As Youth Minister, Olawande Adopts Engagement As Cornerstone Of His Leadership

By Mohammed Abdullahi

Minister of State for Youth Development, Hon. Ayodele Olawande is not an easily predictable man. He is a politician who knows what to do to get into the hearts of the people, but one who also hates the attention and ovation such actions bring about. Hardly one given to too much talk, he believes actions and results should do the talking. His performance so far since his inauguration as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly portrays his true essence and establishes the compelling attributes that must have recommended him for the appointment in the first place.

Anyone conversant with what youth development entails would readily admit that such a role requires a full grasp of the intricacies in growing and developing the necessary connections young people require to take part in society and reach their fullest potentials. It is a critical sector that is essentially about offering young people a chance to make some worthwhile contributions to societal growth. For this to happen, a leader saddled with such an important responsibility must be able to connect with young people and inspire them to action. This is exactly the goal to which Hon. Olawande has committed to since assuming office.

Despite coming into office at the tail end of the budget year, the Minister has refused to be held back by the constant singsong of ‘no money’. He found a way to undertake the most critical aspect of his job, which entails reaching out and giving the youth a sense of connectedness, both to society and to others. He has visited four NYSC Camps (Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger, FCT) to engage with young people on national service while also gracing many youth events in-between. What is more, his planned tour to engage with young people at the grassroots underscores a clear understanding that any well-structured and well-run youth development program must be one that promotes youth leadership by engaging the youth in needs assessment, planning and implementation.


Doubtless, there can be no better time in Nigeria’s youth development sector than now. The Minister is taking the Nigerian youth on a journey of leadership, leading with them every step of the way and evolving an opportunity for them to contribute to making decisions that impact their lives. With Olawande, the youths now have someone whose energy, youthfulness, and strength forbid him to sit back in Abuja and assume he knows what the youths across Nigeria need. This Minister wants to be able to hear directly from the youths, listen to their challenges firsthand and receive their own kind of solutions; which he can then factor into the mix of planned government interventions for youths. Olawande wants to run with, rather than for, the youths and ensure they have a voice in decisions and responses that are being planned on their behalf.

With engagement at the core of his leadership principle at the youth development ministry, Ayodele Olwande has clearly appealed to the yearnings of players and stakeholders in the youth development sector who, for long, have bemoaned the responses to youth issues owing to lack of inputs from the intended beneficiaries. With the Minister now taking a different trajectory and putting the youth at the center of all processes leading to the implementation of all youth-focused interventions and initiatives by the Tinubu administration, it is safe to say that better days surely lie ahead in Nigeria’s youth development sector.

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