The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Citizenship and Leadership, Rinsola Abiola, has called on young Nigerians to adopt an optimistic outlook regarding the country’s future and actively engage in addressing crucial developmental challenges.
Abiola delivered this message during her address at the unveiling of the Nigeria Youth Futures Fund (NYFF) Grants in Abuja on Monday, December 4, 2023.
Organised by LEAP Africa, the event, themed ‘Catalyzing Youth Agency for the Nigeria We Want,’ awarded $1.2 million in grants to young Nigerians for implementing programs in key areas such as employment and education, peacebuilding and security, healthcare, ICT and entrepreneurship, climate change and the environment, media, sports and entertainment, and civic participation.
Emphasising the need for youth to move beyond analysing problems to devising innovative solutions, Abiola highlighted the initiative as a powerful reminder of each young person’s responsibility to the nation, a crucial aspect of her role as a government’s appointee.
“While the government has a mandate to cater to citizens’ welfare, it is essential for ordinary Nigerians, especially the youth, to play a role in bridging the gaps that hinder progress,” she stated.
Abiola cited private initiatives like Andela and the Co-Creation Hub as examples where young people assumed responsibility, presented solutions, and inspired government action, leading to significant progress.
She pointed out that the initiatives can serve as scalable models for change, noting that Nigeria now has a Minister of Communications and Digital Economy on the verge of designing a national policy on artificial intelligence (AI) due to such private efforts.
“Barack Obama once said that people who love their country can change it, rejecting the notion of powerlessness often echoed by those who succumb to pessimism. Cynicism may be alluring, but real change comes from hopeful optimists who believe in the possibility of a better future.
“As Nigerians, we must take responsibility for our country’s state and actively contribute to its journey. We are not helpless passengers, but co-drivers of change. Let’s ideate, find solutions, and work towards making a positive impact.
“Fortunately, organizations like LEAP Africa exist to multiply our efforts and ensure that our aspirations for Nigeria become a reality,” she stated.
Abiola, therefore, advised the grantees to seize the opportunity and join in spreading the message of hope about Nigeria’s future.