Mentoring The Youths For National Development


By Bilikis Bakare  

The quest for economic prosperity and improved standard of living has led to myriads of domestic problems world-wide, chief of whom is poor parenting. This has resulted in the perpetration of social vices such as kidnapping, pipeline vandalism, suicide bombing, prostitution and raping of innocent girls and women among others. Invariably, the affected youths will become a menace to the society due to their evil practices as they turn to miscreants and street urchins popularly referred to in local parlance as “area boys”.

In traditional African society, it is believed that although two people come together to bring forth an offspring, many people will partake in guarding and guiding the child to maturity. But due to the so-called civilization and the adoption of western lifestyle, communal form of living is going into extinction as people now distance themselves from their relatives and extended family members. ‘I don’t want any family problems’ is now a common expression that one now hears from the so-called educated elite.

The usual practice of learning from the wise to become wise is now a thing of the past as youth delinquency is now on the increase in our society. We are now in an era of absentee parenting; children are now left in the care of nannies and maids who are themselves a little more than a child to instil bad values in the wards left in their care. Oftentimes, these children are abused by their supposed guardians. Therefore, in order to bring the youths back on the right track and to maintain peace in the society, mentoring remains one of the main effective tools.

Mentoring is a relationship where a less experienced person learns from a more experienced one over a period of time. It is impossible for someone to learn or discover everything and not want to learn from the people around. Indeed, life is even too short for one to learn or know everything all alone. From birth till date, people that we have come across have been instrumental in one way or the other to what we have achieved in life so far. A mentor can be younger or older; the most important thing is that the mentor should be able to impact on the life of the mentee to the extent that the former will turn the destiny of the latter around for good. Parents can also be mentors to their children by intimating them with their past mistakes and failures, which they had paid dearly for, in order to prevent the children from falling into same trap.

In the years gone by, it is a thing of pride for a person to be called a mentor, but the reverse is the case these days as people do not want to mentor because they are afraid the mentee may be greater and more successful than them in future. Little do those people realise that when someone dies, it is the belief in Africa that angels are sent out to listen to tributes that flow from people around and report back to the Almighty God. These tributes will form part of what he would be judged by on judgment day.

The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was a mentor to many people, some of whom are not blood relations. At his death and even till date, encomiums still pour in for him on his memorial. Some of those he mentored including his children have never failed to celebrate his birthday even after his death. Same goes for Professor Chinua Achebe who died recently. People, all over the world, who have been inspired one way or the other by his writings or his books, showered him with encomiums at his death.

There are other benefits that accrue to the mentor which includes sense of satisfaction, literarily changing lives and destinies of the mentee, giving back what others had given you and also making the mentor skilful in areas of expertise. If one takes into cognizance all these benefits and more, the idea of mentoring should be an exciting adventure of helping people to get ahead.

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Even in the animal kingdom, the lion is called the king of the jungle not because he is the strongest, heaviest, the most intelligent or the wisest but because he is a team player. A lion will always alert other lions if there is a prey to be devoured, therefore a lion does not take credit for any success achieved alone. This shows that there is strength in unity.

Elderly people in the community should take it upon themselves to identify a disaster waiting to happen in youths, so that they will be able to nip it in the bud by being open, honest and freely sharing their experiences and knowledge. This will empower the youths to make choices. Also, an aspiring mentor should be ready to serve as a backdrop for the mentee by steadfastly standing behind the latter through thick and thin in order to achieve success.

Peace has become elusive in Nigeria today because there is dearth of mentoring and mentors. If the affluent and gifted people in the country have been taking it upon themselves to mentor the disadvantaged ones, the country will by now be a better place to live in. The same goes for parents. If they have not been shirking their responsibilities by running after money, power and material wealth, the country would have been blessed with responsible and godfearing youths that will respect the sanctity of fellow human lives.

Also, individuals should learn to plan their families. A situation where people that earn meagre salaries or low incomes give birth to children that their income cannot adequately catered for, should be discouraged, because the excess ones will not receive adequate care. It is this category of children that often turn out to be social misfits.

Therefore, it is now time to go back to the drawing board to identify and address the causes of the moral decadence among the youths and tackle them promptly. Parents, care givers, guardians and governments at all levels should organise a stakeholders’ conference in order to bare their minds and find a lasting solution to moral decadence among the youths.

It is equally important that moral instruction becomes an important subject in our schools. Right from the early years, students should be exposed to some moral values that will be part of them as they grow older. Parents should also make it a duty to inculcate religious practices in their children in their formative years by taking them along to their religious meetings.

The youth represents the very essence of every nation; put them on the right path and the nation will be better off. If we are to achieve the much needed national development and social rebirth, we need to give utmost attention to the all round well being of our youth.

•Bakare is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.  

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