He said if the youth’s anger is not well-managed, it could lead to an “explosion”.
Obasanjo spoke yesterday at the Youth Governance Dialogue organised by the Youth Development Centre, an arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
He lamented that youths were not getting the required help.
The former president noted that while his generation had “limitless opportunities but no facilities” in their time, the youth of today “have facilities but little or no opportunities”.
He cited the insurgency in the Northeast, the separatist agitators in the Southeast and militancy in the Niger Delta region as manifestations of anger and frustrations from disillusioned youths.Obasanjo warned that should anger of youths erupt, there might be no limit to the extent it could spread.
He appealed to the youth to work hard to help themselves and be ready to pay the price for the right cause they believe.
But he said despite all odds, the youth still remained his greatest hope for Nigeria.
Obasanjo noted that when he left secondary school, he received letters of appointments from five establishments and wondered whether any Nigerian university graduate could have such opportunities today.
He pleaded with the nation’s youth not to wish the elders dead, saying they need the elders as mentors and advisers in their journey of life.
“Don’t wish us dead; don’t wish us to disappear because you will need us. You need us as mentors and advisers to mentor and prepare you for the future. You need the experience and assistance of some of us to guide you through life.
“You should not lose hope, you should not feel frustrated. Whenever I go, they always ask me what is my fear about Nigeria and Africa. And I said my greatest fear is youth anger, frustrations and youth explosion, which have no bound.
“We have the Boko Haram in the North, the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the Southeast, the militants in the Niger Delta and the Oodua Peoples Congress in the Southwest. All of these are expression of anger and frustrations.
“We have what it takes to be great as a nation and we can’t transform this country without the youth. My greatest hope in this country is also the youth. You the youth should work to help yourselves. You must be ready to pay the price for what you stand for,” Obasanjo said.
The lead speaker and former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Osita Chidoka who spoke on the theme: “Towards a Guiding Political Philosophy for a Democratic Nigeria,” advised that the nation’s leaders should build a society that harness human and material resources effectively, provide equal opportunities and develop capacity for innovation.
Chidoka proposed a new charter for the country, saying the charter should contain reasons for the country’s unity, and which guarantees the basic rights, privileges and obligations of citizens.
“Our national aspirations should inspire the next generation and provide them with the existential meaning of Nigeria; a meaning that transcends geography, natural resources and ethnicity. To grow Nigeria, we must build a society that harness human resources, provides equal opportunities and develop capacity for innovation.
Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, who spoke on the topic:”Preparing Successor Generation for Effective Participation in Governance”, urged leaders to put structure in place for the youth to advance to position of leadership.
“We cannot keep calling them the leaders of tomorrow without ensuring that we put in place deliberate measures that will aid their quest for public service.
“Sometimes candour and youthful excitement can cause as much harm as the most venal form of corruption.
“We have to find the means to reduce unemployment. There is no doubt that the current diversification policy of President Buhari government will eventually provide broader opportunities for self-employment,” Tambuwal said.