In a world where the power of business and commercialism rules, Nigeria’s youth are missing out on much-needed change. The majority of our young people live in poverty and work in jobs that pay badly and hardly earn enough to cover their day-to-day living costs. Nigeria’s youth have not been granted the same opportunities at birth as the others around the world. Yet, things could not be more different because the government has granted scholarships for girls from disadvantaged communities to pursue their education and pursue careers in fields that will bring them financial security in their old age.

It is unfortunate that this small country on the Gulf of Guinea is the one that is caught up in this international embarrassment and shame. Nigeria has one of the most stable democracies in Africa and has a history of peaceful transfer of power. However, political rancor, graft and nepotism are still a part of daily politics. Lack of transparency in public services, corruption, and ineffective leadership are some of the major causes of the country’s dysfunctional government. Today, Nigeria needs leaders who will not only listen to the young but also to everyone else who lives in the country.

Nigeria’s politicians need to address the concerns of the young, especially the girls who constitute half the population. They should realize that change is necessary if they want change. Otherwise, more young people will continue to live in poverty and they will be unable to realize their dreams of college degrees, better jobs and a better standard of living. They have suffered gender discrimination since the time of the Apartheid when men used to rule over women. Now, the gap between the haves and the have-nots is slowly closing but things are still not really getting better for the women.

Some Nigerian politicians believe that if the women get educated, they will automatically vote for the government in general. This is yet another misconception. Many female students are discouraged from going to school because they lack money for the transportation and other expenses. If they vote for the politicians, they might not be able to afford the degree they want. What is more, these young women might face the same fate as the young men who were forced out of school after Apartheid.

Nigeria’s youth, women and girls have their own demands. They want to be respected, to have their needs addressed and for them to be equal. They are tired of being treated like second class citizens. Some of them would like to have more say in how the country is run.

Some women want to be granted equal rights. They demand a change in the social structure of the country. If women feel secure enough to walk around, go to school and be respected, then they will not turn back away from the government institutions when they get a chance. The key is for the government to realize that women too have rights. If women are given a voice, it will not be a man’s world any longer. Women will rule.