No matter how hard we try to pretend about it, we are sitting on a time bomb that is ticking daily. The earlier we become self-aware of a deeply depressed and anxious youthful population and do something about it, the better for everyone.
Youth development is a job for all although parents, teachers and religious leaders have more work to do. What this means is that these guardians and custodians of learning and faith have the primary duty and onerous task of moulding young leaders in character and learning – and then point the way forward for them.
A video where three teenagers – aged between 14 and 16 years – confessed that they want to learn “Yahoo Yahoo” as a career trended recently. To tell you the truth, I was not surprised, even though I’m worried. Instead of going to school, teenagers are being recruited as cyber-scammers and fraudsters.
Although cyber-crime is a world-wide phenomenon, Yahoo Yahoo is a local franchise and fraudulent enterprise enabled by the internet on the one hand and masterminded by cyber criminals of various hues on the other.
Rapid advances in technology (Internet of Things, Space Exploration, Robotics, Augmented Reality, etc) have totally disrupted our world and created a major downside: hackers who are on the prowl in search of victims. The lesson for everyone is that we must take our personal security on the internet very seriously.
The advice from ICT experts is that we must never click on suspicious links or open spam emails. It is better to copy the link and paste on a new web browser so that your device and information are not compromised.
Yahoo Yahoo is practiced everywhere you turn by male teenagers assisted by their female lovers – teenagers who prance around as sex toys. These hunters of fortune are resident guests in as many hotels as you can find in every neighbourhood.
Their latest repugnant variant, “Yahoo Yahoo Plus”, a totem for money rituals and death code for unleashing savage impulses on their victims resulting in brutal murders, is equally concerning. Such brazenness and audacity can only be enabled by a blood-sucking oath. Who are their sponsors and masterminds?
The desperation to make money and acquire wealth at all cost is at the heart of a sickening Yahoo Yahoo malaise. It is the manifestation of a broken society that has failed to protect our vibrant youth population, leaving them with no hope or any redeeming value.
Growing up, the values that held society together included lessons on respect, courtesy, healthy competition, honesty, discipline, sincerity, truthfulness and dignity in labour – but not anymore. The deleterious effect of the collapse of family values is spreading fast like cancer among our leaders of tomorrow. What purposeful future do they really have?
Yahoo Yahoo is just part of the problem. We also have widespread examination malpractices, substance abuse and cultism practiced by teenagers. The way I see things, the unrestrained attack on our social and moral fabric by our youths simply means we are creating monsters with our own hands.
These monsters will surely return to haunt us. In fact, the tell-tale signs are with us already. Unfortunately, parents are also losing control. Every government has failed our future leaders and they are essentially resorting to self-help to survive – including desperate and dangerous attempts to emigrate in search of greener pastures.
Part of the societal decay relates to graduates who cannot read and write because they “paid” their way through school – that is for those who even agreed to go to school in the first place. With rising youth unemployment and the absence of a purpose-driven developmental framework for our young leaders, what do you expect?
When we talk of achieving a higher purpose in life, it means nary a thing to our young leaders. Instead, they will “look at you with scorn” as Prof Charles Soludo, the governor-elect of Anambra state, noted recently. They want quick money, even if it means betraying family and friends, or being recruited by criminal gangs.
These problems will not go away overnight but what can we do individually and collectively to stem the tide and change the narrative? If we do not want another “youth rebellion” on our hands, it means we have to do something – and fast, too. By the way, of what use are the ministries, departments and agencies that are responsible for youth development?
Rotary International, the humanitarian service and fellowship organisation founded in 1905 with about 1.4 million volunteers and problem solvers in over 200 countries and geographical regions of the world, has a programme for youth development.
It is called the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), a highly competitive and intensive leadership programme organised by Rotary clubs and districts around the world. It is an opportunity to develop the leadership potential of young people, typically aged from 14 – 30 years.
A statement on Rotary International website says RYLA events could be a one day seminar, a weekend retreat or a week long programme of activities.
When the RYLA 2021 camp organised by Rotary International District 9110 opened at the NYSC Orientation Camp in Iyana Ipaja, Lagos, on January 7, 2022, 677 participants (Rylarians) registered.
Apart from the 48 Rotarians and Rotaractors who served as volunteers on the RYLA organising committee, there were 23 Facilitators in camp taking our young leaders in variety of presentations, activities and workshops. The topics ranged from citizenship and leadership training to household sanitary materials production.
There were also lessons on organic cream production, waste management, starting a small business, understanding the agric value chain and public speaking, with emphasis on phonics and elocution.
