FORMER President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday praised Nigerian youths for their doggedness and globally acknowledged achievements, adding that the youths have held their heads high in the midst of challenges.
The former President, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, on the occasion of this year’s Democracy Day, said that it was time to roll out the drums to celebrate Nigerian youths, whom he said have proven themselves globally.
He urged the youths to always uphold the national motto: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress, which he said should be made a reality instead of “mere rhetoric.”
Jonathan said that while the youths have demonstrated that what they need to make Nigeria proud are the opportunities, he urged the leaders to support the youths rather than discourage them.
He said “Rather than discourage them with our words and actions, we as leaders must give our youths hope by using our language to draw out the very best in them. We must accept that nations only grow when elders plant trees whose shade they know they may never personally enjoy. Leaders must think of the next generation and not just the next election.”
The former President also stated that the leaders and the youth must understand that nobody’s political, economic, religious or social ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian adding: “As this year’s Democracy Day falls on the holy month of Ramadan, let me seize the opportunity to also extend Ramadan greetings to the Muslim Ummah. As you pray for Nigeria, I join my faith with yours and look forward to our prayers being answered by Almighty God..”
The statement further read: “There are many opportunities and crises on the horizon, but we must have the mentality of seeing the opportunity in crisis rather than the crisis in opportunity.
“We have one of the fastest growing youth population in the world and we must see this as an opportunity, not a crisis.
“What our youths need are opportunities to showcase their positive talents. They need leaders who believe in them and show affirmation
for them through their words and actions.
Democracy is a game of numbers and the youths have the numbers. More than 50% of our population are youths. If we develop policies, programs and projects to empower the youth of Nigeria, the Nigerian youth, who single-handedly created Nollywood, the third largest movie industry in the world can be expected to return the favour and make Nigeria proud.
“And they are already making us proud both locally and internationally. Nigerian youths are showcasing their brilliance around the world and I want to make special mention of Ukoma Michael, who at thirteen years of age invented a battery operated fan that lasts for 19 hours on a full charge. This ingenuity domiciled in Michael should be encouraged by our leadership.
“Internationally, Princess Elizabeth Bright and Ramota Tele Lawal, two 22-year-old Nigerian youths who in May of 2018 became the youngest
elected councillors in the United Kingdom, have made us proud. Very proud indeed.
“These youths are the epitome of the hardworking, talented, innovative and ambitious Nigerian youth who make our nation respected in the community of nations and give us hope for tomorrow and national pride for today.
“Rather than discourage them with our words and actions, we as leaders must give our youths hope by using our language to draw out the very best in them. We must accept that nations only grow when elders plant trees whose shade they know they may never personally enjoy.
Leaders must think of the next generation and not just the next election. While we celebrate Ukoma, Elizabeth and Ramota, I know that there are perhaps millions in Nigeria who are equally brilliant and only need the right enabling environment to unleash their creative genius. They are my inspiration on this Democracy Day. They are the reason why I believe in the continued corporate existence of this great nation founded on justice, equity and freedom.
“Happy Democracy Day. God bless you and your family and may God bless Nigeria.”
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