Omotoso, a journalist and writer, was the Convocation lecturer. In the audience were the Chairman and Visitor of the University, Dr. Ola Adebogun; Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Nosa Owens-Ibie; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Rev. Mother Esther Ajayi; Member House of Representatives for Kosofe Federal Constituency, Mrs. Kafilat Ogbara; former Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Police Commissioner Adegoke Fayoade, who represented Police Inspector-General Kayode Egbetokun; Benue State Commissioner for Education and Knowledge Management, Rev. Frederick Ikyaan, who represented Governor Hyacinth Alia, and the MD/CEO, Tpumpy Estate Development, Mr. Akintayo Adaralegbe.
To Omotoso, there is a need for the youth to become more involved in political parties, parliaments, political appointments, elections, and civic spaces as a matter of right (rather than of benevolence as it is sometimes suggested) and as part of the solution rather than a problem to be resolved by others.
Omotoso’s lecture was titled: “Closing The Generational Gap between The Old and Young In Nigerian Politics”. He noted that through legislative actions, youth empowerment programmes, and inclusive governance structures, Nigerians will witness a gradual but significant transformation in the country.
He said that as the nation grapples with the dynamics between the old and the young, it becomes imperative for both generations to collaborate and learn from each other’s experiences, forging a path that combines the wisdom of the past with the innovation and energy of the present to tackle the challenges of the future.
His words, “The common cliché that youths are leaders of tomorrow is no longer in tune with present-day reality. The truth is that what becomes of tomorrow is determined by what happens today. So, the more everyone grasps the fact that the youth are actually the leaders of today and not tomorrow, the better for all”.
The Commissioner pointed out that with the younger members of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s cabinet in Lagos State, one is bound to reaffirm that the future is now. “Fortunately, they have not disappointed the people as they cover themselves in glory through trail-blazing performances.”
Omotoso went on: “To further harness the peculiar talent of youth in the State, Governor Sanwo-Olu has prioritised youth empowerment in all its budgets. All the budgets of the current administration since 2019 have been carefully designed to meet the aspirations of the teeming youth by focusing on sectors with job-creating potential like Agriculture, Construction, Technology and Security.
“The aim is to improve the economic conditions and social safety needed for the youth and ensure all hardworking Lagosians flourish. Resources have been committed to sectors that need to grow for the youth to become self-reliant and economically empowered.
“A pivotal crux of all the budgets has been the promotion of an entrepreneurial culture among the youth. In the light of this, micro, small, and medium enterprises will be strengthened because their activities help to facilitate socio-economic advancement”.
Omotoso averred that a lot had been done to support the entrepreneurial aspirations of young people through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, LSETF.
The Commissioner assured the audience that this year, more will be done in the provision of technical and financial support to generate employment that will stimulate equitable economic prosperity.
It, however, according to him, needs to be stressed that youths who will be relevant in nation-building must be those ready to take responsibility and live responsibly. “The present trend where some youths act irresponsibly will not augur well for the nation”, he said.
While emphasising that the nation must draw useful inspiration from its bustling strength and vigour, the Lagos spokesman maintained that young people must reposition themselves as agents of positive change.
The lecture drew huge applause from the audience of graduands, academics, royal fathers, government officials and other guests.