About 40 percent of Nigerians youths are unemployed and they are discouraged, angry and restless, as they look at a future that does not give them hope, said the President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina.
While speaking during the 80th birthday celebration of General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Enoch Adejare Adeboye, Adesina said all hope is not lost as youths have a vital role to play if the country should arrive on its destined destination.
“For Nigeria to be all that it can be, the youth of Nigeria must be all they can be.“
“The future of Nigeria depends on what it does today with its dynamic youth population. This demographic advantage must be turned into a first-rate and well-trained workforce, for Nigeria, for the region, and for the world.
“We should prioritize investments in the youth: in up skilling them for the jobs of the future, not the jobs of the past; by moving away from so-called youth empowerment to youth investment; to opening up the social and political space to the youth to air their views and become a positive force for national development; and for ensuring that that we create youth-based wealth.
“From the East to the West, from the North to the South, there must be a sea change in economic, financial, and business opportunities for young Nigerians.
“The old must give way to the new. And there must be a corresponding generational transfer of power and wealth to the youth. The popular folk talk should no longer be “the young shall grow,” it should, rather, be: “the young have arrived.”
“The young shoots are springing up in Nigeria. Today, Nigeria’s youth are leading in the FinTech Industry. two companies – PayPal Interswitch are both valued at $1 billion.
“A third company, Flutterwave more than tripled its valuation in less than a year to over $3 billion what does this tell us? The future is here and young entrepreneurs are central to it,”
Adesina recalled that, “The African Development Bank approved $170 million in December of last year for Nigeria to support its program to expand digital and creative industries, by unleashing the incredible entrepreneurship of Nigeria’s youth.
“The African Development Bank is also exploring the establishment of Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks — financial institutions for young people, run by first-rate young bankers and financial experts, to drive youth-wealth creation. “
“Nigerians deserve wealth, not poverty. There cannot and should not be a Nigeria for the rich, and another Nigeria for the poor.
“We must build one Nigeria, where every citizen has the right to a decent life. We must build a better nation. We must start building again, not splintering again.
“We must re-build trust, equity, and social justice, to propel strong cohesiveness as a nation.
“The tides are high, I know, and our boat rocks from time to time. Yet, I have hope. Hope for a better Nigeria … a renewed nation. Hope for a nation that is helped and healed by God. A nation, where the sacrifices of Nigerians past and present shall not be in vain.
“I pray and long for a better Nigeria. For a nation, built not on the division of its past, or the foundations of ethnicity, but on a new foundation, the foundation of equity, fairness, justice, and unity, one Nigerian to the other.
“For a new Nigeria, where one from the north shall be at home in the east; where one from the east shall break bread with one in the north; one where the one in the west shall eat from the same plate with one in the north; and wash hands in the same basin as one in the east,“ the AfDB stated.
He said for Nigeria to realize its dream, “The constituent States in Nigeria must be more financially autonomous through greater fiscal prudence. If States focus on unlocking the huge resources they have, based on areas of comparative advantage, they will rapidly expand wealth for their people.
“With their increased wealth they will be able to access capital markets to secure long-term financing to fast-track their growth and development.
“States that adopt this strategy would have less of a need for monthly trips to Abuja for grants. Instead, part of their federal revenue allocations can be saved as internal ‘state sovereign wealth funds’.
“This can then be used as guarantees against borrowings from capital markets. They would be free from needing to exclusively rely on the federal government.
“As a way out of the economic quagmire, much has been said about the need for restructuring. I know the discussions are often emotive. Restructuring should not be driven by political expediency, but by economic and financial viability – the necessary and sufficient conditions for political viability.
“Surgeries are tough. They are better done well, the first time. The resources found in each state or state groupings should belong to them. The constituent entities should pay federal taxes or royalties for those resources.
“The achievement of economically viable entities and the viability of the national entity requires constitutional changes to devolve more economic and fiscal powers to the states or regions.
“The stronger the states, or regions, the stronger the federated units. In the process, our union would be renewed. Our union would be stronger. Our union would be equitable. Our union would be fully participatory. “