As the University of Lagos was lit last week in commemoration of the 2016 UN International Youth Day on Saturday August 13th, Nigerian youths have been advised to make the best of their situation by embracing entrepreneurship and innovation in order to eradicate poverty. The event had in attendance some of Nigeria’s brightest minds and successful entrepreneurs, including Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Kunle Afolayan, Audu Maikori, Joy Isi Bewaji, Aishah Ahmad, Okechukwu Ofili, Nkemdilim Begho and Dr. Olusegun Mimiko who was represented. One of the highlights of the occasion was the moment participants discovered that it was Audu Maikori’s Birthday yet he decided to share the day with them. Also, Joy Isi Bewaji’s bold utterances about Nigeria’s leaders whom she accused of “stealing everything and leaving the youths with nothing” was received with wild cheers from the crowd of over 2000 Students who attended the Program. She blamed religion, culture and patriarchy for the prevalent poverty problem in Nigeria while urging youths to reject everything the elders have taught them as it will not take them anywhere.
Speaking at the occasion, the Program Chairman, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, who was the first person to arrive at the event, said he does not subscribe to the opinion that “Africans own the clock while the white men own the time”; hence his punctuality. His speech focused on the International Youth Day 2016 theme Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption, and in his words-
Youths are important agents of social change and for this reason their contributions to sustainable development are necessary.
Youths should embrace entrepreneurship and make use of opportunities available to them especially opportunities available in the agricultural sector.
Other useful advice was also given by the other speakers who spoke in turns to a captivated audience:
Mrs. Aishah Ahmad told the participants that the only way they can benefit from the multiple streams of income available to them is by learning the useful skills, changing their mindsets and ridding themselves of poverty mentality and then looking out for problems within their locality to which they can proffer solution. She stressed the fact that wealth can only be redistributed from the rich to the poor if only the latter can create value to attract the former’s riches.
Mr. Okechukwu Ofili of Okada Books also spoke, saying that Nigeria lacks innovation because society makes it seem like problems can only be solved through prayers and narrating the story of how he managed to overcome dyslexia as a child, Mr Ofili said youths can still survive in Nigeria if only they could strive hard to be innovative.
Nkemdilim Begho discussed the immense opportunities that ICT offers. She advised them to make use of these opportunities as ICT is key to the sustainable development drive.
Recounting how he quit his paid employment to pursue his passion for filmmaking, Kunle Afolayan encouraged young and aspiring filmmakers to always endeavor to develop their crafts first before wishing for riches and fame. He recognized that there are opportunities in Nollywood for the youths, however only the talented and skilled ones can be successful in the industry.
The Nigerian commemoration of the 2016 International Youth Day event also witnessed an interactive session during which the young people got the opportunity to ask questions and air their views. Some representatives of our sponsors and partners such as Nigeria Bottling Company, Loya Milk, Printmagicng.com, Close Up and Diamond Bank gave out tones of freebies to the excited participants who were seen leaving the venue chatting in groups about the impact of the event on them and how much they intend to move form motivation to action.
This Program was hosted by Rise Networks, Nigeria’s Leading Social Enterprise on Youth in Education, Entrepreneurship and Public Service in partnership with the UN Office in Nigeria to mark the 2016 Celebration of the United Nations International Youth Day.