The Role of Youth in Nation Building



Paper delivered by

Hon. Odeneye Kehinde

Member-House of Representatives

Paper Outline:


      Who is a Youth

      A Nation Defined

      What is Nation Building

      Patriotism and Loyalty as tools of Nation Building

      Youth Intervention in Nation Building

      Task of Nation Building

      Problems & Challenges of Youth

      My Personal Experience in politics



Who is a youth?

      Youth could simply be defined as the time when somebody is young, i.e the period of human life between childhood and maturity

      A youth could therefore be considered as someone that is young

      Young people are social actors of change.

      Youths are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also the partners of today

The power of youth

      Youth power is a recognized force in the whole world

      The youths are filled with tremendous energy and towering ambitions

      The youths are a powerful force to be reckoned with in any Nation where its government is mindful of its future

      The power of the youth in nation building is like a double sledge sword which can swing to either right or left depending on the intention of the person swinging the sword.

Power of youth (contd)

      The power of youth can therefore be utilized either as a constructive or destructive force by any nation

A Nation Defined

      A Nation can be described as a territorial division containing a body of people of one or more nationalities and usually characterized by a relatively large size and independent status

It is a place where all citizens, young and old, are informed about and engaged in all major issues that affect their lives. A place where adults and young people are together at the table, debating, grappling with problems, crafting solutions and jointly deciding on how resources should be allocated.

What is Nation Building?

      In view of the above description of a nation, the  term Nation Building can therefore be used to refer to a constructive process of engaging all citizens in building social cohesion, economic prosperity and political stability in an inclusive and democratic way.

       It is a process through which all people have access to and control of structures and mechanisms that govern their lives.

Patriotism & Loyalty as tools of Nation Building

      Patriotism and loyalty are very essential for a well-built nation

      A philosopher, Stephen Nathanson defines patriotism as involving:

  1. Special affection for one's own country
  2. sense of personal identification with the country
  3. Special concern for the well-being of the country
  4. Willingness to sacrifice to promote the country's good

Patriotism & Loyalty as tools of Nation Building

      Accordingly, patriotism can be defined as love of one's country, identification with it, and special concern for its well-being and that of other compatriots.

      Patriotism is also described as the awareness of our moral duties to the political community.

      Closely related to patriotism is loyalty. A Patriot holds his/her allegiance and loyalty to his/her country above all else including self!


Patriotism & Loyalty as tools of Nation Building

      From up North, the Far East, the deep creeks of the delta; in the south- south and the West, Nigerians in the early 50s to 1960 struggled and fought together as a nation for the independence of our great nation Nigeria. And together, our national fathers got the freedom, they sought.

      The world has changed a great deal from the times of our national fathers to the global village of today but the issues and facts that arose their patriotic movement towards the demand for independence from our colonial masters are still the same issues and facts that we are still confronted with today; 51 years after independence.

Patriotism & Loyalty as tools of Nation Building

      We derailed along the way and we lost our way. Instead of practicing converse patriotism, where the first loyalty is towards the nation before state, local or tribal loyalty, as practiced in most developed nations of the world; Nigerians practice inverse patriotism. Our loyalty first and foremost is to our tribe, state of origin and very little of it is left for the nation.

      For the purpose of a nation like ours, Patriotism can be used as a tool of national development. As a developmental tool, we need to understand that the love and loyalty we pledge to our country must go beyond just pledging allegiance, it must also include active involvement in its social, political and economic development. We must begin to see the growth of Nigeria as our growth.

Patriotism & Loyalty as tools of Nation Building

      At 51, we as Nigerians should place our country first before greed and tribal chauvinism.

      The secret behind Britain and America greatness is impartial patriotism and zero tolerance to corruption.

      Tribal Importance should be used to promote Nigeria's tourism, culture and greatness.

      As youth of this nation, an informed patriotism is what we must seek at all times to contribute to a well-built Nigeria

Youth Intervention in Nation Building

      The role of youth in nation building can not be over-emphazized

      Indeed from the scriptures, many youths were used by God to build Israel as a Nation

      The young Joseph was used to save Egypt and Israel from famine(Gen. 39-46)

      David was also used by God to deliver Israel from the Goliath and the Philistines onslaught(1 Sam 17)

      God used young Queen Esther to save the Jews in Babylon from total extermination(Esther 4-9)

Youth Intervention in Nation Building

      Wherever there are riots in any country, political forces use youth power to promote their interest.

      In the eighties, in Beijing, China, during a powerful demonstration, thousands of Chinese youth sacrificed their lives in order to bring Democracy in that autocratic state

      During the riots against Mandal Commission in India, thousands of college students agitated in the streets of the cities

Task of Nation Building

      The task of nation building is a herculean one that cannot be left in the hands of the withering elders.

      Yes, we need their experience to guide us, yet how can we learn if we are too far from them.

      Yes, they have the maturity needed to lead a nation, but they lack the technological know-how to take us out of this 20th Century into the 21st Century where we belong with other great nations of the world.

Task of Nation Building

      The Nigerian youth are wonderful, we are equally great.

      We move the wall when are pushed to the wall.

      We can no longer be satisfied with passive  participation, but we must roll up our sleeves and ensure that we get what is rightfully ours

This is not by physical combat or terrorism; it is when we are aware of our might when it comes to decision that will build the Nigeria of our dreams, that, that change will come.

Problems & Challenges of Youth




      Bad group-cultism

      Craze for wealth

      Flamboyant life-style

      Family background


      Inadequate experience and expertise

My Personal Experience in Politics

      I never meant to go into politics.  But I was raised to believe you had to pay your way for the blessings bestowed on you. I was happy with my career in the accounting world, but I ultimately went into politics because I wanted to have a direct, positive impact on the society that made me. I was tired of playing politics on the fence; I wanted to be a part of the decision makers. I got fed up with playing the role of the critique, when I have the chance to champion change. I left my comfort zone because I believe that the time for change is now.

      By this singular act of leaving my comfort zone to foster a cause I believe will benefit myself and other members of my community, I have been opportuned to influence the lives of more than 1,500 youths by ensuring their empowerment in less two years in office. It is a rippling effect, as the lives of those that will later depend on these youth will also be affected positively.


      The role of the youth in nation building cannot be under-estimated but it remains a mere potential until we actively participate in nation building by contributing our very best in whatever capacity we choose to help this nation grow and by demanding same from our political leaders.