YOUTH: The indispensable factor in the process of social re-engineering

by Nafisat Abubakar

Social re-engineering can be likened to a social revolution. It is the overhauling of the current social norms which rule and dictate behavior in a society. Social re-engineering seeks to reconstruct social patterns prevalent in a society with the intent of producing an intended or desired change.

It is a long held notion that youth in a society are the catalyst for change. Their energy forms their passion and fuels social revolution. Looking at recent historical examples such as the uprisings in Libya, Egypt and other nations in the world, we see a mass of youth population desirous for change at the forefront of the agitations and activism fighting for the betterment of their future.

Let’s use Libya as a case study. Libya, was once governed by Qaddafi. He was referred to as the “Mad Dog of the Middle East” by the then President of the United States Ronald Reagan. Libya under Gaddafi was considered a state that sponsors of terrorism and also distributes weapons of mass destruction. He planned a terrorist attack in Berlin that killed American citizens. He also once plotted to assassinate the King of Saudi Arabia.

In the later years he attempted to turn a new leaf by giving up his nuclear program and trying to combat terrorism. When the protests against his government started, he reverted to the murderous dictator he was in the past. War began in Libya between the rebel forces and Qaddafi who had the full force of the military on his side. Through the combined efforts of the international community and efforts of these rebels within Libya, Qaddafi was defeated and killed soon after.

In the memoir “Hard Choices” written by Hillary Clinton, she stated that in a meeting where the Libyan delegation had renounced loyalty to Qaddafi and sworn allegiance to the rebellion, a

Libyan diplomat said, “Young people in my country today are writing a new chapter in the history of struggle and resistance.” The narrative in Libya is far from over but the lesson is clear.

The participation of youths in the governance of their nation is not only a prerequisite to social re-engineering but essential.

Nigeria is exceptionally unique because of its youthful population. Our youth currently make up at least 50% of the country’s population. Nigeria at present has a total population of 182 million. If we must re-engineer social norms and challenge structures on a large scale, the youths must take active participation in the leadership process. Part of the problems Nigeria is facing is a resultant effect of the failure of past administrations to actively engage youths in decision making and policy decisions.

When efforts are made to include the youths by giving them a stake in the decision making process, they gradually take steps to own the initiatives. People naturally feel responsible for projects they play a part in creating; that is another key to social re-engineering. It is important to get the youths involved in politics and make sure their interests are well represented.

When we equally understand how important the youths are in the process of social re-engineering, we would understand how important it is to invest in the education of the group which through their massive population is able to sway most political decisions in the country.

Invest in quality education and you will have an intelligent electorate able to make well rounded and holistic decisions, especially when it comes to choosing a political leader who will steer the affairs of the country in the direction of the much needed socioeconomic development. Votes will be made not on the basis of tribalism and ethnic bias but simply on the strength of the candidate’s manifesto and his/her vision for the nation.

Nigeria is at a turning point, where the old norms and systems have to give way to the new to ensure a pattern of sustainable development. This can be achieved by giving equipped and capable youth leaders who have integrity a chance to lead. The youth make up a civil society that will stand up in defense of our institutions and values.

The system of government is a reflection of the electorate. To cause a systematic change in government, we must effect a change in our electorate. The youth must be fully involved in making decisions which influence their future.

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