By Azugbene Solomon
Youth leadership is the practice of teens exercising authority over themselves or others. Youth leadership has been elaborated upon as a theory of youth development in which young people gain skills and knowledge necessary to lead civic engagement, education reform and community organizing activities.
Youth leadership opportunities are often overlooked by adults, either knowingly or unknowingly, but the results are the same; a lost opportunity for young people to take the lead. Even when adults consider themselves champions for youth in leadership roles, many times adults are asked to assume the leadership positions instead of letting youth take the lead.
Youth participation in leadership is a critical priority. The situation in Nigeria and many African countries have created conditions that hardly favour young people.
Some of the problems that impede the effective participation of the youth in leadership are mainly to do with inequalities in the social, economic and political arena. One of them is the shortage of opportunities for education and training.
Additionally, the failure to respect the human rights of the youth as active citizens has created difficulties when it comes to youth participation in political leadership.
Levels of youth unemployment are so high that young people engage in vices that do not contribute to their well-being but put their lives and potential at risk.
The people demand to play a major role in ensuring that the so-called “mentors” or “elders”, who want to cling to power or leadership positions that belong to all citizens, are held accountable for making policies that fail to empower the young majority.
Youth participation in socio-economic and civic development is vital for the development of any country.
Youth involvement is an important means to overcome disrespect and marginalisation of young people at a time the continent is experiencing a boom in the population of the youth.
Youths must seek to participate in government, politics and policy formulation. We must shelve aside our responsibilities of joining mainstream politics and forming healthy and progressive alliances among ourselves and participating in all issues of national interest. This way, our voices will be heard and our views considered.
We need the wisdom of the old because if the energy of youth is left unchecked, it portends imminent danger. It is time for the young generation to stop seeing themselves as too young. We all have something to offer this great Africa continent.