By Adejoke Monsurat
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Saturday, practically turned a commercial tricycle rider in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital. That was to a demonstration of the safety of the means of transportation and to urge youths to embrace every opportunity with hard work and dedication.
The ride took the former President from his Pent House residence at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), through Kuto under the bridge. Onlookers looked on with a mixture of surprise and admiration.
In a release by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, the onlookers expressed surprise at the former president riding the keke, a reaction Obasanjo said was fuelled by wrongful societal classification of all keke riders as miscreants and the tendency of young people to avoid the virtue of starting a small business.
The president, along the route, stopped and picked a male passenger to demonstrate that riding in the tricycle is safe if used properly and for people to learn how to start small and grow their craft.
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After returning to the OOPL premises, Obasanjo said he embarked on riding the Keke to demonstrate to the people that there was not anything bad in riding the Keke and using same for commercial purposes.
He said with tricycles and other small-scale businesses, youths can be self-employed and ultimately, become economically independent.
Obasanjo said, “There is nothing wrong with young people starting small. The Keke is secure and safe when handled professionally and with discipline. You can plan your business the way you wish and earn income that you can deploy to other investments. And if you can get a second one, you can give that to someone else. So you become self-employed and you have also employed somebody.
Obasanjo said he had remained committed to the economic empowerment of young people through initiatives that can generate employment. This is how we can increasingly address unemployment in Nigeria.
He said, “I have always had a passion for youths, empowerment and employment. When I started establishing farms, do you think I can run the farm alone?
“The people I employed on the farms some of them are as educated as PhD. There are veterinary doctors among them, Agric economists and some people that are well educated, Some of my children that have PhD are still working with me.
“The other time I checked the people that are working with us directly in our various establishments, we have over 5,000 and most of them are youths. I have always had a passion for youths because there is no substitute for employment.
Expressing delight for riding in the tricycle personally driven by Obasanjo, the symbolic passenger, who simply identified himself as Lamidi, said the day will be immemorable in his life.