Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), at the weekend advised Nigerian youths to locate their individual dreams and follow them with all the passion they can muster saying it is the most viable means to solve the problem of youth unemployment in the country.
Speaking as a Special Guest Speaker at the Edo State Youth Summit 2014 with the theme, “Nigeria’s Centenary: Defining the Issues and Setting an Agenda for the Future of our Youths”, Governor Fashola said although he believes in prayers, prayers would amount to nothing without corresponding efforts to back them up.
He told the youths who had gathered at the Summit in their hundreds, “I know that not everybody will be governor but I know that the promise of this country can provide for lots of you if you define your issues, if you set your own agenda, if you lead on the side of the law and if you work very hard”.
The Governor advocated the need to embrace the Nigerian dream adding, “I believe the Nigerian dream exists in many spheres that we have failed to acknowledge. As I have had cause to say, I do not know of any prince, any son of a king, any son of a millionaire who has had the privilege to be Nigeria’s President. All the people who have led this country are people from very modest and humble beginnings”.
“It has been a story from grass to grace; and if you still question the Nigerian dream after hearing this, look at the biggest corporations from Dangote to Oando to Zenith. The champions of those corporations are not sons and daughters of millionaires, they are people who started from modest beginnings”, the Governor said.
Recalling his own struggles as a youth when he had to navigate through the many labyrinths of life to embrace his own issues, Governor Fashola told the youths, “I do not feel competent to set or define your issues for you or to set your agenda for you because nobody defined mine for me”.
He asked the youths, “Are you ready to get your hands dirty in order to make money? How many Nigerian companies are engaged in our construction industries? The more you look you will see that our construction industry is largely dominated by Lebanese and Arabs and lately Chinese and for sometimes the Germans”.
The Governor said the era of looking for a white collar job has gone pointing out, however, that in reality whether one is a mechanic, a transport driver or a fleet manager, one could choose to wear tie anytime one likes.
“There is nothing esoteric about the job of a captain of a ship, the pilot of a plane or the driver of a bus. The reality is that there is a common trend between them; they take responsibilities for getting the means of transportation from one destination to the other”, the Governor said adding that the choice to wear clean or dirty uniform and wear ties to carry out that responsibility depends on the individual.
Reiterating the need for a review of the nation’s education curriculum to reflect her economic needs, Governor Fashola argued that as long as the country continues to churn out graduates in courses that do not address the nation’s economic needs so long would unemployment problem persist.
The Governor, who noted that many employed graduates today work in places different from their course of study, said the problem of youth unemployment could be largely blamed on the mismatch between the course of study and the real economic needs of the country.
He told the youths “As long as you continue to go to school to take degrees in places where our economy has no need, for that long we will continue to have a mismatch and, therefore, unemployment”.
Pointing out that the economy of the country has changed since 1960 from the one run by foreign trading companies like the UAC who employed graduates straight from the universities; Governor Fashola said the time has come to look inwards in order to find work for the many idle hands.
According to Governor Fashola, the Lagos State Government, in conjunction with the Ignite Enterprise and Employability/After School Graduate Development Centre (AGDC) Project, has been addressing the issue by training graduates to be suitable for jobs and develop their capacities for enterprise creation.
“For me, I find it difficult to reconcile our realities to the problem we say we have. Our country needs electricity, it needs fuel and gas, we need to build schools, build hospitals, build aeroplanes, build bridges and so on”, the Governor said adding, “Let us begin to think, can we have so much to do and yet have many people idle?”
According to the Governor, “Let us begin to ask ourselves what we should do. For me, I think first we should be devising an economic plan that will put all of the energies of this country back into productive needs first of all by dealing decisively with the problem of Power“.
He noted that the road to solving the country’s unemployment problem has two lanes, the one that leads to agitation for rights and privileges of individuals and the one that leads to embracing individual responsibilities adding, “We have responsibilities to ourselves, to our country and to our community”.
“One of the responsibilities that you have as a citizen of this country is to declare your income honestly if you have it and to pay up your taxes voluntarily. You have to respect the Anthem of this country whenever it is being sang, to respect the flag of this country and promote her image”, the Governor said.
He said the other important responsibility of every citizen is to be loyal to the country at all times and to the government when it deserves the citizens’ loyalty adding that the citizens also have the responsibility to pursue lawful means to remove any government from office when it does not deserve their loyalty.
Governor Fashola described his counterpart and Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, as an inspirational leader commending him for the transformation of the State in the last six years.
“I have spent five memorable years of my life in Benin City, first as an undergraduate and later as a youth corper and I have very fond memories that I hold dear in my heart. My excitement to come here is at an all time high since my brother assumed office as Governor. It has been positive and continues to be positive change”, the Governor said adding, “For the right reasons, Benin City has not remained the same; it has continued to change”.
Others who spoke at the forum included human rights lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, rights activist Dr. Joe Odumakin, Comrade Peter Esele, Miss Toyosi Akerele and the host, Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who gave the welcome address.