By Christy Anyanwu
Apostle Folorunso Alakija has called on Nigerian youths to rise to the challenge of building the country, instead of pulling it down. She made the call at the opening of the seventh edition of the annual Rose of Sharon Foundation (ROSF) Youth Empowerment Programme in Lagos on April 21, 2021.
Themed “Nigerian Youth as a Tool for National Development,” the programme was a hybrid event that combined on-site with virtual participation.
ROSF Youth Empowerment Programme, a career development and capacity-building programme for graduates, undergraduates, job seekers, working-class and self-employed youths, was started by the foundation 2017. This year’s edition recorded online registration by 1,044 participants.
In her opening address, Alakija noted that the majority of the vices bedevilling society, such as terrorism, civil unrest, armed robbery, kidnapping and drug trafficking were committed by youths. She subsequently urged them to put their strength and youthfulness to positive endeavours.
According to her, it is the objective of the Rose of Sharon Foundation to change this current narrative.
“Any society that prepares and develops its youths for the future won’t only secure her future development, but they’ll also have a pipeline of leaders for the future,” she averred.
She added that: “Our pursuit at the Rose of Sharon Foundation is to change this current narrative and provide tools for Nigerian youths to develop themselves and harness their skills, so they can provide for themselves, their families and also develop the country.”
Also speaking at the event, Dr. Joe Mekiliuwa, principal consultant, Joe Mekiliuwa Consulting Services Limited, urged youths to work hard, shun vices and invest in themselves educationally and artistically and thus be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that come their way.
“I read all manner of books just to make sure that whenever job comes, I can do it,” he said, and further advised: “Look at your environment, there are opportunities, key into these opportunities and your life will change; there are businesses you can do as young people while in school and there are changes you have control over. You can decide to change your friends, you can decide to change your lifestyle, you can decide to change your sleeping habits, your TV habits because you have a bigger plan for your life.”
In his address, Mr. Temitope Jegede, strategic partner and senior consultant with Tom Associates Limited and CEO of 3:20 EPH Limited, enjoined youths to be change agents that would promote unity and peace in Nigeria.
“Youth must act as a catalyst in fostering togetherness and unity to help Nigeria realise its developmental aspiration,” he said. “Youths must break away from the divisive mindset of tribalism, ethnicity, cultural barriers, and religious divides. We must see everybody as one.”
Mrs. Funke Oga, a retired assistant director, news, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and founder of A Smile On Their Faces Initiative, an NGO that caters to the needs of special children and their caregivers, also spoke at the event. She advised youths to give education serious attention, because it is a leeway to success.