1. Let me begin by expressing my profound gratitude to God, who has given me long life and good health, and for sustaining my passion and commitment to continue to serve our dear country, Nigeria.
2. Usually, reaching another milestone in life is a cause for celebration. And while I appreciate the opportunity to engage with young people who are the future leaders of our country, I cannot pretend to be as happy as I ought to be. Nevertheless, we shall not allow the challenges confronting Nigeria to lead us to despair.
3. I have never wavered from my desire to contribute to a better Nigeria, even in the face of the most daunting challenges: The true mark of character is for one to believe in a good cause, and to have the courage and conviction to fight for that good cause regardless of all obstacles and challenges.
4. Every time I meet and interact with young Nigerians from every part of the country, I am struck by your vitality, confidence, intelligence, creativity and vision. These are the ingredients needed to forge a great country. The only missing component is visionary leadership that would channel your energies and resourcefulness into cohesive social and economic mechanisms to develop Nigeria.
5. Hopefully, I shall provide you with all the support that you require, and also create and sustain the enabling environment you need to unleash your potentials not only in Nigeria, but across the world. Nothing gladdens my heart more than stories of young Nigerians demonstrating their intellectual and creative talents and skills on the global stage.
6. When I said, “This generation of Nigerians, and indeed future generations, have no country other than Nigeria. We shall remain here and salvage it together”, I had no idea that 30 years and a lost generation later, we will still be facing the same sets of problems: corruption, insecurity of lives and property, decaying infrastructure, dilapidated public institutions, crushing poverty and underdevelopment.
7. But these problems are self-inflicted and can be solved. Be assured that our dreams for a better Nigeria might have been temporarily halted, but our resolve has never wavered. We must get our acts together and salvage our country. It will be criminal to waste the exciting potentials I see in you.
8. Let me tell you a short story:
9. As a young army officer many years ago, I could afford to save and buy a brand new car from my earnings. Fresh university graduates got jobs before they left school and opportunities were everywhere. Today, as a retired army general, former state governor, petroleum minister and head of state, I can hardly afford that luxury.
10. Similarly, if I hadn’t built my house at the time I built it, I probably would not own a house today; indeed, if I were to graduate today I would most likely join the ranks of the 40 million Nigerian youth who have no jobs and very little prospects of finding any, under the current government.
11. Nothing pains me like seeing young Nigerians who left school up to 10 years ago still living with their parents or living rough with friends or relatives simply because they can not find jobs. Unfortunately, our system has no social safety net of any sort to support those that need help. Nothing crushes the human spirit more than poverty, powerlessness and hopelessness.
12. However, I believe that with prudent management, Nigeria has the resources to meet the needs of all citizens. We will see to a Nigeria where lives and property are safe; schools are world class, health services are available and affordable and where every Nigerian feels proud and wanted.
13. Our government shall be about jobs, jobs and more jobs for our youth. To this end, We will implement strategies to immediately engage as many unemployed Nigerians as possible in quick-win schemes, while we fashion out long-term programmes to make unemployment history in Nigeria.
14. Our poverty alleviation and job creation approach will not be about giving handouts to a few thousand people when we have a staggering 40 million to cater for. The current method not only lacks originality but is not sustainable. We shall stimulate all sectors of the economy to create entrepreneurs and real wealth for all Nigerians, not just a select few.
15. Nigeria has no business with poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment. An APC government will therefore ensure that our commonwealth is used to develop our country for the benefit of all Nigerians.
16. What is at stake is the future of Nigeria. The struggle is for the millions of Nigerians who have been driven from their homes by terrorists;it is about the tens of millions of Nigerians who have no jobs, no sense of security and no hope for a better future; it about putting Nigeria first.
17. The need for change is imperative. The future of Nigeria is about your future. The big question is: Do we have the courage to vote for change? Are you ready to join me in securing our country and our future?
18. If you are, then go about and spread the message of change. Convince your families and friends to register and ensure that they vote correct in the upcoming elections. That way, we shall begin a new journey together – a journey to banish poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment from Nigeria.
19. Thank you all for your birthday wishes and your prayers.
20. God bless you all. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR