Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, says Nigerian youths must innovate, think and act globally to become more relevant in this generation.
Osinbajo said this during the South-West Youth Summit in Osogbo, Osun State capital today.
In a keynote address at the event tagged ‘West 2040’, the he urged young people to shun corruption and other vices, and instead develop themselves by building integrity and seeking honest ways to make a lasting impact in society.
Osinbajo said, “You don’t have to steal, you don’t have to cheat or do anything untoward to get money. You must be determined to work hard, you must determine to be a person of integrity, determine to ensure that you build your works correctly, so that at the end of the day, you are able to enjoy whatever you have in peace.
“I was telling some people that I graduated early in life. At the age of 21, I was already a law graduate. I started teaching at the age of 24. So, in every way, I could be considered fortunate because I graduated early. But at that period of my life, teaching and being involved in legal practice, I was earning very little, because in the university we were paid N20 a month but we were able to do a few things.
“And I explained to these people who I was talking to that I never used a brand new car until 1998. Anybody seeing me in my old car in 1998 would have said, “Well, this man, what is he up to? He’s a professor, he is an advocate, but he must be keeping some money somewhere.”
“But I recognized even then that, it was important to build something, it was important for me that, in the future, I must be able to look back and encourage some people, young people, and let them know that they don’t have to steal, they don’t have to cheat or do anything untoward to get money. And I was saying that it is possible for a person to earn a salary, it may not be enough, but you are developing yourself, you are building up yourself.
“A time came in my life that people would give me cars. Life itself is a journey; it is not a hundred-meter dash. If you hurry too much and you go around shortcuts, you would end up in big problems. There are people who would say, at the age of thirty-something, I must have built a house. Why must you build a house at the age of thirty-something? I built my own house at the age of 50.
“I moved into my house at the age of 51 and I enjoyed the house. Before then I used to live in a house that I rented. It was a rented accommodation. So there is nothing to be said for saying that by the age of 20, you would do this. So what? If God helps you and you are successful honestly, at the age of 20, fantastic.
“But don’t be under any pressure; don’t let anybody put you under pressure. You must be determined to work hard, you must determine to be a person of integrity, determine to ensure that you build your works correctly, so that at the end of the day, you are able to enjoy whatever you have in peace.
“Finally, let me just say that we must also recognize that every generation owes itself the duty of converting its challenges to opportunities and success. And you must not see yourself as young people of the South-West alone. Yes, you are South-West citizens, you were born and bred here, but you are actually citizens of the world. You are citizens of Nigeria.
“You must make contacts across the country, you must build bridges across the country; you must see yourself first and foremost as a Nigerian citizen. It is from this Nigeria that we would make the kind of progress that each and every one of us need. There is no point doing our business only in the South-west, Nigeria is our playing field; this country is big enough. The advantage of our country is that it has everything that we need, and we must take advantage of it.”