based. You must not only accept responsibility for your own life but you must use personal responsibility as a spring board to embrace responsibility for the development of others around you and for the prosperity and advancement of our Nation.

Worth mentioning again is that the foundation of national transformation is personal responsibility and transformation. Youths must shun a mindset of entitlement. Our youths must not be selfish or seek instant gratification. They must avoid pleasure without conscience.

Just as grape wines become more valuable with age, the best pleasures of life are those that are delayed. Youths must seek to give more than they take. This is the peak quality of greatness o Nigerian youth – a ready posture to accept responsibility and make contribution.

5. Values
One of the values Nigerian youths must pursue intensely (and which most are apathetic towards) to rise above mediocrity is excellence. The famous American football coach, Vince Lombardi said,”The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavour.”

Competence therefore is the surest way out of mediocrity and the pursuit of excellence is the only way to sustain competence.

Its is not for nothing that King Solomon advocates this virtue. He said,”Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men”. I encourage the pursuit of excellence because it is tough to master but when mastered will guarantee your upward mobility in life.

Dear Youth, prepare to be a global player. Strive for global competitiveness. There will come a time in this country when only men of excellence will rule us. Will you be one?

6. Righteousness
According to the book of proverbs, “Righteousness exalts a nation. Sin is a reproach to any people.” Right living is the only route to lasting prosperity for a nation. If we will be happy as a Nation, we must heed Aristotle, “Only those who are good can be happy. Only the virtuous can be good.”

We can’t continue in this quagmire of rape, armed robbery, sectarian violence, looting of public funds, prostitution, youthful wantonness, bribery and corruption and expect to prosper as a nation. While it is easy to point fingers, we the youths must first put our house in order. We must not continue in the unrighteousness that plunged our nation into deep darkness.

A generation must rise up that understands like Stephen Covey that we are not a product of circumstances. We are a product of our decision and our decision must be to shun evil. We must seek righteousness because in the way of righteousness, there is life.

I’m not talking about mere morality but a transcendent morality that finds expression in love for our neighbours, an inclination to seek the common good and to live and leave a legacy for posterity.

Please note that not all of our problems need a committee to solve them. We must not despise the little steps that can be taken to at least alleviate the burden of mediocrity that the Nigerian youth currently bears, a mediocrity imposed either by self or circumstances. Whichever imposed the burden, excuses are not relevant. This article you are reading was typed using a regular blackberry phone. So No EXCUSES not to achieve the results you desire in life.

More importantly, we must prepare our lives to lead this country. The erstwhile leaders of this country, the likes of Ojukwu, Obasanjo, Danjuma, Buhari etc all led this country in their youths.

Recently, Obiageli Ezekwesili during a keynote address at a national gathering of the APC mentioned three things that transformational leaders must  possess – CHARACTER, COMPETENCE and CAPACITY. I encourage you to make a firm dedication to the pursuit of these 3Cs today.

Are you asking if any of these information has to do with you. If not you, then who? Are you asking if you can make a difference now. If not now, then when?

Youths! Enough of irresponsible living!

I believe in our potential.

From a passionate Nigerian Youth.

Layi Adeyemi

Follow me on twitter: @layiadeyemi. Connect with me on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/adeyemi.olayiwola2

I’m deeply committed to sharing ideas and strategies that will help you experience personal transformation and productivity.

About Layi Adeyemi
Layi is a consummate speaker, author, trainer and peak performance coach. As a management consultant, he is currently involved in helping various SMEs realize their full potential through strategy formulation for the development of their human resources and in achieving business growth.

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