Book: Power of Youth and other Essays on the Political Economy of Nigeria since Inde pendence
Author: Dr. John I. Abhuere
Year of Publication: 2015
Reviewer: Felix Omoh-Asun
Reading through the book, Power of Youth and other Essays on the Political Economy of Nigeria since Independence (Thoughts and Reflections of a Nationalist on what went wrong with Nigeria and how to fix it), you are bond to reason otherwise that the country is drifting in every aspect of her life. This is because the youth that are supposed to be the plank of planning of the nation are utterly left to the vagaries of time.
In fact, the book could not have come at a better time in the Nigeria’s journey to nationhood. Written by Dr John Abhuere, a retired director with the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), the book is a deep reflective work marked by peculiarities that give it a definitive value of a working manual for policy makers and nations’ developers of issues that concern the youth.
The book, which serves a healthy dose of illumination about the youth, their capabilities, potentials, Nigerian economy –problems and solutions- and other sundry issues, establishes the fact of the youth inevitability in a nation’s march to greatness.
For one, Dr. Abhuere preaches that a nation which overlooks the young in both planning and execution of policies does so at its peril. So sure, the worsening restiveness among the youth across the length and breathe of this nation at present, is Abhuere’s inspirational canvas.
Considering the bent of the book, its thematic thrust and current political developments round the globe, Power of Youth is not only for today’s audience but also for generations yet unborn. The elements in the book are topical, especially regarding this nation, Nigeria, albeit all nations of the world. The author tends to interpret his personal experiences as youths trainer as a former director in NYSC. For this, the book’s relevancy is a life’s experience. Indeed, the emotions in this book resonate.
While the book deftly demonstrates the exuberances inherent in the youth, it also highlights the abundance of buried talents and vigour in them that can be tapped for national development. All these make the book an excellent read-aloud.
The 613 page- book, divided into eight chapters with sub divisions and a Postscript, aside youth matters, contains essays on political economy of Nigeria, an overview of NYSC, unemployment, democracy in Nigeria, among others. Some of the essays attempt to answer the question: what went with Nigerian’s economy since independence? Why has the nation’s economy remained strutted over the years? It also makes effort to provide answers to the reasons despite the country’s endowments with natural resources; its citizens have remained among the poorest in the world.
Chapter one – Youth in National Development-Critical Issues – the author tries to situate the youth, their hyper active nature and ability to effect a change if properly harnessed. To further strengthen the argument of the power of the youth to develop a nation, DrAbhuere calls up several definitions of youth, opining that the world biggest power is the youth. He states “Youth hold numerical strength and productive energies in many societies”
Also, he states instances where the youth were ably mobilized to change the trends when it mattered most especially in war times. States like China, Russian, Germany, among others, according to the author, deployed the “power” and strength of the youth during war to mobilization and change opinion.
In concluding the chapter, the author reasons “it is quite obvious that the properly developed and well empowered youth with opportunity for effective positive participation can be of great asset to a nation’s development efforts”
The second chapter takes an over view of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), its establishment, usefulness and the journey so far. Established in 1973 as a post war effort to rebuild a battered and divided nation just coming from three years of a murderous and bloody civil war, the compulsory one year service to the nation of graduates of tertiary institutions, the scheme was seen as a bridge builder.
But the question that readily comes to mind now is has NYSC achieved the purpose for which it was set up? Dr. Abhuere feels what needed to be done is to build on the gains of the past, in terms of sustainability and look for more creative ways to further tap from the scheme which has more advantages than disadvantages.
In chapter three, the author focuses on the nation’s economy, under the title: Unemployment in Nigeria – The Way Out for the Youth.
Chapter four – Democracy in Nigeria 1999-2007: What went wrong – takes on the political class, stating “propagation of wrong doctrine, stale ideas and emergence of false prophet of development are more to blame than any other factor” for the nation’s economic woes. He states, despite the hope, expectation which welcomed civil rule in 1999 after decades of military dictatorship, the “brutality of both the soul and the body, violation of human rights…election rigging and related malpractices and shocking acts of corruption and other crimes most unbefitting and unworthy of emulation of democracy” soon crashed and dashed every expectation of the people, including the youth.
The following chapter, five, dwells on consumer’s plight in the country. The author states the year 2003 was a bad year for Nigerian consumer, a “year when he was treated like a slave rather than the king.” He wonders why a country so endowed with natural resources, its citizens has to queue endlessly to buy common commodity like fuel.
Chapter six is a reflection on public protest especially that of May 2004 riot in Kano that almost claimed his (author’s) life.
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