Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has charged Nigerian youths to seize the opportunity now being offered by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, describing it as a game changer.
The Vice President spoke on Saturday during the virtual valedictory service for graduating students of Edgewood College, Lagos.
Osinbajo charged the youths to pay attention, seize the moment, noting that the chances of missing the opportunity now inherent in the circumstances that the pandemic had foisted on today’s world were huge because as human beings, they were more inclined to look backwards rather than ahead.
He, however, charged that youths be ready to change with the time, do things they have never done before and become problem solvers and change the course of human history.
The Vice President, in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Mr Laolu Akande, said young age is a profound advantage in a time of uncertainty such as now and that such times also offer opportunity.
“The generation that should take advantage may sometimes even miss the opportunity, because as human beings our inclination is to look back rather than ahead. We seek comfort in the familiar things, the known course of events, we want progress but we still want things to be the way they were.
“But worse, we miss the moment because the opportunities no longer knocks, it sounds more like a whisper, barely audible because there is so much noise all around us, which is why I have named your class, the class of 2020, the class of game-changers.
“You are the first set of students of this college to graduate in the midst of a global pandemic. You are also the first in the history of this school and in many parts of the world to have a virtual graduation. One thing I can say is that you are certainly the first school in Nigeria to have a serving Vice President keynote your graduation and certainly the first to have that done virtually.
“No matter how you look at it, you are unique. The game changed in your generation, you are certainly a class of game changers. The point with any opportunity is that it must be seized if you are to benefit from it, which is why you must never take your place in history for granted. There is always a divine reason for it,” he said.
Historically, he said “circumstances have moved you ahead. No one has been here before. None of your parents or mine can tell you how life would be in or after a global pandemic. We know some but not nearly all of the challenges and all of the opportunities that will come with it.
“And if you tell me that you would have to wait until you get into University and even graduate before you start to answer those questions then you are missing the opportunity that history is offering you.”
He said when an opportunity to make history comes, it is often disguised as a challenge, a draw back or even a tragedy, adding that an opportunity often “hardly ever looks like the next great leap of mankind.”
According to him, “there is no qualifying age to be a problem solver, an entrepreneur, a great poet, an inventor, or an author. Age doesn’t matter. You must from now begin to examine the solutions to the problems that we face and will face now and in the coming years.”
“You must from now begin to examine the solutions to the problems that we face and will face now and in the coming years. Meeting virtually such as we are doing now was made possible by the inventors of Zoom a virtual meeting application, many more such applications, even better ones are waiting to be developed.
“You don’t have to be a technology geek to be an innovator, you can identify the problem, write up the solution and someone else develops the app. Some of the greatest and most useful inventions were made by young men and women before they even left high school.
“At 15, Bill Gates had gone into partnership with his friend Allen, to develop Traf-O-Data, a computer program that monitored traffic patterns in Seattle, Washington State in the US. George Westinghouse invented the Rotary Steam engine at 19, the television was first conceived by Philo Fansworth, he was 14.
“Timilehin Daomi, before he was 16 living in Ikorodu, there in Lagos State, had made prototypes of a vacuum cleaner, a pumping machine, a digital microscope and last year or about two years ago, a prototype of hydraulic-powered collapsible 4th Mainland Bridge for Lagos State.
“Aghogho Ajiyen, a young man in Oghara, in Delta State and Ayoola Olaolu in Ikorodu, have been making prototypes of airplanes, drones and flying cars. Emeka Nelson in Anambra State developed a water-powered generator.
“Sooner or later, these innovators will define enterprise, our economy, digital technology, in our country and perhaps around the world.
“But those gifted in the arts and humanities must also take advantage of these times. Pablo Picasso, the legendary artist, had painted the La premiere communion’ when he was 15.
“Amanda Gorman is the first youth poet laureate in the US. She took the hopelessness of the pandemic and the black-lives-matter protest to write a poetic masterpiece titled ‘Fury and Faith’.
“She wrote these words that must now be etched in our hearts as we face these uncertain times, and I quote the words that she wrote in that poem: “…whether we prevail in these times is not determined by all the challenges present but by the change that is possible…”
“Arinze Ifeakandu was shortlisted for The Caine Prize for his book ‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’. At 22, he is the Caine Prize’s second youngest ever person to be shortlisted. And the list of these young achievers goes on.
” The sum and substance of what I am saying is that, you leave high school at a phenomenal moment in global history, nothing will ever be the same again. Believe it or not you have spent the last one or two years here at Edgewood College, being prepared for this moment and for this season.
“You have all that it takes to create a new narrative in the arts, in entertainment, in science, in innovation, in medicine, in business or the digital economy. Yes, you are still headed for University but whoever told you that you can’t distinguish yourself even as an undergraduate?
“One last word that I must leave with you is that, never be foolish enough to imagine that anything happens without the Almighty God, all good and perfect gifts come from Him. Some of the smartest people that you will come across in the best universities in the world, will tell you that there is no God. Remember the words of scripture, “the fool says in his heart that there is no God.”
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