By Olawale Jokotoye
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday engaged in commercial tricycle business as he rode and picked a male passenger around Kuto area of Abeokuta.
A statement by Mr Kehinde Akinyemi, Special Assistant to Obasanjo on Media, disclosed that he (Obasanjo) rode from his Pent House residence at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), through Kuto area, amidst greetings and jubilation from shocked onlookers along the road.
Akinyemi explained that the ride was meant to demonstrate the safety of the means of transportation and to encourage the youths to be hardworking and embrace self -employment.
“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,” Akinyemi said.
“When I recently gave out tricycles to 85 young people across the nation, I received some feedback that they were sort of inappropriate gifts and some wondered if they were the best and suitable for young people.
“I have embarked on riding the tricycle to demonstrate to people that there is nothing bad in riding it and using same for commercial purpose.
“With tricycles and other small scale businesses, youths can be self employed and ultimately, become economically independent.
“There is nothing wrong in young people starting small. The Keke is secure and safe when handled professionally and with discipline.
“It is a wrongful societal classification to consider all keke riders as miscreants and this has led many young people to avoid the virtue of starting small business.
“In fact, you can plan your business the way you wish and earn income that you can deploy to other investments.
“If you are able to get a second one, you can give that to someone else. So you become self-employed and you have also employed somebody.
“I remain committed to the economic empowerment of young people through initiatives that can generate employment. This is how we can increasingly address unemployment in Nigeria.
“I have always have passion for youth empowerment and employment. When I started establishing farms, do you think I can run the farm alone?
“Some of the people I employed on my farms are PhD. holders.
“There are Veterinary Doctors among them, Agric economists and many more that are well educated, including some of my children that have Doctorate Degrees who are still working with me.
“The other time I checked the people that are working with us directly on our various establishments, we have over 5,000 and most of them are youths.
“I have always had passion for youths because there is no substitute for employment,” Obasanjo was quoted as saying after the ride.
The male passanger who identified himself as Lamidi, was said to have expressed delight at the experience, saying that, “this will remain memorable in my life.” (NAN)