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Young people in nigeria advocate that leaders reimagine youth skills.

Young people in Nigeria are calling on leaders and the government to set up structures and put policies in place to reduce the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on young people and build back better.

A young woman

“I became consistent with building my make-up skills during the COVID-19 lockdown. I picked up my tools and started exploring instead of idling away,” says 24-year-old Jane.  

“My make-up videos went viral, got the attention of people and international media. Today, I train people who have passion for the kind of make-up that I do and earn pretty good income from my skill,” says Jane.

Make-up sessions

Young people have continued to demonstrate resilience at this challenging time as they weather through the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. Just like Janet, many of them leveraged the COVID-19 lockdown to build new skills and master existing ones but not without challenges.

Report by ILO found that globally, youth employment fell 8.7 per cent in 2020, compared with 3.7 per cent for adults, with the most pronounced fall seen in middle-income countries. The consequences of this disruption to the early labour market experiences of youth could last for years.

There is a wide gap in preparing youth for the future of work. I strongly advocate that the government and every important leader help make internet accessible to young people and sponsor several digital courses that can enhance the employability of young people, says Ezekiel Aina, a young policy advocate.

A man on suit

Ezekiel echoes the opinions expressed by young people in a recent poll conducted by U-Reports Nigeria with about one hundred thousand youth between age 14 - 24.

In the poll, 48% of the respondents noted that their greatest fear as a Nigerian youth is unemployment, 30% are of the opinion that digital skills is an important skill to acquire. Another 44% believes that creating more avenues to build skills is the important thing that can be done to improve the situation of young people in Nigeria.

24-year-old Osumareton, a content creator and digital expert sums her most desperate need as we reimagine youth skills.

A young woman

If I could ask for just one thing on a day like this when we celebrate World Youth Skills Day, it will be to have constant power supply. Youth just want to have electricity

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write a speech on the topic nigerian youth awake

Nigeria’s growing challenges call for more youth activism

by Similoluwa Ifedayo

Youth activism is a powerful force for addressing pressing societal issues. Nigeria faces a multitude of challenges, from corruption and unemployment to inequality and political instability . In response, a new generation of young activists and change-makers has risen to the occasion, driving impactful initiatives to effect positive change.

The roots of youth activism in Nigeria can be traced back to historical movements such as the struggle against colonialism and the fight for independence. Figures like Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo were instrumental in shaping the nation’s destiny. Today’s youth activists draw inspiration from these historical icons, understanding the power of collective action and the importance of societal transformation.

Nigeria grapples with a host of daunting challenges. Corruption permeates many facets of public life, hindering economic growth and development. Unemployment rates are high, particularly among young people, leading to frustration and disillusionment. Additionally, inequality and political unrest continue to affect Nigerian society, exacerbating these problems.

In the face of these challenges, some youth and young-at-heart activists including Aisha Yesufu and Omoyele Sowore have continued to put the government on its toes. They are motivated by a desire to create a better Nigeria for themselves and future generations. Drawing from a range of backgrounds, these activists employ diverse strategies, from peaceful protests and advocacy to grassroots organising and social media campaigns.

These activists have achieved significant milestones. The ‘Not Too Young To Run’ campaign successfully lobbied for a reduction in the age requirement for political office seekers, allowing more young people to participate in government. Initiatives like the #EndSARS movement galvanised nationwide protests against police brutality, leading to reforms within the Nigerian Police Force. Their tireless efforts sparked dialogue, garnered international attention, and pushed for much-needed changes in the country.

Despite their remarkable achievements, Nigerian youth activists face many challenges. The political elite often resist change, and the activists themselves encounter threats to their safety and freedom. The bureaucratic and sometimes corrupt systems within Nigeria make it difficult to enact systemic change. Nevertheless, these activists persevere, driven by their unwavering commitment to the cause.

Technology and social media have played a pivotal role in youth activism. Platforms like Twitter and Instagram have allowed activists to amplify their voices, mobilise supporters, and document their struggles. Successful social media campaigns, such as #EndSARS, have brought international attention to the issues facing Nigerians.

Nigerian youth activists have not gone unnoticed on the global stage. International organisations and governments have expressed their support for their endeavours. This recognition highlights the importance of their work and emphasises the interconnected nature of today’s world, where the fight for justice and equality knows no borders.

The future of youth activism in Nigeria is promising. These young activists are a driving force for change, and their efforts are likely to have a long-lasting impact on Nigerian society. As they continue their work, the nation may see a brighter future, characterised by reduced corruption, increased economic opportunities, and greater social justice.

In the face of daunting societal challenges, youth activism in Nigeria has emerged as a beacon of hope. These young activists, inspired by historical struggles and motivated by a desire for a better future, are pushing for change in remarkable ways. Their achievements, despite the obstacles they face, underscore the importance of their work. As they continue to raise their voices and demand justice, the trajectory of Nigeria’s future looks increasingly optimistic.

About the author

write a speech on the topic nigerian youth awake

Similoluwa Ifedayo

Similoluwa Ifedayo is a dynamic writer, certified public speaker, and accomplished campus journalist. She has over five years’ experience crafting compelling articles on youth engagement, leadership, creative storytelling, and newsletters. Currently pursuing a Law degree at Lagos State University, she channels her passion for advocacy into academic pursuits. Similoluwa’s unwavering dedication to transformative movements is reflected in her commitment to making a difference. Eager for growth, she aims to share her knowledge, aiding fellow youth in realizing their potential. With academic prowess, extensive writing experience, and a passion for positive change, Similoluwa is set to become an influential figure in her field.

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Youth Development in Nigeria/Africa: The Pathway to a Sustainable Future

To a more microscopic degree, youth development in Nigeria (and Africa) is widely touted as an untapped channel to present fundamental answers to a large chunk of the challenges threatening the fulfilment of the continent’s potential.

In its race towards building a suitable life for humans on the planet, commitment to youth development is the most important decision the world could ever make. This is necessary to maximise youth potential globally and inspire them to play critical leading roles in future development.

The world is constantly evolving, with the people witnessing the dramatic progressions happening before their very eyes. Everyone is sucked in, intrigued by the direction the world is headed. But despite countless studies, documentation, postulations and innovations, no one can tell for certain.

What new innovations would further change the world? What new policies would alter the way humans live? And what would be the role of new generations to come are only a few of many unanswered questions the people seek answers to every day.

Through the collective cluelessness, however, one factor has remained constant: the evolution of man. And central to this unstoppable evolution is the growing youth population globally.

write a speech on the topic nigerian youth awake

Today, there are 1.2 billion young people in the world aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population, according to the United Nations . Also, over half of the world’s population is estimated to be under age 30, and today’s global youth generation is the largest in history.

In Africa, recent data estimates that almost 60% of its population is under the age of 25. And with almost a billion people under the age of 35 representing 22.7% of the world’s total youth population, it is one of the leading continents with the largest youth demographic. Similar numbers describe Nigeria’s youth population, where over 33.6 million are currently aged between 15 and 35.

These numbers are critical in understanding the importance of youth development in Nigeria (and Africa) as a vehicle for shaping the future.

Franklin D. Roosevelt , the great American leader who was a central figure in historic world events during the first half of the 20th century, couldn’t have described the importance of youth to global advancement better when he said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”

While Roosevelt made this observation over seven decades ago, effective strategies toward youth development have more than before, become a global challenge.

A 2020 Global Youth Development Index, as referenced by the Commonwealth Organisation, reveals that although the conditions of young people have improved around the world by 3.1 per cent between 2010 and 2018, the progress remains slow.

This is expected. At least 20% of all youth in the developing world are not in education, training, or employment, according to USAID. At the same time, 5 million new jobs are said to be required monthly to keep youth unemployment, which is twice the adult unemployment rate, at its current high rate.

