*VP represents President at convocation, delivers Visitor’s Address at Federal University, Wukari
*”Your field of competition is not local, but global,” President adds
The Federal Government will continue to offer and support initiatives that would create wealth, jobs and opportunities for young Nigerians, while they themselves must also acquire knowledge and skills to innovate, create, be productive and contribute value so as to build their future and better the lot of the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented at the ceremony by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stated this on Saturday at the combined convocation ceremony of the Federal University, Wukari, in Taraba State. The VP delivered the Visitor’s address.
In the address titled “A Great Future,” President Buhari encouraged Nigerian youths “to see the various challenges in our environment as opportunities for the creation of solutions, as we are a nation with a rapidly expanding population with attendant human sustenance needs.”
Urging the graduating students to “make value addition” their motto, the President said: “You belong to one of the most resilient, dynamic and energetic populations on this planet – a people that are by nature undaunted by the challenges of their environment.”
The President’s speech noted that the Nigerian can-do spirit is an inspiration to establish globally renowned industries and achieve great things, as it has earned many Nigerians international acclaim.
“This can-do spirit is why Nigeria is now home to the third largest film industry in the world and why we are the epicenter of a global and pan-African popular culture driven by the dynamism of Nigerian creatives.”
Noting the impact of young Nigerians in the digital technology space, the President said, “Our tech entrepreneurs and innovators are not just applying their talents to profit-making endeavours, but also seeking to address social problems.”
“Young Nigerians, such as yourselves, are pioneering new patterns of enterprise and wealth creation and, in the process, have established this country as the most vibrant innovation hub on the African continent.”
He added, “There are several unicorns and promising start-ups in Nigeria already… Many of these companies started business in 2015 and prospered in the midst of two recessions and the two years of COVID-19.”
On Government’s continued support for various initiatives, the President highlighted initiatives such as the N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund; the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Creative Sector Fund and the over $600million investing in Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) programme, which the president approved recently.
The iDICE programme will support young techies and creative sector entrepreneurs through the provision of finance, skills development and infrastructure.
Also, President Buhari disclosed that the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme – which will last for five years and will be funded by the Federal Government, the UNDP and the European Union (EU), is set to begin.
Annually, the programme will provide 20,000 young graduates with fully-paid 12-month internships in reputable private and public sector organizations across the country.
The President emphasized that his administration recognizes that infrastructure is key to development, just as digital technology provides a pathway to accelerated growth.
He said, “So, we are on course to ensure broadband connectivity for all by 2025. We are also connecting the vast reaches of our country by investing heavily in rail and road infrastructure, because we recognize that the ease and speed with which people and goods can move is a key accelerant of economic development.
“In effect, we are opening new economic corridors that can enhance trade and enable access to markets. These ongoing projects are resulting in the creation of more jobs and increased economic activities in host communities.”
The President also stated his administration’s resolve to continue to support ordinary Nigerians through its Social Investment Programmes, even as he noted that “we have also dedicated a significant portion of our budget to social investments which cater to the poor and vulnerable.”
“Currently, the National Social Register of poor and vulnerable Nigerians has 32.6 million persons from more than 7 million poor and vulnerable households. For the first time in our history as a nation, we have laid the foundations of a social safety net for our people,” he disclosed.
Similarly, the President emphasised the importance of nation building and unity in diversity.
“Nation building is a continuous process, it involves all of us, it is not just about doing well at our jobs or innovation, or brick and mortar; it is about building bridges of brotherhood and unity.”
He urged young Nigerians to avoid being tempted by divisive sentiments and elements using tribe and religion.
“Let it be your generation that will bury those prejudices, heal those wounds and build a great society of brothers and sisters of all tribes and tongues.
“You belong to a generation of Nigerians ordained by momentous historical circumstances to play on a grander stage. You belong to the most globalized generation ever to walk this earth and your field of competition is not local, but global. You have come of age in the era of a worldwide marketplace of opportunity.
“Refuse to be consumed by the petty prejudices and biases that predispose you to mutual antagonism with your fellow citizens. You must refuse to be prisoners of history and commit to encountering the world with an open mind.”
The President then observed that one of the goals of establishing federal universities nationwide, just like the one in Wukari, was to “to bring Nigerians together in the same learning and social environments and strengthen the affinity between them.”
He further said, “In this Federal University, you have met and made friends with people from diverse parts of this country… The challenges that we are facing demand that we close ranks as a people; because, indeed, ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand.’
“One of the most profound lessons of history is that diversity is essential for growth. It follows, therefore, that promoting unity in diversity holds the very real promise of fostering a creative synergy of our constituent communities in ways that dramatically amplify our national performance.”
While he noted that Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy, President Buhari stated that the country’s huge population not only guarantees a huge market, but it is also an economic strength that would positively impact the lives of millions of Nigerians.
The President also applauded the University’s choice of honorary degree recipients. They include former Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Muazu; legal practitioner, Mr. Damien Dodo, SAN; and Chairman of Innoson Group of Companies, Chief Innocent Chukwuma.
He noted that they represent “the true spirit of Nigeria – hard work, diligence, resilience, creativity and the success that crowns it all.”
Earlier at the Federal University, the Vice President commissioned a number of building projects. He later also visited the recently enthroned Aku-Uka of Wukari, of the Kwararafa Kingdom, His Royal Highness, Ishaku Ada Ali, who is also the Chairman of the Taraba State Traditional Council.
While the Vice President congratulated the new ruler on his ascension to the throne, the Aku-Uka expressed appreciation for the VP’s visit to Wukari, which he said is the first of its kind in the area.