Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan wednesday opined that Nigeria would continue to grapple with major issues of insecurity until a huge chunk of Nigeriaâ€™s youths were educated and empowered.
The former president therefore called for more investment in the countryâ€™s youths, noting that any nation that does not spend its wealth and resources to develop the capacity of its youths will eventually be forced to devote its resources to fighting insecurity.
Jonathanâ€™s speech was read on his behalf during the Bayelsa Heroes Award for Academic Excellence at the Diepreye Alamieyeseigha Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa, by a one-time Commissioner for Education in the state, Chief Tobias James.
At the award, organised by Future Leaders Project Team, an initiative of Mr. Moses Siasia, a former governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, 30 indigenes of Bayelsa State who earned first-class from various universities in Nigeria and abroad were rewarded.
â€œAt different levels of my political career, I asked myself some critical questions regarding human capacity development. And one of them was, â€˜what could a leader do to effectively lift people out of the depths of poverty and enable them to achieve prosperity?â€™
â€œMy conviction was that wealth is a creation of the human mind properly prepared by some level of education. It is also my belief that any nation that does not spend its wealth and resources to develop the capacity of its youths will eventually be forced to devote its resources to fighting insecurity among those same youths.
â€œSo, as a leader, I made deliberate policies that will contribute to the education of our youths. Education is the only foundation that can ensure the consistent growth of a nation.
â€œEducation is the tool that liberates the minds of people and set the human society free. Those who will want to oppress and subjugate a people will first imprison the minds of the youths by discouraging education,â€ Jonathan said.
While lauding the organisers of the award, the former president expressed joy that some individuals had been able to take advantage of the amnesty programme or other government scholarships to empower themselves.
Organiser of the awards, Siasia, urged the recipients to work hard and change the negative narrative that people attach to Bayelsa and the Niger Delta.
â€œWe must not be seen as a society of people who are militants and cultists and people who are not hard working, but we must deliberately change the mind-set of society with something like what we are doing today.
â€œAnd we can do this by projecting these men and women who have distinguished themselves in their academic pursuits, so there is no political attachment to it.
â€œWe are celebrating them; we believe that our nation needs people who are academically sound and that is why you did not see the strength of government here, weâ€™re doing something that will benefit society and to appreciate it,â€ Siasia said.
He added: â€œWe must start appreciating our young men and women and I believe that all those that weâ€™re honouring today really merited those first class that is pictured on their celebratory tags.â€