In evaluating the situation around youth development in Nigeria (and Africa), all shreds of evidence show the challenges are even more deep-rooted. Decay in the country and continent’s socio-economic and sociopolitical landscape makes the youth susceptible to neglect with damaging consequences.

Apart from suffering poor access to quality education, high unemployment rate, and lack of representation in public office, youth in this region are largely victims of poverty, drug abuse, discrimination, conflict, and other societal vices.

It is no surprise Nigeria is ranked 161st on the 2020 Global Youth Development Index, which measures the status of young people in 181 countries around the world.

In an ideal situation, the benefits of youth development in Nigeria (and Africa) can’t be overlooked.

Youth development on the continent will enhance the status of young people and empower them to build on their competencies and capabilities to thrive in any environment. It will also enable them to contribute to a politically stable and economically viable environment, ensuring their full participation as active citizens for the continent’s betterment.

This is why, in today’s digitally transformative world where youth development in Nigeria (and Africa) has humongous benefits for young individuals and general economic growth, there is a need for more urgent strategies to harness the talents and brilliance of the young generation coming through.

To achieve this much-needed development of young people on the continent, we will weigh some key strategies to employ.

A pivotal first step will involve the deliberate address of issues facing the youth and the engagement of young people across all spheres of society in finding lasting solutions. Through this strategy, youth programming, participation and partnership in support of government or agency development objectives can be constructively and effectively achieved.

As the United Nations enunciates in its message to member nations, active engagement of youth in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive and stable societies. With this, young people who are largely disenfranchised would feel more welcome and be more willing to play their part in national development.

Another critical strategy for consideration is the provision of access to new technological tools and a digital learning environment for young Africans, which would propel them to landmark achievements and position them as leaders in a fastly evolving digital world.

Currently, African youth’s involvement in digital transformation activities is impressive, with the creation of multi-billion tech startups and unicorns. But there’s no denying the gaps still to be filled. Compared to the rest of the world, Africa is yet to scratch the surface in the establishment of eco-friendly tech environments and institutions.

New age technology offers the continent a great opportunity to foster inclusive and sustainable growth among its young population while positioning itself to reach its potential as one of the world’s most promising economies. Considering the associated benefits, it is indeed an understatement to say it would be an unfathomable disaster for the continent to let the opportunity slip.

Perhaps the most critical factor in ensuring youth development in Nigeria (and Africa) is the involvement of young people in the unbalanced political dynamics, as nearly all decisions and policies with a life-changing impact on the citizenry are made by political leaders.

It is alarming that globally, less than 2 per cent of parliamentarians are under 30 years old, as the political landscape continues to be dominated by boomers.

In Nigeria, the Not Too Young To Run campaign remains but a farcical attempt at involving the youth in political positions, due to high entrance ceilings such as astronomical prices of party nomination forms and lack of political clout.

This necessitates an urgent need for more institutions dedicated to grooming and empowering young individuals with an interest in politics.

Opening this accessible pathway to youth involvement in politics is crucial to raising awareness of youth-related issues and the inevitable demand for actionable and practicable change. This standpoint is backed by various studies which have proven the youth as critical thinkers, change-makers, innovators, communicators, and leaders.

Interestingly, there are existing indicators of the possibility of these youth development strategies by many public and private organisations in Africa.

As a notable case study, driving real change in youth development in Nigeria (and Africa) through some of the strategies highlighted above is the Future Project. The youth-oriented project strives to build empowered citizens across Africa through inclusive enterprise and active citizenship while inspiring a network of young Africans to work together to solve the continent’s biggest and most urgent issues.

Human capital development projects embarked upon by the outfit in recent years have included a capacity-building Future Africa Internship Program where young Africans with less than two years of work experience are allowed to intern in their prospective area of expertise for deliberate career growth.

For 16 years, the noble project has also been instrumental in the celebration of young people who have challenged the status quo in their respective spheres of influence and have worked to build lifelong legacies that will transform generations for years to come.

The Future Project’s annual award ceremony, The Future Awards Africa , has grown to become a staff of validation and coveted recognition among young Africans making a life-changing impact on their community as well as the nation.

It bolsters general confidence that these initiatives in the drive towards youth development in Nigeria (and Africa) are providing a monumental base for more work to be done. And it’ll be interesting to see the offshoots in the coming years.

Conclusively, there is no better time than now to define the future of our world, and it is critical to acknowledge the importance of youth development as an integral part of that. All things fairly considered, it should be their world, and everyone else should only be living in it.

So, when leisurely chatter about the strategy required to impact a dream future for our world ensues, youth development in Nigeria (and Africa) should reign supreme. And when strategic deliberations on the actions to achieving great results are had, there should be no look beyond the template and blueprint being laid by the Future Project.

While these strategies may not represent the only angles of passage through the needle, they sure are a good place to start.

  • By The Future Project
  • May 19, 2022
  • the future africa
  • Youth development

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“We are the future. We are the dream. We are the nation. We are part of this.” That is what Temitope Ejide, then 16 and still at school, told the audience at the Nigerian Economic Summit, in the capital Abuja, in 2014.

He was quoting an anthem for Nigerian youth — “The Future” by singer TY Bello — and, in doing so, caught the attention of Johnson Abbaly, an employment consultant turned education mentor. Abbaly then invited him to become a founding member of his Successor Generation Community, a youth development programme in Ikorodu, roughly 25 miles from Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city.

Abbaly, who has helped nurture young Nigerians’ talents over the past ten years through various programmes, believes education is the best route out of poverty in a country where two-thirds of the 213mn population live on less than $2 a day .

Ejide, who now works as a fixed-income analyst at Bloomberg, describes SGC as “the kind of environment where you get exposed to global thinking and really successful people early on . . . inspiring us to figure out our lives in a more strategic, clearer way”.

Temitope Ejide

He is now an inspiration to participants in Abbaly’s latest project, Smartan House . Launched in March 2023, this initiative works with businesses and colleges to help high-performing school leavers from poorer communities develop the knowledge and skills to attain professional careers, which Abbaly hopes will have a positive social impact. Participants in the free, year-long programme are aged 14 to 19 and chosen via an eight-week residential course.

Smartan House exposes the teenagers to such technologies as AI, data analytics and cyber security, and arranges work experience for them with organisations including national lender Sterling Bank, online gaming group Bet9ja, and venture fund Future Africa.

Students model how industries, such as banking, are projected to change, and write proposals on how companies could be optimised for greater productivity.

Abbaly assesses the participants in terms of how well they work with their peers, their critical thinking and pattern recognition. He says: “[The young people] have to learn and consciously try to apply everything that they’re learning to their lives because that’s what [we are] measuring: intellectual growth potential.”

Solomon Taiwo — 18 and an inaugural member of Smartan House — was working long hours washing cars on Ikorodu’s streets to support his mother and three siblings, with little opportunity to pursue his dream of working in technology.

But, through Abbaly, he was connected with a US cyber security expert, to help him build industry experience. Taiwo impressed Abbaly so much that, in August, he was appointed the programme’s chief operating officer: “I’m just 18 years old, and experiencing all of this, it’s just mind-blowing!”

Solomon Taiwo

He hopes to study cyber security at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, work for a Big Tech group, then return to Nigeria and found a data science company with global ambitions. He does not plan to contribute to the “japa syndrome” — as the brain drain of young Nigerians emigrating for jobs is known.

“Africans are smart, Nigerians are smart,” Taiwo says, “[but], because they do not have the resources they need to get to where they need to be, they get into scams.”

Stephanie Bassey, 19, joined Smartan House in September, studying tech and business. She aspires to be a film actor, with her sights set on working for Disney. “I love how Disney is able to bring dreams and put them into movies,” she says. “I want to be a part of that.”

