President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerian youths in particular and Nigerians in general that the change slogan his political party, All Progressive Congress (APC), chanted during the 2015 elections is not just a political line, but the dawn of a new era to bring about good governance.
This is even as he commended the role Nigerian youths played in the success of the 2015 elections, saying that Nigeria’s elections is now a model for democratic governance in Africa. The victory, he said, can be credited to the youths who were fully mobilized using social media to make the right choice.
President Buhari said this at this year’s International Youth Day held at the State House Conference Center (old Banquet Hall) at the presidential villa.
Buhari, while reiterating his administration’s commitment to fulfilling all campaign promises, sought for their cooperation and patience.
The President said: “Be assured that ‘change’ for us is not a mere political slogan but the beginning of a new era desired by the majority of Nigerians. The youth must, therefore, be vanguards of this change and at the same time be the change that they wish to see. To this end and knowing that sustainable development cannot take place in the absence of peace, we must all work together towards the actualization of sustainable peace and harmony to enable this administration to build an enduring legacy.”
Paying tribute to the youths for the success of the 2015 elections, the President added: “As we commemorate this year’s International Youth Day, let me use this moment to once again pay tribute to all the young people who played significant roles in making the 2015 General Elections a model for democratic governance in Africa. The role you played, individually and collectively, in not only being peaceful members of the electorate but also galvanising the social media platform and mobilizing your peers to make the right choice; your role contributed in no small measure to having a credible election in an atmosphere that was, hitherto, tense and volatile. The outcome is today being celebrated worldwide. Your role is greatly appreciated.
“I can assure you, my young compatriots, that you have written your names in history and you will be remembered as true heroes of our democracy and as architects of change.”
He described this year’s Youth Day theme tagged: “Youth Civic Engagement” as very apt saying, “We strongly believe that the engagement and participation of young people is necessary in order to accelerate economic growth and sustainable development.”
The President said that he was very concerned, however, that economic growth in Nigeria has not translated into “commensurate and improved social outcomes, especially for our 60 million young people who make up the majority of the population”.
President Buhari noted that “although educational attainment by Nigerian youth has increased significantly in the last decade, the relevance of curricula, quality of education and skills required to meet the demands of the job market still remains a challenge for the country.”
The President assured Nigerian youth that his administration “is poised to provide an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive so as to ensure greater opportunities for jobs to be created for our young people.”
He said that his government was also determined to provide adequate infrastructure to boost the ability of “our job creation institutions to increase opportunities for our young people.”
Apart from paying special attention to the growth of small and medium scale enterprises, the President said that his administration will also explore the option of boosting intervention funds to encourage domestic industrialization and manufacturing.
In her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth Development, Mrs. Rabi Jimeta, described the occasion as an initiative targeted at promoting the general wellbeing of young people.
Jimeta said this year’s commemoration was unique because it was the first to be celebrated under the new President, who she said had demonstrated great passion in tackling youth challenges, especially unemployment.
She said given the right opportunity and support, Nigerian youths were capable of putting the nation on the fast track to national development.
The Director-General of National Youth Service Corps, Brigadier General Johnson Olawumi, in his goodwill message described the NYSC as the largest single platform in the country that promotes inclusiveness among youths.
Olawumi said corps members have left indelible marks in the socio-economic life of the country.
He recalled that since their participation in the electoral process since 2011, the nation’s elections have been receiving global commendation.
He said change cannot be complete without a change in the orientation of youths across the country.