Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Saturday advised public office holders and political class to be deliberate in engaging the youths to foster development, peace and unity in the country.
He urged Nigerian youths to be actively involved in the democratic process for a better future, adding that the citizens should join hands together to strengthen and grow the country’s democracy.
The Governor gave the advice in a lecture themed: “Youths and the Sustenance of Democracy: Issues and the Challenges” to mark the 64th birthday of a renowned activist, lawyer and journalist, Mr Richard Akinnola held in Ikeja.
While acknowledging that challenges abound in the country with respect to political, ethnic, social and religious issues, Sanwo-Olu said the real test of leadership is the ability to rise up and surmount the myriad challenges facing the nation.
“Our responsibility as a government and as leaders is to reduce the tendency of poverty and create opportunities to take people out of the shackles of poverty. Education happens to be one; knowledge and skill acquisition is another one. Once you are able to liberate yourself from the shackles of poverty, then you have a free mind, heart and soul to desire and design things for yourself.
“There is a huge opportunity in this country. I want to urge all of you as builders of the nation and leaders of tomorrow; don’t lose hope. People that lose hope are people that are doomed. You cannot lose hope. Every day you wake up is hope for you and that hope should be the thing that should drive you. That hope should be the thing that should propel you.
“You cannot give up because giving up is not an option. In the political, economic and social inclusion space, you cannot give up. Giving up is giving out and that is not the spirit and energy of the youth. The future is here, you are the future. Take hold of it because you need to be in the room to take over. It is important for the youths to participate in the democratic process”, Sanwo-Olu said.
The Governor also urged the youths to make good use of social media and use it as a weapon for their own liberation and ensures that they use it to be better persons in the future.
Outlining various ways in which his administration had involved the youths, cutting across different sectors based on the THEMES developmental agenda for Greater Lagos, Sanwo-Olu, who admonished the youths who had turned up in large numbers for the lecture to take advantage of the many opportunities created by his government, assuring them that his administration would continue to use technology to deliver good governance.
Earlier, Akinnola said the participation of the youths in the 2023 general elections would be a deciding factor in the outcome of the poll, hence, the theme of the lecture.
He said Sanwo-Olu’s humility, willingness and readiness to engage the youths, despite all odds, necessitated his choice as the Guest Lecturer.
He commended the Governor’s simplicity and for engaging the youths with calmness and levelheadedness during the October 2020 EndSARS protests.
“Two years ago at the early stage of the EndSARS protest, I watched him (Sanwo-Olu) as he braved all odds to address the protesting youths with such calmness and levelheadedness even while some of the protesters were heckling him with insulting pejoratives. With such conduct, he won the hearts of many people”, he said.