Lagos, 10 November 2012
Over 100 Young Nigerian Professionals today in Lagos, Nigeria, welcomed President Kagame for an interactive discussion centred on leadership.
Moderated by TV Personality Soni Irabor, the session began with remarks from the President of Miss University Africa;Taylor Nazzal reminding the audience of President Kagame’s award as the Peace Personality Award winner voted by youth across Africa. Taylor Nazzal shared his experience travelling to Rwanda, a country he knew very little about prior to his trip.
“President Kagame inspired me and showed me that Africa belongs to the youth. He has shown that you can make it no matter what your background is.”
President Kagame’s address to the youth centred on the need for Africa to believe in its ability to change the course history and the need for youth to never give up.
“Don’t waste any opportunities, Africa needs you. You must believe you can turn things around. There is no problem that is insurmountable,the ball is in your court. You have the talent,you just have to do it.”
The young professionals attending the event asked questions ranging from the future of Africa, the so called resource curse and the role of women in Rwanda. Addressing the question of the resource curse, President Kagame reminded the audience that the problem was never the resource by the management of resources by people.
“You should not surrender and accept it as the way things should be. Youth should take a hard look at themselves because you can turn things around,it may take time but you have to start.”
President Kagame also shared his views on the current state of international relations-in particular the International Criminal Court.
“This is not about being against international justice. It’s about the need for the process to be fair. He challenged the audience to think about why the focus was not on strengthening the African Court of Justice rather than accept the International Criminal Court that is used a political tool. On the issue of criticism regarding human rights. There are things you can’t be taught by someone else, if you wait to read in a book what’s good for you, you are in trouble. I won’t apologise for pushing people not to take handouts and to work hard to put food on their table.”
Throughout the interactive session, many of the participants sought President Kagame’s advice on effective leadership and the way forward for Africa and Nigeria-Rwanda relations.
“We cannot accept things to go on as they are. We can work together as a continent,there is a lot to learn from each other.”
The session ended with a commitment from President Kagame to continue the conversation and from the organisers to ensure that youth in Nigeria and Rwanda establish lasting partnerships.