The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on Friday gave awards to 100 Nigerian youth leaders, saying youth development remained crucial to economic prosperity.
The Ooni gave out the awards in Ile-Ife under the aegis of his Royal African Young Leadership Forum, an initiative created to celebrate exceptional Nigerian youths.
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.
“I hereby identify with them and I pledge to assist them to record more wins with the throne of Oduduwa,” the Ooni said.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, said Nigeria has a brighter future, especially with the immeasurable qualities possessed by Nigerian youths.
“This programme by the Ooni validates the fact that the traditional institution and other structures in the larger Nigerian system have a great role to play in creating the country of our dreams.
“If you carefully look at the class of youths being honoured here today, you will agree with me that our youths are worthy leaders.
“On our part as government, we shall continue to refocus the youth agenda as we remain committed to the provision of modern digital skills for the prosperity of our dear country through the able youths.
“We have concluded plans that will ensure that in the next two years, 1.5. million Nigerian youths would have acquired modern digital skills needed to compete with their counterparts globally in this century, ” Dare said.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Fahad AlTaffaq, said that his embassy had partnered the Nigerian government in the past on youth development and capacity building.
AlTaffaq added that more would be done in the nearest future.
The UAE ambassador, who made an on-the-spot donation of N5 million, explained that Nigeria was blessed with exceptional youth leaders who were currently taking the lead in Africa and beyond.
Speaking on behalf of other awardees, the grandson of the late President Shehu Shagari, Mr Bello Shagari, described the award as motivation for him to step up in his activities and also assist the younger generation.
Shagari, who alongside his colleagues passed a vote of confidence on the Ooni, named him the “Youths King.”
He pledged the support and loyalty of the awardees to the frontline traditional ruler.