Young People and the Challenge of Insecurity

Youth and Insecurity in Nigeria's Middle Belt

Essay, 2018
9 Pages, Grade: 5


I am highly delighted and indeed catapulted on top of the world to address these cultured
enthusiasts of knowledge and conspicuity. The topic given to me; Young People and the
Challenge of Insecurity: Changing the Narratives for Sustainable Development In Plateau
State, is quite apt and pertinent in this contemporary era of unrestrained aggression across the
globe amplified by the robust emergence of youths on the political landscape of Plateau State
and their effective participation in the political process that culminated in the emergence of the
APC government at both the State and Federal level. As a young person, I indubitably
credence without any shred of pessimism that I will be able to connect with you as I share my
thoughts on the above subject matter given that our destiny is inextricably tied to each other as
young people who are supposedly the leaders of tomorrow. As much as I desire to divorce my
brief presentation from academic underpinnings, I nevertheless sincerely confess that I am not
immune from its proclivities, hence, you may find me swivel in and out of that ocean to
quench our thirst as we brainstorm to change the narratives for sustainable development of
Plateau State.
Youths represent the heartbeat of every society throughout history. The youthful stage of an
individual's life marks the most critical and yet delicate period where the constellation of
internalized habits both negative and positive are defined. These habits which are largely
shaped by experiences within the individual's environment determine his/her perception and
interpretation of social life. This phase of life is characterized by myriad of distractions.
Distortions of reality, pressures, imbalances, angst, instabilities and insecurities just to
mention a fraction; these vicissitudes predispose the youth to many vices that often than not
alter the course of life either for good or bad permanently. No wonder the strength of every
nation rests on the young who can either build it or destroy it.
The myriad of contestations and bloodbath witnessed over the years on the Plateau are more
than religious confrontations between Muslims and Christians or even an ethnic one between
the Hausa-Fulani and Berom, Jarawa (Afizere) and Anaguta. It is neither about the fear of a
religious/ethnic group seeming to dominate the other. The contradictions which are daily
rehearsed across the country in form of ethno-religious conflicts and fratricidal wars are rather
the result of wide opportunity gabs between classes, groups and ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
It follows initially from the imposition of an exploitative colonial system, but more
perniciously from the ascension of a bankrupt and degenerate indigenous leadership. This
leadership has over time has failed to take strong and decisive actions that would reform and
transform the colonial political economy into a self-generating and self-sustaining system that
would attack inequality, unemployment and poverty. Where individuals have unequal access
to resources, services and positions in society; violence, insecurity and uncertainty will be
created in this process.
Insecurity is a problem common among developed and developing nations that constitute
significant threat to peaceful co-existence, interaction, stability and development. It charges
people with threats, tensions, anxieties and uncertainties. Examples of violent local conflicts

include Tiv-Jukun, Aguleri-Amuleri, Hausa-Berom conflicts, etc. Those of international
proportion include the conflict in Syria, Isreali-Palestinian, Lebanon, Iraq, Afganistan, Congo
and Rwanda.
Over the years, Africa seems to have had the largest share of conflict in the world. At one
point or the other, we had conflict in Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Nigeria,
Liberia and Somalia among others. The conflicts in these countries have been devastating in
terms of material and human resources; Ayitte (1999) describes the African situation as:
"Mired in steaming squalor, misery, deprivation and chaos; it is in the throes of a seemingly
incurable crisis. Eating has become a luxury for many Africans, and hunger stares them
squarely in the face".
At the receiving end of insecurity are sadly youths who are recruited to either fight for a cause
not their own or have their educational pursuits abandoned in the wake of these violent
conflicts. As a resultant consequence, the supremacy of the constitution which is the ground
norm for conduct is interminably jettisoned. Farmers and herdsmen clashes have given a new
definition to the dynamics of insecurity on the Plateau. This is manifested in the horrific
manner in which villages are razed to rubbles over such disputes. When the constitution fails
to hold accountable, perpetrators of heinous crimes owing to favoritism or selective justice,
the sanctity of lives are lost. This is the fundamental precursor to youth's engagement in
violent conflicts over the years with the menace of Boko Haram at the zenith of radicalization.
As the nature of terrorism assumes an even dangerous dimension owing to significant
advancement in technology, the future of our youths leaves a lot to be desired. This is in view
of the fact that when youths are not groomed for leadership but rather occupied in destroying
the future, the survival of the society beyond this generation becomes bleak and frightening.
Arms stockpile and manufactured of IEDs is no longer news as many communities have been
devastated by suicide bombings and hundreds of lives lost. One may be tempted to ask
whether the government is unaware of these occurrences. When government seemingly
tolerates the activities of lawless elements in the society, it inspires other young people to look
forward to unleashing mayhem on unsuspecting members of the public with great zeal.
The basis of our harmonious coexistence as a people from time immemorial, irrespective of
tribe, creed or religion has been mutual respect for one another. It is however sad to not that
we are fast descending into Hobsonan state where live is brutish and short. Our youths whose
creative abilities should be channeled towards the development of the nation are rather deeply
inundated in creating insecurity in the country under different platforms i.e. Niger Delta
Avengers, Boko Haram, MEND, Niger Delta Force, MASSOB, Fulani herdsmen etc. this
precarious trend is alarming as the future looks very uncertain to the Nigerian youth in general
and Plateau youth in particular. When youths engage in unrestrained destruction of critical
infrastructure thus undermining the economy of the country, one wonders if at all there is any
future left for those who still have an unflinching faith in the continued survival of the
Nigerian nation.
Patriotism is at the lowest ebb among youth owing to decades of misrule where leaders have
continually shown significant disregard for the integrity and dignity of the nation as evident in
the pilfering of the nation's treasury with reckless impunity. For equity and fairness to prevail

