There exist mixed feelings among researchers, countries, cultures, and development experts including governments on the actual delimitation of who a youth is. Thus, this has generated controversies on a unified definition of youth. The difficulty to bring out a clear-cut definition for youth prompted Uhunmwuangho and Oghator (2013) to posit that
The growing commitment to the involvement of the youth in global development process is a clear recognition of their potentials as change agents within the civil society. This awareness has attracted scholarly attention in an attempt to clarify and articulate a conceptual category for youth. In most literatures, scholars have often employed the criterion of age to define youth. However, sociological studies have shown that this criterion is fluid and therefore vary from one society to another.
The foregoing raises definitional issues and implications for the meaning of youth to include biological, sociological and cultural criterion. The presiding paragraph will carry out definitional x-ray on the issues and implications in this regard.
Youths, according to the dictionary, is seen as “the state or time of being young – young men and women” (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Current English, 2001). Hornby (2007) defined youth as the time of life when a person is young especially the time before a child becomes an adult. It is also used to mean the quality or state of being young. MacMillan English Dictionary (2007), adds that youth refers to the time in peoples life when they are young or looking young. Generally, the term youth refers to a time of life that is neither childhood nor adulthood.
The National Youth Policy (2010 :10) in its position on the meaning of youth posited that “the way in which a nation defines its youth is related to the object conditions and realities that exist on ground especially historical and contemporary socio-economic and political issues that need to be addressed”. For the purpose of this presentation, we will exploit the age bracket of 18 – 35 to look at the meaning of youth, with emphasis that “this category represents the most active, most volatile, and yet most vulnerable segment of the population, socio-economically and in other respects (National Youth Policy, 2001)”. Angulu-Sani considered persons within the age range of 6-36 years as youth. Other scholars employed the age bracket of 15-30 to define youth. It is also helpful to add that progressive-mindedness is one of the defining characteristics of youth. Therefore, the current thinking is that people beyond the age of 36 who share the ideals of a progressive society are also considered as being youthful. Whatever the age limit, youths are men and women considered to be young, energetic, vibrant and resourceful, who are often engaged in social enterprises that requires physical strength and mental capacity (Suleiman, 2006).