By NBF News
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Last Saturday was a day that would remain evergreen in the mind of some youths. It was a day set aside to groom a positive generation. On that day, the Afresh Global Foundation (AGF) offered insightful perspectives to youths on self reliance in order to have a stable future.

The event, with the theme, 'Building a Generation of Youthful Entrepreneur', held at Coral Reef, Ikoyi, Lagos attracted eminent personalities in society including former Vice Chancellof of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oye Ibidapo Obe, Vice Chancellor, Babcock University, Prof. J.A.K. Makinde, Prof. Shina Oyewesan, Barr. Dorcas Odunaike, CEO, Bible Society of Nigeria, Rev. Fred Odutola, Dr. (Mrs) Ogeri Azuogu, Pastor (Dr) Femi Adesina, Elder Seyi wright, Nelly Uwuchaba, among others.

In his keynote address, the chairman of AGF, Prof. Peter Okebukola, who was represented by Prof. S. Oyewesan, advised the youths to shun all acts of gangsterism and focus on the positive side of life. He told them to avoid any act that would lead to negative tendencies in life because the future of Nigeria belongs to them. He, therefore, urged them to have the fear of God, who he described as the centre piece of existence.

In the same vein, Prof. J.A.K Makinde, who spoke on 'The Making of a confused Generation,' said the mission of the foundation is to bring hope to the hopeless and the confused youths in the society. He explained that parents have important roles to play in pulling their children out of their confused state of mind. He advised that hard work is the key to success, adding that it would help to groom a positive generation that seeks excellence with the fear of God.

Speaking on 'Hope for the Youths Amidst Negative Influence in the world,' Barrister Dorcas Odunnaike explained that many Nigerian youths have by choice placed a lot of limitations on themselves. According to her, a visit to fun stop at Agidingbi, Ikeja by 7.00pm explains it all, maintaining that except the Lord intervenes, the future is bleak.

Odunnaike, who is a lecturer at Babcock University, said that the craze to acquire money by any means has led many Nigerian youths into prostitution, Yahoo-yahoo, drug trafficking and kidnapping.

She said: 'I can hear you say, 'thank God I am not into all that. Of course, you are not directly but indirectly you are. If it were not for hope, the heart will break amidst the negativity. Hope influences our outlook in every situation. The future influences the present as much as the past. Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible. So, I have a dream that African shrine will become a church hall, that the ills in our society will soon become a thing of history. How is this possible you say? And I answer by weeding the work area.'

According to the lecturer, to weed the work area is to free one's mind of all forms of negative influences that tend to delimit a person. She said that work area of life is the heart and the brain. She, thereafter, listed family pressure as one of the factors that influence the youths negatively. She explained that many young people form many of their attitudes about life, work and careers as a result of interactions with the family. She stressed that some parents chose to be responsible to look after their children more closely, by helping them to develop their physical and mental life. But others, because of opposition and pressure brought upon by society to conform to a projected image, have sold their values, dreams and their lives in order to gain acceptance. They end up living their lives as a shadow of what they could have been, filled with insecurity and regret.

Odunnaike added that peer group pressure is another bothering issue. She said it can influence how the youth dresses, the kind of music he or she listens to and behavour pattern, including risky behaviour such as spiritualism, homosexuality, lesbianism, drug addition, smoking, drinking and sexual recklessness.

She said: 'For some youths, associating with the wrong set of people has marred their future. Evil communication has corrupted their good manners. Regardless of sex, many youths today have derailed by associating with wolves in sheep clothing. The film by Funke Akindele aka Jenifa reveals what goes on in the universities. So, unless we watch our associations, the tendency to form unhealthy relationship abounds'.

On the influence of society, she explained that today there is the general belief that for one to be acceptable one must belong with regards to dressing, walking, perception of issues, mode of talking and sense of judgment. She further explained that the television, internet, pornography and fraud have had negative impact on the youth.

For hope amidst negative influence, Odunnaike explained that our mental predisposition is the primary cause for who we become. She stressed that our mental predisposition can be remolded by God if one allowed Him. According to her, the history of Daniel, Joseph and the three Hebrew brothers revealed the grandest and most elevated principles of truth and integrity.

'The youth should be prepared to follow the example of these noble youths, never to be controlled by false modesty or false prudence. Show that you are worthy of the sacred trust the Lord has bestowed on you. No one gives what he does not have. The only solution to all the negative influence in the world around us is a life totally surrendered unto God's purpose for you. So, in Christ Jesus there is hope for the youth', she explained.

Speaking with Saturday Sun on the essence of the programme, the coordinator, Mrs. Nelly Uwunchaba, disclosed that it was aimed at emphasizing the need for people to embrace self-reliance. She said there is the need for people to identify their God- given potentials and become professionals. According to her, it is not good for the youth to become professional applicants.

Hear her: 'It is unfortunate that there is dearth of work in this country. There are no industries and places to work yet the universities have to graduate youths every year, in millions. So, this is just a 'get ready, guys. You don't have to write applications any more. Look for something you can do. It could be anything God has given to you, professionalise it'.

She pledged that the AGF faculty would support youths with business ideas. LKater, the Afresh band and Afresh Potter's kids thrilled the audience with songs and dances.

The Chief host, Pastor Adesina advised the youths to take something home from the event that would empower them for the future.