“When entrepreneurs succeed, we succeed as a nation,” were the words of Tony Elumelu, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, at the official launch of the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), which took place on Sunday in Lagos.
In a lengthy address to attendees, Elumelu urged for a reawakening of nation-building consciousness amongst Nigerians, pleading with the government at all levels to invest heavily in youth development.
Elumelu, who takes pride in knowing how impactful he has been in the area of youth development in Nigeria and across the African continent, spoke gloriously about the subject matter, believing that a reawakening of our national cohesion consciousness will foster unity in a country already bitterly divided.
He said, “Transforming Nigeria is a journey that demands our collective dedication, building across political affiliations, ethnic differences, and socioeconomic differences. One that is not the responsibility of our government alone. Great nations start with great people, not just great leaders.
“Our private sector, our philanthropies, our civil society, all citizens must be brought together and be empowered – as real, valued, and executing partners for this national renewal, this nation-building.”
Elumelu stressed that nation-building must not be centred on building physical infrastructure alone but on growing the entrepreneurial strength of our youthful population.
He said, “Let us lead our nation-building by laying those important foundations for our nation—let us renew our infrastructure. When I talk of infrastructure, I do not mean just roads or rail, bridges, or ports; I mean the following:
“Investment in our youth—we need to renew our commitment to our youth and provide them with the means to succeed in Nigeria, not beyond Nigeria.
“This means not just investment in our education system but in our entrepreneurial culture. Let us create a joined-up government task force to champion at the highest level our young and our entrepreneurs.”