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THE Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has said Nigeria will, in the coming years, rely more on its youth population as a resource.

He said this makes it imperative to increase investment in youth development.

According to him, the youth will be strategic to developing smart products and solutions to conquer the challenges and problems of climate change, economic slowdown, unemployment and poverty.

The minister stated this while delivering a lecture, titled: Constructive Youth Partnership In The Nigerian Project: A Sustainable Model, at the 13th annual lecture of the Alumni Association Of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomosho, Oyo State.

“The massive potential of the Nigerian youth bulge is globally recognised. With a growth rate of 3.5 per cent per annum, this segment represents the fastest-growing in the world and will effectively dominate the society completely within the next two decades, providing the human resource for critical aspects of the Nigerian state,” Dare said. Advising the youth to understand and own what he called the Nigerian Project, the minister also called for the engagement, mobilisation and empowerment of young people.

“All around the world, young people are contributing positively to the development of their communities, demonstrating daily that youth is not a problem to be solved but a resource to be harnessed. Nigeria parades a hugely resourceful and talented youth population,” he said.

On his proposals to achieve the Nigerian Project, Dare reiterated the importance of starting early, adding: “Sowing the seed of the Nigerian dream will not be at the university level. It must start from childhood because it is at this point that children develop a mental image of who or what they want to become in life. The picture or image they need added to theirs is that of a country, which can propel them to achieving that dream.”

Calling for a rebranding of the nation, Dare said: “We must rebrand Nigeria and communicate it in the right way. In rebranding, we must create a deliberate image of the Nigeria we want our young people to invest in and then take deliberate steps to make that Nigeria work.

“For instance, if we want a Nigeria that supports innovative ideas, we must put structures in place that helps innovative ideas to flourish, irrespective of the person’s gender, political leaning, religion or ethnic affiliation. There must be a transparent system that gives everyone equal opportunities.

“That way, young people with ideas will begin to have hope in the Nigerian project, will flourish and invest in birthing creative or innovative ideas that will catapult the country on the path of massive national development.

“There is need to reposition the mental reasoning of our youth and economically empower them to satisfy the demands of the modern world. Rebranding Nigeria is one of the veritable tools to achieve this objective. Unless rebranding directs the power and energy of the youth towards academic and productive goals, the country will keep on experiencing social vices, moral and academic degradation.”

The Nation

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