By John Ikani
The presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi has decried Nigeria’s failure to harness the strength of its youthful population, stressing that training and providing youths with capital is a panacea for sustainable economic growth.
Speaking during an interview yesterday on Channels Television’s Politics Today, the LP candidate electrifying young Nigerians said his campaign for the nation’s top job is deliberately youth inclusive because young people are the nation’s greatest assets.
According to him: “Nigerian youths have enormous energy and talents that we need to explore to change the fortunes of this country. A good example is the heroics of Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume at the World Athletics Championship in Oregon. Look at how they are making the country proud with their talents. About 100 out of 150 American NBA players are Nigerians. Our youths are so talented that we need to focus on harnessing and their talent and productive energy to to build a nation we can be proud of.”
The former Anambra State Governor went on to identify training and funding as essential to driving youth productivity, hinting that he knows how to meet such critical need.
“When I talk about production, the greatest asset for this production is youth. I want to invest in them, all they want is access to training and capital and I know where to get and convert it for profitable exports.”
It is worthwhile to note that Nigeria has the largest population of youth in the world, with a median age of 18.1 years. About 70% of the population are under 30, and 42% are under the age of 15.
The size and youthfulness of the population offer great potential to expand Nigeria’s capacity as the regional economic hub of Africa and globally.
Peter Obi’s comments on training and funding youths comes at a time Nigeria’s large population of unskilled and economically unproductive youths have become a burden to society.
When productively engaged, a young, large population could be an economic asset because population growth and economic development correlates.