Japa: The Future Of Our Youths Not In Europe But In Nigeria – Adesina

African Development Bank (AfDB) chief Akinwumi Adesina says the future of the Nigerian youths does not lie in Europe, North America or anywhere else but in the West African country, here in the continent of Africa.

The former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture stated this when he bagged the prestigious 2023 Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership in Lagos on Wednesday.

Adesina, who spoke after serving and former African Presidents took turns to commend his outstanding leadership in Africa, said nations grow economically by keeping their best human capital at home and getting additional resource skills elsewhere.

The 64-year-old statesman lamented the migration phenomenon known as Japa which has been popularised by Nigerian youths leaving the country in their droves for economic prosperity and job security in faraway Europe, the Americas, Asia and other parts of the world.

“While one might argue that our growing diaspora is good as they send back billions of dollars, higher than the oil revenue that we have, this is not the way to develop sustainably,” Adesina said in a room colourful graced with past and serving African leaders including the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan; Ethiopian President, Sahle-Work Zewde; Prime Minister of Togo, Victoire Tomegah Dogbé; President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria; and the President of the Union of the Comoros and the outgoing Chairperson of the African Union (AU), Azali Assoumani.

“Nations that develop do all they can to keep their best human capital at home and additional resource skills elsewhere, with flexible immigration and labour policies. We must make Nigeria a viable place for people to stay and not a place to run away from, the same applies to other countries,” said the AfDB chief who donned his signature bow tie.

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“I refuse to believe that the future of Nigeria’s and Africa’s youths lie in Europe, North America, Asia, or anywhere else. I believe that there future must lie in Africa, growing well, robustly, able to create quality jobs and decent earnings for our young people.

“There is absolutely no reason in the world how we have a demographic asset that then becomes a global negative externality. Let’s take pride in ourselves and let’s make our demographic asset our economic asset globally.”

Adesina, who was Nigeria’s Agriculture Minister from 2011 to 2015 said, “I firmly believe that their future lies right here in Nigeria,” adding that for this reason, the AfDB launched a $614m programme to support Nigeria’s digital and creative enterprise to create 6.3 million jobs and add N6.4bn to the economy.

He also said the pan-African bank will launched a youth-centric bank, the Youths Entrepreneurship Investment Bank, to cater specifically for the needs of young people.

“I always say to myself, how can we have 477 million people under the age of 35 and there are no financial institution? That means we have missing institution and market failure problems. and that is why the African Development Bank decided that we will create what we call Youths Entrepreneurship Investment Bank.”

Meanwhile, nonagenarian elder statesman and former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, commended the choice of Adesina as the fourth recipient of the prestigious award which was started in the honour of the late sage, Awolowo.

Past awardees of the prestigious award which recognises pan-African leadership are Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka; former South African President, Thabo Mbeki; and legal luminary Aare Afe Babalola.

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Also, a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) described as deserving, the choice Adesina as the honoree. Former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan also graced the event while President Tinubu was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima.

Serving governors including Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Alex Otti (Abia), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Usman Ododo (Kogi), and Mohammed Bago (Niger), as well as the Chairman of Channels Media Group, Dr John Momoh who presented Adesina’s citation at the event; amongst many fine dignitaries were also present at the event.

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