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Buhari: Youths Most Important Resource for Future Development

Buhari: Youths Most Important Resource for Future Development

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has described the young and active people, who constitute more than half of the population of the Commonwealth as the most important resource for the future development of their societies.

He made the charge yesterday at the opening ceremony of Commonwealth Youth and Students Summit (CYSS) held in Abuja.

Buhari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, said  the young people resided a positive force for societal development  if given the opportunity and support for their talent and energy to be appropriately harnessed and channelled to the noble ideas which the Commonwealth represents.

He reiterated that Nigeria as member of the Commonwealth will continuously create an enabling environment for young people to blossom and reach their potentials.

Commonwealth youths from Botswana, Cameroon, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Zambia, Jamaica, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Seychelles, are gathered in Abuja for the next three days to discuss a policy paper and dedicate the declaration for the young people.

In his remarks, Buhari noted that the Commonwealth has come  a long way from being just a handful of comity of nations representing former British colonies to a global forum and force for the promotion of international peace and security, democracy and human rights; economic and social development as well as youth and sports development.

He said as a firm believer in the capabilities of young people, Nigeria in hosting the CYSS perceives the occasion as a platform for young people to network, provide opportunity for students, youth, and youth- led organisations to effectively collaborate and foster sustainable learning environment as well as promote youth development in institutions within the Commonwealth.

“The very theme of this summit, “Co creating our Common Future Leadership in the Digital age in Africa”-speaks directly to the world of challenges and opportunities open to the Commonwealth youth, especially those that reside in Africa in a technology enabled environment. The Digital Revolution is clearly upon us with the young ones leading the way in Technology and related fields and applications such as, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, E-Commerce and the likes. Investments building a digital economy must proceed along with investment in the ideas, skills and enterprise of our Youth,” Buhari said.

He stressed that in recognising and embracing the key values of the Commonwealth, Nigeria has over the years invested heavily on youth development and created strong, able and reliable platforms such as the Youth Parliament, National Youth Council of Nigeria, National Association of Nigerian Students, Nigeria Youth Congress, through which young people and students can hone their leadership skills and make relevant contributions to the decision-making process especially on issues that bother on their development and welfare.

He affirmed the country’s commitment to the actualisation of the core values of the Commonwealth and firmly belief in the power of the youth as the driving force, in making a difference in their societies.

The president conceded to the validity of many of the agitations for radical change on the part of the youths, while adding that corruption – moral and financial – have debilitated the growth trajectory of Africa, while world class services, in critical areas like education and health care are few and far between; and the continent remains a hot-bed of all types of wars of violent extremisms and other activities and conflicts.

Also the President-elect Senator Bola Tinubu has charged young people to take advantage of the resources available to them to pursue their dreams as entrepreneurs globally remain the driving force behind economic growth.

Tinubu, who was represented by Dayo Israel, noted that seven years ago, Africa that had no single startup, today boasts of no less than seven startups worth over $100 billion, adding Africa of tomorrow must have no less than 100 unicorns by 2035 because the continent has an abundance of human and natural resources, that must be utilised to its advantage.

”Africa represents more than 30 per cent of the world’s youth. We are the youngest continent in the world: 21 percent of our 1.2 billion people are between 15 and 24 years old, whereas 42 per cent are younger than 15. We have the energy to create innovative and sustainable solutions to factors holding us back from excelling. 

The president-elect said he was proud of what Africa which has a vast youth population has achieved with the use of technology which is rapidly transforming the way the people live, work, and communicate.

He said the digital revolution has opened new vistas for innovation, growth, and development.

He charged young Africans, to be proud of their culture, heritage, and history, saying they must celebrate the continent’s diversity and embrace their differences.

Tinubu tasked youths to also reject the negative stereotypes and false narratives that have been perpetuated about the continent, saying: “Remember that you what you answer to. When on social media, put your best foot forward. Do not allow peer pressure to push you into spreading the myth that nothing good can happen in Africa”.

 He described fashion and tourism as two industries that can help to showcase the beauty of Africa to the rest of the world, noting Africans must invest in “these sectors and work to create unique and authentic experiences for tourists. We must also celebrate our fashion designers and support current efforts being put in to promote African fashion globally”.

“Nigeria will continue to invest in her youth, nay African. We will unfold programs and initiatives that are beneficial to our youth in the areas of Youths Advisory Council, Presidential Fellowship Scheme, Business Incubation Centres, MSME Academy, Consumer Credit and Sports Revolution. Greater inclusivity in governance for our youth now is important for our future. I was once a youth and I know and see the boundless creative energies, innovative skills, Entrepreneurship spirit and potentials of our youth. And the time to invest in them is now. I urge you all to network, collaborate and partner as young people across the African continent because you share the same passions and are also confronted with similar challenges. Unemployment. Insecurity. Lack of credit and finance. Poor education and lack of opportunities”.

Also speaking at the summit, Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, said the theme of the summit: “Co- creating our common future leadership in the digital age in Africa”, evokes the spirit of collaboration and the need to embrace technology as an enabler.

He said African youth have come of age and can no longer be ignored as can be validated with the exploits of the African youth in various spheres of endeavour – from technology, science, AI, robotics. E-commerce, digital marketing,  creative arts to entertainment.

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