Journalism in the service of society

Empowered for global transformation: Role of the youth in nation-building

(Being text of a lecture delivered by the broadcaster-media manager, Soni Irabor to the 2023 graduating students of Newhall International School, Lekki-Lagos, on July 20)

Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed educators, proud parents, and, most importantly, the brilliant graduating class of Newhall International School,2023.

TODAY, we gather here to celebrate a significant milestone in your lives. As you stand on the precipice of a new chapter, I congratulate each and every one of you for your hard work, dedication, and accomplishments. You have come so far, and your potential is boundless. I am deeply honored to stand before you, the future leaders of our great nation Nigeria and the world beyond, to discuss a topic that is close to my heart – “Empowered for Global Transformation: The Role of the Nigerian Youth in Nation Building.”

In the spirit of meaningful connections, allow me to share a story of hope and determination from a young Nigerian who embodies the potential of the Nigerian youth. There are many young Nigerians who made a positive impact, such as; Tobi Amusan’s groundbreaking record at the World Athletics Competition, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who now sits at the head of the World Trade Centre, Dr Ola Orekunrin: A medical doctor and entrepreneur, Ola Orekunrin founded the Flying Doctors Nigeria, a company that provides air ambulance services and medical assistance across West Africa, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: An award-winning author and feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has gained international acclaim for her powerful storytelling. Her novels, including “Half of a Yellow Sun” and “Americanah,” have been bestsellers and have been translated into several languages, Burna Boy (Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu): Burna Boy is a Grammy Award-winning Nigerian singer and songwriter known for his unique blend of Afrobeat, reggae, and dancehall music. His music has garnered international appeal and has contributed to bringing laurels to Nigeria. All the aforementioned have contributed, individually to putting our great nation on the world stage.

As media and communications personnel, I have witnessed firsthand the power of your voices, amplified through social media and technology. Your ability to connect with the global community instantaneously is unparalleled, and this gives you a platform to bring about change like no generation before. But as John F Kennedy famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” Let us expand this sentiment beyond borders and ask, “What can we, as Nigerian youth, do for our country and the world?”

Nigeria, our beloved nation, is a land of extraordinary diversity, rich culture, and boundless possibilities. However, it is also a land grappling with various issues – economic disparities, social injustices, and political complexities. But in the face of these challenges, I see hope, and that hope lies in each one of you.

Your resilience, ingenuity, and passion shine through, despite the odds. You have been equipped with a spirit that refuses to be defeated, a spirit that can drive the transformation of not only our nation but also the entire globe. Embrace this power and use it responsibly to foster understanding, compassion, and cooperation.

In your pursuit of higher education or entering the workforce, do not forget the communities that nurtured you and the values that define you. It is easy to become immersed in personal success, but the true measure of success lies in how you uplift others. Mentorship, volunteerism, and civic engagement are not just noble ideals but necessary practices for a thriving society.

Moreover, be lifelong learners. Embrace curiosity and intellectual humility, for the world is constantly evolving, and our capacity to adapt and learn will be instrumental in solving the most pressing global issues. Strive to be empathetic leaders who listen to diverse perspectives, for it is through open dialogue that we discover innovative solutions.

As we look ahead to a future fraught with challenges and opportunities, I urge you to remain optimistic and hopeful.  Think upon these lines from our Second Stanza of our National Anthem, “Oh God of Creation, direct our noble cause…help are youths the truth to know’. You are not alone in this journey; you stand shoulder to shoulder with millions of young Nigerians who share your dreams and aspirations.  Together, you can redefine the narrative of our nation and create a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

Remember, the words of John F Kennedy are just as relevant today as they were then – “Ask not what the world can do for you, but what you can do for the world.” Each one of you has a unique role to play in effecting global transformation. Let your humanity guide your actions, and let empathy be the driving force behind your choices.

In conclusion, I have unwavering faith in the potential of the Nigerian youth. You are the architects of our nation’s destiny and key players in global transformation. Embrace your peculiarity, celebrate your diversity, and go forth to set the world ablaze with your brilliance, compassion, and unwavering commitment to building a better future for all. Think of this, there ae Nigrians govrnment. There are Nigerians in he British parliament! I see more of you Nigerians here, conquring the world. SO, GO OUT THERE AND CONQUER THE WORLD!

Congratulations once again, Class of 2023. Your journey has just begun, and the world eagerly awaits the impact you will make.

 Thank you.

Soni Irabor
Receiving an award from Mr Abiodun Agbaje. Director of Newhall International School Lekki
Newhall 2 1
Cross section of the audience

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