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Echoes of Aspiration: A Glimpse into the Dreams and Challenges of Nigerian Youth

Echoes of Aspiration: A Glimpse into the Dreams and Challenges of Nigerian Youth

By Matthew Eloyi

In the vibrant tapestry of Nigeria, the voices of the youth echo with aspirations, hopes, and the determination to shape a future that transcends challenges. Meet Justina Alozie from Abia State, a serving corp member who is currently immersed in running a skill acquisition programme focused on the art of barbering. In this exclusive interview, she shares her thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing young Nigerians today.

Alozie recognises the pressing issue of unemployment as a significant challenge for Nigerian youth. However, she firmly believes in the power of self-created opportunities. She emphasises that the government needs to prioritise education to address the diminishing value and standards of the education system in the country. Her aspiration to reach the pinnacle as an educationist faces the challenge of a government that does not prioritise the educational sector. On the future job market, Alozie stresses the importance of digital skills for young Nigerians. In her view, technology plays a pivotal role in shaping lives and economies. She envisions Nigeria embracing technological advancements to boost growth in various sectors, citing the potential for improved efficiency and effectiveness.

Discussing political engagement, Alozie expresses dissatisfaction with the current state, labelling it as gerontocracy. She advocates for the actualisation of the oft-repeated phrase, “Youths are the leaders of tomorrow,” urging a shift towards youth inclusion in political processes. Alozie recognises the dearth of opportunities for young tech enthusiasts in Nigeria, attributing it to the country lagging behind in technology and innovation. She believes that global employment opportunities for tech-savvy youths often surpass those available within Nigeria. Cultural identity also holds immense importance for Alozie, who sees her heritage as a guiding force shaping her values and goals. She suggests promoting cultural preservation through education, proper management of historical artefacts, artistic contributions, traditional ceremonies, and the promotion of tourism and traditional food.

Highlighting pressing social issues, Alozie points to unemployment, poverty, and the “school na scam syndrome.” She advocates for self-education, understanding different cultures, and actively promoting inclusivity to address these challenges. In the realm of environmental sustainability, Alozie calls for Nigerian youth to become stewards and advocates. She emphasises the need for collaboration between the government, communities, and stakeholders to address environmental issues effectively. As Alozie envisions a future in Nigeria, she dreams of a country with enhanced labour productivity, ample employment opportunities, prioritised education, reduced corruption, and widespread adoption of innovation and technology. She underscores the importance of good leadership and active citizen participation in building the Nigeria of their dreams.

Also, in the heart of Konshisha Local Government Area in Benue State, Paul Aondover Igbashangev, a dynamic and multifaceted individual, stands as a beacon of inspiration for young Nigerians seeking to carve their paths in the ever-evolving job market. At 30, Paul is not just a name; he is an Independent Researcher, a seasoned Management Consultant, and a dedicated journalist. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Mass Communication at Bayero University in Kano, Paul also imparts knowledge as a Part-Time Lecturer at Kwararafa University, Wukari, the Makurdi Affiliate Campus. Furthermore, he is the visionary CEO behind Igbaskibaba Consulting Services and Solutions. In an interview with him, Paul shared his insights on the essential skills he believes young Nigerians should cultivate to thrive in the future job market. His recommendations paint a roadmap for success in an era defined by rapid technological advancements and evolving professional landscapes.

In a world dominated by digitisation, Paul stresses the importance of being proficient in using digital tools, platforms, and software. From computer basics to social media prowess, he encourages young Nigerians to harness the power of technology for their professional growth. Moving on, he highlights the critical importance of Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving. Recognising the complexity of modern challenges, Paul advocates for the development of analytical skills and the ability to solve intricate problems. According to him, education, training, and practical experience are key ingredients in nurturing these crucial attributes.

Adaptability and resilience are next on Paul’s list. Acknowledging the ever-changing nature of the job market, he encourages young Nigerians to be flexible and open to learning new skills. Entrepreneurial Mindset is equally crucial, fostering traits such as proactivity, innovation, risk-taking, and business acumen. Emotional Intelligence emerges as another key component in Paul’s blueprint for success. Understanding and managing emotions, coupled with empathy, are deemed essential for maintaining healthy workplace relationships, enhancing teamwork, and strengthening leadership capabilities. In the face of a job market that demands constant evolution, Paul advocates for a culture of lifelong learning, urging young Nigerians to unlearn to relearn, ensuring they remain relevant and competitive.

