*A speech presented by Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Imo State Chapter, at Winners Church Owerri 24th February, on the 2nd Edition of her annual Leadership Conference*
ALL PROTOCOLS OBSERVED.
Al Honour to Jesus our Lord and Saviour. My salutations go primarily to the Bishop of this great commission Dr David Oyedepo, who has been my spiritual Father for over 13 years now. His teachings and expositions have greatly shaped my life and I recommend his teachings to all Imo Youths.
I also specially commend the Presiding Pastor of this great Assembly and the Deacon Board for putting together this all important seminar.
I feel a great sense of humility and gratitude to God for giving me this rare honour to lead over 3.2 million of his Children: Imo Youths at such an auspicious time like this.
Leadership is indeed divine and as such, a calling which involves a whole lot of sacrifice, visionary and strategic thinking. However rather sadly, leaders in various sectors today are neither sacrificial, strategic nor visionary.
These three critical ingredients form the basic foundations of any meaningful success which any leader shall wish to record or experience.
The rise and fall, success or failure of any system, institution, polity or economy can be traced to visionary leadership or inept leadership.
Youths on the other hand are the engine room of societies. They are the drivers of any developmental trend and activity in society and major determinants of the extent of growth and development in any given society. Our Youths are very energetic and are always willing to go the extra mile if need be to achieve what they believe in and hold on to it.
In well structured systems and institutions,
the role models in the society or system, provide a beacon of guidance and direction to the Younger generation, who in turn strive to leave a better pedestal for their own younger ones.
However, the catastrophic disaster which has laced our Nigerian history and virtually all sectors has been one of failed leadership, collapsed institutions, and a corrupt value system.
So I ask: ‘who do our Youths look up to’?
Whose foot steps do we follow, whose examples do we glean from?
I shall attempt to answer these questions with a quote.
It was the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka that said:
..His generation was a wasted generation…
A wasted generation inherits a functional system, destroys the system and bequates a failed system to her successors as a burden.
In attempting to answer the earlier questions, let me begin by saying with all sense of seriousness and faith that:
MY GENERATION WILL NEVER BE A FAILED GENERATION!
Despite the Optimism and high-spiritedness we exude, daily, we fight away the frustrations of the system, we toughen our skin against the rejection of society and attempt to insulate our selves from being polluted by the prevalent decay in the system.
Our idealism and resolve are daily strengthened by the cold comfort derived in the Igbo saying:
Onye a juru anaghi aju onwe ya.
(Don’t reject yourself even if others have rejected you)
And also by the ever green teachings of Christ, in which he instructs Christians to be the ‘SALT OF THE EARTH.’
It is on this premise that we, as Young Christian Leaders, chose to be the example we had hoped to see, serve as shiny role models to the Younger ones and ultimately be the salt Christ ordered us to be, to revitalize the decaying world.
The realism of our daily struggle not just for existence, but to impact society, and be our Brother’s keepers, keeps us not just on our toes, but sleepless.
The slogan and watch word of the National Youth Council of Nigeria:
..Build the Youths, build the Nation..
Is indeed a wake up call for all and sundry and not just the Nigerian Youth.
This altruism draws its strength from the fact that to build a virile, prosperous Nation, we need indeed to build the Youths, as the vital element needed to kick start the process of National rebirth.
Young people represent a huge window of opportunity for the revamping of our various ailing sectors but little has been done to unleash their potentials, young people are assets, they can contribute to economic growth and reduce poverty, they can play a role in innovations. Young people should be allowed to achieve their true potentials and sustain the Nation and the world at large.
This underscores the dire importance of this seminar:
DISCOVERY FOR RECOVERY.
I commend the ideologists of this summit who have deemed it fit to situate Youths at the Center of Development and economic growth.
I challenge and encourage other Religious institutions to burrow a leaf from the Deacon Board of Winners Church.
In Africa’s 1.3 billion population, young people make up the demographic majority with over 60percent. This places the continent atop the list of youth driven economies. The population is massive, so are the challenges and prospects for this young continent.
Nigeria with an estimated population of about one hundred and seventy million people, has the majority of its active citizens either unemployed or underemployed.
Unfortunately, successive governments have lacked the political will to redirect the economy by opening up the spaces for young people to build their capabilities, engaging them in critical decision making procesess and have more worrisomely, failed to diversify the economy by encouraging entrepreneurship and rewarding civic participation.
To promote active participation of youths in leadership, young people needs capacity building avenues like this seminar, that strengthens their ability to think outside the box and move towards self discovery.
A critical examination of the statistics shows that at the end of 2017, unemployment stood at about 18.8% while underemployment was 21.2% and the combination of both stands at 56.65%.
Such a daming statistics requires urgent steps to address and manage the rising scourge. As such, the high expectation of the generality of the citizens is that the present administration will seek to effectively link its policies and expenditures towards addressing the rising rate of youth incapacitation.
But alas, this was not addressed in section 2 of the 2018 budget proposal.