Abbaly’s aim is to equip all participants with the skills to “allow them not only to make smarter choices in terms of their career path but also to make smarter life choices”. But he is disappointed that young men outnumber women on the programme by seven to three. Despite efforts to increase female participation, it is still the case that fewer young women apply — often stymied by cultural barriers.

Stephanie Bassey

Abiose Haruna, global adviser for adolescent girls and youth programmes at aid group Mercy Corps , lays the blame on Nigeria’s “male preference syndrome”.

“Where [a family] has money [and] it’s a choice between the male child and the female child, it’s always the male child that is preferred to go to school,” she explains.

Nevertheless, Bassey is optimistic: “The way the country is going, and the way I picture Africa, I think it’s going to get better. There will be more opportunities for women.”

Being so close to Lagos, a city emerging as a technology and enterprise hub , Smartan House is not short of experts willing to offer support. A small community of professionals known as “the Consortium” sponsors the participants’ living costs, training, and food — and, sometimes, also facilitates teaching. Abbaly hopes to secure funding from international bodies soon, too.

However, across Nigeria, children struggle to access education. Many schools lack resources, which is a problem that President Bola Tinubu has pledged to address .

Lois Ifeanyichukwu, project manager at Slum2School Africa , an organisation that promotes education for children in the poorest communities, believes the root cause of the lack of resourcing is short-termism: “The government is not interested in education compared to other economical aspects of the country because you don’t see immediate results,” she argues.

Nigerian children have a right to nine years of continuous education but many are priced out because families struggle to afford textbooks or uniforms.

Bigger families only compound these challenges, says Hauwa Yahaya, programme manager at Slum2School. “The dilemma is: do I send my child to school and let my other children starve, or do I provide food for my children and forgo school?”

Smartan House hopes to show — through its successes — that there is now a second chance for at least some young Nigerians. “If we are able to scale this sufficiently,” says Abbaly, “we will be able to put a message out on pretty strong cultural levels that there is an alternative path to growth and success — and it works.”

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International Edition

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Young Nigerians rise up to demand a different kind of freedom

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Research assistant professor, University of British Columbia

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Sakiru Adebayo does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Two days after Nigeria celebrated its sixtieth year of independence, a video of a young man brazenly killed by a member of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad or SARS caught the attention of netizens. The Twitter user who posted the viral video claimed the man’s body had been left at the side of the road and his Lexus stolen. It sparked a wave of protests across most of Nigeria’s urban metropolises. Under the moniker #ENDSARS , the protests have garnered support from Nigerian celebrities, Nigerians in the diaspora and even international stars such as John Boyega, Mesut Özil, Kanye West and Cardi B.

The protests could be said to fit neatly into the ongoing global campaign against police brutality, especially against black people. One could even argue that the restrictive context of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to tensions behind this sudden civil eruption. Whatever the case, one thing is sure: Nigerians have been driven up the wall by an autocratic political system disguised as a liberal democracy.

I argue that the protest placards demonstrate the idea that #ENDSARS on social media and on the streets is as much an expression of a will to modernity by Nigerian youths as it is a yearning to be treated with dignity.

(Young) Nigerian lives matter

As a unit of the Nigeria Police Force, SARS was set up in 1992 to stem armed robbery, car snatching and kidnapping. It appears to have metamorphosed into a pernicious force, called out by Amnesty International as early as 2016. In fact, the #ENDSARS hashtag had been in circulation since at least 2017 and the Nigerian government has reportedly disbanded and reinstated SARS four times in the past four years.

A young man with a beard displays a placard reading, 'To be young and Nigerian should not be a crime #ENDSARSNOW' as protesters move past in the background.

Amid fury at SARS brutality and killings, protesters and online accounts also accuse the police unit of unfairly profiling young Nigerians – especially those who use iPhones, drive luxury cars and wear brands such as Nike or Adidas. The squad is also accused of having maltreated young people with piercings, tattoos and dreadlocks. In other words, Nigerian youths (once scornfully referred to as lazy by the nation’s president) are at the forefront of the #ENDSARS revolution precisely because they are commonly the main targets of SARS’ violence.

A man holds up a square white placard reading, '#To be Modern is Not A Crime'

Many of the #ENDSARS placards contain phrases such as, “To be modern is not a crime”; “iPhone, laptops, styled hair and living fresh isn’t a crime”; “We are techies not thieves”.

It is quite absurd that people get arrested and tortured simply because of how they look or what gadgets they possess, but this is the daily reality of many young Nigerians. In my view, the iconic #ENDSARS protest placards flooding social media have wider implications. One of these is that they reveal Nigeria’s ongoing and deep-seated struggle to establish itself as a modern democracy. They also point to a new generation of Nigerians (the ENDSARS generation?) rising to take their place in national affairs. This seemingly courageous and woke crop of young Nigerians use social (and traditional) media to make their voices heard to fight for their country’s endangered democracy.

To be modern is not a crime

The placards raise many questions: Why is being modern criminalised in 21st century Nigeria? Why is it so important that Nigerian youths claim their right to be modern? What and whose modernity are they alluding to? These questions may seem peripheral in the face of the daily lived violence young Nigerians are subjected to but they are, in the long run, important.

The demand for the decriminalisation of modern sensibilities in the protests is not necessarily a demand for periodised modernity because, by many standards, Nigeria is a modern country. Also, it is not that SARS is pre-modern in its operation but rather that it is anti-modern in its persuasions. Hence, the expression of the will for modernity in the context of the protests is an ideological and ontological quest for freedom, rationalisation, professionalism and representative democracy as well as rejection of tradition.

The fact that SARS reportedly preyed on signs of ostentatiousness among young people is reflective of Nigeria’s still prevalent embrace of oppressive orthodoxies. It reflects paternalistic social relations and work culture – which extends to the entire Nigerian civil service – that fuel the infantilisation of Nigerian youths. It also partly explains the blanket disavowal of post-traditionalism and the demonisation of the technology and fashion of progressive youth culture.

Put differently, the #ENDSARS movement is symbolic of many things, one of which is a generational divide in ideological posturing. The older generation seems intractably establishmentarian while the younger generation is becoming increasingly radical.

Also, at the heart of the issue is the policing of appearance and mannerism. In my view, SARS officers and the Nigerian government in general conflate the aesthetics of modernity – displayed among young Nigerians – with vices such as scamming, debauchery and insolence. The #ENDSARS protest is, among many other things, a yearning by young people to be respected as full human beings. It is also a wilful engagement in acts of civil disobedience as a way of fashioning a truly civil society.

‘A freedom to be, to do’

As I write, SARS has been dissolved . The victory for the protesters came at a price. Some were reported dead and countless others injured at the hands of the police during the protests.

However, one cannot be celebratory when one considers that SARS has a history of reinventing itself. As we speak, SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), a replacement for SARS, has been announced to the displeasure of many Nigerians.

Read more: Why disbanding the notorious anti-robbery squad won't stop bad policing in Nigeria

The #ENDSARS revolution attests to the idea that the Nigerian people, especially young Nigerians, are capable of challenging the systemic failures and deteriorating public services that plague their country. The #ENDSARS protests (arguably the biggest civil revolt in Nigeria since the time of the last military regime in 1999) are still unfolding. Many hope they will form a social movement that marks the genesis of a long walk to radical change in the structures of governance in Nigeria.

Watching the protests, I am reminded of a scene in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus , a novel which allegorically portrays the repressive regimes of former leaders Sani Abacha and Ibrahim Babangida in Nigeria. In it, the young protagonist, Kambili, longs for a different kind of freedom, “a freedom to be, to do”. In the same manner, the #ENDSARS protest is a yearning for freedom, a freedom to be, a freedom to do.

