By Taiwo Okanlawon
No fewer than 100 Nigerian youth leaders who have distinguished themselves in their chosen careers and have impacted on the society have been honoured with royal awards by Royal African Young Leadership Forum under the guidance of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, an initiative created to celebrate exceptional Nigerian youths.
The awardees cut across various fields like real estate, entertainment, sports, ICT, humanitarian and social investment.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the event which held at the Oduduwa Hall in the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Ooni Ogunwusi said youth development remained crucial to economic prosperity.
According to Ogunwusi, the young population remains the major catalyst in boosting the economic growth of the country and that of the African continent.
“Africa has one of the world’s youngest populations with stimulating depth of human capacity and arrays of entrepreneurial relentless spirit, new dreams, unquenchable energies and ambitions.
“The united voices of millions of young populations in Nigeria and across Africa will certainly contribute solutions through their own ingenuities that would help in painting a picture of what they want for themselves, the future generations and the continent.
“I am proud of the successes being recorded by our youths despite the challenges.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, who handed out most of the awards alongside Dr. Fahad AL-Taffaq, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to Nigeria, congratulated the awardees and encouraged them to better their current achievements.
He said he was elated that the Nigerian Youth was finally getting recognition for positive and worthy contributions to the world. He told the audience that the Ministry is currently poised to develop the Nigerian Youth by improving on their digital literacy, handing them digital skills and greatly improving their employability.
The Minister while delivering his keynote address disclosed that Federal Government will make the Royal Awards more institutionalised, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
The Minister said, “The Federal Government, through the instrumentality of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, will partner with the Royal African Young Leadership Forum going forward and will sponsor and support this event annually.
“The fact that we are recognising 100 of our Youth today validates the fact that the Youth of this country are not the problem but a resource to be harnessed. Any nation that fails to invest in the Youth in a timely manner imperils not just the future but also the present. The greatest national project of our time is an investment in our youth.
“At the Ministry, we are taking our Youth Development mandate just as serious as we take the Sports Development mandate. President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘New DEEL’ for the Nigerian Youth should be wholly supported. The New DEEL hands young people the power to take a personal stake in their development, and in a broader sense, that of the continent,” the Minister added.
He praised all the young people in the Youth present at the event and said, “You represent the best of the 67 million of Nigerian Youth.”