Former President Goodluck Jonathan says any nation that does not spend its wealth and resources to develop the capacity of its youths will eventually be forced to devote its resources to fighting insecurity among the youths.
The former President stated this during Bayelsa Heroes Award for Academic Excellence at the DSP Alamieyeseigha Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa, on Tuesday night.
The award, organised by Future Leaders Project Team, an initiative of Mr. Moses Siasia, former governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, gave awards to 30 indigenes of Bayelsa State who earned first-class from universities in Nigeria and abroad.
Jonathan, represented by a former Commissioner for Education in Bayelsa, Chief Tobias James, said as a leader, he made deliberate policies that would contribute to the education of the youths.
He said, “At different levels of my political career, I asked myself some critical questions regarding human capacity development. And one of them was, ‘what could a leader do to effectively lift people out of the depths of poverty and enable them to achieve prosperity?’ My conviction was that wealth is a creation of the human mind properly prepared by some level of education.
“It is also my belief that any national that does not spend its wealth and resources to developing the capacity of its youths will eventually be forced to devote its resources to fighting insecurity amongst those same youths.
“So, as a leader, I made deliberate policies that will contribute to the education of our youths. Education is the only foundation that can ensure the consistent growth of a nation.
“Education is the tool that liberates the minds of people and set the human society free. Those who will want to oppress and subjugate a people will first imprison the minds of the youths by discouraging education.”
He called for concerted efforts to improve the standards of education and development of human capacity by training generations of youths to acquire skills that would grant them the edge that they require to compete anywhere in the world.
He expressed gladness that Future Leaders Project team had created a platform to recognise outstanding individuals from Bayelsa State who had been able to take advantage of the amnesty programme or other government scholarships to turn their lives around for the better.
He urged the awardees to use their passion for knowledge to take Bayelsa State and Nigeria to greater heights.
Speaking on the occasion, the organiser of the awards, Moses Siasia, said Bayelsa people must change the mindset of society by doing something worthwhile like the celebration of the 30 first-class graduates.
He said, “We must not be seen as a society of people who are militants and cultists and people who are not hard working, but we must deliberately change the mindset of society with something like what we are doing today by projecting these men and women who have distinguished themselves in their academic pursuits, so there is no political attachment to it.
“We’re celebrating them; we believe that our nation needs people who are academically sound and that is why you did not see the strength of government here, we’re doing something that will benefit society and to appreciate it.
It is not everybody, even from Bayelsa State today that really appreciates what we’re doing. When I met and called people because of this programme, some told me they did not believe in first class graduates, some told me that some of those first class are not real but my response to them was that we must start from somewhere.
“We must start appreciating our young men and women and I believe that all those that we’re honouring today really merited those first class that is pictured on their celebratory tags.
“I must say this that service to humanity is the first work in life; we can build roads, bridges, houses but without building the minds and idealism of our people, there is no sustainability in all those infrastructure.”
Siasia said education is the best investment that anybody could have in life.
He noted that the celebration was part of the stories that needed to go out of Bayelsa to Nigeria, to tell the people of Nigeria that Bayelsa has men and women who could compete anywhere in the world.
Siasia added, “So, that is why all of us are seated here to celebrate the Bayelsa youths. Someone told me in the course of this process that heroes are people who are dead but I told him no, heroes are also people who are alive.
“Today, I did not graduate with first class but God has given me the responsibility to appreciate those who merit it.”