Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday challenged Nigerian youths to engage in activities that would change the African narrative.
He spoke in Abeokuta, Ogun State, during the third edition of the presidential youth mentorship retreat organised by the Youth Development Center of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL).
Speaking on the theme “Removing Barriers against youth,” Obasanjo noted that “in most parts of Africa, there are visible barriers and not so discernible barriers militating against the actualization of the latent potentials of the African youth.”
Obasanjo who was represented by the Deputy Chief Coordinator of OOPL, Dr Ayodele Aderinwale, said the biggest obstacle to effectively removing the barrier “is the attitudinal disposition and orientation of the young people.”
He challenged youths to, as a matter of strategy, never allow another person to determine or shape their space in society.
According to him, if our youth can be desperate enough to agree to trek through the desert to get menial jobs in Europe, that energy, that spirit, that fortitude should be channeled to eradication both physical and mental barriers.
Obasanjo said, “The villagization of the globe has rendered geographical barriers largely irrelevant. The movement towards a knowledge economy has also meant that proper nuancing eliminates barriers. In essence economic opportunities have become transborder in nature and manifestation. There are enormous opportunities for private initiatives at the national and global economic space.
“The young people should demand vociferously that our governments must enhance enabling entrepreneurial environment for young people is also a key to unleashing a culture of entrepreneurship among the youth.
“As this will have a broader impact in promoting sustainable development and addressing the barriers that specifically hinder young people like yourself to be economically empowered. Such empowerment will not only improve the individual life but also affect their community positively as they will serve as an agent of wealth creation.
“In conclusion, I am challenging you as young Africans to engage in activities that would change the African narrative by participating fully in all the socio-economic and political activities that guarantee a better future for you and not allowing those who are messing up your future to succeed.”
In her welcome address, the Chairperson of YDC-OOPL, Dr Bisi Kolapo, told the youths that to consistently improve on leadership skills and development in order to take their rightful positions in governance.
Kolapo also emphasised that the youths have a divine mandate to dominate, be fruitful and replenish in anywhere they find themselves.