His Royal Majesty, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, through his not-for-profit initiative, the Royal African Young Leadership Forum (RAYLF), recently rolled out the drums to celebrate 100 outstanding Nigerian youths across the world who have excelled in the sectors of governance, leadership, entrepreneurship, and in other charitable initiatives. The monarch shares with Adedayo Adejobi his passion for the youths, his thoughts on Amotekun, the pan Yoruba security outfit, and why Africa remains the economic frontier in globalisation
What is unique about the Royal African Young Leadership Forum?
As the Oduduwa and custodian of our immemorial culture and heritage, redefining the new culture of governance, leadership, entrepreneurial inventiveness and the ingenuous creative enterprises of our brilliant young populations has been at the epicentre of my royalty. Unfolding the maiden edition of the Royal African Young Leadership Forum (RAYLF) is an audacious mission of my peace and unity outreach. As a nation and the whole continent of Africa, I can boldly say that the world is reliant on us more than ever before because of the exciting young populations that abound. Our young populations remain the major catalysts in boosting Nigeria and the whole of Africa’s economic growth.
Africa is regarded as the next economic frontier in globalisation. The eagle eyes of the global community continue to see a continent that is rich both in human and natural resources. The sheer size, young population explosion, innovation development, sophisticated creative culture and the continent diversity distinctiveness are true potentials that are attracting global attention into the continent. The reality of Africa’s rapid population expansion is that it is expected to reach 2.8 billion by 2060, according to the World Bank statistics, with 65% of these counted as young, energetic and innovative-driven demography.
This demography is building multipurpose vehicles and economic application systems that are aiding new milestones of individual economic successes. In economic terms, Africa is already reaping tremendous demographic dividend from this millennium generation with exciting and fascinating growth which is altering the continent’s socioeconomic development. With an incredible and remarkable youth population that are gaining new knowledge, modern skills acquisitions, complex innovation mechanisms with technology agility, dexterity and adroitness, the continent is assured. Through the Royal African Young Leadership Forum and its incubation device, my mission is to transform the economic landscape and make it more inclusive and address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and access to free healthcare.
It is against this backdrop that the theme of this year’s gathering, “Africa of the Future: Unleashing the Assets of Its Narratives,” resonates with Africa’s integration development and its vibrant economic vision. This is a formidable theme, I believe, given the context we currently exist in, as a global community. Strikingly, and as we all may be aware, Africa has the largest volume of the worlds’ youngest population with stimulating depth of human capacity and arrays of entrepreneurial relentless spirit, new dreams, unquenchable energies and ambitions. Compellingly, it is gratifying to herald that a new spirit of governance, leadership, creative culture and entrepreneurship is evolving. Of a truth, this is the ‘Africa of the Future’ with immeasurable leadership shrewdness, innate propensities to create wealth, expand job markets, and rebuild the economic viability of African heritage and materials of culture across villages, cities, and urban sprawls in both the government and private sectors. President Nelson Mandela reminds us that “significant progress is always possible if we ourselves plan every detail and allow intervention of fate only on our own terms.”
Undoubtedly, Africa’s diverse cultures, multi-ethnic embroidery, mineral resources, technology advancement, education development, wealthy creative culture, and its young population defines its powerful and flourishing heritage. In the global world where Africa is encrypted to fulfilling its mandate of building a stable and economically thriving society for its people, it is therefore very imperative to harness the governance, leadership, creative culture, innovation and entrepreneurship trajectories of young Africans through various spectrums.
Through the Royal African Young Leadership Forum (RAYLF), I’m committed to redefining and resetting the ancient roles of Africa to the world civilisation; governance, leadership, its long-established creative culture, and entrepreneurial rich resilient spirit of Africa which embodies many defining principles of its identity which include – economic prosperity, blessings of natural resources, rich inheritance of its diversity and human capacity opportunity. RAYLF remains a catalyst with finest aspirations of inspiring the future generations of the best and brightest, transforming, shaping, reconstructing and anchoring a new economic frontier by establishing innovative clusters through various mechanisms which are able to give Africa a competitive advantage.
The united voices of millions of young populations in Nigeria and across Africa will certainly contribute solutions through their own ingenuities that would help in painting a picture of what they want for themselves, the future generations and the continent, as these youths are the leaders of tomorrow. They will have to dream new dreams and rightly become custodians of their own development. As the great African American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. eloquently affirmed our young generations “are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Primarily, the mission of rebuilding the fabrics of our continent’s commonwealth should be strategically pursued and achieved. This is an epic movement which I’m committed to; a movement celebrating excellence in all areas that will last forever. In Nigeria our beauty lies truly in our diversity, and until that is celebrated we will not advance.
