By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Senate President, Bukola Saraki has identified human capital as the nation’s greatest resources and confirmed plans by the Senate to carry out a youth development and empowerment programme to develop them as worthy successors for leadership positions in the future.
Speaking at the 2nd Annual Segun Adeleye Foundation For Good Leadership In Africa (SAFFGLIA) African Leadership Lecture at the University of Lagos, on Thursday December 7, 2017, the Senate President, who was represented by Senator Gbenga Ashafa, the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, explained that “Nigeria’s greatest resource is not crude oil, but the human capital of our burgeoning population whose hopes and desires are driven by the quest and aspiration of our youth.”
He added that the country had not been able to sufficiently tap into the promise of the younger generation and had failed to unleash the enormous reserves of talent and leadership skill begging to be utilized.
The Senate President commended the theme of the lecture: ‘The Youth and the Challenge of Bridging Credible Leadership gap in Africa’, saying, “The theme speaks to an insistent question in our society, which is: how do we raise the next generation of leaders capable of lifting our country- and indeed the whole of Africa- into a better future? I do not have all the answer, but I am convinced that a forum such as this is a good starting point. A forum such as the SAFFGLIA Lecture gets us to focus attention on the areas of need, in order to bridge the yawning gap in leadership.”
He used the platform to challenge the youths of the country to rise up to the opportunities around them, saying, “In Nigeria and across Africa, there is a yearning among the youth for more inclusion in governance, in economic activity and for a greater say in our collective future. The youth want to take the lead in propelling Africa societies into a new age, but wherefore are the Mark Zuckerbergs of Africa? The Malala Yousafzais? Where are the bright young leaders that will help realize the dream of an Africa on the rise? How can we inspire our youth to believe in themselves and see the potential they possess, which can enable them to take the helm and lead?”
Speaking on plans to help bridge leadership gap in the country, he explained that “In the 8th National Assembly, our approach to leadership question is to create the legislative framework for the inclusion and greater participation of our youth. In a few days, I will be spearheading a youth development and empowerment programme in the senate, in collaboration with youth organization, civil society organization (CSOs) and other partners.
“It will be a special public hearing on youth job creation and entrepreneurship; and is intended to open up the legislative process for greater responsiveness to the needs and voices of the youths. By preparing the youth for leadership, in this and many other ways, we are creating the space and helping to chart the direction for the next generation.
“When you don’t open your process up to the public, it is the youth that suffers the most. If African Leadership can show that it is open and flexible- that also strengthens the democratic process. The learning curve is a two-way process: the youth must rise to the challenge of leadership; and those currently in leadership must make the space.
“As we refocus strategies to move our country into a post-oil economy, I see only opportunities everywhere. Our ability to make the transition will depend on how successful we are at developing the leadership qualities of our youth. I believe that, working together, we can make it happen. “
Senator Ashafa who is also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport in his personal capacity commended the SAFFGLIA for the lecture and leadership initiatives and committed to sponsor 50 youth from his constituency to the three day SAFFGLIA Leadership Mentoring Retreat for about 500 youth from all part of the country in 2018.
The Chairman of SAFFGLIA, Mr Segun Adeleye in his opening remark said, for the youth that will converge for the retreat, the idea will be to speak to their personality as prescribed by Chris Imafidon, a Nigerian born Professor at Oxford University, England whose children have been described as world’s brainiest kids.
He said, “We will let them know that their life is not by accident, that they are uniquely created for a purpose. When we give them the right leadership training and exposure, they will go back to their schools and communities and transfer the knowledge, after all, while one will chase one thousand, two shall chase ten thousand. And if we can do it successfully in Nigeria in one or two years, we will then extend it to other African countries. With this, we can say that the journey to prepare the youth to bridge the gap of credible leadership in Africa has started.”