  • Peacebuilding
  • Police brutality
  • Nigerian society
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Nigerian police
  • protest art
  • Nigerian government
  • Nigerian youth

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Director, Indigenous Education Research Centre

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Youths’ engagement in Nigerian politics: Empowering the next generation

  In Nigeria, a country with a youthful population, the engagement of young people in politics is crucial for the nation’s progress and development. The…

write a speech on the topic nigerian youth awake

In Nigeria, a country with a youthful population, the engagement of young people in politics is crucial for the nation’s progress and development. The youth represent a vibrant and dynamic segment of society, with fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and a deep desire for change. Recognizing these potentials, efforts are underway to empower the next generation and actively involve them in the political landscape. In this article, we explore the importance of youth engagement in Nigerian politics, the challenges they face, and the transformative impact they can have on the nation’s future.

A call for inclusion and representation

Nigeria’s youth population constitutes a significant majority, with over 60 percent of Nigerians under the age of 30. Despite this demographic advantage, young people have historically faced barriers to meaningful political participation. However, there is a growing recognition of the need for their inclusion and representation in the decision-making processes.

Efforts are being made to create platforms for youth voices to be heard and heeded. Youth-focused organizations, political parties, and civil society groups are mobilizing young individuals, encouraging their active involvement in political activities, and amplifying their concerns. This shift towards inclusion acknowledges the invaluable contributions the youth can make to shaping Nigeria’s political landscape.

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Empowering the youth: Education and capacity building

To effectively engage in politics, young Nigerians must be equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills, and opportunities. Education and capacity-building initiatives are essential in empowering the youth and nurturing their leadership potential.

Educational institutions and civil society organizations are taking steps to introduce political education programs, encouraging critical thinking, civic awareness, and a deeper understanding of democratic processes. By equipping young people with the tools to analyze political issues and engage in constructive dialogue, these initiatives are fostering a generation of politically conscious individuals.

In addition, mentorship programs, leadership training, and internships are being provided to nurture young leaders and expose them to the complexities of governance. These opportunities enable them to develop practical skills, build networks, and gain hands-on experience in political environments. Empowering the youth with knowledge and skills enhances their ability to contribute meaningfully to the political discourse.

Obstacles to youth engagement

Despite the progress made, significant challenges persist in youth engagement in Nigerian politics. Limited access to resources, political apathy, and a lack of representation in key decision-making bodies hinder the full participation of young Nigerians.

Financial constraints often prevent young individuals from running for political office or supporting political causes. Political campaigns require substantial funding, making it difficult for young candidates to compete with established and well-funded opponents. Addressing this issue requires the provision of financial support and the creation of avenues for young people to access resources to enable their political aspirations.

Furthermore, political apathy among young Nigerians remains a concern. Many feel disillusioned by the existing political system and disengaged from the electoral process. This disconnection can be attributed to a lack of trust in political institutions, inadequate representation of youth interests, and a perceived lack of opportunities for meaningful participation. To address this, efforts must be made to build trust, create platforms for dialogue, and demonstrate that young voices are valued and can bring about positive change.

The transformative potential of youth engagement

Despite these challenges, youth engagement in Nigerian politics holds immense transformative potential. The energy, passion, and fresh perspectives of young Nigerians can drive innovative solutions, challenge the status quo, and bring about positive change across various sectors.

When young people are given the opportunity to participate actively in politics, their impact can be far-reaching. They can champion issues such as education reform, employment opportunities, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. By amplifying their voices, young Nigerians can reshape policies, advocate for their communities, and inspire broader social change.

Moreover, youth engagement in politics fosters a sense of ownership and accountability among young individuals. It instils a commitment to the democratic process, encourages a culture of transparency, and holds political leaders accountable for their actions. By actively participating in the political arena, young Nigerians can contribute to building a more inclusive, responsive, and representative democracy.

Youth engagement in Nigerian politics is not merely an aspiration; it is a necessity for the nation’s progress and development. As Nigeria’s largest demographic group, young people have the potential to shape the country’s future in significant ways. Efforts to include and empower them in the political landscape are essential for a more inclusive, vibrant, and responsive democracy.

Through education, capacity building, increased representation, and the creation of platforms for meaningful participation, young Nigerians can drive transformative change. Overcoming the obstacles they face and embracing their potential as catalysts for progress will ensure that the voices and aspirations of Nigeria’s youth are not only heard but also acted upon.

By harnessing the energy and passion of the next generation, Nigeria can forge a path toward a more equitable, prosperous, and democratic future. It is incumbent upon stakeholders, political leaders, civil society organizations, and the youth themselves to collectively work towards creating an enabling environment that empowers young Nigerians and allows their voices to be central in shaping the nation’s political landscape.

Amina Salihu Alfa, a student of Mass Communication, Ahmadu Bello University, wrote from Zaria

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Speech on Young Generation

The young generation, often referred to as ‘youth’, holds the future in their hands. They’re the ones who will shape the world tomorrow with their fresh ideas and innovative thinking.

You might be part of this vibrant group, or perhaps you’re curious to understand them better. Either way, understanding the young generation is key to predicting and shaping the future.

1-minute Speech on Young Generation

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, I am here to talk about a very important topic, our young generation. They are like the morning sun, full of energy and promise.

Our young generation is the future of our world. They are the ones who will become leaders, scientists, and teachers. They will create new things, solve big problems, and make the world a better place. They are full of dreams and ideas, and we must support them.

But, the young generation also faces many challenges. They have to learn many things, like how to read, write, and do maths. They also have to understand how to be good people, how to help others, and how to take care of our planet. It’s not easy, but they are trying their best.

We must help our young generation. We can teach them, guide them, and give them the tools they need. We can listen to their ideas, and encourage them to follow their dreams. We can show them that they are important, and that they can do anything.

In the end, the young generation is our hope. They are the ones who will make our world better. They are the ones who will make us proud. So, let’s support them, let’s believe in them, and let’s help them shine.

2-minute Speech on Young Generation

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I stand before you today to talk about a topic that is very close to my heart, and that is the ‘Young Generation’. The young generation, or as we often call them, the youth, are the future of our society. They are the ones who will take the baton from us and run the race of life, shaping the world of tomorrow.

The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about the young generation is their boundless energy. They are full of life, full of dreams, and full of hopes. They have a spark in their eyes and a fire in their hearts. They are ready to take on the world, ready to face any challenge that comes their way. They are not afraid to dream big and aim high. They believe in themselves and their capabilities.

The second aspect of the young generation is their creativity. They are not just dreamers, but also doers. They have a unique way of looking at things, a different perspective. They are not afraid to think outside the box, to come up with new ideas, to innovate. They are the ones who will bring about change, who will make the world a better place. They are the ones who will create new technologies, new inventions, and new solutions to our problems.

Thirdly, the young generation is tech-savvy. They have grown up in the digital age, with smartphones, tablets, and computers. They are comfortable with technology and know how to use it to their advantage. They are the ones who will drive the digital revolution, who will shape the future of technology.

However, with all these qualities, the young generation also faces challenges. They live in a fast-paced world, with information overload. They face pressure from society, from their peers, and from themselves. They face the challenge of finding their place in the world, of finding their identity.

But I believe in the young generation. I believe in their strength, their resilience, their ability to overcome challenges. I believe in their dreams, their creativity, their potential. I believe in their ability to change the world, to make it a better place.

So, to all the young people out there, I say this: Believe in yourself. Dream big. Be creative. Embrace technology. Overcome challenges. And most importantly, never stop learning. Remember, you are the future, and the future is in your hands.

And to the rest of us, let us support the young generation. Let us encourage them, guide them, and help them. Let us give them the tools they need to succeed. Let us believe in them, for they are our hope, our future.

