Under 40 CEOs task youths, government on participatory nation building
Africa’s largest network of young business leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs, Under 40 CEOs, has tasked Nigerian youths to play a more active role in politics and governance, to address the country’s development challenges.
It also called on the government to integrate brilliant young people into key leadership positions at national and state levels for inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Speaking at a forum organised at the weekend by the group, themed: ‘Dinner with Needle Movers’, Founder and Executive Director – Africa, Familusi Akin Babajide, said: “By current estimates, up to 70 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is under the age of 30, representing about 806 million of the 1.151 billion people in this region. This demographic projection has significant implications for economic activity, public service provision and state stability.
“As the group with the most at stake, young African leaders deserve to be part of the policy discussions that seek to find solutions to the challenges confronting the continent.
“More qualified youths must be drafted into leadership positions in presidencies and state governments, parliaments, corporate boardrooms, as well as civil society and faith-based organisations to assist in conceptualising and driving critical development initiatives.”
Commenting further, Familusi said: “As Under 40 CEOs, we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. That is why we are hosting this event to connect young business and political leaders, as well as to create opportunities for collaboration between progressive public servants. Together, we must push the pedal and further move the needle towards a more desirous nation – one that’s equitable, prosperous and safe for all.”
In his remarks, Tonye Cole, guest speaker at the event and winner of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket for the 2023 Rivers State governorship elections, noted that lack of visionary leadership and accountability remain the biggest challenges to development in Nigeria and, indeed, all of Africa. He also stressed that active youth participation in politics is critical to the continent’s development.
He said: “The truth is that African leaders have not always responded effectively to the needs of the continent and respective countries. But there is hope in the rising generation of young people who can play a critical role in building accountability for successful economic transformation, representation, and public service. The urgency of these efforts cannot be overemphasised, as the youths have the most to lose if solutions are not enacted.
“If we succeed in what we’re doing, the price of success far outweighs the cost of failure. The price of success is building an economy that will move our youths from the streets to express their talents and gifts. Often, a lot of us get frustrated by the system and just want to pack up and go. But Nigeria isn’t a lost cause. What we need are more young people with the audacity to stay and make a difference. Please, don’t give up; you are the drivers of a new Nigeria.”