Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The creativity, capacity, tenacity and resilience of Nigerian youths can make a difference in enhancing development across the nation if adequately harnessed, Executive Director and Co-Founder Sahara Group, Tonye Cole, has said.
Cole made the above submission while speaking to State House Correspondents in Abuja on Sahara’s new initiative tagged #NigeriaStartsWithMe.
According to him, the #NigeriaStartsWithMe initiative seeks to rally young people to own major stakes in the transformation of Nigeria by coming up with practical ideas that key into the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He explained that the campaign would challenge and inspire young people to resist activities that relegated them to being mere stooges for selfish individuals and organisations or being hired to perpetrate sundry illegal activities.
He said: “It is designed to create a shift in the nature of ongoing conversation about Nigeria from the clutch of social media trolls to practical solutions that would ignite creativity, innovation and a sense of patriotism in Nigerian youths.”
Cole urged Nigerian youths across the globe to amplify their voices by contributing to the conversation #NigeriaStartsWithMe by asking how they could help transform Nigeria, using the 17 SDGs as reference point.
He said: “Nigerian youths sometimes spend time on the social media to give traction to issues that stoke the embers of hatred and division. At Sahara, we believe that the creative energies of our youths should be channeled into causes that can transform Nigeria. We are calling on Nigerian youths all over the world to make a difference by contributing to the conversation on Twitter using the #NigeriaStartsWithMe.”
Cole said youths desiring to contribute more than ‘140 characters’ that Twitter allows could visit the company’s website,www.sahara-group.com to send a 150-word article on the subject.
“We earnestly believe the project would reduce anti-Nigeria narrative, promote the adoption of creative developmental projects and encourage an unwavering #NigeriaStartsWithMe disposition amongst more youths,” he added.
Although the initiative has been designed to run all through the month of March 2017 only, Sahara Group hopes that it would inspire a sustained impact on “young Nigerians and all Nigerians across the globe.”
At the end of the project, a compilation of the contributions will be published and distributed to the Presidency/MDAs/Global Development Agencies, the academia, media and other stakeholders. The contributions will also be circulated and shared across various online portals to elicit positive conversations and actions that will sustain ongoing initiatives aimed at transforming Nigeria.
Sahara Group has over the years continued to execute that empower young people to reach for their dreams. Last year, Sahara Foundation partnered with ace Movie Producer, Kunle Afolayan to discover young film makers that will help amplify the Nigerian story of creativity and resilience through the experience of entrepreneurs. The project received over 150 entries, with the overall winner currently undergoing a 6-month mentorship programme with Kunle Afolayan.