There was mild drama in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Saturday as former President Olusegun Obasanjo was seen riding a tricycle and then stopped to pick a passenger.
Obasanjo rode the tricycle, popularly called “Keke” from the premises of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), at Oke-Mosan in Abeokuta, through the popular Kuto under the bridge.
Along the way, the former president stopped and picked out a male passenger to demonstrate his tricycle riding expertise.
The development caused jubilation from onlookers and commercial bikers known as okada bikers, some of whom greeted it by shouting “Obj, Obj”. Obasanjo had recently distributed 85 tricycles to 85 beneficiaries as part of activities marking his birthday.
The former president said he rode the tricycle as a way to demonstrate the safety of transportation.
Obasanjo, however, urged the youngsters to seize every opportunity with hard work and dedication.
He said that with tricycles and other small businesses, young people could be self-employed and ultimately become economically independent.
He says he has employed no less than 5,000 young people working in his various establishments.
Obasanjo said: “There is nothing wrong with young people starting small. The Keke is secure and safe when handled professionally and with discipline.
“In fact, you can plan your business the way you want and earn income that you can allocate to other investments. And if you are able to get a second one, you can give it to someone else.
“So you become self-employed and you’ve also employed someone.”
Obasanjo said he remained committed to the economic empowerment of young people through initiatives that can generate jobs. This is how we can increasingly fight unemployment in Nigeria.
He said: “I have always had a passion for youth empowerment and employment. When I started creating farms, do you think I could manage the farm alone?
“The people I employed on the farms, some of them are as educated as a PhD. There are veterinary doctors among them, an agricultural economist and well-educated people, some of my children who have a doctorate and who are still working with me.
“The other time I checked the people who work with us directly in our various establishments, we have more than 5,000 and most of them are young people. I have always had a passion for young people because there is no substitute for employment.
The symbolic passenger of Obasanjo, simply identified as Lamidi, expresses his joy, saying that this day would be memorable in his life.