Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has described the youth as ‘game changers’ in fostering growth and democratic power in Africa.
Speaking during the inauguration of a USAID adolescent empowerment project advisory group in Lagos on Monday, Obasanjo said “For a country to have peace, security and stability, the youth must have education, empowerment opportunities, employment, and a life of their own.”
He therefore emphasized that through youth empowerment and enlightenment, there will be hope of having a better society, continent and world at large.
In his speech, the former military and civilian President mentioned conversations he had with other African leaders in Gambia and Kenya, both of whom recognized the importance of engaging youth within their countries.
He said he would share some of the principles and activities of the USAID Youth-Powered Ecosystem to Advance Urban Adolescent Health project (YPE4AH) with other African leaders interested in engaging youth in their countries.
USAID’s YPE4AH project provides life skills courses, sexual and reproductive health services, and apprenticeship opportunities to disadvantaged youth in Kano and Lagos from a holistic human capital perspective.
The project, implemented by DAI and partners, have created multiple Youth Hubs within the two states, which act as safe spaces and a vehicle for delivering health information and services, referrals, leadership courses, life skills opportunities for healthy living and future planning, mentorship, workforce readiness to address socioeconomic determinants of adolescent health and provide areas for play and relaxation.
The Project Advisory Group inauguration also featured speeches and key appearances from the Lagos State Government, youth champions, adolescent representatives from
the project’s youth advisory committee, and renowned celebrities.
Gbenga Adeyinka, a multiple award-winning Nigerian actor, comedian, and presenter attended the event and gave a speech targeted at adolescents on ‘How to be who you want to be.’
Adeyinka and other celebrities will continue to act as youth empowerment advocates throughout the life of the project, to encourage youth to attend life skills courses, pursue job opportunities and education.