Youth and challenges of entrepreneurial development
“YOUTHS are the leaders of tomorrow” is a maxim that is popular in the developing world.
While it is natural for human beings to grow and attain more responsibility as they advance in age, how are youths prepared to take over the mantle of leadership in order to show that they are indeed the leaders of tomorrow when tomorrow beckons?
How do societies view investments made on initiatives that are aimed at propelling youth development? Are there conscious efforts on the part of today’s leaders to position youths for the leadership challenges of tomorrow? Are the elders of today ready to inculcate the needed leadership qualities in the youths? Are the youths also aware of the burden of leadership? Are there leadership trainings or institutions established for the purpose of rising youths for leadership positions?
Indeed, there are doubts amongst youths that with the leadership style in practice post-independent Nigeria, that tomorrow when youths will be leaders may not come.
The need to prepare young people for leadership roles is heighten by the fact that young people make up approximately 30% of the population in developing countries with the trend expected to continue expanding.
According to a World Bank report conducted in 2008, investments in youths go far beyond the individual and where youths are not active participants in their society, the report found that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of such country declines.
Though, the demand for effective leadership and systematic leadership development in Nigeria is growing more rapidly than ever before, a critical shortage of upcoming leaders is undoubtedly responsible for the under-development of most organizations as well as the country in particular.
To arrest this trend, a Non Governmental Organisation, Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to commit huge investment into leadership development.
Speaking in Abuja at the 2015 emerging leaders conference on the need to engender leadership consciousness among youths, Linus Okorie said President Buhari has a unique opportunity to change the course of history by taking practical steps towards building leadership traits in Nigerians.
His words: “The greatest need for this country right now is to develop leadership development policy; a policy that will focus on inspiring every young leader in Nigeria to think differently. There should be policy statement, there should be policy involvement and there should be a network of opportunities between leaders shearing thoughts with us to take advantage of what we are doing.
“The United States of America spends about $14 billion in developing leadership capital and in Nigeria, the government doesn’t even spend up to N10 million to develop leadership capital. How can we grow a nation that will work? This country will work only when we involve ourselves in developing the leadership capital of our young people and that’s is what GOTNI is doing right now.”
Okorie explained that there must be a sense of urgency towards providing value and inspiring the country towards a place of greatness amongst the comity of nations.
As the nation begins to navigate a new beginning under the Buhari administration, Okorie maintained that the 2015 edition of the conference is aimed at setting an agenda and charting a new course for value orientation and attitudinal change in governance.
“The emerging leaders conference is an annual invent that is to inspire young people, mobilise young people, help change their mindset so that we can deepen on our leadership values and leadership etiquette. If we can do this over time, we would build a critical mass of great leaders who will go back to their locations and they will impact on the different leaders from all segment of our society.
“The emerging leaders conference was put together because we realise that for many years there have been huge deficit on leadership capital in Nigeria, so we to about bringing 1000 youths together every year from all parts of the country to come to one city and discuss our country, discuss the possibility of developing our leadership capital skill and how we can grow and learn so that Nigerian can benefit from the beauty of our country”, he explained.
On her part, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chair, 7th House Committee on Diaspora (HCOD), said Nigeria continues to witness unprecedented economic challenges due to poor leadership from previous administration and gross financial mismanagement.
The former lawmaker explained that Nigeria’s hope of economic liberation and future lies in the hands of its youthful population.
She added: “Unfortunately today, the bulk of our youth are unaware of their potentials, only very few have began to harness their God’s giving ability to becoming a shinning light to the generation proceeding them. Nigerian youths needs to understand that an opportunity to make an impact will not be handed to them in a platter of gold; they must engage in intellectual battle, mental and verbal in order to occupy their rightful position in life.”
Dabiri-Erewa lamented that a lot of Nigeria youths stay away from politics in the country because of the impression that only corrupt politicians can thrive in government, adding, “I will like to urge all Nigerian youths to actively engage in national building from the grassroot level right to the top.”
Also speaking, the Political Counselor, U.S Embassy, Abuja, Shawn Flatt, said there was a need for Nigeria to invest massively in youths’ development initiatives in order to create a strong and effective leadership, which will engender development.
The political counselor stated that the United States spends about $14 billion in 2014 for the development of leadership capital.
Executive Director, Heritage Bank, Mrs. Mary Apkobome, explained that leadership is about influencing and inspiring people to achieve more than they ordinary thought they could.
She urged youths to always come with ideas through which they can contribute positively to the development of the country.
Represented by Head, Innovation and Products, Tobe Nnadozie, she noted that for Nigeria to be transformed, it needs youths who are innovative.
Speaking on youth as vehicle for development, the Managing Director, Sahara Group, Tonye Cole, said Nigeria has a critical role to play in the development of Africa.
“For us to be able to that, we have to address the things that divides us. Those things that divide us are not that many; we are using religion culture, language and geographical locations to divide ourselves, not knowing that these are the areas where we are strongest. If we can come together around those things that divides us, the we will go very far,” he explained.
To enable youths unleash their potentials, he stated that there is a need for the three tiers of government to create an enabling environment for Nigerian youths to fully develop their latent potentials.