government must be seen to be unbiased in the distribution or allocation of resources e.g.
herdsmen ship must or livestock rearing must be accorded equal status and recognition in
terms of funding support as compared to farming of both food and cash crops as survival can
be threatened without both. This stems from the fact that citizens are bound to react in certain
ways and manners towards policies and programmes of government when they perceive
injustice and unfairness which could be a mere figment of imagination. In this regard,
government must not only be fair and just, but must be seen to be fair and just to all to
forestall misinterpretations and misinterpretation by the public. The change government on the
Plateau has done creditably well in curtailing some of these excesses of citizens which often
undermine efforts of government in providing good governance to the public.
Any disclosure on insecurity globally must commence on the premise that there is perceived
injustice or inequality to be it real or imagined in the distribution of scarce social goods to
which the offended party or personalities acting on their behalf undertakes to seek redress
through whatever means possible often violent in nature. This is true of most agitations and
contestations that have ravaged different parts of the globe. It must however, be stated that
religious involvement in governance has overtime been used as a cannon fodder under which
different groups hide to perpetuate violence. This position is amply demonstrated by David
Sukhdeo in the following submission:
"when our social and political and national variables are mixed with religion, violence
assumes an even greater role because the struggle is not fast to convert or conform to divine
instructions, but also for mundane needs and wants such as social justice, racial equality,
human rights, employment, financial upliftment, geographic, territories--- the list is endless---
these mundane needs and wants are issues for government to address. But religious
involvement, to secular democracy ­ non involvement, and the degree of violence is therefore
directly correlated with the level of religious involvement in the struggles for these social,
political and national wants and needs." (F.E. Jimoh in Cathan 2008:81).
As opined above, several of the problems we go through in our national lives are self-inflicted
in the sense that there is clear cut delineation between governance and religion as enshrined in
the constitution of the Federal republic. However, political leaders go into public office with
primordial and preconceived sentiments that negates the same constitution they swore to
protect. Consequently, ethnicity and religious identity have emerged as major centrifugal
forces threatening the survival of the Nigerian state as they are now formidable mobilization
platforms than even the national anthem or pledge. Strikingly, what affects the other hence;
the vicious cycle of ethno-religious contest continues to revolve with no end in sight.
Unfortunately, youths are almost always in the fore front of such mobilizations and
contestations. Since all the legacies bequeathed to the youth are negative, they end up
replicating these negative legacies as laid down by the older generation. When we realized that
our corporate existence as a people is dependent on government whom we have surrendered
our security and wellbeing to manage, our conduct should reflect that understanding in
patriotism. However, our tribal and religious affiliations cannot allow us extol Nigeria as our

daily conduct and handling of collective resources when given the opportunity shows how
despicable we treat the Nigerian nation. Tax remittances are only compelled with as a matter
of choice not obligation. As a result, the needed resources to endanger development by
government are not available. If we must progress as a nation, we must pull down the barriers
we have erected that barricaded us from one another so we can relate as Nigerians first before
whatever considerations there may be. If the constitution of the federal republic is the rallying
point for all Nigerians, then it must be borne in mind that customary land ownership which has
often given rise to violent conflicts as witnessed on the Plateau, is guaranteed under the same
constitution and as such should be respected except where an amendment to that provision is
made. This is in view of the fact that political leaders, who are saddled with the responsibility
of upholding the constitution, often engrossed in sectional sentiments, tend to jettison this
clear and unambiguous provision thereby leaving the illiterate segment of the public in
unimaginable bloodbath over land.
The problem of Nigerian society is the error of attributing to religious motive what may be an
expression of a purely secular and political viewpoint. According to Agi (1999) "some of what
conventional wisdom tags as religious in Nigeria has nothing to do with religion, or at best
has only tangential relation with it"
Closely related to the above is religious fanaticism or extremism, which is essentially a
negative and vicious attitude towards religion, characterized by exaggerations, immoderation,
manipulation, exploitation, excesses and violence. Iwe (2000,PP:132) further points out that;
"Religion is essentially and fundamental a spiritual issue and exercise.
It arises from man's consciousness and practical acknowledgement of
His dependence on God (the absolute and ultimate reality) and from his
Search for answers to the basic universal non-material issues of human
Nigeria is a country bedeviled with not only religious violence but also political instability,
sophisticate crimes, ethic militia groups, hired killings, kidnapping, discrimination against
women, incidents of mission people and ethnic conflicts. As a country that is more than 55
years now, many concerned citizens have often reflect on Nigeria's slow rate of development,
poverty and socio-economic crisis. A lot of people point accusing fingers on leadership. The
famous writer ( Chinua Achebe 1985) has to this to say,
"The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.
There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing
Wrong with Nigerian climate or land or water or air or anything else.
The Nigeria problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise
Excerpt out of 9 pages


Young People and the Challenge of Insecurity
Youth and Insecurity in Nigeria's Middle Belt
University of Jos  (Faculty of Social Sciences)
Social Work
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Youth, Insecurity, Politics, Participation, Ethnicity, Religion
Quote paper
Stanley Kavwam (Author), 2018, Young People and the Challenge of Insecurity, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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