The Minister of power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Thursday called for value reorientation among youths to attract positive development to the nation.
Fashola made the assertion at an event organised by a youth group tagged: “The Youth in Nigeria: Mapping the Future” to mark the minister’s 55th birthday in Lagos.
The minister said young people fought for the nation’s independence, unity and built some major infrastructure in the past, and that the new generation of youths must be determined to drive the nation’s development.
He urged youths seeking political office to have the interest to serve at heart, saying only those who were ready to add other people’s problem to their own should be in government.
Fashola called for more investment in education and use of local languages to aid better understanding that would translate to rapid industralisation.
He also called for more skill deployment among youths to increase capacity in local production.
He said: “We have to produce and we have to spend more time with hard work.”
While giving a keynote address, an entrepreneur, Ibukun Awosika, said youths and women development as well as empowerment were important to put the economy on the part of rapid industrialisation.
Awosika said there were several out of school children that must be educated or trained to curb youth restiveness and terrorism.
She urged the government to create an enabling environment, starting with education and getting the right curriculum to get youths prepared for the task of nation building.
She said: “We need to build an ecosystem for the nation to thrive. We have many gaps within our eco system. When people are under utilised, then there is agitation.”
She also stressed the need to equip youths with entrepreneurial skills to reduce poverty.
Panelists at the event lamented the structure of political parties that excluded majority of Nigerian youths and women.
Ayisha Osori, an author and political commentator, said young people were ready to drive the nation’s development but were constrained by cumbersome processes.
She urged young people to evolve party ideologies that placed merit above zoning.
Asuqua Ekpeyong, Commissioner for finance, Cross River, said funding affected the participation of young Nigerians in politics.
He said the Nigerian youths accounted for 60 million of the nation’s population and that if only 10 per cent of that population donated money, the youths could take over leadership.
According to him, youths were involved in a lot of activism which was limited to online, but he said social media activism must transform into physical space to achieve results.
Bright Okpocha, popularly known as Basket Mouth, said technology had increased the influence of youths in various areas and could be used to achieve growth in the agricultural sector and other areas of development.
He said there were several things youths could do for themselves if given the right infrastructure and enabling environment.