Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, has urged African leaders to focus on youth development in order to curb the formation of extremist groups.
The governor, who spoke in Lagos on Thursday during the annual African Business Conference organised by the students of the Lagos Business School, said extremism had claimed the lives of more than 18,000 Africans in the last four years.
Speaking on the topic, “Africa Rising: Leveraging the Power of a Younger Generation,” Mimiko said unemployment had forced many youths into crimes.
He said, “Politically, it is expedient to widen political and economic space for African youths. Young people have largely been left out of the recent economic growth in Africa, and they are not faring better in the political sphere. The average age of an African Head of State is 70 years. Exploring critical opportunities for young people is perhaps the most pressing challenge for Africa.
“Having many young adults is good for any country or continent if its economy is thriving, but if jobs are in short supply it can lead to frustration and violence. Whether Africa’s demography brings a dividend or disaster is largely up to its leaders. With no obvious signs of population decline, Africa can tap into the immense talent and energy.”
The governor also called for the strengthening of democratic and government institutions across the continent.
While expressing concerns over the Anti-social Media Bill, the governor said attempts to gag Nigerian citizens on the social media should be discouraged since the social media had created job opportunities for youths.
According to Mimiko, all Africans should ensure that transparency and accountability reign supreme in Africa.
He added, “Africa must set priorities. Despite the present unfavourable economic climate, African countries must do everything possible to build infrastructure that would drive growth .
“Africa needs to embark on industrialisation for it to really rise and to provide the industrial infrastructure such as energy, roads, communications, transportation and others.”