The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Matthew Kukah, has urged the youth to rise and deploy their talents in finding solutions to the social and economic problems affecting the country.
The cleric said this while delivering a keynote address titled ‘Possibilities for Nigeria at 100: Youths as underdogs and misfits’ at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Port Harcourt Book Festival on Tuesday.
Kukah said instead of complaining about the absence of opportunities, the youth should confront the “Goliaths” of corruption, inefficiency, greed, in competence and gross mismanagement of resources in order to pave the way for change.
He said, “The time to act for a better tomorrow is now and the generation to ensure a greater tomorrow is here. But today’s youth, especially those who are making money, must rise beyond the Champagne bubbles, avoid the highway of the Ferraris, reduce the Dubai orgies and defer some pleasure till the vision is clear.”
Noting that the duty of government, at all levels, was beyond the provision of infrastructure to include an expansion of the space for the fruitful engagement of the youth, Kukah said corruption had crippled the capacity of the youth to function effectively in the society.
Also listing 10 key areas where writers should focus their reflections on, he called for a new narrative that would emphasise a sense of possibilities and hope in the people, especially the youth, for the future of Nigeria.
“Although our literature has, in the last 50 or 60 years, focused on art imitating life, the time has come for the creation of a literature that will emphasise the imitation of art by life. The dynamics of the society now demand the creation of a new narrative that will give a sense of possibilities and hope to the people, especially the youth, for the future,” he said.
However, the renowned intellectual urged Nigerian youths to learn the history, culture and social values of their country so as to confidently approach the future. He advised them to follow the example of the Biblical David and find “the stones and sling to kill the Goliaths plaguing the country.
Urging the youth not to sit on the fence any longer, he said, “Don’t stand and look; get busy. Getting involved does not mean going to war, though it comes down to that. It means getting to do something, participating as opposed to being a guilty bystander.”
In his welcome address, Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, who was represented by a permanent secretary, Evangelist Eddy Oloko, said, “We must keep hope alive and believe only in the best as one nation. The festival theme explores the vast potentialities that we have been endowed with as a nation, with its focus on enlightening the youth and motivating them to look inward and help create a brighter future for the next generation”.
Also, the Director of the Port Harcourt Book Festival, Mrs. Koko Kalango noted that Nigerian youths were the focus of the event. She said, “We have an opportunity to reflect on our past and explore the opportunities before us that can enable us build the Nigeria of our dream.”