In Malaysia, every youth is called a King. This means a young person in Malaysia has Kingship honour accorded him by his country. But why is this so?

Affirmatively, 50% of the world population today is under age 27; obviously any smart nation will place significant importance on the youth. Young people with their energies are capable of achieving anything. Solution to global challenges is in positive youth engagement at all levels. Predominantly, all global sporting activities are organised for the youth because they are the ones that have the energies to run around.

Most sporting and business feats around the world are recorded by the youths. New grounds are broken by young people and new records are set almost on daily basis. The current Change in Nigeria’s leadership system was made possible by the youth.

Alexander III of Macedona commonly called Alexander the Great recorded significant military accomplishments having created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from old Greece to Northwest India and remained undefeated in battle. After his death, he became the yardstick for which military leaders were measuring their successes. He founded about twenty cities that bore his names most notably Alexandria in Egypt. He was one of the finest military commander that the world ever seen, ranking one of the most influential people in human history. Remarkably, Alexander the Great achieved all the records as a youth. A youth has the ability to activate his imaginations and launch them into tangible vision and achievable dreams.

If achievements of Alexander were considered age-long, think About Mark Zuckerberg who has captured the entire world even without a sword. With 250 million Facebook users around the world, Mark is already a billionaire at age 32. He has the world on his palm. It is in the news that Mark just sold approximately 768,000 shares of his Facebook stock worth more than 95 million dollars for his charity project, yet it was reported that only small portion of his shares were sold. Fulfilled, he will be spending 99% of his wealth charitably for combating diseases, promoting learning and building strong communities.

This means that beyond excuses around bad government, poor environment and weak background, anyone can choose his miles of achievements and successes. The world only reckons with those who surmount their challenges and come out victorious, not those who complain about their obstacles. Nigeria with a whooping population hovering around 170 million can only thrive with Naija-made Mark Zuckerberg. Nations flourish with aggressive youth who are driven by the motivation to attain greatness from display of their raw and local talents which transform into big stories in the feature.

Nigeria is a youthful population and the society expects arrays of youth that grow small and medium scale entreprises which later blossom to produce big names as Mark Zuckerberg, Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Folorunsho Alakija and Michael Adenuga of the world.

I challenge the youth to take charge of the future that belongs to them and secure it. There are two options opened to every young person: to either channel his energies positively or otherwise. One poised positively will seek to create while the other will join the Avengers in agitation and blow up pipelines; a positive youth will become MUDI collection while the negative ones will seek ranks in the Boko-Haram hierarchy. While agreeing on environmental influence, there is no excuse enough to give-in to failure. A youth who invades the cyberspace with vast ICT knowledge swindling unsuspecting contacts elsewhere is just another Mark Zuckerberg using his energy in a negative way.

Again, I challenge the youth to rise up and look inward. No one wants to stay back and create something, rather everyone wants to live in the city and grab opportunities whereas enormous resources are deposited in our suburb communities and rural areas for agricultural production which leads to exportation and forex opportunities. Walking nicked has never been our culture; Get rich quick syndrome is an illusion because all great men started small; kidnapping or bunkering can never be a calling in the courtyard of success and greatness. Misuse of social media will only lead to low motivation and apparent laziness; killing our culture for others’ will never earn anyone a respect at global village.

Our ladies need to be given to values than frivolities. A lady who prefers to spend her youthfulness depending on men for survival has already shut down prosperities against herself. When a lady gives outward appearances more attention than intellectual development, she is sure killing the future and will eventually become so empty that not even a ‘crazy dude’ is willing to consider as a wife. Any young man that joins cult group for self-esteem will never get applauded by the world where qualification for honour is hard work and integrity.

We have best examples of youths from various walks of life across industries who have distinguished themselves amidst all challenges in this same country: Linda Ikeji in the blogging world, D-Banj in the music industry, Kunle Afolayan in the Nollywood, Gbenga Sesan in ICT, Mikel Obi in soccer, Teju Babyface in the comedy industry just to mention a few.

How can we as a people turn around our situation for better? As a nation that has largest economic potentials on the continent, it is quite easy if the will is activated to prevail on our common sense and we act like we truly have brains. If all our nation of over 170 million can struggled to get is only one bronze, it shows we have not harness our God-given human talents to the fullest. All youth that supposed to secure gold medals in swimming for the nation from the riverine areas of Niger-Delta cannot suddenly turn to ‘avengers’ and kidnappers, it is absurd!

As suggested by the Nobel Laureate Prof Wole Soyinka, history and citizenship education must be returned as compulsory subjects in our schools. Every youth disconnected with his history and culture won’t even make a good second class citizen elsewhere. Patriotism is key and it starts from respect for our cultural values, unity and motivation to succeed against all odds.

Youth development activities should receive boost. Moral and civic education should take prime place in our curriculum like it used to be in the days of our old national anthem. I am passionate about youth and do strongly advocate for enabling atmosphere for the youth to thrive. We need to make our youths the Kings and Queens of our future. Every affluent in the society should look back on our youths and give back. We must build the future on the threshold of our youth, for they are the hope for a sustainable future.

Whither the hope for our nation is the oft repeated song; but I see hope. When I see young people with their talents, my inner faith tickles on greater future for our beloved nation.

Nigeria as a nation needs to quickly move away from the caucus of consuming economy to a system that earns foreign investments and proceeds from local produce. We are blessed with abundant natural resources that aid economic growth. The more our youths are developed and given spaces to tap into our unlimited potentials, the more we move up the ladder of biggest economies in the world.

Technically, the world is handing over this planet to the young people by allowing them to lead sustainability. This is simple; the youth who own tomorrow must be involved in the planning and acquisition of tomorrow that is theirs. In every situation, the youth should be allowed to take front seats so they become competent and capable inheritors of legacies for productivity, growth and leadership.

Segun Olulade was a former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, represented Epe Constituency II and the President of Eleniyancares foundation.

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