NRM, Neglect Youth at Your Own Peril

By: Arthur Nuwagaba Mirama 

Each period of a human’s life has its different features. Childhood is known for  its  innocence, price http://coparmex.org.mx/wp-content/plugins/woocommerce/includes/class-wc-shipping.php   Adolescence  for  spurt  in  growth  and  for  its  characteristic enthusiasm of energy, aggressiveness, the will to fight and overcome difficulties and to do brave activities.

It is the uncertain period of man’s life when enthusiasm is in peak, and man has active and vigorous co-operation of the body to fulfil his dreams, good or bad. (Jagdish chander, 2001) described the period of youth as “characterized by the spirit of adventure and the shine of energy, tempered by a growing sense of responsibility and maturity.

A man in the span of his youth can thus make a lasting  contribution  to  the  cause  of  understanding  the  inner  and  outer  nature,  invention, courage,  creative  art  and  architecture  and  bring  to bear  his  energy  on  the  toughest issues of life, and find keys to their solution. This period on man’s life is, therefore, of unspeakable significance”.

Therefore Youth is a force and a valuable human resource in every country.  They  carry  the aspirations  and  bear  responsibility  for  change,  progress  and  innovation.  Youth can make or mar society.  There is always a tussle between tradition and modernity because of which youth are often misunderstood by the older generation.

Immaturity, inexperience and thoughtless actions are some of the characteristics attributed to them by their elders. This always creates gap between the two generations and denies the youth the chance to fully participate in decision making of their country.

Despite that misconception, Youth have the zeal to initiate revolution. A reading of Ugandan history shows  that  youth  played  a  significant  role  in  the  freedom  struggle.Post-independence, youth power changed the fate of several state governments Uganda inclusive.

For example it’s said that When Uganda got Independence in 1962, the first Prime Minister Milton Obote was about 35 years, Grace Ibingira was about 28 years, and Adoko Nekyon was about 25 years and many others, who formed the first parliament of Uganda and took leadership of this country.

All these were youth, not forgetting that almost 80% of NRA combatants who liberated this country in 1986 were youth. Youth in other countries have succeeded in changing their politics. Indonesian youth brought down the government of President Soekarno. Young Czechs stood up to the military assault of their country. More recently, youth in Cambodia, Cuba, France and Pakistan proved their potential to change.

Today,  Ugandan youth  make  up  about  a  third  of  our  Population  and  constitute  a  vital  and  vibrant human  resource.  They  have  the  right  and  an  obligation  to  participate  actively  in national development  and in shaping the destiny of  the nation which is,  in point of fact, their own destiny. Therefore, it would be prudent to have a third of our Cabinet made up of the youth.

Youth represent the most vibrant, vocal and voluble section of society. They play a pivotal role in socioeconomic changes and development of society and country. A country  can  only  progress  when  the  energy  of  youth is  constructively  and productively channelized. Nearly 70% of Uganda population is less than 35 years of age. Therefore,  there  is  the  need  to  create  increasing  opportunities  for  them  to  develop their  capacities  and  capabilities,  thus  making  them economically  productive  and socially useful.

If Government doesn’t create opportunities for the youth, I see an increasing number of youth opposing the government, and this will create constant battles on the streets between the Police and the youth.

This is because Unemployment creates a sense of vulnerability, a feeling of uselessness and idleness among young people; and consequently heightens the attraction of engaging in illegal activities. Youth unemployment is an obstacle to economic well-being and poverty reduction.  Unemployment among youth creates a number of socio-economic issues.

A large unemployed youth population not only  puts  the  nation  at  risk  of  instability,  but  also  costs  the  country  in  terms  of productivity  and  health  expenses.  Some  research  suggests  that  one  year  of unemployment  among  youth  reduces  life  expectancy  by about  five  years  (Sahni, 2005).