The summary of our economic position is that Nigeria is at a crossroad, and if we fail to improve the fortunes of our young people through strategic planning, empowerment, development, and restructuring of all the facets of Nigeria’s political economy without undue consideration of tribe and religion, we shall spend our time managing the conflicts of interest that will arise to fan the embers of hatred, inequality and corruption.
Youths make up about 70% of the Population demographically. Also, 80% of criminal activities are carried out by Youths- Due to lack of fear Of God, lack of discipline, employment and skill sets. The greater the number of Youths that are unemployed or unskilled, the greater the risk of a social breakdown and possible unrest.
The task of Nation building and Youth development must not be left unilaterally for the Government alone to solve.
The key to Nigeria’s recovery should involve a multifaceted approach, which, targeted at the youthful population, must emphasise:
* Spiritual rebirth
*Access to startup capital
*Political and economic inclusion
There is indeed therefore, the urgent need for all stakeholders in the Nigerian Polity: all key players in the critical sectors of the entity called Nigeria to see the youth development broad objective as the key to solving the myriads of challenges facing our dear Father land.
The use of left hand is not learnt at old age, so we have quit seeking all solutions from them. The Political class have failed us abysmally and have indeed continued to show lack of capacity to drive development. So we have thus developed a new framework for solving Nigeria’s problems.
They can’t give what they don’t have. They just can’t, so we have quit seeking solutions from them. We shall re-orient, raise and support a new breed of Politicians who have renewed mind sets and values. The change we desire may not happen overnight, but in a few years, we will get there.
In the meantime, we shall still hold the political class accountable for good governance, but we have ceased expecting too much from them.
Hence we have envisioned a veritable panacea:
WE SHALL BIRTH A NEW ORDER:
Yes, an indeed new sociopolitical order.
We shall impact lives, speak the truth to power, develop and empower our teeming population, transform society, formulate and determine the policies, replace or ease out the inept political class, with God fearing Young, Technocrats and become shiny models to younger generations and ultimately rebuild our Nation and her ailing economy. This is the pathway to RECOVERY.
Until you discover what the cause of a problem is, you may never correct it.
To pretend, Nigeria is on the right path of development is self delusion, but all hope is not lost. We have discovered our problems as a Nation.
Recovery begins with accepting the fact that we have a challenge on our hands, An open heart to learning new ways, a desire to birth a new a Nigeria and a new mindset to the problems, challenges and solutions.
To secure the future of Nigeria, we must begin to build the new world around young people by re-inventing the Nigerian mindset to be in tune with the realities on ground.
We have taken up the challenge:
The National Youth Council of Nigeria in Imo, has within just a year in power and with zero allocations:
* Begun free extra mural WAEC NECO, AND JAMB PREPARATION CLASSES FOR OUR SS3 TEENAGERS, at whethral road, near stadium, with over 900 participants, (students) and about 30 Teachers Under our Education support scheme.
*ESTABLISHED AN EXPANSIVE VITAMIN A CASSAVA FARM ON 30 PLOTS OF LAND IN NKWERRE LGA which when replicated in all 27 LGAS, shall employ up to 600 youths directly and 400 through the agric value chain. (Council has just secured 53 plots of land in Ohaji Egbema soon to be cultivated.)
*EQUIPPED 42 OF OUR YOUTHS WITH SKILLS AND VOCATIONAL TRAININGS TO MAKE THEM SELF RELIANT ECONOMICALLY.
* ENGAGED IMO LEGISLATORS TO PASS THE NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN BILL: which promotes political inclusion and reduces the age for electoral contest hence promotes youth participation in Politics.
And lots of other programs done and upcoming.
*voter registration and sensitization campaign.
*Anti-social vices campaign to campuses.
We may not change the past, but we can determine the future.
I challenge all present today to invest in Youth development going forward. This, we have DISCOVERED is one of the guaranteed pathways to RECOVERY in Nigeria.
If NYCN by God’s grace, In Imo can achieve all these modest feats in just one year with nil Public or Private financial input, we believe that if strategic and concerted efforts by all lovers of God’s children and good,are targetted at Youth Development, it shall not only yield multiplier positive results but shall be a basic step to RECOVERY.
I call on all Youths and Christians, to go out there and get registered and secure their voter’s card. Your PVC is your strength and voice. NYCN will be taking this voters sensitization campaign to all churches.The Church must not shy away from Politics as the Bible says ..’if the righteous are in authority, the people will rejoice.’
I wish to end this speech by making this passionate appeal to all Imolites and people of goodwill to please take up a Youth development project this year: Adopt a Societal Or Youth Development Project: skill acquisition, education support, agricultural projects, environmental renewal etc. we welcome support for and partnership with the National Youth Council in Imo, as we are open to strategic collaborations that advance Youths and Society.
With Faith, Patriotism and strategic collaboration, we shall indeed synergize to create a strategic framework that shall ultimately lead to Nigeria’s RECOVERY.
The time to act is now!
With God, all things are possible.
Thanks for listening