The New Times (Kigali)

10 November 2012

Rwanda: Kagame Inspires Nigerian Youth

President Paul Kagame, yesterday, told the young professionals of Nigeria that it is the responsibility of Nigerians to turn their country to what they want it to be and no one will do it for them.

The President was speaking at an interactive youth summit hosted by Nigerian young professionals at the Civic Center in Lagos.

President Kagame is in Nigeria on a two-day visit that began Friday.

On his first day, he was hosted to a dinner with Nigerian investors in various sectors including construction, aviation and banking.

The President told the young professionals that progress and belief go hand in hand and they must believe that whatever they set out to achieve is possible.

He urged Nigerians not to leave women behind, sharing the experience of Rwanda where the women have played a remarkable role in the transformation of the country.

"You cannot leave half your population behind," Kagame said. "And it is their right."

Rwanda's parliament comprises over 56.3 percent women, making it, by the far, the most female-friendly national legislature in the world.

"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. Don't waste opportunities, Africa needs you," Kagame said.

The President added: "Youth in Africa have the same aspirations, it is up to us all, young people and leaders, to make sure we waste no opportunity."

He further called for closer partnership between African countries, irrespective of the massive physical distances that separates them.

"I want to see young people from Nigeria and Rwanda working together...we must make these boundaries irrelevant."

"I believe you can turn things around, you must believe you can. It can change and you are the people to change it," noted the President.

"We can achieve many things within our means, everyone is capable of being a leader, even if you get support, it will mean nothing if it doesn't build on something you do for yourself," he noted.

"In Rwanda, progress is due to hard work, it is possible and if we don't do it, no one will do it for us. Our tragedy came with a silver lining, we refused to be the hostage of our past...," he noted

During the interactive session, the young professionals asked the President a wide range of issues including the controversy surrounding the unfairness of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Africa resources and women's role in leadership among others.

"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," Kagame added.

"I won't apologise for pushing people not to take handouts and to work hard to put food on their table."

Taylor Nazzal, the president of Miss University Africa Organisation and

Miss University Nigeria pageants, pointed out that President Kagame is a person who knows that young people can make it in life no matter their background.

"He inspired me and showed me that Africa belongs to the youth," Nazzal added.

Miss University Africa Organisation recently awarded the African Peace

Personality award 2012, to President Kagame which he won after online voting by African students/youths across the continent.

By Press time, President Kagame was at the annual Spring Lecture held by the Oxbridge Club, where he was invited as the guest speaker.

The Oxbridge Club is a grouping of alumni of Oxford and Cambridge

universities. The Head of State is the first incumbent President to address the Club.

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