President Muhammadu Buhari has described Nigerian youths as the “country’s most strategic asset.”
The president stated this on Monday in Abuja while declaring open a three-day national youth conference themed, ‘Youth Inclusiveness-Governance, Security and Employment’.
Buhari was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the event.
He stated that across the world, Nigeria’s most potent ambassadors were young people — breaking new grounds, records and winning laurels in diverse fields of endeavour.
“We recognise that our young people are this country’s most strategic asset. Investing in them is investing in the economic strength and development of our nation.”
The president said it had established youth development-focused initiatives while scaling up existing ones, such as the recently approved increase of N-Power beneficiaries from 500,000 to one million.
“This is why I recently approved the investing in Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) programme, an over 600 million dollars programme supported by the AfDB which will support young tech and creative sector entrepreneurs through the provision of finance, skills development and infrastructure,” he said.
He acknowledged that young Nigerians often feel frustrated by the inability of the nation’s institutions to keep pace with their drive, aspirations and their dynamism.
“While differences of opinion in respect of official policies are normal in liberal democracies such as ours, but out of respect for the rights and sensitivities of others, disagreement must be tempered and channelled through legally and socially acceptable means,” the president said.
“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; I think this is a particularly important point; governments can be changed in electoral cycles, but the destiny of a nation is shaped across generations.
“This country is ours — above and beyond partisan squabbles, disagreements and everything else — the future will be what we make of it.”
The president, however, said it was not the time to give up or to succumb to despair.
“By 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,” he added.
Buhari advised youths to reject the temptation to inherit the biases and prejudices of their parents.
He also urged them not to see the country through the jaundiced eyes of some in generations that had gone before them.