President Muhammadu Buhari has described the Nigerian youth as the nation’s most strategic asset, who should be ready to channel their energies into active political participation.

Declaring open a three-day maiden National Youth Conference with the theme: Energising the Youth for Development: Inclusiveness, Governance, Security and Employment, in Abuja on Monday, the President urged Nigerian youth to remain resilient and keep moving whatever may be the situation.

“Wherever you are in this country, whatever you are doing, keep moving, don’t look back, you will win eventually. Keep moving ahead, whatever the situation – ‘We Move’,” he said.

Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari while regarding Nigeria’s youth as ‘the country’s most strategic asset’, ‘the very best of us’ and ‘our reservoir of hope and creative optimism’, told Nigerian youth that his administration “will continue to support your efforts by creating an environment that enables the fulfillment of your dreams.”

He also praised the innovativeness and resilience of the Nigerian youth, whom he said were proffering solutions to social issues in the country.

According to him, “Across the world, our most potent ambassadors are young Nigerians, who are breaking new grounds, breaking records and winning laurels in diverse fields of endeavour. We recognise that our young people are this country’s most strategic asset. Investing in them is clearly investing in the economic strength and development of our nation”.

The President added that the interests of the Nigerian youth remained at the centre of policy making in his administration’s investment and development agenda.

“Because young people constitute the majority of our population, they are, by both default and design, at the very centre of all of our efforts to stimulate growth. From our social investments and interventions to our promotion of an innovation economy and support for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises,” he said.

Acknowledging the incredible potential, innovation and enterprise of Nigeria’s youth population, President Buhari noted the exploits in entertainment and music, sports, technology and other sectors, adding that, “because of the labours of our youth, in addition to being home to the third largest film industry in the world, we are the epicentre of a global and pan-African popular culture anchored to the dynamism of Nigerian creatives.

“There are also young Nigerians riding the crest wave of the information technology revolution, who are pioneering new patterns of enterprise and wealth creation and in the process have established this country as the most vibrant innovation hub on the African continent. Our tech entrepreneurs and innovators are not just applying their talents to profit-making endeavours, but also seeking to address social problems”.

On the global recognition of the innovation of Nigerian youths, the President recognized the exploits of “Silas Adekunle, the robotics engineer, who invented Mekamon, the world’s first intelligent gaming robot,” and ‘Max Chinnah, who invented the Genesys Cooker; a smokeless stove that addresses the problem of smoke pollution, which kills an estimated four million people every year.

He also noted that, “People like Saadat Aliyu, who runs a tech hub in Kano, has developed an app for reporting cases of sexual assault. Only last week, the Canon Young Champion of the Year Award, which celebrates the achievements of young people around the world, who are driving social and environmental change, went to Alabi Samuel Anjolaoluwa in the Under-21’s category for his inspiring project: ‘Students of Ibadan’, which shines a light on the struggles faced by under-served students in the city of Ibadan.

“I could also speak of Ejikeme Patrick Nwosu, an organic chemist, who has invented a fire-retardant paint that could drastically mitigate the risk of fire outbreaks. How about outstanding young teachers in primary and secondary schools?”

THISDAY LIVE