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Don’t look back, move on, Osinbajo charges youths

By Terhemba Daka, Adamu Abuh (Abuja) and Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos)
02 November 2021   |   4:30 am
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has charged Nigerian youths to quit complaining about the country’s challenges. He, instead, urged them to move past them and build the future they desire by focusing on what is right.

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare; Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen and other top government officials with youths during the opening of National Youth Conference of Nigeria at Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja…yesterday.

• Youths, Nigeria’s greatest, most strategic asset, says Buhari • Sanwo-Olu tasks them to shun violence,
explore right channels in expressing grievances • AU: Youth mobilisation must be rooted in responsibility,
accountability • Youths in sports, entertainment, creative industry Nigeria’s biggest export, says Dare • ‘Nollywood alone contributes $7.2b to GDP’ • NYCN demands transparency in usage of youths investment fund

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has charged Nigerian youths to look past the challenges Nigeria is currently facing and build the future they desire by focusing on what is right.

He gave the charge, yesterday, during the maiden National Youth Conference marking the 2021 African Youth Day in Abuja, with the theme: ‘Energising the Youth for Development: Inclusiveness, Governance, Security and Employment.’ The conference was organised by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, in collaboration with private sector partners.

The Africa Youth Day was instituted by the Africa Union (AU) commission to hold November 1st of each year, to promote Africa’s youth awareness and accentuate the youth agenda. This year’s theme is ‘Defining The Future Today: Youth-Led Solutions For Building The Africa We Want.’

“The future will be what we make of it. Reject the temptation to inherit the biases and prejudice of your parents. Seize your opportunities to contribute your own quota to Nigeria. Seek the path of self-actualisation. Let the Nigerian dream be at the heart of what you do. Quit complaining. Move on. No matter what, move on!” Osinbajo told the gathering of about 400 youths gathered at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium.

Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the event, said building a nation is an inter-generational endeavour that requires the input of all, hence the need for youths to be innovative.

The President called on Nigerian youths to see themselves as the greatest asset the country has, and remain resilient no matter what the situation in the country may be. “We recognise that our young people are this country’s most strategic asset. Investing in them is investing in the economic strength and development of our nation.”

He further advised participants to promote the unity of the country and engage the government constructively on national issues. “This country is ours — above and beyond partisan squabbles, disagreements and everything else — the future will be what we make of it.”

President Buhari, has, however assured that outcomes of the three-day conference will be processed and implemented by government.
Continuing, Osinbajo said: “Youth is the golden age of man. Remember, progress is not made by looking back. You are at the most developed time in the history of the world. The future will be defined by your innovation. The new Nigeria you seek is defined by a progressive spirit and not prejudices,” he added.

On the agitation for leadership, Osinbajo said Nigerian youths should explore the right channels in communicating their grievances rather than resort to destruction and violence.

Osinbajo admitted that there is a growing tension between youths and the government. The VP, who admitted that it is normal for people to feel disenchanted towards their leaders, however, noted that such disenchantment must be expressed and resolved peacefully.

He assured youths that the government is striving to provide a favourable environment for them to thrive in their chosen endeavours, adding that the signing of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill into law by President Buhari three years ago was an indication of this administration’s willingness to carry the youth along in governance.

THE Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, noted that for many years, “we had fondly referred to the youth as leaders of tomorrow, but reality points to the truth. The youth are not just our future, they are also our present.

“They must be involved in our politics, nation building, peace and security efforts now and not later. While the youth have all the energies needed to power this nation, I believe it is time they understood the many processes and procedures that lead to political choices and decisions.

“They need to start appreciating that decisions taken by government may not be necessarily popular but critical to national security. They need to start understanding why joining and participating in political parties is essential to getting political powers.

“Undoubtedly, if there are any areas where the Nigerian youth stand tall and on top of the world, it is sports, entertainment and the creative industry. Our music and movies are the biggest Nigerian export today and we have not even scratched the surface yet. The giant strides of our youth in the movie industry, popularly referred to as Nollywood for instance, has placed Nigeria on the global pedestal, contributing at least $7.2 billion to Nigeria’s GDP.

“You already know that our music industry is also a runaway success. We have seen collaboration of the likes of Wizkid, Davido with top artistes across the world. We now talk about the soft power of sports, entertainment and creatives. As a Ministry, one of our most important obligations is to initiate programmes that will support and create opportunities for the youth of our country,” he said.

The Minister stated further that the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development’s programmes are focused on providing opportunities for the youth in such areas as training, digital skills, entrepreneurship, soft skills, internships and access to credit and finance, among others,

The DEEL programme, the Minister explained, helps to fill the knowledge and skills gap in the Nigerian youth. “Our DEEL initiative focuses on Digital literacy and Skill Acquisition, Enterpreneurship, Employability and Leadership. We focus more on training and enterprise. We have trained close to 198,000 youth in the past two years.

“The Nigeria Investment Fund (NYIF) Scheme provides access to funds much needed by MSMEs and thousands of our youth are benefiting. So far, over 6,000 from across the country have benefited and we have solid data to back this up. Another 10,000 have been short listed for training before benefiting, the process goes on”, he said.

However, the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) has decried the usage of the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) earmarked to stimulate economic activities among youths in the country. NYCN President, Comrade Solomon Adodo, who spoke during a summit to commemorate the National Youth Day alleged that the “NYIF has performed abysmally, lacks coordination, information and transparency.”

The youth leader demanded explanation from the Minister of Youth and Sports Development on usage of the funds approved and released.
He applauded President Buhari for putting in place numerous deliberate economic interventions targeting the youth, ranging from N-Power, agricultural loans, SMEs grants, conditional cash transfers and the NYIF.

TO commemorate the Africa Youth Day, AU Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, in a statement, yesterday, reiterated the importance of a youth mobilisation that is rooted in responsibility and accountability. He said: “It is imperative that mobilisation be used to promulgate the youth agenda, and to come up with strategically sound and long-lasting solutions to the problems, which plague the continent.

“I, therefore, urge member states to accelerate and intensify investments in youth, and increase youth engagement, to ensure a future where every young African has aspiration, hope and dignity.

As young people, you must resolve to overcome obstacles in our path and build a resilient and robust future that is predicated on the values of the Africa we want.

“The ongoing institutional reform process taking place at the African Union Commission places particular emphasis on our duties and responsibility to increase focus on women and youth. It is to this effect that the Commission’s division in charge of youth has been merged with the Women and Gender Divisions, bringing to the fore a new Directorate; the Women, Gender and Youth Directorate.

“This will allow for the formulation of targeted initiatives that address Agenda 2063’s sixth aspiration, which calls for ‘An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of the African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children.’”

MEANWHILE, governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has described the youth as a major force in building a greater and sustainable Lagos, as well as a better future for the nation.

He said that the youth segment is an essential key in the development of any nation, because they have the potential and capacity to make change happen for themselves, their communities and for the rest of the world.

In a statement he issued yesterday in commemoration of the National Youth Day, the governor stressed the importance of youths to building a greater, sustainable Lagos and Nigeria.

While further revealing that his administration is youth-friendly and inclusive, Sanwo-Olu said: “We have embarked on the implementation of a series of Youth engagements and empowerment activities and programmes through various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

“These youth programmes and initiatives are part of the effort to address issues bothering on youth development and empowerment in the entrepreneurial, agriculture, information technology and leadership skills among other facets of life.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu also noted that his administration has implemented mindset changing and reorientation programmes to build the capacity of young people in Lagos to think positively and take up their role in nation building.