In the bustling city of Zaria, Ado Oryina Emmanuel, a 30-year-old from Benue State, is also carving his path in the academic realm. Currently pursuing an MSc degree in Chemistry at Ahmadu Bello University, he stands at the intersection of challenges and opportunities faced by Nigerian youth. Emmanuel is a symbol of the vibrant Nigerian youth, grappling with hurdles but also glimpsing promising opportunities. In an exclusive interview, he shares insights into the hurdles faced by the youth, the education system, and the crucial skills needed for the future. Emmanuel paints a vivid picture of the challenges plaguing Nigerian youth, foremost among them being inadequate access to loans, grants, and credit facilities. Many young minds are brimming with innovative ideas, he remarks, but the lack of investment capital stifles the transformation of these visions into reality. The challenging business environment in Nigeria, marked by issues like erratic power supply, multiple taxation, and fuel subsidy removal, further complicates the journey for youthful entrepreneurs. However, amidst these challenges, Emmanuel sees opportunities waiting to be seized. He points to the untapped potential in the agricultural sector, where young Nigerians could make significant contributions. Additionally, with the advent of industries like the Dangote refinery, the manufacturing sector holds promise for the Nigerian youth workforce.

Turning his attention to the education system, Emmanuel describes it as a mirage of the Western model adopted by Nigeria. He expresses concern about the perennial issue of ASUU strikes, a recurring disruption that hampers the educational journey for many. Poor funding and corruption have also plagued public schools at all levels. Emmanuel advocates for proper funding, urging the government to subsidise education to make it accessible to the less privileged. He emphasises the need for vigilant monitoring of allocated funds to ensure they are appropriately utilised. Emmanuel believes that the key to success in the future job market lies in the acquisition of crucial skills. Information technology, entrepreneurial, and financial management skills top his list of essentials. These, he asserts, will empower young Nigerians to navigate the evolving job landscape.

Shifting gears to politics, Emmanuel notes a concerning trend: the passive involvement of Nigerian youth in political processes. He observes that the youth are often used as pawns, deployed as thugs during elections. Emmanuel passionately calls for a paradigm shift, urging his fellow youth to mobilise for active participation in politics. The scourge of godfatherism, he insists, must be confronted, and a spirit of patriotism should guide the youth as they venture into the political landscape. Emmanuel’s story mirrors the narrative of countless Nigerian youth – a tale of resilience, aspirations, and a relentless pursuit of a brighter future. As the nation grapples with these challenges and opportunities, Emmanuel stands as a beacon of hope, emblematic of the potential waiting to be unleashed by the vibrant youth of Nigeria.

Benedict Paul Onoja, a 34-year-old journalist, also delves into the pressing challenges that Nigerian youths grapple with today, offering insightful solutions and sharing his personal aspirations in a candid interview. As a journalist involved in media content production, Onoja identifies unemployment and lack of capital as the foremost challenges facing Nigerian youths. He highlights the untapped potential within the agricultural value chain, citing the need for modernisation to attract young entrepreneurs. According to him, subsidies on farming equipment and financial support could unlock vast opportunities in this sector.

Additionally, Onoja emphasises the potential of digital marketing while addressing the prevalent issue of fraud, advocating for government intervention and widespread training in digital technologies to foster growth. He doesn’t shy away from critiquing the education system, calling it a “big mess.” Onoja points out the proliferation of underqualified teachers in private schools due to poor pay and inadequate resources, echoing similar concerns in government institutions. He advocates for better pay, monitoring, and an emphasis on entrepreneurship in the educational curriculum.

Speaking on political involvement, Onoja applauds the increased youth participation in the 2023 elections but notes the systemic hurdles such as exorbitant nomination fees and vote-buying. He stresses the need for electoral reforms, including electronic voting, to encourage more youth engagement. On a personal note, Onoja aspires to establish a media organisation but faces financial constraints. He hopes for support from various quarters, recognising the role media plays in societal impact. The journalist urges government support through skill acquisition programmes and financial empowerment for young entrepreneurs. He also highlights the positive impact of technology on his life, advocating for its utilisation in economic growth.