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This is Africa

Africans rising

Africans rising Politics and Society

11-year-old Nigerian Naomi Oloyede delivers impressive speech at the Education for Justice conference in Austria

Nigerian junior high student, Naomi Oloyede who was selected to represent her country at the “The Education for Justice (E4J), High Level conference on Corruption” received a standing ovation from the over 200 global stakeholders in attendance for her rousing speech.

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Last month #UNGA kickstarted a decade of action to achieve the #GlobalGoals . Stepping up efforts to promote a culture of lawfulness key to delivering by 2030. Young people who #Act4RuleofLaw like Naomi, Daniel and Kelvin are leading the way. pic.twitter.com/HoCB8Ikg6x — Yury Fedotov (@YuryFedotov) October 7, 2019

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Politics Nigeria

ANALYSIS: Nigerian youths and what the Future holds ahead of 2023

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As the 2023 elections approach, two major political aspirants have come out openly to declare their interests. The two individuals, Bola Tinubu; National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar; an ex-Vice President of Nigeria, are not new in the country’s politics.

Tinubu played a huge role in taking South-west politics to the Federal level from the days of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to the now ruling APC and its common knowledge that he has been eyeing number 1 seat in the country.

He has built a formidable force across Southwest states and seen by his admirers as a trait of a great leader whose judgment on national issues should be respected, particularly for his role in ensuring that President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015 and 2019 respectively. .

POLITICS NIGERIA reported that Atiku on the other hand has had a strong aspiration to lead Nigeria since his first outing in 1992 when he contested alongside Moshood Kashimawo Abiola for the presidential ticket of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He has repeatedly contested and has the followership to give the APC a good fight in the general elections.

The two major contestants currently in PDP and APC are certainly not interested in allowing younger ones to take charge.

This was made public at the palace of Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Alaafin of Oyo, when Tinubu openly said Nigerian youths would only lead the country after he had fulfilled his lifelong ambition of ruling the country as a president.

“You won’t allow the elderly ones to pass and you haven’t become president. What if you become president, will you chase us out of town? You will grow old and become president. But I will become the president first.” the 69-year-old politician said.

For Atiku, the youths need to compete with his contemporaries if they really want to contest in the 2023 elections. He made this position during a visit to former President Olusegun Obasanjo at his Abeokuta residence.

Speaking with a straight face said, “let the youths compete if they want power.”

Long reign of disbelief in youths

For years now, Nigerian leaders have not seen the youths in a position that could place them in the drivers’ seats. The incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 said Nigerian youths are lazy.

“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said.

In an interview with the BBC Hausa in 2010, Ibrahim Babangida, ex-military president said youths are not capable of leading Nigeria. For him, “a country like Nigeria cannot be ruled by people without experience.”

Aside from these individuals, many others have argued that young Nigerians prefer to rant on social media, particularly on Twitter than taking proactive steps to lead the country. Political pundits have also said 2023 does not appear like the year for the youths and if there would be change, they should start preparing now ahead of the 2027 elections.

Money as hindrance?

In the true sense of it, the APC and the PDP are the two major parties in the country and except there is a miracle, the two parties will continue to produce who governs Nigeria.

The danger attached to this is that despite the fact that the law provides that a 35-year-old person can run, the two major parties in the country have failed to do a review of nomination form fees for office seekers to deepen inclusion, and strengthen national democracy.

The gubernatorial expression of interest and nomination form sold for N1 million and N20 million respectively in the PDP in 2019. The party charged N12 million for both the expression of interest and nomination form for the Office of the President, N3.5million for Senate, N2.5million for House of Representatives, and N600,000 for the House of Assembly.

In APC, it sold expressions of interest for N5 million and N40 million for nomination form for the Office of President, N7 million for Senate, N3.5million for House of Representatives, and N850,000, for the House of Assembly.

“We should be looking for independent youths that will not go cap in hand to beg the old politicians to lend them the required funds. No old politician will bankroll the youths with his funds to retire him. If only the youths can reduce the money they spend on frivolities like clubbing and merriments, buying nomination forms and even funding their elections will not be a problem. They need to be independent minded if they will stand the chance to wrest power from the old politicians, former spokesperson of the APC, Yekini Nabena, opined.

In reaction to this, a veteran musician, Eedris Abdulkareem, has warned Nigerian youths to avoid joining the APC and the PDP.

“If you’re a youth and ready to contest for any position in 2023 please come out. The most important thing is to avoid the All Progressives Party, APC. Come out for the presidency , the House of Representatives just like Sowore, Yul Edochie,” he recently said in a video posted on Instagram.

As the agitation for the inclusion of youth in the governance of Nigeria continues to gain relevance, Omoyele Sowore, has expressed his views on how it could be achieved. He said “what we have now are young people who are mostly hungry, not for relevance and power but for picking up crumbs from the table of people who sometimes are not even as intelligent as they are.”

“Youths are the leaders of tomorrow”

The above quote has become a gospel without the truth in Nigeria. This has been the slogan since 1960 and the tomorrow that youths are expected to lead is yet to come. And the cycle goes on and on.

To make an impact in the forthcoming general election, there is a need to create innovative ideas that the electorate can buy into, building alliances/coalitions with various pressure groups and being ecumenical in movement with already existing coalitions or political parties.

To ensure youths get to power, they must take advantage of their numerical strength and queue behind a candidate that will make a difference in their lives. More than half of all voters, 51.1 percent, are between 18 and 35, according to INEC. Hence, 2023 is a year to form a critical mass as witnessed during the #EndSARS protest and be a part of the decision on who becomes next president of the country.

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One comment.

My only consternation from the piece bugs down on what could be defined as the age of a youth. All past heads of Nigerian states were below the age of 50 when they governed, before the second coming of the Otta brute in 1999. Including, I am not sure the supposed doctor of Zoology was above 50 years of age when he assumed the leadership of the states of Nigeria.

WHAT PART OF THE CONSTITUTION PRECLUDES THE YOUTHS FROM ASPIRING TO THE HIGHEST OFFICE IN THE NIGERIAN LAND?

What are the cravings for a special breed status for the youths all about? Anybody who wish the office should go out and work for it. It should not be given to any age group on a platter.

““Youths are the leaders of tomorrow”.

TIME TO DISCARD AND DUST THE ABOVE APHORISM IN RELATION TO THE NIGERIAN YOUTHS. SHOULD Yahoo BOYS LAY CLAIMS TO THE PRESIDENCY, ALSO OR SHOULD THEY BE CONSIDERED AS “leaders of tomorrow”?

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The Tony Elumelu Foundation

[Speech] Entrepreneurship: An Antidote to Nigerian Youth Unemployment – Tony O. Elumelu, CON.

Public Lecture

Entrepreneurship: an antidote to Nigerian youth unemployment

  delivered by

Tony O. Elumelu , CON,

Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation

Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto

The First National Dialogue Series (NDS)

