Mr Dike Chukwumerije on Friday warned that Nigeria was “a country full of dependent adults” and is therefore “in great trouble” and that is why one in every three Nigerian is thinking of fleeing from the country.
He said Nigeria can neither thrive nor be peaceful when old animosities are being inherited and multiplied by the new generations.
He then called for a new dawn that will unfold the day of the Nigerian youth in a lecture titled; “The Youth and the Future of Nigeria: The Paradox of Assets and Liabilities”.
Delivering the Convocation Lecture at the 10th Anniversary of the Western Delta University (WDU), Oghara, on Friday, Chukwumerije explained in detail, how this could come about.
First, the youths, he said, must aim at achieving economic freedom and not depend on others beyond their school years or they can never achieve their full potentials.
So, he admonished the WDU graduands: “This is your primary challenge as you go into the society, how to develop the capacity to pay for your own food, to pay for your own rent, and to pay for your own life.
“You must either get a job that allows you to live fully, or you must create a business that allows you to live fully. Without economic freedom, you will be a pawn in the games of others. You must have an ability that can earn you a living”.
He asked the youths to be creative, pursue their dreams develop their natural abilities to gain economic freedom. He cited the example of himself; saying he studied law, but is earning a living through poetry, writing and motivational speaking – things people had advised him would never be lucrative.
Second, he said that the Nigerian youths need “Freedom of Thought” that would free them from the old poisonous ways of thinking; tribalism, nepotism, procedural dogmatism, and religious extremism.
“The belief that my God is right and your God is wrong, that my people are right and your people are wrong. You must free yourself from these inflexible positions, and develop the capacity to be open, and to see the world through fresh eyes. Form the habit of examining old problems in a new ways. Above all, cultivate empathy for others.”
Third, Chukwumerije challenged the youths to aim at “Political Freedom”, and fight to enthrone it in Nigeria. He said that without it, citizens cannot vote according to their consciences, and so cannot vote for those that would lead people in the right direction, because bad governance is a direct result of lack of political freedom.
“Without political freedom, Nigeria will remain the graveyard for youths where youths will be perpetually trapped in the category of dependent adults.”
Turning to the government, he said good governance must flourish, and provide a level playing field for all youths to enhance their abilities, make an impact by changing Nigeria and the world.
“Youths can be a powerful force for good in the society. But to achieve this it is important to populate their minds with progressive ideas, and to provide them with dignifying economic opportunities that engage them fully and sustain them at a decent level of living.
“Without these, youths will be a destructive force in society. While we wait on government to realize this and do what good government does, we can take steps as individuals to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery and from economic dependence, so that we can have the unrestricted capacity, in our own little corners, to be shining beacons of hope and faith to those around us.”
He said: “If all articulated is done, and the youths begin to “see Nigeria and the world in a new light and not be weighed down by the ethnic, baggage inherited from the older generation, then you will find the sun rising steadily over a new day; over the Day of the Nigerian Youth.”