Friday, 2 October 2015


Nigeria is home to a quarter of the African population. After being colonised for over 60 years, the country gained independence 55 years ago. Young Nigerians of different generations have contributed to every remarkable milestone the country has achieved. The young people of 1960s fought hard to secure independent Nigeria. For instance, young people laid down their lives to preserve the oneness and unity of Nigeria during the civil war. The young people were brave enough to endure the military rulers and struggled for a true democratic nation. The young people are the propellers of the Nigerian economy, which is the largest in the continent. Young people were instrumental to the success of the recent historic democratic change of gaurd where for the first time in the history of Nigeria, a democratic transition from one political party to another at the centre was made possible. This is a sign of growing maturity of democracy in the country and sense of patriotism by the young people.

Change in political party is not the only change the Nigerian youth are seeking, but it is the gateway to achieve the real change, and that is what has motivated the Nigerian youth to vote for change in the last election. Nigerian youth didn't vote for a particular party, they voted for the vehicle that will drive them to the promised land. A promise land where access to quality education is equal and affordable to all within the Nigerian borders, a land where success is determined by how hard one works and how competent one is, a land where access to basic life requirements, power, health care, and potable water is equal for all economic classes. The promised land we dreamt of was the one where lives of young people sleeping in their dormitories or in worship places or in parks or market places or in their homes are safe and secured.

The road to the promised land could be steep, but with the same resilience, patriotism and sense of responsibility from the young people, Nigeria will get to the promised land. Young people’s role in achieving the real change is therefore inevitable, and the young people have all what it takes to make the real change happen. As we celebrate the 55th independence, we should reflect and assess ourselves to know how far away we are to the promised land. And what, individually, can we do to push the train a bit forward. Every single push matters, every person’s hand is needed. It moves faster with more hands, and this call for more inclusive governance and sense of responsibility.

Responsibility is what all Nigerian young persons need to have; everyone needs to think that he/she is responsible for the security of his neighbourhood. If you notice a suspicious stranger or movement, you have to take the responsibility to notify the relevant authorities. If you see your neighbour’s child not going to school, you have to feel responsible and help put the child back to school. If the waterways of your neighbourhood is dirty, take responsibility and clean it up or organise a local fund raising to seal off all sewages in your area. If you engage or allow little corruption, you have to take responsibility to stop it. If you see someone in difficult circumstance, feel responsible and offer a helping hand. We have to be our brothers’ keepers. Feeling and acting responsible are the initial pushes and necessary steps to the promised land.

Whatever we celebrate today as a nation, it is a celebration of collective individual success stories of citizens who became and felt responsible.  Talking about the size of the economy, the success of every economy or nation lies on individual success of the people who felt responsible and became entrepreneurs, who felt responsible for their unemployment and thought of a business idea to solve an existing problem. Economies and nations can never prosper when their teaming young generation think only of government's responsibility for their unemployment or other plights. People have the power to change government by changing their collective attitude and instilling an unyielding sense of responsibility.

This is the first independence celebration since that historical democratic change, and it was easy for the young people to make it happen, because they believed it should be different that time, and they took responsibility to make it happen. This has taught us that once we collectively believe in something and feel responsible for it, we can achieve it, and there is no time more important for the young people to strengthen the spirit of belief and responsibility than now, because the journey to the promised land just begun, and I have no doubt in my mind that we as young people will get there.

Most of us here are Nigerians, and we are here in a foreign land. Many of us are here to pursue our dream for quality education, and we feel proud and happy for that. For me, my coming here made me feel guilty and responsible, I always ask myself, what about my brothers and sisters in my community who could not have the rare chance of securing a foreign scholarship? Would this mean they will not have it even if they want it, because they can’t go abroad? Access to quality education should not be an optional, it is a necessity, and lack of it is the root cause of Boko Haram, cultism and kidnapping. While providing equal access to quality education, you are by extension tackling millions of issues. That is why in every religion, education is the number one priority, and it is through education that nations prosper. Nigerian educational institutions are not up to the standards because they are not the first and only option. 

Because, the rich people and people in government always have option of sending their children abroad to acquire quality education, they will always do that, but if they don't have that option, everybody will feel responsible and contribute toward making our educational institutions better. I think it is high time for Nigerian government to stop feeding foreign institutions. We create jobs for others at the expense of our people. We can do most of our learning back in our country. Going abroad to study should be for special courses or programmes only and when necessary. Let us build our institutions so that British people will also go to Nigeria to study. 

As we celebrate 55th independence anniversary, its been estimated that Nigeria's oil reserves will dry up in 53 years’ time. So, what are we preparing for our children? Nigeria must diversify its economy and we should enhance our agricultural and mineral resource sectors to cure the lingering resource curse. In 1960, one dollar was purchased at N0.71, and today it is purchased at N199 officially that is. In 1960, Nigerian external debt stocks was zero, and as at the end of last year (2014) it was around $44 billion (N7 Trillion). In 1960, inflation rate in Nigeria was 6%. It has now doubled (12%) and  in 1960 tooo, unemployment rate was barely 3%, and in 2014 it was 25%. So it is time for us to deeply reflect on why these indicators keep rising, and we can return to 1960 or even better. This is the purpose of this celebration; to reflect on the labour of our heroes past, and how we can strengthen unity and patriotism to maintain their legacies. 

We are confident that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will lead us to the promised land. General Buhari should never assume that the job will be easy. To make the job easier, Nigerian youth must embrace the spirit of patriotism and sense of responsibility and work together as a people to build the nation. However, to build the nation, the youth must be built. A youth-less development is a useless development.

The political fight is over. Nigerians must come together irrespective of political affiliations, ethnic and faith persuasion to fight for the country we all love and be ready to sacrifice for its success.

I enjoin every Nigerian to put the country first before any other interest, and let us all be champions of peace. As we celebrate the country's independence, let us do so with love, brotherhood and tolerance to enjoy the beauty of this nation.

Finally, I want to use this opportunity to call on President Buhari to actively engage more young people in his administration. With the reported first batch of ministers sent to the senate for confirmation, we look to see a young person, but we have not seen any young person within the defined youth age bracket. Therefore, we look forward to the second batch, and the youth must constitute at least 30% of political appointments at all levels. 

Happy independence anniversary Nigeria! Long live Nigeria!

Youth task Buhari on inclusive governance:

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