Therefore NRM Government of Uganda should be conscious of the need to tap youth power. With the way the number of the youth that voted in last general elections, Uganda’s youth have become politically important because they can determinedly slope the political scales in an election. This realization should encourage NRM to attract the youth by including related issues in their political agenda. For Example how can a ministry that handles Youth issues be given 1% of national budget?

Youth are a nation’s strength.  Their characteristic energy and capabilities support the body politic.  They are the backbone of an institution (Jagdish  C, 2001).   But  they  also  form  a  sensitive  age  group  that  harbour  dreams  for important  social  changes.  The  development  of  nations  is  fully  dependent  on  the abilities  of  youth.  The  power  of  youth  must  be  positively  utilized  in  all  areas  like education,  trade,  business,  etc.  and  integrated  with  moral  value  education  to  spread peace and welfare throughout the world.

Youth  in  Uganda  constitute  a  sizable,  vibrant  and resourceful  segment  of  our  society  who  is  fired  with  the  desire  to  scale  greater heights.  Children and youth are our hope for tomorrow.  There  can  be  no  greater cause, no better investment, and no greater priority for development consensus than bringing  the  needs,  rights  and  expectations  of  the  youth  to  the  centre-stage  of development concern. It is our duty to rekindle the imagination of our youth so that the nation surges ahead with added strength and vigour.

It  also  is  essential  that  our  youth  be  energised  to  participate  in  the  task  of national reconstruction. Failure to do so would mean a waste of national resources. They should be made to  understand  the  given  project  and  its  importance  to  society;  and  the  part  they  are expected to play. With enthusiasm and commitment, they are sure to work hard for its fulfilment. Success results in a sense of fulfilment with the realisation that they have played an important role. This will motivate them further. This is not a difficult task.

A number of schemes, projects and programmes are possible wherein their total involvement will bring quicker and better results. Youth can play a pivotal role to bring about the socio-economic regeneration of the society.  For example, youth power can be mobilized to work towards ending several evil practices that still persist in Uganda.

They can participate in projects aimed at raising agricultural output. The youth may  be  assigned  the  job  of  dissemination  of  knowledge  for  better  farming,  new techniques and proper use of fertilizers and pesticides. What is required is that they should be given adequate training in these tasks.

In a drive against economic offences, their energy may be used in moulding public opinion in favour of eradication of such offences.  Another  potential  area  of  youth  involvement  is  adult  education  and universalization  of  education.  Youth can take on the responsibility of meeting performance targets set by the government.

Such  involvement  of  the  young  people  would  generate a  sense  of  pride  and self-confidence in them. A sense of achievement of being appreciated as being useful to society is the most powerful deterrent to going astray. This will also help them to develop a nationalist outlook.  The result will be an accelerated process of socioeconomic regeneration and democratic decentralization.

The government spends large amounts of money directly or through various organizations on schemes and programmes for national development. Involving youth in  these  activities  would  cost  less  and  also  accelerate  the  meeting  of  development objectives.

The young people should be inspired and encouraged to adopt villages or other suitable units of operation, where they can concentrate on improving the physical and social environment.  This will help to channelize their energies and enthusiasm and result in socio-economic progress. There should be no doubt that Uganda’s youth will make full use of the opportunities offered to them

But in order to have productive youth, the NRM Government should formulate a policy with objectives to:

– To instil in youth awareness of and respect for the principles and values enshrined in the Ugandan constitution.

– To promote among youth awareness of Uganda’s historical and cultural heritage and fill a sense of pride and national identity.

– To help youth to develop the qualities of discipline, self-reliance, justice and fair play.

– To provide youth with maximum access to education; this, apart from developing their all-round personality, would equip them with suitable professional and vocational training to enhance employment and self-employment opportunities.

– To make youth aware of international issues and involve them in promoting world peace.

Fulfilment of these objectives would result in transforming Uganda’s youth into a force that would drive the country’s progress and development.

The writer is a politician and the National Coordinator   Organizing for Action (OFA)


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