Next Generation Strategies, Finding New Ways to Succeed.
A welcome Address delivered by Adetunji Adeniran at the second edition of Young and Emerging Leaders Conference in Osogbo organised by YNAG™
I want to specially thank my special guests starting from the keynote speakers- Mr. Adamu Garba, the youngest presidential candidate in Nigeria; Mr. Ayodele Obajeun, a leadership expert and Koffi Annan Scholar. Invited guests-Gbadebo Rhodes Vivour, a cool, calm and articulated politician; Opeyemi Oriniowo, my very good friend and brother; Demola Olanrewaju, the political strategist and creative writer who controls an empire on social media; Dr. Olugbile, Senior Technical Adviser on International Partnerships to Governor Aregbesola; Jude Feranmi, National Youth Leader of KOWA party.
I would like to acknowledge the following people in their absence who are not able to attend due to important reasons but have shown tremendous interest and support. Dr. Folawiyo Kareem, the Senior Special Adviser on Sustainable Development Goals in Osun State; Rinsola Abiola, Special Assistant to Speaker of House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria; Chief Osita Chidoka, former Minister of Aviation in Nigeria.
I am greatly indebted to the committed team at YNAG™ for their readiness and ownership of this process of liberating the young people of Nigeria and making the issues around governance clearer to the new generation of leaders.
And to all participants today, present and online, you are in for a pleasant time. My welcome address will begin with the following stories;
In the history of the Trojan war when King Agamemnon was going to war with Troy, he sent a small boy to call Achilles who was in another camp to fight the giant soldier from Troy. When the boy got to Achilles, he said; “If I were you, I won’t dare face the Troy soldier. He is too tall and nobody can defeat him.”
“That is why history will never remember you.” Achilles, mounting his horse in preparation for the battle responded. We remember Achilles today but the boy is nobody.
Similarly, In 1933, in the history of our nation, a few young people led by a 30 year old Eto Iya formed the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM). The NYM had 29 year old Azikiwe as President, 25 year old Awolowo as South West secretary, 37 year old Kofo Abayomi as Leader of Lagos Colony and so on. This was the first multi-ethnic organization in Nigeria and its program was to foster political advancement of the country and enhance the socio-economic status of the Nigerian citizens. In October 1938, the group fought and won elections for the Lagos Town Council ending the dominance of 74 year old Herbert Macaulay and National Democratic Party.
In 1940s, different leaders in their 30s, and 40s emerged from NYM to form various political parties like Azikiwe’s NCNC, Awolowo’s Action Group, Aminu Kano’s NEPU and Ahmadu Bello’s NPC. In 1950, a 27 year old Anthony Enhoro formed the Mid-West Party that later joined hands with AG to go into 1959 elections. It was this same Anthony Enahoro, then 30 year old who moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence in 1953. You can see how young people in their 20s, 30s and 40s led Nigeria into independence.
As a relatively young nation, the founding fathers recognized the roles of youths (15-35 year old) and they deliberately laid out plans for the coming together of these set of Nigerians. This led to establishment of Boys Scout, Girls Brigade, Community Vigilante groups in the early 1960s. In 1973 upon adoption of a federal system, the FG introduced National Youth Service Corps as a tool for national integration after the civil war (even though the war was never between the Igbos and the rest of Nigeria. The war was between the French and British Masters and Nigeria was just the battle ground). In 1976, Nigeria also became the first country to start the local system of government with exclusive function of building politically aware youths from grassroots. In 1980s, the importance of youth became a concern and the then Federal Government established Ministry of Youths and Sports development; a line which states also followed in the late 1980s.
However, things started taking a bad turn when oil started booming and then leaders shifted attention from human capacity development through investment in their young people to oil exploration and money sharing. All leadership institutions started collapsing and that led us to where we are today. There is neither a deliberate effort to develop leaders nor a business continuity plan should oil get depleted. We are heading towards destruction!
The good news here is that there is a new generation that has sprung up and this generation is you and I. The Generation Y! born between early 1980s and late 1990s. We are the generation that has not been stained and our hands are still clean and we walk with pure hearts yearning for good governance. This generation is sophisticated and more exposed than previous generations. This generation invented social media; makes buying and selling seamless at the tap of a finger. This generation is breaking barriers and new grounds in technology, business, entrepreneurship, banking and Information systems.
Sadly, this generation is politically ignorant. That is why we are all gathered here. Our generation must develop interest in the process (politics) of government because government determines everything that happen in your life.
As Demola Olanrewaju once said;
You are not born until the government says you are born- Birth Certificate
You are not educated until the government says you are educated- School Certificate
You are not married until the government says you are married- Marriage Certificate
You are not even dead until the government says you are dead- Death Certificate
Therefore, if we have outsourced our daily existence to government and make the system this powerful, why are we playing passive roles?
I wish you a pleasant time today in our conversations.
Civil Engineer, Social Entrepreneur and Convener, Young Nigerians And Governance (YNAG™)