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Make Nigeria viable for people to stay, AfDB president pleads

The President, African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has appealed to Nigerian authorities to make Nigeria viable for people to stay and do business in, instead of the migration fever that seems to have infected many citizens, especially the youths.

He says the future of Nigerian youths does not lie in Europe, North America or anywhere else but here in the continent of Africa.

The former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture stated this when he received the prestigious 2023 Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership in Lagos on Wednesday.

Adesina, who spoke after serving and former African presidents had taken turns to commend his outstanding leadership in Africa, said nations grow economically by keeping their best human capital at home and getting additional resource skills elsewhere.

nations grow economically by keeping their best human capital at home and getting additional resource skills elsewhere

The 64-year-old statesman lamented the migration phenomenon known as Japa, which has been popularised by Nigerian youths leaving the country for economic prosperity and job security in faraway Europe, the Americas, Asia and other parts of the world.

“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,” Adesina said to his audience comprising past and serving African leaders, including the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan; Ethiopian President, Sahle-Work Zewde; Prime Minister of Togo, Victoire Tomegah Dogbé; President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria; and the President of the Union of the Comoros and the outgoing Chairperson of the African Union (AU), Azali Assoumani.

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“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. We must make Nigeria a viable place for people to stay and not a place to run away from, the same applies to other countries,” said the AfDB chief.

“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 there future must lie in Africa, growing well, robustly, able to create quality jobs and decent earnings for our young people.

I refuse to believe that the future of Nigeria’s and Africa’s youths lie in Europe, North America, Asia, or anywhere else

“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.”

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Adesina, who was Nigeria’s Agriculture Minister from 2011 to 2015 said, “I firmly believe that their future lies right here in Nigeria,” adding that for this reason, the AfDB launched a $614m programme to support Nigeria’s digital and creative enterprise to create 6.3 million jobs and add N6.4bn to the economy.

He also said the pan-African bank will launched a youth-centric bank, the Youths Entrepreneurship Investment Bank, to cater specifically for the needs of young people.

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

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