President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the Nigerian youths not to succumb to hopelessness and easy cynicism, but instead harness the power of Nigeria’s diversity to drive meaningful changes in society.
He added that it was important the younger generations believe in the united Nigeria dream and that on through unity can the country thrive and become a nation that citizens would be proud of.
According to the president, our present challenges are, therefore, neither unique nor exceptional. This is why you must reject the temptation to inherit the biases and prejudices of your parents or of seeing the country through the jaundiced eyes of some in generations that have gone before you.
“I urge you to build networks, partnerships and alliances in life, business and politics that transcend ethnicity, race and religion. Approach difference and diversity as an opportunity to learn, to make new friends and to add to the wealth of your experience as human beings,” Buhari said while declaring open a three-day maiden National Youth Conference today at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja, themed: Energizing the Youth for Development: Inclusiveness, Governance, Security and Employment.
The president who was represented by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, also urged the Nigerian youths to remain resilient and keep moving whatever may be the situation. “Wherever you are in this country, whatever you are doing, keep moving, don’t look back, you will win eventually, keep moving ahead, whatever the situation – ‘We Move’.
Buhari called on youths to also channel their energies into political participation and “in the campaign to ensure that Nigeria works for all of us.” “My signing into law of the Not too Young to Run bill almost three years ago opened the door for youth inclusion in our political process and by extension in governance. It is my belief that Young Nigerians should organize, mobilize and participate fully in public affairs. Your contributions are invaluable to the debate on the what sort of future we want,” the president stated.
Urging for unity and constructive engagement on national issues, the president noted that, “while differences of opinion in respect of official policies is normal in liberal democracies such as ours, but out of respect for the rights and sensitivities of others, disagreement must be temperate and channelled through legally and socially acceptable means.
“Most importantly, we must keep our faith in our country and remain optimistic that it will serve as the locus for fulfilling our aspirations. Building a nation is an intergenerational endeavour. Governments can be changed in electoral cycles but the destiny of a nation is shaped across generations.”
He urged young Nigerians to continue to seek the path of self-actualization, because “all that is good and great about us as a people is inherent in our youths. I know of no other set of people as obsessed with constant self-improvement as young Nigerians. At home and abroad, this drive to not just be better, but to be the best that they can be, inspires achievements that make us all very proud.”
Describing Nigeria’s youth as ‘the country’s most strategic asset’, ‘the very best of us’ and ‘our reservoir of hope and creative optimism’, the president told Nigerian youths that his administration “will continue to support your efforts by creating an environment that enables the fulfillment of your dreams.”
He also praised the innovativeness and resilience of the Nigerian youth, who he said are proffering solutions to social issues in the country. “Across the world, our most potent ambassadors are young Nigerians who are breaking new grounds, breaking records and winning laurels in diverse fields of endeavour. We recognize that our young people are this country’s most strategic asset. Investing in them is clearly investing in the economic strength and development of our nation,” he said.
Buhari added that the interests of Nigerian youths remain at the centre of policy making in his administration’s investment and development agenda. “Because young people constitute the majority of our population, they are, by both default and design, at the very centre of all of our efforts to stimulate growth. From our social investments and interventions to our promotion of an innovation economy and support for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises,” he said.
Acknowledging the incredible potential, innovation and enterprise of Nigeria’s youth population, the president noted the exploits in entertainment and music, sports, technology and other sectors. According to him, “because of the labours of our youth, in addition to being home to the third largest film industry in the world, we are the epicentre of a global and pan-African popular culture anchored to the dynamism of Nigerian creatives.
“There are also young Nigerians riding the crest wave of the information technology revolution who are pioneering new patterns of enterprise and wealth creation and in the process have established this country as the most vibrant innovation hub on the African continent. Our tech entrepreneurs and innovators are not just applying their talents to profit-making endeavours, but also seeking to address social problems,” he said.