As I have always stated from the beginning of my ascension to the throne of my forebears, this throne is dedicated to the youths and I have taken it upon myself to celebrate the compendium of outstanding successes that our young people are stamping on the threshold of global space. I am using these 100 awardees all between the ages of 20-39 to showcase the hidden treasures and ground-breaking feats that impeccable children are recording across Nigeria and internationally. This will act as a turning point for the country, pushing us to celebrate our own. If we do not tell our own stories, then who would tell them for us? I am personally celebrating all Nigerian youths that are publicly and silently redefining their socioeconomic environment through positive enterprises and inspiring mechanisms that are worthy of emulation. To my admirable and outstanding young Nigerian youths that are breaking the ceilings, changing the status quo and birthing new speeds of visible and non -visible achievement across this incredibly and most populous black nation on earth – the few of you that have been selected for my Royal African Young Leadership Award are representatives of other millions, rest assured that we are just getting started. I wholeheartedly celebrate you and all the greatness you represent both for this country and the continent of Africa. This week, which is dedicated to your celebration, marks another historical transformation of our continent through our collective vision. I wish you all the best of success in our noble commitment to the greatness of Nigeria, Africa and the black nations.
How many of the youths are you looking into?
We aim to support young Nigerians and Africans that are actually doing excellently well in different fields of specialties across the world and it’s quite very obvious that we have a whole lot of Nigerians and the black population. 64% youths, that’s about 150 million people, actually youth and the whole lot of them are doing amazing works in different fields of specialisation. They are actually achieving a lot, breaking grounds, creating opportunities, creating an invention, some of them are actually winning academic studies; across the world, we find many young Nigerians who are actually student union presidents in British universities and American universities. Recently, we had a Nigerian who is the world’s best known robotic engineer, a Yoruba boy, 31 years old and there are so many in different places. My vision is to create such opportunities with multipurpose power of celebrating, of encouraging, of leading, of providing new frontiers for Nigerians, and Africans at large.
What is your position on Amotekun?
There are some secluded places inside local communities that those people from theNigerian Armed Forces can’t get to. I will give you a good example; most breakthroughs in Boko Haram insurgence attacks and the tips and headways came from the vigilantes and the district heads. The local/traditional rulers of these places, gave hints that ‘we know ourselves here but these people who have come to mingle with us are not part of us.’ They are the ones giving the soldiers hints on where to go; that is the same thing amotekun is going to do – giving complementary support. If Armed forces are coming to take over some particular places, they are the ones that will guard them, give them intelligence information, security localised information and that is what amotekun is doing; that is the meaning of amotekun in Yoruba because they have the intelligence of the jungle as a typical animal. So, a lot of people are just saying what is not. Meanwhile, amotekun is to support the already established system of the Armed forces.
You were stuck in an elevator recently, but this wasn’t the first time, as you’ve experienced it before becoming king. Did you feel threatened this time?
It’s a normal thing, but it was being sensationalised and, you know, anything about Ooni of Ife is made sensational. I have huge followership on social media. I am very close to Nigerian youths, and anything I breathe every day of my life, my morning, afternoon and night is all about Nigerian youths and they are the major handlers of Nigerian social media, that’s why things that have to do with me are very different. I have millions of followers on social media. It’s normal and it’s not a big deal, it can happen to anybody.
What advice do you have for the young starters, the entrepreneurs; as in motivational words for young entrepreneurs?
My advice for them is that you must keep to one thing: mentorship. If you don’t have a mentor in life then you don’t have a basis of where you are going. So what we are doing in this royal forum is mentorship. You can’t just wake up in a day and say I want to ‘hamma’. We are not talking of ‘hamma’ here; we are talking about pure mentorship; so it’s about mentorship. If we look at the way Nigerian youths are being structured, their biggest tool now is the social media, that’s what they are using. For me, on this Throne, I am blending tradition and modernity, so for them that are upcoming there is no where you can get to you will not hear about success stories of between the ages of 19-39. Some of them have met American, German, and Chinese leaders and even more than five presidents and we don’t hear about them. They are doing so well, we need to celebrate them and put them in a forum of mentorship for the benefit of the ones that are coming up.