Echoing the importance of preserving cultural heritage, Onoja encourages upholding Nigerian traditions while addressing social issues like drug abuse, religious intolerance, and tribalism. He calls for unity among youths to build a stronger, indivisible nation. Environmental sustainability is another area of concern for Onoja, emphasising responsible waste management and tree planting as avenues for Nigerian youths to contribute to a cleaner environment. In his vision for Nigeria, Onoja envisions a united and prosperous nation where every citizen enjoys equal rights and security. He stresses the need to review laws that emphasise indigene-ship over citizenship and calls for increased youth participation in governance for a brighter future. Through this comprehensive interview, Onoja sheds light on multifaceted challenges faced by Nigerian youths while offering pragmatic solutions and a hopeful vision for a better tomorrow.

Another dynamic force named Comr. Anjie Micah Fanen shared insights into his diverse roles as a trained and certified Chemist, Educationist, Peacebuilder, Information Manager, and Project Manager. Fanen has been an active voice in student politics, having served as the Speaker of the Students Union at Benue State University Makurdi. Currently, he holds the position of National Director of New Media for the Coalition of Northern Groups while simultaneously building his brand, Mcfafam Group.

Fanen expressed concern about the state of Nigeria’s educational system, highlighting the need for legislative measures to align sectoral bodies with the national policy on education. He emphasised the importance of making education affordable, encouraging teaching by doing in schools, and fostering community participation through enlightenment campaigns. Fanen urged for a practical demonstration of the commitment to basic education, which is already made free. “Proper legislation on education, responsible citizens providing affordable education, and community participation are crucial for national development,” Fanen asserted, underlining the collective responsibility to promote education.

When asked about crucial skills for the future job market, Fanen stressed the importance of entrepreneurship training and becoming tech-savvy in areas such as data analysis, digital marketing, and e-commerce. He believes that developing these skills will position young Nigerians ahead in the evolving job market and contribute to economic growth. Fanen expressed disappointment in the current state of youth engagement in Nigerian politics, noting that political participation often devolves into disunity and insults during campaigns. He called for a shift in focus, emphasizing that the youth should be engaged in meaningful ways beyond elections. The interviewee urged for inclusivity in political processes, with young people actively contributing to decision-making. “Understanding the interconnected nature of the obstacles to youth participation is essential,” Fanen said, highlighting the importance of breaking the cycle of disempowerment and exclusion.

In terms of career aspirations, Fanen shared his desire to build the Mcfafam Group as a personal brand, become a thoughtful leader, and establish expertise in his various roles. He acknowledged challenges such as industry changes, time constraints, financial obligations, uncertainties, and the stress associated with building something new. Fanen emphasised the need for government support, suggesting that access to funding, training, enabling environments, security, and infrastructure are essential for young entrepreneurs and professionals. With this support, he believes that innovative ideas and businesses can flourish, driving economic growth.

Reflecting on the impact of technology, Fanen acknowledged both positive and negative aspects. While technology has facilitated global connectivity, information access, and improved living conditions, it has also led to addiction and cyberbullying. He sees technology as a historical force for positive change and envisions it playing a vital role in Nigeria’s future. Fanen is optimistic about the opportunities for young tech enthusiasts and innovators in Nigeria. He highlighted the dynamic and complex nature of the world, with ample room for young minds to reshape technology. From startups to classrooms and labs, he sees innovative contributions driving groundbreaking discoveries and solutions.

Cultural identity holds immense importance for Fanen, providing a sense of belonging, security, and access to social networks. He advocates for promoting cultural heritage through education, arts, and various activities aimed at raising awareness, preserving, and celebrating diverse cultural assets. On pressing social issues, Fanen identified unemployment, drug abuse, media influence, and cultism. He proposed solutions involving personal discipline, the rule of law, active roles of security and anti-graft agencies, and community engagement. He emphasised the role of youth in creating a more inclusive and tolerant society.

