1.It is my pleasure to be here today for the 2nd SAFFGLIA Leadership Lecture organised by the Segun Adeleye Foundation For Good Leadership In Africa. I thank the Chairman of SAFFGLIA, Mr. Segun Adeleye, for inviting me to this event. As a journalist, author, media entrepreneur and President/CEO of World Stage Limited – many would say you have already made your mark. And yet, you strive on for the greater good of our society. I applaud your vision in founding of SAFFGLIA and instituting this annual lecture, which is intended to be an intellectual incubation room for good leadership in Africa.

2.One stand-out appeal of today’s event, for me, is the theme of the lecture, which is: ‘The Youth and the Challenge of Bridging Credible Leadership Gap in Africa’. The theme speaks to an insistent question in our society, which is: how do we raise the next generation of leaders capable of lifting our country – and indeed the whole of Africa – into a better future? I do not have all the answers, but I am convinced that a forum such as this is a good starting point.

3.Nigeria’s greatest resource is not crude oil, but the human capital of our burgeoning population whose hopes and desires are driven by the quest and aspiration of our youth. It is sobering, therefore, that as a country, we do not seem to have sufficiently tapped into the promise of the younger generation. Consequently, we have failed to unleash the enormous reserves of talent and leadership skills begging to be utilised.

4.In Nigeria and across Africa, there is a yearning among the youth for more inclusion in governance, in economic activity and for a greater say in our collective future. The youth want to take the lead in propelling African societies into a new age. But wherefore are the Mark Zuckerbergs of Africa? The Malala Yousafzais? Where are the bright young leaders that will help realise the dream of an Africa on the rise? How can we inspire our youth to believe in themselves and see the potentials they possess, which can enable them to take the helm and lead?

5.A forum such as the SAFFGLIA Lecture, gets us to focus attention on the areas of need, in order to bridge the yawning gap in leadership. I would like to use this opportunity to call on Nigeria’s youth to rise to the challenge of leadership in its many forms – be it in economic endeavours or on the political stage. Elsewhere in the world, the youths are making their voices heard, they are mobilising and getting engaged – and taking take part in those debates and processes that will determine the future directions of their countries.

6.Take for instance Black Lives Matter activists in the United States – they burst onto the scene with the kind of passion and energy that the more established groups are now seeking to emulate. But, even more significantly, those activists are now taking part in the democratic process, and getting elected into their local councils, and so on. The time is ripe, therefore, for African youth to take their passion and drive and channel them into concrete leadership attributes that will enable them to take their place, and position them to take over from the current crop of leaders.

7.In the 8th National Assembly, our approach to the leadership question is to create the legislative framework for the inclusion and greater participation of our youths. In a few days, I will be spearheading a youth development and empowerment programme in the Senate, in collaboration with youth organisations, civil society organisations (CSOs) and other partners. It will be a Special Public Hearing on Youth Job Creation and Entrepreneurship; and is intended to open up the legislative process for greater responsiveness to the needs and voices of the youths. By preparing the youth for leadership, in this and many other ways, we are creating the space and helping to chart the direction for the next generation.

8.When you don’t open your process up to the public, it is the youth that suffer the most. If African leadership can show that it is open and flexible – that also strengthens the democratic process. The learning curve is a two-way process: the youth must rise to the challenge of leadership; and those currently in leadership must make the space. I assure you that we are fully committed to this.

9.As we refocus strategies to move our country into a post-oil economy, I see only opportunities everywhere. Our ability to make the transition will depend on how successful we are at developing the leadership qualities of our youth. I believe that, working together, we can make it happen.

10.Thank you all very much. And to our youths, the words of Horace: ‘Carpe Diem! Seize the Day!’


Abubakar Bukola Saraki MBBS CON (pronunciationⓘ; born on 19 December 1962) is a Nigerian politician who served as the 13th president of the Nigerian Senate from 2015 to 2019.[1][2] He previously served as the governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011; and was elected to the Senate in 2011, under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in the 2015 general elections