Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, at the weekend, hinted that transformation would continue to elude Nigeria, if governments at all levels continue to ignore the youths and exclude them from participating in governance.
He also warned that if the anger and frustration of Nigerian youth as a result of employment, was left unaddressed and allowed to explode, the consequence may not augur well for the nation.
Obasanjo dropped this hint while speaking at 2017 Youth Governance Dialogue, organised by the Youth Development Centre, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun state capital.
The event with the theme: “Preparing Successor Generation for Effective Participation in Governance”, was attended by the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, former Corps Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, former House of Representatives deputy speaker, Emeka Ihedioa, youth organisations and students across the country.
Speaking further, Obasanjo urged the youth to speak out and ready to pay a price for what they believe in recalling how he almost lost his life for speaking out against the regime of late Sanni Abacha.
He added that they can only be successful if they have what he termed ‘I can do spirit’ noting the present crop of Nigerian youth have more facilities at their disposal, but less opportunities.
Said he: “Today’s Nigerian youth can only be successful if they have ‘I can do spirit’. Our generation had more opportunities but no facilities, while you have more facilities and less opportunities. Unfortunately, government is not helping the situation, hence, you must help yourselves.
“While some claim they are atapata dide, me, I am aterefo dide. I worked as a real labourer. But when I finished my secondary education and about to go to university, there was just a university in the country, but I had about five letters of appointment waiting for me. That was opportunity but no facility. But today, they are over 152 universities for you to choose from, but less job opportunities. Now, that is facility with less opportunity.
“With this tight opportunity, Nigerian youths are frustrated. And if the government allows this anger and frustration to explode, then the consequences might not augur well for us as a nation. To this end, I would advise those of us who have benefitted immensely from Nigeria, to assist and offer advises to the youth, with a view to develop them as worthy successors”.
The former president, however, expressed worry that despite the fact that Nigeria possesses the requisite knowledge,education and right information, the country was still under developed. He, then, declared that if his nine years basic education policy, aimed at providing qualitative education to all Nigerian children, when he was a military head of state, had been adhered to by successive governments, the country would have been transformed by now.
In his speech, Governor Tambuwal said “we cannot keep calling youth the leaders of tomorrow without ensuring that we put in place deliberate measures that will aid their quest for public service.”
The governor, who was the chairman of the event, added that leaders should find the means to reduce unemployment noting “there is no doubt that the current diversification policy of President Buhari government will eventually provide broader opportunities for self employment”.
The lead speaker, Osita Chidoka, while speaking on the theme ‘Towards a Guiding Political Philosophy for a Democratic Nigeria’, said for the country to grow, Nigerians must build a society that harness human resources, provide equal opportunities and develop capacity for innovation.
“Our national aspirations should inspire the next generation and provide them with the existential meaning of nigeria. A meaning that transcends geography, natural resources and ethnicity”. He added.
The former FRSC boss, therefore, proposed a new charter for the country, which according to him. should contain reasons for the country’s union, the purpose of union and the guarantee of the basic rights, privileges and obligations of citizens submitting “our political parties can then build their ideologies around the strategies for achieving our national goals”.