|by Henry Ekwuruke|
|Published on: Jul 14, 2005|
|I believe that youth participation is key to the attainment of any meaningful goal and are key to all developments in Africa. As a youth based in Nigeria, I find that most youth are not aware of the ICT impacts, meanwhile they are the ones expected to benefit from the outcome of Telecommunications and ICT programmes.
Nigeria is also facing same problems, as like other African countries. After I read the results of my arranged survey in May 2005, I was shocked and understood the scenario of Nigeria. 70% of Nigerians do not know the relevance of ICT to national development. I did this survey among 18 selected persons including students, civil society members, villagers, development leaders and government officials. Out of eighteen, thirteen people just smiled for their lack of knowledge. All students could not understand my questions. When I explained, they said that nobody talked about this. However the people who know < ICT leaders >, all have stereotypic and strange concepts. "Oh, ICT, this is matter of computer experts!" or "Oh, ICT this is the matter of ICT professionals, government's policy makers."
My realization was this is the time to give the message to people about the goals, rights and power of participation. The society is very reluctant about this important matter, They become self-centered, have no clear concept about the situation. They believe nothing will be changed.
People are not conscious and educated about their participation and human development. Even though Nigeria has great examples of participation and success, there are only few.
But the second generation is now heading in a direction without a target or destination. National leaders are failing to show the right and successful ways. Strangely enough, without contribution and participation, people wants to develop the country to a higher place; they want to enjoy high quality life. Because of too much focusing on personal matters and benefits, the extreme individualism, selfishness, corruption, dogmatism, and violence (both visible and invisible) are increasing tremendously in Nigeria as well as in this lovely world. People are becoming separated to separate, divided to divide.
In this situation, the powerful new media can play a most important role to establish Community Technology Centers and the Knowledge Society by giving the ownership of modern technology and knowledge to the majority. My understanding, the Internet opens enormous potentiality by exposing the knowledge, information and sources. By exploring the cyber world, I have the personal and practical experience and success. One person can easily be global citizen by using the digital opportunity and can contribute in development processes worldwide without a "gate pass." Proper information can easily breakdown all kinds of borders and boundaries.
With the lack of social commitment, accountability and long-term vision -- as like as other developing countries -- Nigerians are also facing the problem of being hopeless, and concentrating monotonously on personal success! We should not forget, we are part of whole, we are social being. We should not look only to pick, we have to whole. Very low percentage is getting chance in decision-making system. The powerful are controlling what they like. Average people are busy managing their livelihoods in poverty and struggle.
The time is now, we have to inform, inspire and involve each other around goals, rights and communal spirit of participation for success with the Millennium Development Goals target of 2015. It is needed to increas the sense of communal spirit and brotherly love by shaping self-help and self-reliance. To inspire the people horizontally and vertically, I would like to be more active in "One Village, one world, One Info Center "advocacy programme. Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency and Nigeria communication commission are now making plans to establish the model "Taking Info Center" to the remote village of Nigeria (www.enigeria.org). But without sustainability and financial support of government and the community, it is impossible to establish "Information Centers" in all villages.
The positives are that the UN system has declared the master plan of rights to information society and MDGs for its work in economic and social development to all people. Governments also have agreed and Nigeria and its fellow African countries are not left out in this regard. But are the majority prepared? Children, young people, and women are neglected! Without all people's participation, it is impossible to make desired success and reach the goals. We must equally understand and make efforts to achieve this, for in the war front, the youths take the lead and also in Information and Communications Technologies development, the youths should be the leaders. Let your voices and actions be heard!