Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
President and Chairman Board of Directors, African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim Bank) on Wednesday said that despite all the scramble for oil wealth and solid minerals by leaders, the youth remains Africa’s greatest resource much more valuable than any other assets.
Delivering the Convocation Lecture as part of activities marking the 14th convocation of Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, Prof Oramah said the youthful working population of Nigeria represents the agents of change across the social, political, and economic spectrum of Africa.
He said he holds the conviction that just as the youth underpinned the first industrial revolution in Europe and America and were the engines behind the emergence of the Asian Tigers, so would Africa’s youth serve as the key that will unlock the door to Africa’s transition to a developed continent.
He challenged political leaders and policymakers to create the right environment and necessary opportunities for the youth to unleash their potentials for a positive turnaround in Nigeria and Africa.
“We cannot complain about the dangers of the Youth Bulge when we have only created a scant opportunity for them to go into a frenzy of positive action. We must realise that a potential heart surgeon, minus opportunity, can become an expert criminal, that the sharp mind that can write the best computer code can, in the absence of opportunity, be an expert 419-coder.
“In other words, for the African youth to do for us what their contemporaries did for Europe, the US and for South-East Asia, we have to create the opportunities, the right environment for them to go into an orgy of positive action,” he said.
He recommended that African governments encourage greater links between the private sector and education and training institutions and also leverage technology to deliver social services to the youth.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof Abubakar Rasheed, raised the alarm that Nigeria’s population growth will explode in the next 30 years without any corresponding measure in place to handle the attendant political, medical, educational and security issues.
While commending the Vice Chancellor, Prof Charles Esimone, for his forthrightness in advancing the university, he described Nnamdi Azikiwe University as the “most peaceful and forward-looking university in Nigeria.”