NIGERIA’S former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Sunday, urged the youths in the country to embrace ‘I can do spirit’, by developing all opportunities in making them better citizens.
He also pointed out that there could no meaningful transformation if government at all levels failed to include the youths in governance.
Obasanjo said this at the 2017 Youth Governance Dialogue, organised by the Youth Development Centre, an arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta.
The theme of the programme was “Preparing Successor Generation for Effective Participation in Governance.”
It was attended by the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, former deputy speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioa, the former Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps and Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, student bodies, youth organisations from different part of the country, among other dignitaries.
He advised that the issue of unemployment must be attended to by government so as to avoid any dire consequences that might arise if unaddressed.
The former president admonished the youths on the need to speak out on whatever they believed in and be ready to pay price for any action, recalling how he was almost killed for speaking out against the regime of the despotic ruler, Late General Sanni Abacha.
“Today’s Nigerian youth can only be successful if they have ‘I can do spirit’. Our generation had more opportunities but no facilities, while you have more facilities and fewer opportunities. Unfortunately, government is not helping the situation, hence, you must help yourselves.
“While some claim they are ‘atapata dide’, me, I am ‘aterefo dide’. I worked as a real labourer. But when I finished my secondary education and about to go to university, there was just a university in the country, but I had about five letters of appointment waiting for me. That was opportunity but no facility. But today, they are over 152 universities for you to choose from, but less job opportunities. Now, that is facility with less opportunity.
“With this tight opportunity, Nigerian youths are frustrated. And if the government allows this anger and frustration to explode, then the consequences might not augur well for us as a nation. To this end, I would advise those of us who have benefitted immensely from Nigeria, to assist and offer advises to the youth, with a view to develop them as worthy successors,” he added.
Governor Tambuwal, in his speech, said the nation leaders must address the issue of unemployment, submitting that the diversification policy of the President Muhammadu Buhari led-administration would bring about broader opportunities for self employment.
Tambuwal, who was the chairman of the programme, added that “we cannot keep calling youth the leaders of tomorrow without ensuring that we put in place deliberate measures that will aid their quest for public service.”
Chidoka, who spoke on the theme ‘Towards a Guiding Political Philosophy for a Democratic Nigeria’, said for the country to grow, Nigerians must build a society that harness human resources, provide equal opportunities and develop capacity for innovation.
“Our national aspirations should inspire the next generation and provide them with the existential meaning of nigeria. A meaning that transcends geography, natural resources and ethnicity,” he said.