Youth agreed we are all affected by corruption.
Corruption is one issue that consistently takes centre stage in Nigeria’s socio-political discourse. Since independence, successive Nigerian leaders have hinged their intervention in politics to their desire to fight the menace and secure a better future for the country and its people. However, despite its dominance in the national political debates, the nation remains helpless as its economy and entire polity groan under the devastating impact of corruption’s deadly claws. This, experts say, is largely due to the fact that many Nigerians have refused to see themselves as part of the problem. They prefer to apportion blames elsewhere.
This is the error some Nigerian youth sought to correct when they converged at the postgraduate room of the Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan on Wednesday, June 26, to figure out how they could forge a better way of solving corruption problems in Nigeria.
Organised by the Radio Netherlands Worldwide, in conjunction with the department, the topic for debate was, “Ending Corruption in Nigeria: What Can Naija Youths Do?”
Besides gathering the participants to exchange views, the forum also effectively used social media to involve members of the larger public in the discourse on the menace of corruption. While speakers made their points in the room, people sent their contributions through Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
However, Helene Michaud, senior producer and trainer in charge of Africa for the Dutch media outfit, said the essence of bringing the discussants together went beyond merely talking about the dreaded concept. According to her, the main reason was to get the youth involved in finding lasting solutions to it.
“Our aim is to engage the youth in discussion and create a forum for them to debate online and offline. They always say that they want to be seen and nobody wants to see them though they form more than half of the population. They don’t have their way in politics. Somebody is determining their fate. This is allowing them to express themselves,” Ms. Michaud told PREMIUM TIMES shortly after the debate, adding that she was impressed by the quality of submissions on the topic.
Narrating how they came about the topic, Ms. Michaud said her organisation had, through Facebook, sought to know which issue agitates the minds of the Nigerian youth most.
“We got about 300 results. Majority talked about Boko Haram and insecurity in the country. And since we had already contacted with the acting HOD of the Communication and Language Arts department, UI, to host it, we thought we couldn’t have this kind of debate in the Southwest. The second highest was corruption and we agreed on it. We further asked people what was corruption and what they could do to give it a constructive debate. That is why we are doing this,” she further explained.
Ms. Michaud, who said her organisation is partnering institutions across Africa to engage youth in seeking solutions to the peculiar problems of host countries, noted that the UI debate was the first of its kind with the Dutch radio station in Nigeria.
She also said the debate would still continue off-line after the one at the university.
Also speaking on the programme, Ayo Ojebode, Acting Head of Department, said the university was very passionate about it as it is geared towards meeting societal needs.
“Our vision is to build a world class institution for academic excellence geared towards meeting societal needs. One of the societal needs in Nigeria is the need to fight corruption; to scale down the level of corruption in Nigeria. We believe that this is within the scope of the mission and vision of the university administration.
We think most of the time, each person is accusing each other of corruption. We turned the searchlight on ourselves by giving the youth the opportunity to discuss what they can do to end corruption in Nigeria. It was an eye opener,” he said.
Most of the participating youth related their experiences to underscore the extent corruption had eaten deep into the fabrics of Nigeria. They counseled themselves on ways to be actively involved in stemming the tide.
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