Prof. Peter Okebukola, Chairman of Council, National Open University of Nigeria, on Thursday, called on stakeholders to devise ways to reposition Nigerian youths for leadership and contribute to national development.
Okebukola made the call while delivering the maiden convocation lecture of Anchor University Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the lecture had the theme: “Re-engineering the Youths for Leadership Imperatives and National Development.”
The lecture was part of the activities lined up for the maiden convocation ceremony of the university.
Okebukola decried the high rate of moral decadence among youths, which he said needed to be urgently reversed for a better society.
“About four decades ago, students were noted for their acute sense of duty, honesty, good reading culture, low plagiarism rate, slim chance of exhibiting social vices such as sexual immorality and drug abuse.
“Recent trends, however, show that there is a gradual depreciation in the moral values of youths.
“The sense of duty of secondary and university students has taken a dip, drug abuse is increasing, sexual immorality even in faith-based institutions is spiking.
“What attributes do the youth of today have for successfully taking over the reins of leadership?” he queried.
Okebukola, also a former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), said one of the pathways to re-engineer youths for leadership was quality education.
He said the relevant variables such as curriculum, learning facilities, and quality teachers needed to be upgraded to assure a better quality of education.
“We need to re-engineer the curriculum at all levels in a way that will lead to the development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that we desire of leaders who will contribute optimally to national development.
“Education which does not result in the ability to create innovative ideas and transform such ideas into physical realities is not the required education,” he said.
He added the NUC, under the leadership of Prof. Abubakar Adamu, was taking bold steps in the re-engineering process by ensuring compulsory entrepreneurial studies for all university students by September.
He also emphasised the role of parents in grooming and molding children to be better persons and God-fearing leaders capable of steering the country on the right path for national development.
“The family is the bedrock of any society and it is only strong families that can build strong communities which in turn can build a strong Nigeria.
“It is sad that many parents have neglected their roles and are adding to the challenge by indirectly teaching their children to become worse than they are.
“Parents and guardians should remember Proverbs 22:6: ‘train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it,’” he said.
He also called on the media, civil society organisations, and religious institutions to take an active role in strengthening the foundations of a value-based society.
He advised the graduands to be good ambassadors and imbibe the core values of the institution which are character, competence, and courage.
“As you turn your tassels and become graduates tomorrow, God will grant your heart desires and you shall be leaders in Nigeria, Africa, and the world,” he said.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Joseph Afolayan, said the topic was apt, urging the participants to take the lessons seriously to bring about change in the nation.
He thanked the Chancellor, Pastor William Kumuyi, for the immense support the university received since its inception, adding that the management and staff would continue to drive the vision of the institution.