President Goodluck Jonathan
By Ahamefula Ogbu
President Goodluck Jonathan has said the future development of Africa lies with women and youths who should be empowered to play expected roles, charging fellow African leaders to invest in women and youths.
Jonathan, who spoke at the plenary session of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia noted that lack of access to finance has been a major setback in the ability of women and youths to play frontline political and developmental roles even when they are educationally empowered.
Jonathan in a presentation, which was reinforced by other Heads of African States who joined over 700 world leaders and business executives at the forum, said even in instances where women and youths have political ambitions, their salaries cannot fund campaigns especially given peculiar African political climate.
To work round the problem, the President said he launched entrepreneurial programmes that would eliminate obstacles in securing bank loans through entrepreneurial skills like YouWin which put money at the disposal of talented entrepreneurs from where they can raise enough capital to prosecute political campaigns.
Responding to questions, President Jonathan said he has encouraged women and youths in the country through measures such as devoting nearly 60 per cent appointments in his cabinet to youths and women with a view to giving them the much-needed opportunity to display their talents and contribute to national development.
He noted that his proposal to give women 50 per cent of elective offices met stiff resistance.
“In my government, we have given them these privileges so that they can encourage other women. In another 15 to 20 years, Nigerian women might take over almost all political positions,” he predicted.
Other African leaders adopted the position of Jonathan that youths and women were the hope of the African continent, with some of them also saying corruption was less among women political office holders than their male counterparts.