  29 th  July 2017

  • Your Excellency, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto state;
  • The Vice Chancellor, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Professor Abdullahi Zuru; Members of the governing council, the leadership of this great university;
  • The Executive Director of UBA;
  • Regional Director, UBA, Sokoto Region;
  • My dear students and future Leaders, Ladies and gentlemen.
  • My name is Mr. Tony O. Elumelu (CON) and I am the Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, an African proprietary investment company, with interests in power, oil and gas, financial services, hospitality, real estate and healthcare, present in twenty African countries.
  • I am also the Chairman of the UBA Group, a pan African Bank that operates in 22 countries – 19 in Africa and present in the UK, US and France.
  • And most importantly, I am the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation which is committed to empowering young African men and women as my contribution towards the development of our continent.
  • This is borne out of my deep-rooted belief that entrepreneurship is the single most critical ingredient for economic empowerment and job creation.
  • I’m honoured indeed to be here this morning and I want to commend the VC of this great institution, and the governing council and of course the members of the administration for thinking it wise and proper to institute this type of national dialogue series.
  • I commend Dr. Shadi Sabeh for his role in organizing this event.
  • Shadi is an Entrepreneur and alumnus of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) as a past winner of the Tony and Awele Elumelu prize for academic excellence.
  • Shadi is a fine example of the great force and impact our young ones can achieve if we support and empower them- I remain enormously proud of him!
  • I am equally honoured to enjoy the rare privilege of speaking to young people – the leaders of tomorrow, you indeed are the leaders of tomorrow.
  • It is important for me that the venue for this event is this historical institution. The Usmanu Danfodiyo, has such rich legacy, an impeccable pedigree, and an outstanding academic track record, that distinguishes it as one of Nigeria’s finest institutions.
  • If you are a student of this great university, you have every reason to be proud, and if you are an alumnus, you equally have every reason to be proud
  • So, let’s clap for ourselves
  • I am always pleased when I receive invitations from our own institutions such as this to address our young people. The opportunity to impart knowledge, share my experience and interact closely with our youth is an honour I consider invaluable.
  • Knowledge is the greatest gift, there is no gift as great as knowledge to mankind and to the world.
  • When people are knowledgeable, they become good entrepreneurs, they do great things for mankind but when people are not informed and do not have knowledge, they go astray.
  • So, I commend again this kind of initiative that brings today’s leaders and the people to whom the future truly belongs to interact and share perspectives.
  • It is my sincere desire that you will have more educative and enlightening sessions.
  • The topic for today- “ Entrepreneurship: an antidote to Nigerian youth unemployment” is one that I am passionate about and one that is extremely relevant today given the unemployment challenges that we face in Nigeria and Africa at large.
  • The truth is that the current unemployment concerns cannot be solved by more government jobs – we need to democratize job creation! And the surest way to achieve this is by creating and empowering more entrepreneurs.
  • Only entrepreneurs can create the millions of jobs we need to power our economy out of poverty.
  • So, nothing gladdens my heart than to sit with you to create more converts, more entrepreneurs and more Shadis out of this university.
  • Last week, in honour of an invitation from H.E. President Paul Kagame, I was in Rwanda, addressing a group of inspiring young Africans just like you: I sat on the opening panel to discuss the topic ‘How do we get to 10 million jobs by 2020?’
  • I emphasized that African leaders – government, private sector and development partners – must focus on three central issues if we are to meet our goal of prosperity and opportunity for all. One of these pillars is ‘Entrepreneurship’.
  • I stressed the need to assist our young entrepreneurs by creating the enabling environment and supporting policies that allow them to thrive.
  • Let us rescue our young African entrepreneurs by providing them with all the tools they need to succeed!
  • Addressing issues such as access to land and capital, fair taxes and less government bureaucracy, will go a long way in supporting SMEs to grow their businesses.
  • But that is not the focus of my topic today. Today, I am here to have a heart-to-heart discussion with you all, the future leaders of our nation, and share with you what I consider vital values necessary to succeed in business and in life.
  • I am not here to pontificate or theorize, no.
  • I am standing on this stage to share with you, as much as possible, practical, real life experiences about entrepreneurship and the values that have brought me this far, believing that these nuggets will enable you become even more successful than some of us.
  • We need to create our own Jack Ma, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and we need to multiply our Dangotes and Elumelus.
  • I was once a student like you, full of dreams that I was eager to chase, full of ideas and with very limited resources to pursue them.
  • But the difference between some of us and others lies in the transformative power of entrepreneurship.
  • The good news for all of you here is that if a one-time regular Tony can come this far at a time when we had more limited resources, opportunities and many more challenges here on our continent, then you should in fact, do much better than us.
  • This is what you owe yourself, and this is what you owe all of us who place a lot of confidence and resources in you.
  • But this is not only about you and I, it is about contributing to the development of our communities and our nation at large.
  • It is about using our skills and talents to create jobs, to create hope and empower people to fulfil their God-given potentials.
  • Entrepreneurship can change lives, can change communities, can change nations, but I must tell you that the journey to entrepreneurship is tough, and I must say this often, there is no quick fix about it.
  • There are values and attributes that you must possess to succeed as an entrepreneur. I call them the #TOEWay .

  Dream/Vision/Goals

  • Be realistic
  • The first thing I tell people is that you should dream BIG. No limitations, no boundaries; feel free to dream.
  • Two, think of how to translate these dreams into realistic implementable actions.
  • You need to make sure your dream is long term in orientation.
  • Steve Jobs, for instance, had a very ambitious dream. His vision was to ‘put a computer in the hands of everyday people’ and this is what defined his life’s work.
  • His vision was big, bold and intoxicating, but it was also a specific dream which allowed him to concentrate all his energy towards making it work.
  • But you need to realize that to dream is one thing, to get it done is more important – execution!
  • When you have done the reality check, repurpose your goal. Afterwards, translate this dream or purpose into action because it is that translation that defines success.
  • If you dream and you do not translate it into action, you will not be successful.  
  • Translate your dreams to action
  • Assemble the right resources
  • Execution/Hard work
  • Check from time to time that you are on course
  • Have a mirror
  • The process of translating your dreams to action entails the following:
  • First is, you need to build milestones into your dreams.
  • Then you must make sure you assemble the right resources.
  • There are different types of resources you need to assemble for you to accomplish your dreams: some could be financial, others human, it varies.
  • But it is important that you ask yourselves what you need to accomplish your dreams as an entrepreneur, then you work hard towards putting these in place.
  • Next, as an entrepreneur, you need to check your milestones from time to time, am I on course? What did I miss? How did I miss it? What can I do to correct it as an entrepreneur?
  • This is very important. I call it checking yourself from time to time in a realistic fashion
  • Have a mirror. A mirror is someone that you have confidence in, that you can check in with from time to time.
  • When entrepreneurs do well, they mostly have business mentors.
  • It would also be nice if your mirror is like a mentor, someone who has accomplished something in that field that you can go to from time to time to check with.
  • Finally, you must work hard, to achieve success in life is not rocket science, you just must put in the time .
  • On hard work, Michael Jackson for instance was renowned for his excellent work ethic, which explains why he remains one of the greatest musicians of all times.
  • Some would think dancing and singing do not require any significant efforts but beneath those enthralling videos and captivating songs are hours and hours of practice and sweat.
  • When Micheal Jackson was producing the video for ‘Thriller’, one of the ground-breaking music videos of the 80’s, there was an eight-week period where he had to work like slave, staying up days at a time to ensure that everything was perfect .
  • This is the same type of thoroughness and diligence that you must apply to your business.  

