Former President Sirleaf Wants More Resources for Youth Development in Africa

In a recent trip to Namibia, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has encouraged political leaders in Africa to allocate more resources towards preparing young people for future responsibilities.

Speaking on leadership and governance in Africa at a youth engagement forum, Sirleaf said young people on the continent must have the opportunity to form part of the positive change of society.

She was in the southern African nation for several days, arriving on Monday, June 4.

Sirleaf said the youth needed to be encouraged “to pursue the best education they can, to seek excellence in whatever they do, whether it’s in school or whether is in the work they do – to be able to aspire in what they want to do, and to work hard for it.”

According to a report published by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, the former Liberian leader said more countries are now considering the age reduction period as most young people are taking leadership positions.

In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed a bill to reduce the minimum age required to run for president from 40 to 35 and for governor from 35 to 30. In Liberia, the minimum age for president is already 35; for senators, it is 30, while representatives have to be a minimum of 25-years-old.

Sirleaf also stressed the need for African leaders to collaborate with young people on matters of national interest.

During the 2017 election campaign, the 79-year-old Sirleaf had emphasized the need for generational change in Liberia during a speech delivered at the United Nations General Assembly, leading some pundits to conclude that the president was supporting a candidate other than the 73-year-old Joseph Boakai from her then-party.

Sirleaf later clarified that she was referring to the numerous young ministers she had appointed in her government which she said signified that the youthful population is at the center stage of national decision-making.

Featured photo screenshot from Namibian Broadcasting Corporation video

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2018, he was also recognized as the Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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