The Root Causes of Youth Restiveness in Nigeria
• Marginalization: The notion appears to have gained ground that the youth resort to restiveness because of their perceived marginalisation by the ‘selfish’ elders in the scheme of things in the communities. In order to get their share of the benefits accruing to the society they resort to taking on their elders headlong, culminating in the restiveness rampant in most of our communities today.
• Unemployment: Unemployment is a hydra-headed monster which exists among the youth in all developing countries. The unemployment rate in Nigeria was last reported at 23.9 percent in 2011. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has put the figure of unemployed Nigerians in the first half of the year at 23.9 per cent, up from 21.1 per cent in 2010 and 19.7 per cent in 2009.
Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina noted that Nigeria’s unemployment rate is spiraling upwards, growing at 11 per cent yearly, According to him “Youth unemployment rate is over 50 per cent. “Our unemployment rate is spiralling, driven by the wave of four Million young people entering the workforce every year with only a small fraction able to find formal employment.
The rising tide of unemployment and the fear of a bleak future among the youth in African countries have made them vulnerable to the manipulations of agents’ provocateurs”. These include aggrieved politicians, religious demagogues, and greedy multinationals that employ these youths to achieve their selfish ambitions. It is clearly evident that the absence of job opportunities in developing countries is responsible for youth restiveness with disastrous consequences.
This leaves in its trails; low productivity, intra-ethnic hostilities, unemployment, poverty, prostitution and environmental degradation.
• Exuberance: Very often, the youth are described as full of youthful exuberance. This raw energy has of late been channelled into unwholesome and socially unacceptable venture that threaten the very fabrics of the community. Also the issue of availability and accessibility of drugs in street corners which predispose the youth to abnormal behaviours when they come under their influence adds to youth restiveness.
It is also believed that some disgruntled leaders, elders and politicians in our society resort to recruiting youth for settling scores or using them against perceived enemies. With this trend, the activities of these youth have degenerated to outright criminality. Once these youth get mobilized for these nefarious activities they become uncontrollable and the society suffers.
Poverty connotes inequality and social injustice and this traumatizes the poor. More than 70 percent of people in Nigeria are in abject poverty, living below the poverty line, and one- third survive on less than US $1 dollar a day. This figure includes an army of youth in urban centres in Nigeria who struggle to eke out a living by hawking chewing sticks, bottled water, handkerchiefs, belts, etc. The sales-per-day and the profit margin on such goods are so small that they can hardly live above the poverty line. Disillusioned, frustrated, and dejected, they seek an opportunity to express their anger against the state. Scholars have overtime agreed that there is a link among poverty, loss of livelihood, inequality, and youth restiveness as evidenced by the numerous violent protests against the wielders of power in Nigeria.
• Inadequate Educational Opportunities and Resources
Quality education has a direct bearing on national prestige, greatness, and cohesion. The knowledge and skill that young people acquire help determine their degree of patriotism and contribution to national integration and progress. Between 2000 and 2004, about 30 percent of Nigerian youth between 10 and 24 were not enrolled in secondary school (Population Reference Bureau, 2006). Perhaps the prohibitive cost of acquiring education is responsible.
The after effect of this situation is that thousands of young people roam the streets in cities in Nigeria. Those who manage to complete secondary school have no opportunities for tertiary education. Having being denied the chance to reach their potential, they are disorientated and readily available for antisocial actions.
Worse still, some who struggle to enroll in various educational institutions drop out due to lack of basic learning facilities. This situation is attributable to the dwindling resources of government at both federal and state levels as a result of an economic meltdown.
• Lack of Basic Infrastructure
Most rural communities and urban slums in Nigeria have no access to potable water, health facilities, electricity, communication facilities, industries and commercial facilities, etc. Behind social unrest and youth restiveness in the country is the agitation for equitable distribution of resources.
• Inadequate Communication and Information flow
Communication creates room for sharing information. It helps people express their thoughts and feelings, clarify problems, and consider alternative ways of coping or adapting to their situation. Such sharing promotes social cohesion.
People must have access to communication facilities, to communicate with the people making the decisions that affect them. Sadly, rarely do people in Nigeria participate in decision-making processes on issues that affect their lives.