Exclusive: Iyin Aboyeji to Young Nigerians: Elections are over, Let’s Build the Country

Young Nigerians need to set aside their political and cultural differences that were aggravated during the 2023 general elections and unite so as to move the country forward.

This was stated by Nigerian tech entrepreneur and investor, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, recently in an exclusive chat with Africa Interviews.

Popularly called ‘E’, Aboyeji, who cofounded two Unicorns (privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion) in Nigeria and was named among the Top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine in 2019, said Nigeria belongs to young people.

“Look, the country belongs to you. Get out of a funk. The elections are over. You still own the country, regardless of who’s president. And let’s get this thing working. Because if it fails, there’s only one person, one group of people who will suffer; that is us,” the Founding Partner of Future Africa (Fund for Africa’s future) said.

The entrepreneur who describes himself as a Faith-driven investor, added, “I believe in Nigeria. Nigeria is great. We just have to manifest it.”

The tech entrepreneur urged young Nigerians to contribute their quote to nation-building. “If you’re a young person in this country, forget who has been given an appointment and who has not. All of us are leaders in our own right, because the country depends on us to work, to do our part. So, what are you going to do? We need to (join hands to) build the country,” he said.

Recently, Aboyeji has come under criticisms by a section of Nigerians on social media, specifically X (formerly Twitter) for his divergent, and sometimes controversial views about the Nigerian government, the country’s presidential elections and politics-related issues.

Reacting to criticisms of some of his posts on X, he said, “It’s not today that I started to have non-consensus takes on issues on Twitter. So, I’m not adverse to standing alone in any circumstance, especially on X, because I find a lot of times, most people don’t really understand the issues as they should.”

When asked which presidential candidate he supported during the country’s 2023 elections, he replied, “None, no one.”

However, he noted that he developed and presented the digital economy plan for the team of the then candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), now President Bola Tinubu, adding that he had pitched the same plan with teams of opposition candidates, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party’s Peter Obi.

“Yes, I did. I did send it to people on their team. Yes. We had one agenda that had been accumulated over time. I also worked with people in my ecosystem to see whether, given their proximity to those groups… I wasn’t necessarily going to be drawn into the political, in my opinion, because I’m not a politician. I’m a policy entrepreneur.”

Aboyeji, who was of the view that “the President (Tinubu) is perhaps one of the most misunderstood human beings in the world” stated that although he had never actually met the president one-on-one, except for a courtesy greeting and handshake at an event, said, “Yes, I did work very closely with the president and his team.”

He said, “For me in general, the last election where I actively supported and publicly voted for somebody was 2019 with Madame Obie Ezekwesili. But that election also taught me one very valuable lesson which is that federal elections are like boiling the ocean and the presidency is the wrong target. It’s great to have somebody there but I think quite frankly my opinion is any of those gentlemen would have done a fair job.

“I’m very happy we got the man we did because he has incredible amounts of courage. However, I think regardless of who was president, we would still be okay. However, I was especially honoured that the president and his team decided to work with us on the digital economy portion of the manifesto and even more inspired by the fact that when he got into office, he seems to be following the theme to the letter.”

On the future on technology and fintech companies in Nigeria and Africa, Aboyeji stated that “I feel like for the last 10 years, we’ve been running a demo. If the ecosystem comes together and stops getting distracted by silliness all around, I think there’s an opportunity to build a really robust business; businesses that solve real problems in the country.”


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