Being paper presented by Cosmos Ndukwe Ph.D at the Annual National Convention of Neo – Black Movement of Africa this 20th May 2017; Calabar, Cross River State



After reading the topic over and over, I was almost tempted to say there’s obviously nothing new. As hard as I tried to suppress the thoughts of pursuing a vain cause, that inner mind kept telling me that YOUTH RESTIVENESS in Nigeria is one of those over used expressions which also reveal our insincerity as a people or perhaps a fall out of our lack of depth in approaching issues.

I will not bother you with statistics. I will not belabor you with lengthy literature for we had read so much about this in the past.

 I have a simple task which is to re emphasize that we already know.
Youth restiveness is what youths do?

Can we possibly know the steps to take in curbing it when perhaps we cannot place our finger on what it is?

That to me, is our greatest challenge. Any ailment that is a victim of inaccurate diagnosis turns more endemic with every dose of the drug. I hope I will be forgiven for this statement, but I think strongly that we do not behave like we know what it is .

I read few days ago on facebook where the Abia State Commissioner for Education Prof. Ikechi Mgbeohi berated Nigerians for having a poor understanding of the word “youth”.

He predicated his anger on a scenario he witnessed where a 65 year old man was identified as YOUTH LEADER. In a country where a 65 year old man is a youth leader, the inevitable dilemma would be that you do not even know how to relate with him given the predominant characteristics of a youth which he doesn’t have.

May be I should start by saying that one of the steps to take in curbing youth restiveness would be for us to resolve as a people to stop deceitful identification.

In Nigeria, one famous footballer after winning laurels in an international age competition became the toast of European clubs. The story was told of how the Club that eventually got his signature worked hard to boost his growth as a teenager.

All known measures used in growing certain hormones, which he was subjected to, reportedly failed. The truth was they were dealing with an adult who had reached the peak of development regarding the features that they had in mind to nurture.

What do we do? Let us concentrate our energy in dealing with age cheats. They are silent facilitators of restiveness because they occupy positions which should naturally not devolve to them. The result of this fraudulent misrepresentation is that again, anger is incensed when you remember that one is where he should not be.


The United Nations, for statistical purposes, defines ‘youth’, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years, without prejudice to other definitions by Member States.

The UN  also recognized that, apart from that statistical definition, the meaning of the term ‘youth’ varies in different societies around the world. When the General Assembly, by its resolution 50/81 in 1995, adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and beyond, it reiterated that the United Nations defined youth as the age cohort of 15-24.

The Commonwealth defines youth as 15-29 years of age.
The African Youth Charter defines youth as “any individual between 15-35 years of age and seeks to resolve longstanding debates about defining youth within the African context and based on Africa’s development realities.”

The Nigerian National Youth Policy defines youth as anyone between the age of 18 and 35.

I do not know how many persons are as bewildered as I am. What this means is that we can now conveniently rephrase our topic to read “STEPS NCESSARY TO CURB RESTIVENESS BY 18-35 YEAR OLDS IN NIGERIA. May be, you will now begin to appreciate that unless you are able to identify the age limits of those involved, evolving an enduring formula for curbing it would remain a mirage.

What this means is that when adults over 35 years assemble to incite violence or threat of violence, steps necessary for dealing with that situation would naturally differ if they were younger.


Almost all dictionaries agree that restiveness is a situation that is characterized by impatience or an absence of calm; an unsettled mind. Extract “impatience” and “unsettled” and we are good to go. The question that would naturally agitate our minds is, who is the youth impatient with?

The society or himself? What could cause an unsettled mind, an inner confusion or some other extraneous variables?.

It is now obvious that we cannot possibly think of steps to curb restiveness without looking at possible causes of it. Briefly, let us look at four principal causes of youth restiveness.

 Now, the most frightening dimension is the meaning of terrorism revealed by Okoronye (2013) as provided for in Section 40 of Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment) Act No. 5 of 2002; (a) any act which is a violation of the criminal code or the penal code and of freedom of, or cause serious injury or death to any person, any number or group of persons or causes or may cause damage to public property, natural resources, environmental or cultural heritage and is calculated or intended to

 (i) intimidate, put in fear, force, coerce or induce any government, body, institution, the general public or any segment thereof, to do or abstain from doing any act or to adopt or abandon a particular standpoint, or to act according to certain principles or

(ii) Create general insurrection in a State, (b) any promotion, sponsorship of, contribution to, command, aid, incitement, encouragement, attempt, threat, conspiracy, organization or procurement of any person with the intent to commit any act referred to in paragraph (9)(i)(ii) and (iii).

