Just Act; A clarion call to youths for self and economic development

Being Text of the Theme Session at the 2018 Convention of the Junior Chamber International Nigeria Collegiate LO, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife on Saturday 24th February 2018 by The Reverend Sunday Folayan (JCI Senator). President of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), 2000 President – JCIN Ibadan, 2002 EVP – JCI Nigeria and JCI Phil Pugsley Fellow.


It is with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty God, the ancient of days, the one that was, that is and that will continue to be, our God the giver of life, who dispenses Grace and Mercy effortlessly, that I stand before you this afternoon as a testimony to His enduring faithfulness.

I sincerely appreciate the privilege given to me by the entire membership of this great chapter in this great institution, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) – “Oba Awon Unifasiti”.

Whereas I did not have the privilege to pass through this institution, I do have great admiration and respect for its contributions to the leadership and manpower development of our great country, Nigeria. I confess that some of my wonderful lecturers and moulders at the “Most Serious University in Nigeria” – the University of Ilorin were of the OAU stock. I therefore still benefited indirectly from this ageless oasis of knowledge.

Without wasting time, let me dive head-on into the subject matter.

The Youths of today are mere scavengers from our National commonwealth, when they should be the major dispensers. We need to do something about this anomaly.

It was Albert Einstein that said “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” There is no other auspicious time than now, to clearly X-Ray some of the development challenges confronting the youths of our dear country – Nigeria and indeed profer solutions to them.

First, who are the youths?

According to UNESCO, “Youth” is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of our interdependence as members of a community. Youth is a more fluid category than a fixed age-group.

However, age is the easiest way to define this group, particularly in relation to education and employment. Therefore “youth” is often indicated as a person between the age where he/she may leave compulsory education, and the age at which he/she finds his/her first employment. This latter age limit has been increasing, as higher levels of unemployment and the cost of setting up an independent household puts many young people into a prolonged period of dependency.

The UN, for statistical consistency across regions, defines ‘youth’, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years, without prejudice to other definitions by Member States. All UN statistics on youth are based on this definition, as illustrated by the annual yearbooks of statistics published by the United Nations system on demography, education, employment and health.

UNESCO definition of “youth” is as used by a particular Member State. It can be based for instance on the definition given in the African Youth Charter where “youth” means “every person between the ages of 15 and 35 years”. Indeed, Youth in the Junior Chamber context is between the ages of 18 and 40.

The world has witnessed phenomenal economic development. The various stages of these development were triggered by various revolutions. We start from the 16th Century Agricultural Revolution when man began to plant food instead of combing the forests for wild plants, to the 18th century Industrial Revolution, when man began to make engines to power its various factories. The 19th century brought the Scientific and Medical Revolution when man found the cure to a number of killer diseases. The 20th century brought the Digital Revolution when man invented the computer. We are now in the 21st century which is about the Knowledge Revolution. Artificial intelligence and big data.

For an effective and efficient economic development, one cannot over-emphasize the role of the three major factors – The People, the Process and The tools such as Technology.

Today’s knowledge Revolution is being driven by a by-product of the digital revolution – Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It is therefore to the advantage of the youths of today, to embrace ICT in everything that they do, so as to break loose from the shackles of economically dependency.

It is clear that the youths, who constitute 100% of the active JCI Nigeria members, are the people; the technology is there now, what is clearly missing is the “process” which will tie the people and the technology together to unleash the potentials in all of us. The realization of this simple fact, the commencement of your journey of self-discovery, self-actualization and self-fulfilment.

According to the 2017 estimates in the Facts sheet of the Central Intelligence Agency, Nigeria is a country with a population of over 186 Million people Well Over 62% of Nigeria’s population is below the age of 24. indeed the distribution is:

0-14 years: 42.54%

15-24 years: 19.61%

25-54 years: 30.74%

55-64 years: 3.97%

65 years and over: 3.13%

Youths have the greatest amount of energy and the ideas to unleash that passion. Indeed our youths have the capacity to transform our nation, by building, leading and sustaining a new Nigeria.

I will not hesitate to point out again and again that we must never stop, but must relentlessly pursue and expand our investments in the youths, who will be the leaders of our nation from today, because I do believe that “tomorrow”, in the context of our ruling class, is very far away.

Indeed, youths have not been observant that the bulk of our leaders are “naked men” who continuously are offering us their shirts. can anyone give what they dont have? What a tragedy!

It is an Ethiopean proverb that says that when spiders unite to spin their web, they can tie a lion. Nigerians youths can restore the dignity of our Nation Nigeria, if they unite and purposefully elect the leaders they can follow. The process begins with having a permanent voters card. Do you have yours?

How can we enhance the processes that will cement the various applications of Information and Communication Technology into our daily lives? The answer is in one of the line of the JCI creed that “Economic Justice can best be won by free men, through free enterprise”.

In very simple terms, It is the man that can assure the source of his breakfast, lunch and dinner, that can dictate the direction of his future, because it is “He who pays the piper that dictates the tune.”.

Youths must look into the setup of technology-based Small and Medium scale enterprises and thereby catalize the development of that sector in Nigeria.

There is a world of opportunities in Nigeria for entrepreneurs. Indeed, OAU has been the home and incubator of many ideas and startups that are now world-class companies concieved while here in the school, that have since grown them into great world-class ICT organizations.

Omatek and Jobberman easily comes into mind because they grew out of OAU. Are you already thinking and dreaming of what to do? Let me remind you that emigration is not an option at this stage. If you cannot make it in Nigeria, you cannot make it in either America, Canada or Europe.

We must reset our thinking faculty. If one gives N100,000 to the average Nigerian youth today, that money will instantly depart for the market and a new man or woman will reappear with a cute phone and a new swag, on an empty stomach.

Indeed the same money could have been used in setting up a small service business which will yield not less than N50,000 a month, yet prop up the same man or woman with the same swag, fat stomach and a stuffed pocket.

It is clear that something is wrong with our psychology, which has replaced deep thinking and clear action with a fake sense of actualization, leading to instant gratification.

Our Youths must focus their energies on virtues, instead of vices. The long hours being spent on Looks, Sex, Drugs and Drinks can be used in hatching great plans and rewarding plans. It is never too late to go back to the basics and reset our minds for a greater tomorrow.

To increase the chances of buiness success and survival, it is always a good idea for business promoters to work together with people who can and will support their vision. Business partnership is a solution to inadequate capital for businesses. Unlike a bank that would ask for collateral and demand high interest rates, apart from other difficult and almost impossible conditions, a business partner can end up contributing capital on far more favourable terms.

As a result, they end up sharing the risk of the business between themselves, which is much better than one person bearing the full financial risk. We are indeed sufficient to bind together and change the Nigerian narative, if only we had the will power.

According to an anonymous philosopher – “The World Steps aside for a man who knows where he is going”. It begins with the first part of our theme – Act Now. Do something today so that we can all have a greater tomorrow.

It was Abraham Lincoln that said “I walk slowly, but I never walk backwards” It is high time for our youths to now lay emphasis on knowledge, capability and proficiency and not on certificates and titles. The era of looking for white collar jobs is over, youths must look into acquiring appropriate skills that have the right appeal in this age and time to be able to break away from the shackles of dependency at an early age.

Distinguished Jaycees, guests and friends, a Swahili proverb says that until the antelope get their historians to write about how they ran away from the Lions, the story of the hunt will always favour the Lions. We need to change the governance narrative in Nigeria that suggests that youths do not have what it takes to lead the nation. We need to make our youths the arrow head of leadership by being the engine of economic activities. They need to move from economic dependence to economic sufficiency. If it has to be, it is up to us.

I thank you for your kind attention.

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