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March 6, 2024

Youths’ future is in Nigeria, not in US, Europe – AfDB’s Akinwumi Adesina

Youths’ future is in Nigeria, not in US, Europe - AfDB’s Akinwumi Adesina

AfDB President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina

By Biodun Busari

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has said the future of the Nigerian youths does not lie in any advanced country of the world, but in Nigeria.

He said Nigeria’s demographic asset is not meant to benefit other countries more than the country itself, which still stands as Africa’s largest economy.

Read Also: Nigeria losing best brains to Japa syndrome—AfDB President

Adesina disclosed this in Lagos while speaking at the 2023 Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership on Wednesday, where he was awarded the 2023 Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership Award.

Past recipients of the prestigious award are Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka; veteran legal luminary, Aare Afe Babalola; and former South African President, Thabo Mbeki.

In an event graced by Vice President Kashim Shettima; former Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon; former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former President Goodluck Jonathan, state governors, royal fathers, and other distinguished Nigerians, the AfDB boss said the country must take pride in its people.

Adesina said, “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 their 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. I firmly believe that their future lies right here in Nigeria,” he said.

The ex-Agriculture Minister decried the mass exodus of Nigerian youths to other countries, a syndrome called Japa, stressing it does not develop sustainability.

“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.

“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,” he said.

The economist also AfDB unveiled a $614 million programme to support Nigeria’s digital and creative enterprise to create 6.3 million jobs and add N6.4 billion to the economy.

“I always say to myself, how can we have 477 million people under the age of 35 and there are no financial institutions? 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,” Adesina added.