This comprehensive definition of terrorism will simply awaken your consciousness to why the law enforcement agents refuse to be kind to some categories of persons who think they are merely engaged in youth restiveness. We may also agree at this point that any group that sets out in violation of laws of the land to go on collision course with the authorities is restive as it is like unleashing terror.


We will identify these causes and attempt a workable step to curb them That way, we strive to answer the question, which is the subject matter of this paper.

1. Rewarding Mediocrity

With no intention of demarketimg  the promoters of Big Brother Naija, I was one of those who had reservations about the real import of that reality show. In a society like Nigeria where social safety nets are non – existent, where it is the survival of the fittest, such projects only help to encourage the youths to align with frivolities. Is it not enough to hit the street when one outshines his mate in some kind of games and wins millions while his colleague, the best graduating student in Engineering is offered a paltry N50,000 that may never even come.

Every nook or cranny, you will observe that competence and skill hardly matter in job selection and distribution of resources. Those who organized thugs during elections, those who mobilized voters or may be those who worked for the overall victory of the party are considered ahead of others

Nothing gladdens the heart to observe that excellence is rewarded. Nothing inspires than to realize that hard work is appreciated. Let us reserve skilled jobs for only those with the prerequisite educational competencies. Let us stop systems that place touts above professionals, that which sees a first class graduate stay years without a job while his school certificate counterpart whose relation is at the top is occupying the position of qualified experts.

2. Double standard and insincerity of leaders
In this Calabar, precisely on the 26th of August 1992; students of the Polytechnic Calabar went on rampage destroying properties at the risk of staking their lives in confrontation with armed policemen. A student was killed as they tried to promote what they called noble cause in solidarity with their colleagues.

The main gist was that the government of Cross River State at the time had defaulted in releasing Bursary Awards to indigenes of the State in the Polytechnic.

 The government had allegedly paid those in institutions in Akwa Ibom. On the 25th of August, these students of Cross River extraction intercepted and seized every government owned vehiscle that drove into the Polytechnic that night. In hours, well over fifty of these vehicles including those belonging to the federal government were seized. By 6am 26th August, the State Government had announced the closure of the institution and asked the students to vacate the campus before 9am. At exactly 9am, truck loads of policemen clutching guns and other weapons had arrived the Polytechnic ostensibly to levy the government’s order.

The use of force to evacuate the students and the resistance by these students culminated in a dangerous faceoff. The police used hot water, tear gas and life bullets in combating unarmed students who were chanting solidarity songs.

Apart from insincerity and perhaps double standard, what was o difficult about paying students bursary awards?

 I think why we talk about youth restiveness, we should also consider adult or may be security restiveness. Why the haste? What inspired them to hurriedly combat students over a matter that could be tackled in a more humane, less confrontational approach? Herein lies the problem. What we have in Nigeria is when these youths slap the society, we stab them.

 The simple truth is that our response is often disproportionate to their actions. By any means, why not encouraging any form of impatience, we could do better if we change our approach in tackling restiveness. It is better we exhaust to the most elastic limit all forms of dialogue and constructive engagement. Unless we stop the approach of violence begets violence, we may have this societal challenge just for the rest of our lives as a country. I do not want to talk about the countless youths who have been mowed down by trigger happy security agents over issues that would have been handled in the most conscientious manner.

