- Buhari thanks Facebook founder for sharing knowledge with Nigerians
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Chief Executive Officer and founder of social networking website, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg friday said he was blown away by the talent and level of energy of the Nigerian youth that he saw at the Co-creation Hub in Yaba, Lagos.
Zuckerberg, who was speaking during a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, added that he was also impressed by the interest and entrepreneurial spirit displayed by other young Nigerians in all the ICT camps he visited.
Zuckerberg told the president that he was in the country to promote the penetration of “fast and cheap” internet connectivity (Express-wifi) that would help people create online businesses and reduce poverty.
President Buhari who commended the simplicity of Zuckerberg, thanked him for sharing his wealth of knowledge with Nigerian youths, and inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs.
Buhari noted that the simplicity and magnanimity of the entrepreneur, who is among the world’s richest men, had also challenged the culture of lavish wealth display and impulsive spending that had become peculiar to Nigerians.
“In our culture, we are not used to seeing successful people appear like you. We are not used to seeing successful people jogging and sweating on the streets. We are more used to seeing successful people in air-conditioned places. We are happy you are well-off and simple enough to always share,’’ he added.
Buhari said the various meetings held with Nigerian youths since his arrival were most timely as the country was already exploring opportunities to spur development through entrepreneurship.
“Nigeria has always been identified as a country with great potential for growth, especially with our youthful population, but now we are moving beyond the potential to reality,” the president said.
Also speaking, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo thanked Zuckerberg for coming to Nigeria.
He said: “One of the great things you have demonstrated is that it is possible to live your dream; it is possible to make your dreams not just come true but come true so fabulously that it will not only influence your environment but you will influence the whole world.
“One of the things you have done is really to create connectivity across the world so that people are really able to interact across tribe, race, countries and feel as part of one family and one faith.”
Osinbajo said that Zuckerberg’s coming to Nigeria had been especially energising not just for the young people but for everyone else.
“As you can see am on Facebook and the president is also on Facebook; so, we are part of the 17 million”, he added.
The vice president said the country was being built on the energy and the innovation and on the creativity of the young people.
He said: “I believe very strongly that today, young people are included and no one has a choice in that matter. Today, technology has created a level playing field; technology has made it possible for you to seat somewhere, in your office or living room to create wealth, to create connectivity, to create all manner of things across the world.”
After meeting with Buhari, Zuckerberg attended a demonstration by leading Nigerian start-ups, tech executives, business and venture capitalists.
Among the 30 selected start-ups, three were finally selected and each will receive a N2million winning prize. The event was supported by Airtel, Diamond Bank and a host of others.
Addressing the select start-ups, Zukerberg said it was inspiring to see what Nigerian youth have been able to do with technology.
He said: “This trip has really blown me away by the talents of young entrepreneurs and developers in this country, and making a difference and making a change.
“It reminds me of when I wanted to start Facebook. I wasn’t starting a company at the time but wanted to build something to see if it would work. And that is what I see people here do, pushing through challenges, building things that you want to see in the world. You are not just going to change Nigeria and the whole of Africa but the whole world,” he added.