  Long term orientation and focus

  • For long term orientation and focus, you must realize that the journey of entrepreneurship is a long journey and is a difficult one.
  • You must make sacrifices to be able to get to the destination.
  • You must be disciplined, you have to show tenacity, you have to be resilient because it is a long journey and that journey has up moments and down moments.
  • When I think of resilience, I think of the story of Jack Ma, the richest man in China whom I recently met and engaged extensively with in Rwanda. Jack’s story is one of determination and resilience.
  • He was not born into a wealthy family and to make things worse when he applied to go to University, he failed the entrance exam twice. He finally passed on the third try. In fact, he was rejected by Harvard University ten times .
  • After he graduated, he tried applying for jobs and was rejected by more than a dozen companies including KFC, before he was finally hired as an English Teacher in China. Today, he is the richest man in China with a networth valued at approximately $36.2 billion .
  • But Jack remained undeterred, he continued to be focused.
  • Today Jack Ma’s company Alibaba is an e-commerce giant – one of the most valued in China – that employs thousands of people globally.
  • Similarly, Jeff Bezos, the Founder of Amazon, who only two days ago briefly overtook Bill Gates as the richest man in the world is a lesson in tenacity and resilience .
  • He founded Amazon in 1994 at only age 30.
  • Amazon has grown to be recognised as leader in innovative breakthroughs that have transformed the global retail market and the way consumers see “buying and selling.”
  • Personal financial discipline
  • Deferred spending
  • Savings culture/habits
  • It is important that as entrepreneurs, you have the discipline to save, to defer certain spending.
  • You should be able to commit to making sacrifices today for a better tomorrow.
  • One of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffet, is known for his modest and frugal lifestyle.
  • Despite his fortune, Buffet lives in the same house he bought in 1958, which he says he would not trade for anything.
  • He buys cars at reduced prices, like those that have a little damage, because he considers cars a depreciating asset.
  • In his words ‘Success is really doing what you love and doing it well.” It’s as simple as that.
  • Getting to do what you love to do every day – that’s really the ultimate luxury.
  • Remember, as you begin your entrepreneurial journey, ensure that you do not use your profits or earning to purchase the latest cars or houses.
  • Ensure that you are as frugal as possible with your expenditure while you accumulate your capital.
  • Culture of Excellence
  • Reliability/Reliance
  • Professionalism
  • The culture of Excellence is very important for entrepreneurs.
  • As entrepreneurs, we must emphasize quality in all pursuits.
  • If you are long-term in your orientation, then quality becomes second nature.
  • This is because you don’t want to compromise. You want to do it right, knowing that in year 1, year 2, you might not make so much money but in the long run as you build what is called brand equity and people begin to have confidence in you, your product and services and recognize the quality, they will patronize you big time.
  • Today’s great companies, Prada, Apple, Micrsoft, Tata, etc. started as small companies, family businesses even, and today, they are billion-dollar businesses.
  • You can build that kind of business too, but to do that you must think long term because Prada did not start 10 years or 20 years ago.
  • You must also institutionalize quality so when people hear your brand name, it resonates and is understood as synonymous with quality, durability, reliability and trust.
  • People pay in the long run for quality/durability/reliability.
  • Reliability: People must rely on your brand.
  • At UBA one of the things we preach is customer service; it’s all about brand integrity.
  • You must inspire customers to cultivate confidence in YOU.
  • As aspiring entrepreneurs, you must understand the importance of quality, reliability, integrity and above all professionalism .
  • The short run attention to excellence might not give you returns, depending on how you define returns , but in the long run, it will give you significant returns, as long as excellence remains your watchword.
  • Build to Last
  • Sustainability
  • Institutionalization
  • To build to last, you must think long term, prioritise quality, excellence etc. but most importantly, tell yourself: I’m in this business for the long haul.
  • If you have this orientation, it will shape almost everything you do.
  • You will be compelled to put in place foundations and structures that will help you to institutionalize the business.
  • This should be the aspiration of every entrepreneur and especially for those of us who come from Africa.
  • Steve Jobs started Apple, and though he is gone, the Company is waxing stronger today.
  • This is the mentality we must have as we start out business as entrepreneurs.
  • We need to think legacy, we need to think sustainability, and we must explore how to institutionalize these.

  Personal Experience

  • The story of UBA, which everyone talks about today, was driven by these principles. Some of them we started with, and others we adapted or improved over time.
  • I am sharing with you today, experience that has come over three decades.
  • Before today’s United Bank for Africa, we started as Standard Trust Bank (STB).
  • To build STB, we acquired a bank that was distressed (at a more difficult time than the time we live in today) and we set out to turn around this Bank.
  • We imbibed the principles I have shared with you.
  • First was let’s think long term. To do this, we defined what we call, the three-tier strategic intent for Standard Trust Bank (STB) at the time.
  • The first-tier strategy was to turn the Bank around and make it viable. We gave ourselves three years to achieve this guided by short milestones that we kept checking to make sure we are on course.
  • Then second year strategy intent for us was to make STB one of the top 10 Banks in Nigeria . At the time, we had over 120 Banks in Nigeria.
  • The third-year strategy intent was to become one of the top three Banks in Nigeria.
  • We were guided by our major philosophy to democratize access to financial services in Nigeria.  
  • So, for entrepreneurs, the lesson there is to think big, think long term, set short milestones, as you achieve them, it spurs you, it encourages you to do more
  • When we achieved the position of a Top Three bank, we set out again to conquer more. Why? Because entrepreneurship is a long journey, you don’t give up until you accomplish your mission.
  • Today, UBA has presence in 19 African countries, UK, France, and is the only sub-Saharan financial institution in NY.
  • How did we accomplish these?
  • We set time frames, we worked hard, we assembled resources.
  • When we needed more capital, we went to the market to raise money. And because we were credible with a track record, we received the desired capital.
  • When we needed more human capital, we went to hire more people from the right markets.
  • Today, UBA is a development force for our continent, democratizing banking, and creating access to financial services for over 14 million customers across 1000 branches and cash centres.
  • It is this long-term aspiration that fuelled all our accomplishments at UBA.
  • As I said before, if we accomplished all this, you – our younger ones can even do better.
  • It is not rocket science, it is just these principles – philosophies that guide you to success.
  • No matter what happens after this session, remember those philosophies that I shared.  

AFRICAPITALISM

  • My discussion on entrepreneurship would be grossly incomplete if I do not share an economic philosophy I developed called – ‘Africapitalism’ .
  • Africapitalism posits that the private sector has a key role to play in the economic and social development of the African continent. This is not just a theoretical philosophy, it is informed by my over 30 years of private sector experience and engagement in Africa.
  • Africapitalism espouses that for Africa to develop, long term investments in critical sectors of the economy must occur and it must be made by the private sector and It also charges Africans to embrace the following mind-sets:
  • First, is that Africans must lead the way . It’s absurd and difficult to expect people to invest in your continent when you decide to put your money in Swiss Bank accounts, when you don’t have belief in your continent.
  • So, with us as Africans, the philosophy of Africapitalism is ‘in Africa, for Africa’; support the continent, lead the way so that our partners can join us in investing in Africa because indeed to a large extent, I believe that investment is what would help us as a continent to develop and create jobs.
  • Second, we must Come up with innovative, home grown and bottom-up solutions for 
 the seemingly intractable challenges that we continue to face.
  • With this I must say that I am impressed with the way young Africans are leveraging technology to come up with innovative solutions to problems in agriculture, healthcare, financial services, manufacturing etc.
  • I know this because companies such as CCHub, Budgit and COMSAT that got support from the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) continue to break grounds in using technology to make our society a better place
  • The technology landscape is growing massively and has attracted millions of dollars and investors in the last 5 years. Companies such as Andela, Tizeti, PayStack, Kudi.ng, Spark.ng, IrokoTv, Hotels.ng continue to push the frontiers in Nigeria’s technology space.  
  • In fact, our youth have made such advances that when Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg embarked on his first visit to Africa, his first stop was Nigeria.  
  • With bright and creative minds such as these, it is only a matter of time before young Africans build technologies to rival the Ubers and Ebays of this world. My prayer is that I am called to invest in these and make billions too!!!  
  • Third is the fact that ‘ Nobody but us will develop Africa. Africa’s destiny lies in the hands of all of us, Africans’.
  • Through Africapitalism we can build resilient, competitive and self-reliant economies while 
empowering our teeming youth population. We can also achieve development that is sustainable and inclusive
  • And in the process, reduce poverty by creating prosperity for the majority by broadening access to opportunities which can drive self-empowerment in a way that does not breed dependency.
  • Therefore, in line with my philosophy of Africapitalism, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, through our flagship programme, the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme has committed $100 million towards empowering the next generation of African Entrepreneurs that will transform Africa for good in a sustainable fashion that recognizes self and human dignity.
  • Our programme is a $100m initiative committed to identifying, training and funding 10,000 entrepreneurs in Africa every year, over a 10-year period, in the hopes that these ones would go on to create at least 1,000,000 jobs and help our entrepreneurs generate $1 billion in revenue.
  • So far, we have empowered 3,000 people who are creating jobs, paying taxes and solving problems within their communities.

