Young Nigerians must resist the cynicism or suggestion that the system is rigged against them due to their background, gender, tribe or religion, but rather focus on how they can make a positive difference in society by applying their knowledge, talents, skills and intellect to solving the national and global challenges.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stated this today in Keffi, at the 6th combined Convocation ceremony of the Nasarawa State University, where he was the Special Guest of Honour. His speech also dwelt on the Buhari Administration’s commitment to supporting Nigeria’s youth and development initiatives.
“Education gives you a platform from which to make something out of yourself. And this is true today as it was two decades ago when this university was founded. What will set you apart as you journey forward, however, is how far you are willing to dream and how much work you are willing to put in,” he said to the young graduands.
The Vice President further urged Nigeria’s youth to promote unity, imbibe the values of integrity, discipline and empathy, hard work, justice and love of country.
“Nothing you achieve can be sustained without them. Never forget, character trumps all else,” the VP said.
Prof. Osinbajo noted that “young people have always been the difference between the relative stability of the old and the possibilities of the new, the bridge between the past and the future.”
According to him, “the innovations that have positively disrupted the world as we know it today have largely been pioneered by the probing minds and boundless courage of young people like you; fresh out of school, eager to apply themselves, to experiment, to try out new things, to make mistakes and to learn from them,” he added.
Buttressing further on the immense potential of young people, the VP described them as ‘digital natives’ belonging to the most advanced generation in human history.
“A generation not bound by some of the rigid conventions of the past. A generation unafraid to ask the hard questions. One that has inherited centuries of human innovation and advancement, and so you know, much more than your predecessors; that there is nothing impossible to accomplish in the face of persistent, innovative, and collaborative effort,” he said.
Pointing out innovations in artificial intelligence, robotics, 3-D printing, nanotechnology and quantum computing, the Vice President noted that young people know first hand, “the wide-ranging opportunities of digital and mobile technology, the disruptions in logistics and global supply chains that have allowed for cheaper and more effective trade, while opening up new markets and spurring economic growth around the world.”
He explained that the “signs are clear that you are a generation on a path and with the heart to fulfill its mission. And we see it in the everyday stories of young people like you out there changing the Nigerian and African narrative one idea, and one bold move at a time.”
Beyond the technology space, where Nigeria accounted for 35 per cent of over $4 billion in funding raised by African tech startups in 2021, the VP stated that in the last 10 years, young Nigerians have also expanded the country’s creative and cultural capital globally, through music, movies, fashion and literature.
“These creative young people have borrowed from the past and the future to invent a present sound, style and aesthetic that is wholly Nigerian and completely inventive, filling up auditoriums from Lagos to Europe, to the US, and reaping every global award available for the taking. Part of this movement is Chuks D. General, a fast-rising comedian and graduate of Statistics from the Nasarawa State University.”
He commended the Nasarawa State University for its efforts in human capital development noting that the institution boasts of alumni, who “have excelled in almost every field of endeavour and have continued to do the university proud.”
Some of the names the VP mentioned included the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Mohammed Akaro Mainoma, who’s also the current president of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, and Hajiya Ramatu Tijani Aliyu, the current Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, who also received her Master’s in Public Administration from this university.
“It is clear that Nasarawa State University has come a long way since it was established over twenty years ago, a result of the bold vision of His Excellency, the former governor of Nasarawa State and now Chairman of our great party, the All Progressives Congress, Dr. Abdullahi Adamu,” he said.
Prof. Osinbajo summarized three things he said will serve the young graduates well through life’s journey – persistence, ambition and innovation, and collaboration.
“The world has always been pushed forward by people who refused to take no for an answer,” he said on perseverance.
The VP went further to say “the complex challenges facing our country, and continent at large, requires ambitious thinking and courageous undertakings. There is no telling how far you can go if you dream large enough and find the courage to go after what you believe in.”
Prof. Osinbajo, while noting the University’s Research and Innovation Directorate, admonished the graduands to “honour the investment made in it and in you by finding creative ways to apply the knowledge you have gained.”
“Collaboration is the key to building the game changing technologies and businesses of this century. It is no longer smart or profitable to go it alone.”
Restating the Buhari administration’s commitment to youth development, the Vice President recalled the establishment of the N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund which provides financial support for small businesses in any field; the Investing in Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) with over $600million to support young tech and creative sector entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurs through the provision of finance, skills development, and infrastructure.
He explained that with the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Internship Programme, in partnership with the UNDP and the private sector, 20,000 young graduates, after youth service, will be given internship opportunities in private sector companies and public agencies. The first set would be deployed in May.
“These opportunities exist to support your dreams and you can readily access them irrespective of where you come from or who you know. So step out and take your place in the world,” he noted.
Restating his call for a new Nigerian Tribe, Prof. Osinbajo said “our Nation is a nation of diverse, tribes and faiths. But this is how most great nations are formed. The challenge is how to wield the tribes into one tribe, a Nigerian tribe.
“A tribe of Nigerian men and women of all faiths, tribes and ethnicities. Committed to a country run on high values of integrity, hardwork, justice and love of country. A tribe of men and women who are prepared to make the sacrifices that are crucial to building a strong society.
“Who are prepared to stick together, fight corruption side by side, and insist on justice even where our friends are at the receiving end. A tribe consisting professionals, businessmen, politicians, religious leaders, Students, and all others who believe that this new Nigeria is possible. I challenge you to play your part in bringing forth this new tribe and a nation reborn.
In his remarks, the Visitor of the University and Nasarawa State Governor, Engr Abdullahi Sule, praised the Vice President for the support and commitment he has always shown to every good cause about Nasarawa State. He also assured the University of improved support to enable it actualize set objectives.
At the Convocation ceremony, some Nigerians were conferred with honorary doctorate degrees. They include, Attorny General of Federation, Abubakar Malami; former Governor of Nasarawa, Sen. Umaru Almakura; GMD of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari; Chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; eminent philantropists and businessmen, Mr Peter Okocha, and Alhaji Abubakar Balarabe.