As Comr. Anjie Micah Fanen continues to play a dynamic role in various fields, his insights offer a glimpse into the aspirations, challenges, and hopes of the Nigerian youth. His call for education reform, technological empowerment, and cultural preservation resonates as a rallying cry for a generation poised to shape the nation’s future.

Apart from Alozie, Paul, Emmanuel, Onoja and Fanen who had a face-to-face conversation with our reporter, many other youths reached via various social media platforms also shared their thoughts. Meet Aisha, a 23-year-old from Lagos, currently studying Computer Science, who envisions a Nigeria where technology is a catalyst for progress. “Hi, I’m Aisha. I’m 23 and a Computer Science student from Lagos. I’m passionate about technology and its potential to transform our nation.” Aisha’s sentiment resonates with many Nigerian youth, each navigating a landscape marked by both obstacles and possibilities. When asked about the biggest challenges they face, a chorus of concerns emerges. Economic hardships, limited job opportunities, and an education system in need of reform stand out.

Musa, a 25-year-old Economics student from Kano, reflects on these challenges. “Unemployment is a significant issue. We need more opportunities and a diversified economy to harness the potential of our youth.” However, in the face of adversity, optimism prevails. Zainab, a 21-year-old studying Environmental Science in Abuja, sees opportunities for change. “As youth, we are innovative. If given the chance, we can drive sustainable solutions and contribute to the development of our country.” The discussion on education sparks impassioned responses. Ahmad, a 22-year-old Law student from Kaduna, emphasizes the need for a dynamic education system. “We need practical skills alongside theoretical knowledge. A curriculum that aligns with current industry demands can better prepare us for the job market.”

Skill development is a recurring theme. Ngozi, a 24-year-old Business Administration student in Enugu, stresses the importance of adaptability. “Soft skills like communication and problem-solving are crucial. We need a well-rounded education that goes beyond academic qualifications.” Political engagement is another topic that ignites fervour. Chijioke, a 26-year-old Political Science graduate in Port Harcourt, expresses a desire for increased youth involvement. “We need a more inclusive political space. Our voices matter, and we want to actively contribute to shaping the future of our nation.”

Aspirations vary, yet a common thread of resilience unites these young minds. Blessing, a 20-year-old aspiring entrepreneur from Owerri, dreams of a supportive government. “We need policies that foster entrepreneurship, access to funding, and mentorship programmes. This will empower us to turn our ideas into reality.” Technology emerges as a transformative force in their lives. Ibrahim, a 23-year-old Computer Engineering student in Jos, shares his perspective. “Technology has opened doors. It connects us, provides information, and can drive economic growth. We need policies that promote innovation and digital literacy.”

Yet, challenges persist. Amarachi, a 25-year-old software developer in Calabar, points out, “There are opportunities, but sometimes they’re not evenly distributed. We need initiatives that bridge the gap and support young talents across the country.” Cultural identity also holds profound significance. Fatima, a 22-year-old Sociology student in Maiduguri, emphasises the need for cultural preservation. “Our heritage defines us. Promoting cultural awareness through education and events will ensure the richness of our traditions is passed on.”

Social issues weigh heavily on the minds of these young Nigerians. Emeka, a 24-year-old Sociology graduate in Uyo, identifies inclusivity as crucial. “Addressing tribalism and fostering tolerance is vital. We, as youths, can actively engage in dialogue, promoting understanding and unity.” Environmental sustainability is a shared responsibility. Amina, a 21-year-old Environmental Science student in Yola, advocates for collective action. “Youth can lead environmental initiatives, but we need the government to enact and enforce policies that protect our natural resources.” Envisioning a future in Nigeria, Ada, a 26-year-old aspiring diplomat from Benin City, articulates a collective dream. “A united, prosperous Nigeria is possible. We need transparency, accountability, and investments in education and healthcare to build the foundation for a better future.”

In the echoes of these diverse voices, a resounding call for change reverberates. The aspirations of Nigerian youth transcend individual dreams; they converge into a collective vision for a nation that thrives on inclusivity, innovation, and sustainability. As these young minds navigate challenges, their unwavering spirit paints a compelling portrait of a future Nigeria poised for greatness.

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