At the opening ceremony, the District Governor of Rotary International District 9110, Remi Bello, FCA, explained to the young leaders why they should believe in Nigeria. He also told them that they have a civic responsibility to create a paradigm shift, change the narrative of our current circumstances and make Nigeria work for everyone.
To underscore the importance of patriotism, the District Governor ensured that the curriculum was adjusted so that our Rylarians would learn and understand their critical role in the task of nation building. A guest speaker was invited from the National Orientation Agency for this purpose.
For the eight days our young leaders were in camp, the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre personnel taught participants the values of citizenship and leadership development in addition to explaining our national core values, one of which is “integrity”.
Interestingly, “integrity” is one of the core values of Rotary, clearly an indispensable value for building future leaders. Others are service, diversity, fellowship and leadership. The training modules for our young leaders exemplified these values in different ways.
Integrity is so important that Warren Buffet, arguably the world’s most successful investor, said “honesty” and “integrity” are always in short supply, adding that integrity is non-negotiable when establishing high-trust teams.
In a 1998 speech at the University of Florida, Buffet gave MBA students a business lesson for competitive advantage that comes from having integrity to guide their business and hiring decisions.
Buffet said, “We look for three things when we hire people … we look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy and we look for integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.”
Constance Jaiyelola, a Past District Rotaract Representative (PDRR) for District 9110 and two-time RYLA alumnus — 2006 as an Interactor and 2013 as a Rotaractor – said RYLA helps youths in the development of their “mind, body and soul”. This attribute, according to her, includes critical thinking, problem solving, cultivating entrepreneurship skills and developing a positive mental attitude.
In his own submission, the current District Rotaract Representative, Ayodeji Shobowale, explained that RYLA allows young leaders to develop their talents and leadership skills while the training also gives them the right clues to find mentors.
He added that the physical and mental drills, social activities as well as the opportunity to build great connections through fellowship in camp are survival toolkits for the future.
RYLA 2021 featured secondary school students, undergraduates and young professionals. The boot camp allowed the participants to hone their leadership potential, develop problem solving skills and learn ethical business practices.
They were able to accomplish tasks together by working in teams, build trusting relationships and develop communication skills. RYLA 2021 showed that a new crop of leaders capable of transformational leadership can emerge in Nigeria. Indeed, we can safely predict that the future is bright.
The world is increasingly becoming a complex place with new problems that require new skills. For example, Covid-19, the global public health challenge that has been with us since 2020, has affected the way we live and work.
The mutating virus has become the greatest threat to our common humanity in recent history, disrupting not only global supply chains but restricting travels, tearing families apart, causing mental health challenges and a harvest of deaths. We have also suffered colossal losses from business failures.
Scientists have come up with different options for vaccines but that has also created its own problem: there are anti-vaxxer movements that do not believe in vaccines to combat the global pandemic, the latest variant being Omicron. Conspiracy theories against the efficacy of vaccines and indeed science escalated the crisis of confidence in Covid-19 safety protocols and development of vaccines.
The spread of the virus created new problems and opportunities. Our changing circumstances, for example, gave rise to more virtual meetings. So what RYLA does is to open up a world of possibilities for young people who are trained to become dynamic leaders in order to change themselves and the world.
In today’s VUCA world, young leaders must understand that problems have to be solved with a different approach, bearing in mind that rapid advances in technology and globalisation have created a new world order.
VUCA, a “sexy” management buzzword, is the short form for “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity”. It serves as a constant reminder of hope — not despair — as we face changing priorities and challenging circumstances around the world. VUCA also means that every new challenge requires a new set of skills to solve it.
The Chairman of RYLA 2021 organising committee, Dare Adeyeri, a management consultant and information technology expert, explained the complexities as follows: “We live in a complex world, one that is global, digitally enabled and transparent, and yet marked by unprecedented state of turmoil and constant change.
“From 2008 to now, the world has moved from one crisis to another: from financial crisis to economic meltdown, from globalisation to protectionism, from conflicts to instability and from climate change to environmental deprivation.”
Adeyeri also noted that these problems which are creating misery and pains require a fundamental shift in thinking and orientation, and a new set of young leaders with different skills and problem solving capabilities.
RYLA 2021 helped our young leaders to discuss today’s emerging challenges. In addition to developing the value of service, the programme helped them to gain insight and knowledge on life’s useful lessons, and prepared them for the future ahead.
Since 1985, Rotary International District 9110 has been organising the annual event. RYLA 2021 was the 36th edition.
-Braimah is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Naija Times (https://naijatimes.ng) and District Secretary, Rotary International District 9110