By Constance Meju
For two days I sat down after my family had gone to bed. I was troubled, very much troubled and reason was the state if affairs in this our country. As I replayed the events of the past months, from unbelievable horrors being unleashed by Boko Haram members on innocent people in the North East to Fulani Herdsmen impunity in the Benue/South East zone, the South West and back to the atrocities of our own kidnap champion and community vandalizing cultists of the South South, one horrible thought kept coming up in my mind-“We have lost it; We have lost it”.
The youth is the hope of society, the hands that will promote continuity, the very future of a nation; it’s pride. For that reason, society takes care to ensure it lays a fine foundation to ensure its youths are well prepared and equipped to face the challenges of life and nation-building as they develop. They are taught live values that will help them become useful and proud citizens knowing they occupy a vial position in the chain of life representing generational continuity. They are groomed to respect themselves, respect their elders, their parents, family, subordinates, their friends, neighbours and whatever institution they represent . For this purpose the early life of the youth is devoted to learning-about who you are and who you represent, about others and how to co-exist with others. And this, usually through watching our elders, parents, relatives, etc., and picking what needs to be picked.
To this is often added formal education-academic and vocational to prepare for adulthood when the youth is expected to mature into being responsible for his or herself through gainful employment.
As I watched our youths, I began to realize that we have missed the mark. Some of us as parents have failed to do the needful. We have failed to carry out the primary education of inculcating values in our children. Values-respect for time, elders, responsibilities, truthfulness, honesty, hard work, love for another (the greatest commandment), respect for parents, family and family honour- all attributes that qualify one for a solid state in life are clearly missing in present day diary of many youths and directly responsible for the troubles in society today. This has provided room for unscrupulous politicians and influential society leaders hungry for power to find easy preys to engage for mischief.
What then should be the case? The future looks very bleak if we do not retrace our steps so we can follow the right path. And how do we that? By understanding what empowerment means, identifying our challenges and working out how we should fit in to take that rightful position that will offer us the power and voice to become the true future of our society.
So what is empowerment? Let’s define empowerment as a process that prepares you to be an active player in society. Wikipedia defines empowerment as, “measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority”.
Who is an Empowered Youth? From the above, empowerment denotes development, power to make decisions about your life and voice to be heard through your actions or deeds. Thus the empowered youth can be defined as a youth equipped to live his dream with a voice to be heard and positive contributor to society.