  CONCLUSION

  • My young brothers and sisters, I want to encourage all of you who decide to embark on the path of entrepreneurship, to imbibe and practice the principles of Africapitalism that incorporates inclusive prosperity, sustainability, social wealth creation, local value addition, etc.
  • Not least because you are Africans, but because Africapitalism ensures the most reliable path to long lasting success in business. Africapitalism reduces tension, volatility, fosters peace and a sense of shared prosperity.
  • But let me say that I would be insincere if I attempt to glamourize entrepreneurship or simplify it. It is not simple and as I said, it is a long journey and one that is tough. And the unpopular truth is that only those who have grit and resilience can make it through the end
  • You must realize that your success is not only for you and your family, it is for your community, your country and all of Africa.
  • Africa needs you and all your energy and intellect. Africa needs your creativity and innovativeness.
  • I recognise that there are external factors that can frustrate your entrepreneurship journey, therefore everywhere I go, I call on government at all levels and the Policy makers to do as much as possible to make the business environment conducive for Entrepreneurs.
  • I urge them to recognise that when entrepreneurs succeed, the citizenry succeeds.
  • Indeed, when people don’t have a stake in the economy, there shall not be peace.
  • Our leaders should always consider their legacy, and one way they can create a lasting legacy is by empowering our young ones to fulfil their entrepreneurial ambitions.
  • So, my young brothers and sisters, as I round up, I want to say, go forth and embrace entrepreneurship.
  • I want you to imbibe the #TOEWay because I have used them in my own journey and I believe they will lead you to greater successes.
  • To attain long term success, I want you to adopt Africapitalism as a guiding philosophy. I want you to develop a keen sense of awareness that Africa is in dire need of leaders both in the private and public sectors and your ideas can indeed transform the continent.
  • Let’s rise in unison to transform Africa and create jobs.

Tony O. Elumelu, CON

Chairman, Heirs Holdings Group

Twitter: @TonyOElumelu; Facebook: Tony Elumelu, and Instagram @TonyOElumelu

Twitter: @Heirs_Holdings and Instagram: @HeirsHoldings

Twitter: @TonyElumeluFDN and Instagram: @TonyElumeluFoundation

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‘Japa’ Syndrome: Legitimacy Crisis, Emigration and Public Discontent in Nigeria

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In the immediate aftermath of Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential elections, the term ‘Japa’ was trending on Twitter. ‘Japa’, a colloquial term in Yoruba which means “to run, flee or escape”, has seemingly taken hold of the Nigerian consciousness. According to the Pew Research Center , 45% of Nigerians want to leave the country. Indeed, the number of skilled-work and study visas issued by the UK to Nigerians rose from 19,000 in 2019 to 59,000 in 2021. Nigerians, especially the youth, are desperate to see change, and many pinned their hopes on Peter Obi, the ‘outsider’ presidential candidate who energised young Nigerians with his message of hope, renewal and disruption. His ‘loss’, which is currently being challenged in the courts, is seemingly what fuelled discourse surrounding ‘Japa’ in the aftermath of the election. Given the nationalisation of ‘Japa’ syndrome in Nigeria, this article aims to understand public discontent in Nigeria as a symptom of the legitimacy crisis facing the Nigerian state. As such, I will highlight the ways in which ‘Japa’ syndrome is emblematic of the formation of a new consciousness amongst Nigerians, especially the youth, which is equally characterised by an awareness and disdain for the ‘ prebendal’ and ‘ civic public’ character of Nigerian politics. 

‘For the nation to live, the tribe must die’ – Samora Machel 

Nigerian politics is prebendal and lies within the civic public realm. This means that the country’s politicians have traditionally assumed public office with the view that they are entitled to a share of the state’s resource wealth. These embezzled funds are then used for private gain, as well as for the benefit of their ‘primordial’ (ethnic) group. As a result, Nigeria has suffered. A ‘culture of corruption’ is endemic in the country and warps the efficiency of public and parastatal institutions. 

This situation has arisen from the fact that Nigerian politics operates within the civic public realm and, as such, is subordinated to the interests of the ‘primordial public’ which is characterized by tribal affiliation. This subordination has resulted in an amoral political system, where the extraversion of elites and prebendal political culture continue to influence proceedings. The fact that Nigeria has lost over $400 billion to corruption since 1960 is a testament to the amorality and culture of indifference that pervades Nigerian politics, thereby reinforcing the claim that it is firmly located within the civic public realm and conforms to prebendal logics.

Rife prebendalism and the amorality of the political sphere has had severe consequences for Nigerian citizens. Along with using public funds as a form of political patronage, some politicians have arbitrarily seized land for private and primordial gain. In addition, the state maintains funding for a regressive fuel subsidy which has long been claimed to be a mere cover for political corruption. The fact that the fuel subsidy scheme remains in place—11 years after corruption allegations against it first surfaced—reinforces the notion that Nigerian politics is underpinned by an amoral civic public mentality that is indifferent to the misdemeanours of elites.

However, Nigeria may be moving in a new direction, characterised by a popular notion of citizenship that shuns the disruption engendered by ethnic divisions. The ‘Obidients’ – supporters of Mr Obi in the 2023 election – were energised by a message of hope, renewal and disruption. What does this show? 

Importantly, it is a testament to the formation of a new consciousness amongst Nigerians which the political elite either didn’t realise, failed to take seriously or outright ignored. Biodun Ajiboye, an adviser to Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s presidential election campaign, explained the wave of support for Mr Obi as rooted in the fact that “[Nigerian] children are still smarting from the event of EndSARS” . Nevertheless, Mr Ajiboye still went on to claim that Obi’s supporters were involved in a “religious politics” ploy – that is despite the fact that Mr Obi consistently encouraged voters to ignore primordial and religious differences when heading to the polls. 

Yet, in view of the fact that Mr Obi’s supporters were mainly young and atypically enthused by his alternative politics, such an accusation is crucial. It points to the great extent to which the political elite, such as Mr Ajiboye, have come to embrace a politics characterised by a primordial ethic and how many young Nigerians, in the face of the possible continuation of such, have opted for its rejection. The implications of this are noteworthy.

Given that much has recently been made of the idea that Nigeria is a failed state, one can point to Mr Obi’s campaign as evidence that many Nigerians are keen to imbue a new politics and notion of citizenship that is rooted in the unitary concept of ‘Nigeria’ as well the implementation of morality and responsibility within the historically amoral civic political space. In doing so, young Nigerians appear to be sending the message that they desire a politics no longer characterised by an amoral civic logic as well as a tribal primordial one. 

Therefore, the phenomenon of ‘Japa’ Syndrome and even that which presents a more hopeful vision of Nigeria’s future such as the Obidience movement appear to be premised on the widespread nature of public discontent towards the Nigerian state. Given this, one must consider where this seemingly new formation of a youth-led national consciousness will take Nigerians. Undeniably for some, it will drive them to ‘Japa’. However, for the majority who remain, it is unlikely that the legitimacy deficit of the state will be something that they will tolerate without making their voices heard. The #EndSARS protests, social media activism and ‘Obidience movement’ are a testament to this fact. For this reason, ‘Japa’ syndrome may merely be symptomatic of the beginnings of a long-term legitimacy crisis of the Nigerian state. 

Osaremen Iluobe is a finalist Politics and International Relations student at Churchill College, University of Cambridge and an incoming MA candidate in Economic History at the University of Pennsylvania.  

  • Legitimacy crisis
  • Nigerian politics

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