3. Poor planning and faulty implementation

Sometime in the past, the Federal Ministry of Education designed and set in motion, the implementation of the 6-3-3-4 system of education. Beautiful idea! The main gist of that unique system of education was to ingrain in the consciousness of our children, our youths, the spirit of entrepreneurship. That 16 rung ladder of education, with the most convenient exit at any rung was aimed primarily at teaching skills and preparing the youths to be engaged in meaningful ventures. These meaningful ventures would in turn reduce the urge to agitate over everything. Like 6-3-3-4 that suffered still birth, we have had several other policies and programmes that looked good on paper which implementations left much to be desired. Perhaps, it is better to say that as many that were introduced either became siphon pipes or cosmetic approaches that remained what they are, mere lip services.
If you are still trying to understand this particular challenge, just note that statistics as recorded by Osalor (2014) shows that Nigeria’s unemployment rate is spiralling upwards, growing at 11 per cent yearly. Youth unemployment rate is over 50 per cent. Our unemployment rate is spiralling, driven by the wave of four million young people entering the workforce every year with only a small fraction able to find formal employment. If you ask me, I would simply say it is as a result of poor planning and faulty implementation.

Let us always pursue programmes which sustenance would not be dependent on party structure or patronage. The youths are vulnerable and would continually be willing participants in programmes that offer quick and smooth wealth. If President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Mandatory Acquisition Programme (MAP) for young school leavers and  his Compulsory Acquisition Programme (CAP) for graduates were designed to outlive that administration, may be we would not hear about President Goodluck Jonathan’s YOUwin or recently President Buhari’s N-Power. It doesn’t make sense to create wealth in the temporary measures whereas opportunities abound for us to set our youths up using enduring strategies. Our youths are beginning to get used to free money. When the free money delays in coming, your guess is as good as mine.

4. Poor ethical values
In considering this point, I do not know whether to dump the entire blame on the door step of the youths who have majorly sold their souls to everything that is not dignifying. I also do not know whether to blame us for obviously refusing to offer the desired direction and path for them to follow. Where other countries are expanding the frontiers of Information Technology, we have become pathetic end users with the highest number of gaming and betting centres. While our counterparts in sister countries and overseas are breaking new grounds using the computer and internet, our youths are focused on how to perfect on scam and illicit internet transactions that would transform them to overnight billionaires. I think, and quite strongly too that there is a connect between our attitude of rewarding mediocrity and the persistent poor ethical values displayed by our youths. A country that set school leaving certificate as the minimum requirement for office of President obviously and impliedly underlined their passive interest in pursuing excellence. That would be a story for another day.

There is no rocket science about this one. If we get the family right, we will get the society right. Parents should begin to get more actively involved in the overall upbringing of their children. Recall when Frank Olize of the NTA Newsline fame would ask before the commencement of his Sunday 9pm programme, “its 9 o’clock, do you know where your children are?”. As petty as that seemed, that is the annoying truth. Most of do not know where our children are. If we cannot control what they do or begin early enough to advert their minds to orderliness, discipline and merit, we push them to the segment of the society that agitates over the minutest issue. Restiveness will be reduced to the barest minimum if the right values sink into the consciousness of these youths.

I am certain that we have not touched on every aspect of this all important subject matter. We have however been able to establish that understating the real import of who a youth truly is would keep us in better standing to curb their restiveness. Interestingly, we all contribute individually and collectively to this challenge. The youths are by nature, not choice, vulnerable and have always been willing tools in the hands of diverse interests. We could still arrest this anomaly if we accept our responsibilities in building our society.

I will end this paper by saying that the Nigerian society as it is today has over grown WAEC and First School leaving Certificate for President and House of Assembly Members Election Qualifications, the old order  doesn’t seem ready to tackle the challenges arising from a creation of a new society in a digital world.  With your kind permission I hereby propose a model to be called  NOGNOV ( No Graduate No Vote).
Second, there is no society with a zero percentage of restiveness. The difference lies in the identified causes and ability to work out solutions that are feasible within the environment so affected. Let us stop applying alien solutions to Nigerian problems. What worked in New York, may not work in Lagos.

Lets  try NOGNOV (No Graduate No Vote) model as propounded today.

Thanks so much for your time

Cosmos Ndukwe Ph.D

1. Osalor,  Peter (2014) “Youth restiveness and unemployment in Nigeria: the way out part 2” October 6, 2014
2. “Arasi, Stella (2010) “Curbing Youth Restiveness in Nigeria: The Role of Information and Libraries” retrieved from May 11, 2017
3. “Youth: the United nations “ retrieved May 11, 2017
4. retrieved May 11, 2017
5. Okoronye, Innocent (2013) Terrorism in International Law Whythem Publishers Nig, Okigwe

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