Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Sunday pleaded with the nation’s youth not to wish elders in the country “dead”, saying they need them as “mentors” and “advisers” in their journey of life.
Obasanjo who stated that his “greatest fear about Nigeria” today remained the “anger and frustration of the youths,” said if not managed, it could lead to “youth explosion.”
He lamented that Nigerian youths are not getting help either from the government or anybody.
The former President, who spoke during the Youth Governance Dialogue organized by the Youth Development Centre arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library(OOPL) in Abeokuta, Ogun State, said while his generation had “limitless opportunities but no facilities” in their time, the youth of today have facilities but little or no opportunities.
He cited the insurgency in the North East, the separatist agitators in the South East and militancy in the Niger Delta region as manifestations of anger and frustrations from disillusioned youths, warning that should youth explosion erupts, there may be no limit to the extent it can spread.
He appealed to them to work hard to help themselves and be ready to pay the price for the right cause they believe, saying in spite of all odds, the youth still remained his greatest hope for Nigeria.
Obasanjo noted that when he left secondary school, he received letters of appointments from five establishments and wondered whether any Nigerian university graduate could have such opportunities today.
“Don’t wish us dead, don’t wish us to disappear because you will need us. You need mentors and advisers to mentor and prepare you for the future. You need our experience and the assistance of some of us to guide you through life.
“You should not lose hope, you should not feel frustrated. Wherever I go, they always ask me what is my fear about Nigeria and Africa. And I said my greatest fear is youth anger, frustrations and youth explosion, which have no bound.
“We have the Boko Haram in the north, the MASSOB and IPOB in the South East, the militants in the Niger Delta and the Oodua Peoples Congress in the Southwest. All of these are expression of anger and frustrations.
“We have what it takes to be great as a nation and we can’t transform this country without the youths. My greatest hope in this country is also the youth. You the youth should work to help yourselves. You must be ready to pay the price for what you stand for,” Obasanjo said.
The lead speaker at the occasion and former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka while speaking on the theme “Towards a Guiding Political Philosophy for a Democratic Nigeria,” advised that the nation’s leaders should build a society that harness human and material resources effectively, provide equal opportunities and develop capacity for innovation.
Chidoka also proposed a new Charter for the country, saying the Charter should contain reasons for the country’s unity, and which guarantees the basic rights, privileges and obligations of citizens.
“Our national aspirations should inspire the next generation and provide them with the existential meaning of Nigeria. A meaning that transcends geography, natural resources and ethnicity.
“Our political parties can then build their ideologies around the strategies for the achieving our national goals,” he said.
Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal also attended the conference.