Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday lamented that over 13 million Nigerian children of school age are out of school, insisting that no nation can develop with such statistics.
Obasanjo also challenged youths to strive for leadership positions like their counterparts in other countries, adding that he would love to see a country where every Nigerian child of school age got the right education.
He spoke when the National Youths Council of Nigeria (NYCN) visited him at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
At the ceremony, the NYCN conferred Father of the Nation Award on Obasanjo for his contributions to national development and donated N1million to the OOPL.
Stressing the importance of education, he said: “Whatever I have achieved in life, I have achieved it because I was educated and the love I have for Nigeria.
“If I was not educated, I will not have been able to achieve what I have achieved and today it pains me that over 13 million Nigerian children who should be in school are out of school.
“We don’t need additional teachers, we only have to increase what those teachers get, maybe by 40 per cent or more. We can even do two streams if we prepare for it and two years from now those children would have become products that would make contributions and make their life better, as well as make the lives of their families better.”
He stressed that he was concerned about the youths, adding that over 60 per cent of the nation’s population were youths and under 30 years of age.
“The Nigerian youths must take up leadership positions, other developed nations where younger people pilot their affairs have nothing exceptional, but have only put the right pegs in the right holes.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that you are too young, I started making contribution to the world when I was serving in Congo in 1960, I was only 24 years old.
“By the time I went to the warfront I was still under 35 years and when I became Head of State, I was under 40 years of age,” he added.
Speaking, National President of NYCN, Oladele Niyi, lamented the rising banditry and terrorism in the country, adding that over 24 states of the country have been taken over by bandits.
He, therefore, sought Obasanjo’s assistance in finding a lasting solution to menace, saying: “Unfortunately, successive governments have not been able to build on some of the things you did in terms of security, when some people wanted to escalate security issues in the country, you showed effective leadership and it never happened again until you left government.”