Education as the cornerstone for national development

President Tinubu

Bola Tinubu

Remarks By President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Launch of Organization of African First Ladies for Development (Oaflad) #Weareequal Campaign in Nigeria, on Monday, May 13, 2024 in Abuja.


Your Excellencies, Distinguished First Ladies from across Africa, the development partners, representatives from the civil society organizations and members of the diplomatic community,  It gives me immense pleasure to welcome you all  to Nigeria and to the launch of this important program of the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), #WeAreEqual Campaign.

I salute the commitment and dedication of the African First Ladies, as members of OAFLAD,  to advance gender equality and narrow the gender gap in opportunities and appointments across the African continent.

This Campaign, spearheaded by Your Excellencies, holds significant importance for us in Africa. I therefore congratulate you all. I particularly congratulate  my dear wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, the First Lady of Nigeria, who has chosen education as a primary tool to champion this campaign nationwide.

I am aware that this campaign has been successfully launched in 15 other African countries, focusing on health, education, economic empowerment and gender based violence. I am also delighted to learn of all the various initiatives that Your Excellencies have embarked upon in your respective countries. I celebrate you all.

The focus of the launch of this campaign in Nigeria, “Education as a Powerful Tool for Change” is critical for Africa’s development, if we are to attain gender equity and ensure equal opportunities for all.

We must continue to create opportunities for all our children to access quality education without leaving anyone behind, particularly the girl child.

We must engender a society where everyone has the same opportunities, regardless of who they are, because doing that leads to a stronger and more peaceful society for all.

It is noteworthy that the launch of this laudable campaign in Nigeria came with the reintroduction of the Alternative High School for Girls by the First Lady. This initiative offers a second chance to young girls who have dropped out of school to further their education and fulfil their dreams and aspirations.

I am happy to note that the foundation stone of one of the schools was recently laid in Osun State, in western Nigeria,  by the First Lady. More schools are underway across the country, supported by state governments, the federal government through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), and other development partners.

As governor of Lagos State, before  I became  President  of Nigeria from May 29, 2023, I witnessed firsthand, how societal challenges such as unwanted teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, human trafficking and drug addiction can obstruct the promising future of young girls.

Indeed, the reintroduction of Alternative High School for girls by the First Lady of Nigeria must have received inspiration from the successful implementation of a similar initiative in Lagos State during my tenure as governor.

Research has consistently highlighted education as the cornerstone for national development. When girls are empowered to pursue their dreams, communities thrive, economies prosper, and nations succeed.

It is, therefore, incumbent on all of us to continue to take bold and decisive actions to eliminate the structural inequalities that hold women back on the continent.

We must be conscious of the fact that the empowerment of women and girls is essential to achieving each of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

We must work together to promote laws and policies that protect and promote women’s rights, invest in girls’ education and skills development, and create economic opportunities that are accessible to all.

For us in Nigeria, the full operationalization of the Student’s Loan (Access to Higher Education) Act is key to achieving these goals as it will ensure that all young people have unhindered access to education.

The Nigerian government, through the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, is also implementing a N50,000 non-repayable grant programme for one million Nigerians in Nano businesses and skilled trades, including women and youth.

We will continue to work to end gender-based violence and increase learning opportunities for girls, in safe and conducive environments. These measures will enable  more women succeed in different vocations and properly shape their future endeavours,  from politics to engineering, science, technology, sports and the creative economy.

While I commend the African First Ladies for the #WeareEqual campaign, more mentorship is needed to help our girls embrace their cultural identities and traditions proudly.

As Africans, we believe in wholesome society. We are family-oriented, and we value the collective well-being of all. It is our duty as parents and guardians to teach our girls our cherished cultural values and traditions. Africans are known for warm hospitality and generosity. Our can-do-spirit also imbues us with the ability to thrive in challenging environments and circumstances. We are who we are.  We are Africans.

I  reaffirm my commitment to ensuring that no Nigerian child is excluded from quality education that prepares women and girls to lead and bring positive changes to our communities.

Let us carry forward this campaign, which promises to gift an educated girl-child the potential to bring the necessary change and transform African communities for the better.

It is now my honour to launch #WeAreEqual Campaign in Nigeria. I wish you all a fruitful deliberation.

And I enjoin you to enjoy your stay in our beautiful country.


Thank you.