Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has urged young people to learn from history rather than repeat it or allow it to jeopardise a better future, just as the Liberian President, his deputy and different Liberian groups welcomed, decorated him with traditional recognitions and awards at a youth forum yesterday in Monrovia.
The Nigerian Vice President was the Special Guest of Honour at a youth forum to mark the 60th birthday of the Liberian Vice President, Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor. But he was first received in Monrovia by President George Weah who held talks with him and welcomed him to the West African nation, expressing appreciation for the VP’s one-day visit.
Later at the youth forum themed “Conversation with the Vice President and Young People,” Dr. Howard-Taylor, in her welcome remarks, described her Nigerian counterpart as a humble and selfless leader who inspires hope for a better Africa.
Commending Prof Osinbajo, Dr. Howard-Taylor said, “he is the most humble politician in Africa” and noted that emerging leaders across the continent have so much to learn from his humility and commitment to service.
Also at the event, the Vice President was honoured with an award of Distinguished Service to Humanity – for his exemplary service to the development of Nigeria, Liberia, West Africa, and the rest of the continent – by Liberian youths, about 400 of whom were part of the event.
Presenting the award plaque to the VP, the co-host of the event and youth activist, Mr. Benjamin Sanvee, said the award was in appreciation of “all your service, everything that you have done and will continue to do.”
According to him, “this is in deep appreciation for years of stellar service to Nigeria, Liberia, to the ECOWAS region, the continent of Africa and the world at large. We, the youth of Liberia, and by extension, the youth of Africa, are proud to present to you this symbol of appreciation.
“You are a shining example of an exceptional, selfless and exemplary leader, who is quietly and steadily, not just a source of inspiration for Africa’s youths, but you have impacted the lives of millions around the continent in so many ways.
“You are a rare and outstanding leader and we thank you for all that you do and will still continue to do. I present this plaque to you, on behalf of young Africans, as one of Africa’s most outstanding leaders,” the youth leader added.
Furthermore, Prof. Osinbajo was decorated at the event with the traditional title of “Chief Flomo Barwolor” meaning “the light to the people.” This traditional title was presented by a Liberian Cultural group led by Ambassador Madam Julee Endee.
Fielding questions earlier during the conversation with Liberian youths, Vice President Osinbajo spoke on learning from past experiences.
According to him “every sensible person learns from history rather than from experience, because if you wait to learn from experience, you will suffer. What you are supposed to do with history and your past, is to learn from it and never let it repeat itself.”
He continued: “one of the most important things for young people is that you must bear in mind all the time that your history is not your destiny, it is just part of your story. Your destiny is what you have decided, where you are going and you will get there as long as you don’t allow the tyrant and oppressor of history to hold you back.”
Encouraging the young people in the hall, the VP urged them to leverage opportunities offered by emerging technologies to improve themselves educationally and economically, noting that the benefits of technological innovations are numerous.
For instance, when asked about the impact and prevalence of Social Media, Prof. Osinbajo said “I think that social media is a blessing for everyone, not just for politicians but the electorate and others. The platforms are so crucial in being able to communicate and it is also important to recognize that every generation has its own technology.
“It has its abuses and downsides, but you must make sure you maximize its real advantages. One of the main advantages is that for people like us born decades ago, to do simple research, you’d have to actually go to a library. Today, I can do all my research with just my iPad, while I am sitting down practically anywhere, as long as I have Internet connectivity.”
Prof. Osinbajo added that “young people are at the most advanced moment in human history. One of the interesting things is that your smartphones have more computing power than all the computing power that took the Apollo 11 spacecraft to the moon.
“In terms of advancement, this generation doesn’t compare to any before it. We, who are older than you, are enjoying your generation’s technology, and I hope and pray that you would take full advantage of it to expand your knowledge, and scope of activities, and for broadening enterprise and your communication with other people.”
The forum was also attended by the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Madame Fatima Maada Bio. She commended Prof. Osinbajo for his exemplary leadership, especially in promoting the cause of a better Africa for all. She also took questions and interacted with the young people at the forum, sharing the platform with the Nigerian and Liberian VPs.
Also, while in Monrovia, Prof. Osinbajo made a brief stop at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center For Women Development, to participate in the programme for the ECOWAS Human Rights Day, which also coincided with the 5th anniversary of Ms Sirleaf’s post- presidency.
In his remarks there, Prof. Osinbajo applauded the contributions of the former Liberian President to the development of the country both in and outside office, noting that “one of the things you have been able to show is not just that it is possible to serve well, but also to serve out of office and to do perhaps more.
“What you have done since you left office, has had perhaps more impact, especially around Africa, and we are really proud of the work you have done and your achievements. We pray that there will even be greater achievements in the future,” the VP added.
Former President Sirleaf welcomed the Vice President to Liberia and urged him to ensure there is more female participation in governance and politics in Africa.
Prof. Osinbajo was accompanied to the meeting with former President Sirleaf by his host and Liberian counterpart.