By Christopher Oji
Cultism among the youths is a serious concern to stakeholders in security agencies, parents and school authorities. There is hardly a day that one opens the newspapers or tunes in to he news on television or radio without the ugly headlines of how cultists caused havoc in one place or the other. Sometimes, lives and property and are lost.
In the past three weeks, over 500 youths, whose ages rangeds from 16 to 30, have been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command for of drugs and cult-related offenses.
Despite the alarming trend, executive director of the Advocacy Peace Centre for the Young People Skills Development Productivity (TAPCYPSD), Mr. Tunji Ajibola, said there was still hope for the youth, as what they actually needed was orientation and direction. He called on parents and the government to attend to youths, who are the future leaders, or the country would collapse.
In this interview with Christopher Oji, Ajibola, a lecturer, talks about how the youth can be assisted and guided aright to become useful to themselves and the society at large.
How it began
When I was an undergraduate, I discovered that the youths needed more information outside from the usual education. If youths are guided aright, they would have self-esteem and won’t engage in cultism and gangsterism.
The youth need life skills, information, self-development and other necessary elements that are required to become responsible in the society. I discovered that the schools only taught curriculum-based instructions, whereas, in the larger society, young people are expected to do more than what they are taught in school. The youth actually need information that is required to solve real-life challenges.
For instances, while in school, students would not be taught how to be successful in life. They won’t be taught relationship-building or conflict resolution skills. In my interactions with youths as a lecturer, I discovered that they need these forms of information consistently. It is so important that we can no longer continue to refer to them a curricular activities, because they are core information that people need.
That was what led me to this platform, where we invite experienced facilitators from across the world to come and inspire the youths with knowledge and to proffer solutions to the challenges confronting youths. Every last Friday of the month, we gather the youth at Ronik Polytechnic, Ejigbo, Lagos, where we teach them many things that will help them in life. However, every year, we do the Young People’s Conference, where we invite eggheads to come and guide the youths aright. This year’s annual conference, with the theme “Help our youths the truth to know,” will hold from Monday, July I6, to Friday, July 20, from 10am to 5pm.
In this gathering, we will have serious topics such as “Equipping young talents for careers in public and corporate governance.” “People, society and communication,” “Peace, conflict prevention and resolution,” “Employment, wealth creation and fulfilment,” “Entertainment, education and the contemporary capacity building platform.”
We have great inspirational speakers billed to grace the event as well as economists, stakeholders in security, including the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, the director-general of the NYSC, Brig-Gen. Sule Kazaure, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State and many others.
They would talk to the youths on what they need to know about life’s challenges. We will not leave them alone after talking, we are going to follow up on them, till they get it right; and admission to this annual conference is free and open to senior senior secondary students, fresh school leavers, undergraduates and young people between 10 and 40 years.
Stakeholders in youth development and parents are also invited, as they will learn a lot about how to make their children useful in life.
Our teaching is effective
Really, there is no youth that would come to our meetings or conference that his or her life would remain the same. They are bound to learn self-esteem and respect to human dignity, aside from talent and capacity building. We have been able to produce young people that are now affecting the society positively. We have produced a lot of young people that have been using their talents positively.
We have been able to address and change so many youths who would have taken to crime. We have been able to guide the youth in choosing careers in their area of endowment, talents or competence. We believe so much in preventive measures, so we organise talks on the implications of crime and vices such as cultism, drugs, advance fee fraud (419) and other issues.
There is really hope for the youths, what we need to do is to catch them young. Parents should not be afraid to speak to their children because, if they miss it when they are young, it would be difficult to bring them out of crime later. All hands must be on deck to help youths by telling them the truth.
Government should assist in providing the enabling environment for youths to grow in love. Religious organisations and traditional institutions have a role to play in the upbringing of children and monitoring the activities of youths in their areas.
We would appreciate it if parents would permit their children to come for the annual conference, as they have a lot to gain by listening to the speakers and personalities in attendance and by asking questions on issues that bother them.