Young Nigerians were at their creative best as they painted apt pictures of the Nigeria of their dreams through various contributions to the NigeriaStartsWithMe book which was recently launched by Sahara Group in Lagos.
The 98-page book features short articles on several initiatives that can be deployed to place Nigeria firmly on the pedestal of sustainable growth. The book also captures certain landmarks in Nigeria under sections tagged, ‘Explore Nigeria’, which were included to promote the nation’s heritage.
Unveiled in March 2017, the #NigeriaStartsWithMe project is an initiative of Sahara Group, which tasked young people to volunteer practical ideas on moving Nigeria forward. The project required contributions to be based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Speaking at the book launch, Sahara Group’s Executive Director and Co-Founder, Tonye Cole said the ideas expressed by youths “are indicative of the fact that we truly have talented young people whose creative energies should be harnessed towards effective nation building.” He added: “the level of participation and quality of contribution we received reinforced our belief in the ability of young Nigerians to lead the charge towards the #NewNigeria vision. Twitter was abuzz with ideas from youths with over 1000 comments whilst the portal dedicated to the project via our website (www.sahara-group.com), received over 158 contributions.”
Chinasa Nwachukwu, a contributor who wrote on “education through sensitisation” noted that: “a radical transformation of the Nigerian society should begin from a change of the individual mindset; education of the youths through sensitisation programmes about their rights, their limitations and the power they have over the government.” Making a case for patronising ‘Made-in-Nigeria’ fashion designers, Tobenna Menakaya wrote: “In addition to a more tailored satisfaction of personal style, #WearNigeria will drive the necessary growth and perfection in Nigerian fashion as it gives a voice to home-grown talent and fosters creativity and advancement which would trigger diversification and job creation within the industry.” Focusing on the need to reduce climate change, Oladeji Oladayo wrote: “increased support for investment in renewable energy such as biogas and solar energy would greatly expand the scope for development of low-carbon energy.”
Cole urged the nation’s youths to sustain their contributions to transforming Nigeria by positively, constructively and consistently lending their voices to national discourses through social media platforms.
He said the book would be formally presented to Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as well as the leaders of other organs of government to ensure the contributions and propositions captured in the book receive the backing of key decision makers across the nation. “We will also distribute the book to members of the organised private sector, academia, multilateral institutions and civil organisations to expand the scope of achieving some of the suggestions that are critical to realising the SDGs in Nigeria,” he said.
According to Cole, Sahara Group would keep the #NigeriaStartsWithMe project open to allow other young Nigerians send in their contributions “to ensure we keep the conversation going until we see the results we all desire, that is the emergence of a greater Nigeria.”