Today being a day set aside to celebrate the future of every nation, it is imperative we take a critical look at the contributions of youths to nation building and the hindrances. This year’s theme is apt for me, considering the various actions and speeches of youths in my country and region within the last couple of months.
Ours has not been a “bound in freedom, peace and unity” as our national anthem suggests. It’s been crisis, threats and counter threats from all regions. Unsurprisingly these activities by youths have been supported by elders, who have found it convenient to make use of these vulnerable youths to achieve their selfish aims.
The youthful energy, intelligence, ‎perseverance, beauty etc should be properly harnessed by both individuals and the society towards nation building; failure to do this(using Nigeria as a case in point) is inimical to the growth of any nation.
Peace should not only be seen as the absence of physical conflicts, peace includes “the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the establishment of equality and a working political order, that serves the interest of all”; from the above, it can be deduced that for youths to be part of peace building in any society, the leaders have a role to play in ensuring that justice and equity thrive.
When youths(as individuals) adopt the Confucius concept: REN – benevolence/humaneness , “not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself”, there would be a reduction(if not total elimination) of conflicts.
In building peace, youths should realize that in situations of conflict, they bare the brunt as a large part of their lives will be wasted, this realisation will further inculcate the need for other avenues of conflict resolutions to be sought instead of violence.
The youths should not allow their futures to be truncated by people who do not care about their survival nor their tomorrow, people who are only willing to satisfy their cravings, even if it will cost the lives of their ‘boys’.
For peace to be sustained a deliberate effort has to be made by governments to develop/strengthen institutions that will further enhance the intellectual abilities  ‎of youths to reason critically and be better positioned to fit into emerging opportunities. Youths also have to be willing to exploit the existing structures to better their chances of getting more in the future – leadership wouldn’t be given cheaply, it has to be worked for. Instead of resorting to violence, a constant effort to harmonize their positions and make their voices heard will yield a more desirable result.
Rather than use the platform the Social Media presents to constantly attack each other over issues that are in no way beneficial to their generation, the social media can become a viable tool to seek a change to existing structures and promote peaceful co-existence.
As we mark this year’s youth day, youths should not allow their futures to be hijacked by person/situations that will ultimately destroy them. No matter how dire the situation or how tense the atmosphere, a peaceful community is possible and the youths who have a lost to lose(in the absence of peace) have a duty to ensure this happens.

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