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Buhari, lazy youth and Nigeria’s future

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President Muhammadu Buhari. PHOTO ;DON EMMERT / AFP


An elder opens his mouth with wisdom, so says an African proverb. It is given that A president will always speak in favour of his people and country just as president Donald Trump of United States of America would constantly remind the world that it’s “America first.” Therefore, it is shocking, annoying and disappointing to hear Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari say unimpressive and alarming things about Nigeria’s youth at the business forum of Commonwealth Heads of Government in London the other day. He was quoted to have said: “Nigeria’s youth do nothing and want everything for free. A lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming, you know, that, Nigeria has been an oil producing country therefore they should sit and do nothing and get housing, healthcare, education free.”

Really, Nigerians do not yet know why Buhari seems so fond of putting the nation at edge any time he speaks abroad. It is easy for Buhari to write Nigeria’s youth off as lazy, uneducated and always demanding freebie because the country is an oil producing nation. But, to do so, is to wash his country’s dirty linen in public. The ruling APC promised to give Nigerian youth qualitative education, employment and even pay N5,000 stipends as relief package to unemployed fresh graduates among other mouth watering 2014 campaign promises. All these and more, have not been fulfilled by Buhari’s government since it clinched power. In spite of the hopes dashed, the resilience seen in the youth to move on needs commendation, not condemnation.

Indeed, this is one case too many of Buhari’s government insensitivity of the people’s plight. Where in Nigeria is healthcare, housing and education free? Despite being an oil producing nation, youth and Nigerians generally don’t enjoy anything free, nothing whatsoever! Not even antenatal care for pregnant women who had to stage a protest in Ondo the other day due to astronomical hike in bill. Healthcare facilities are in bad shape, of course, Bill Gates attested to this recently and as usual, government officials denied the claims. However, on his arrival from over three months medical tourism in London, Buhari was full of praise to God and healthcare facilities abroad as his saving grace. This prompted healthcare workers in Nigeria to call on Buhari to fix the nation’s healthcare facilities like the ones he experienced abroad. Up and until now, nothing tangible has been done.

Currently, education is another tragic tale. Owing to paucity of fund, tertiary institutions across the country put the burden on students by changing one fee or the other to survive. For only those students’ whose benevolent spirit have helped to crack their palm kernel as Chinua Achebe puts it in “Things fall apart,” can afford such payments. While those with difficulty, sometimes see both parents and students hit the streets to protest. Knowing where the shoe pinches, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has repeatedly called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the education sector and ensure that Nigerian children were exposed to global education standards. These calls seem to fall on deaf ears. Instead, government is spending billions of naira on warplanes.

Nigeria’s youth are known for their tremendous hard-work, courage and sheer determination to accomplish anything with or without government support. Yet, it behoves Buhari to make unpatriotic and derogatory comments about a population regarded world wide as the future of any nation. No doubt, Nigeria is a country that disappoints both the optimists and pessimists. If one may ask, what have the previous and present governments done with revenue from oil production, which will insulate Nigerian youth from laziness and dependence? The government should tell itself the truth because it has woefully failed on the account of youth’s empowerment. Buhari’s claims about youth, have drilled another hole in the nation’s “rocky economy ship” because foreign investors cannot invest in a country of lazy and uneducated youth especially in this technology age. However, the special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina has tried to provide a lifeboat and chided enemies of progress as those wearing the garment of mischief. Adesina argues that, Buhari did not call all Nigerian youth lazy. He only called a lot of them lazy. Good talk! Please, can anyone find a difference between ‘lot’ and ‘all’? Ordinarily, Adesina should have kept quiet and allow the water to flow calmly under the bridge. But now that he has troubled the water with a pebble by lecturing Nigerians to understand what the president meant, president Buhari should, therefore, redeploy Adesina to the classroom to help locate and teach those uneducated (lot) youth.

Again, Buhari’s comments show that government has no regard for the future leaders hence they often choose to seek greener pasture in droves abroad. At a time when nations across the world are engaging their youth in leadership positions and other enabling economic benefits, Buhari’s government is busy belittling his country’s youthful population before the international community.Again, sometime in February, 2016, jaws dropped when Buhari slandered Nigerians in an interview he granted The Telegraph of London. He said: “Some Nigerians claim that life is too difficult back home, but they have also made it difficult for Europeans and Americans to accept them because of the number of Nigerians in prisons all over the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking.” Where is patriotism in the above statement? It is sad.

Successive government’s in Nigeria always pay-lip service to youth development. But, in reality, they shy away from investing the necessary fund or energies on the youth through education, health, housing or entrepreneurship. So long as adventures like Niger Delta militants, Boko Haram and government’s capital expenditure continue to siphon money like some demonic destructive suction tube into government officials’ private purse. There is nowhere in the world youth struggle for survival and hustle earnestly like Nigeria. Nigeria’s youth can endure pain and nothing scares them. Not even the Saharan desert or the Mediterranean Sea. The youth’s quest for success and the vim to go through stress and turmoil are not just for themselves but also, to make a difference in the nation’s economy because at the end of day, East or West, home is the best. Therefore, Buhari should praise Nigerian youth for their selfless courage and determination to survive under the harsh economy he is presiding over too.

In terms of timing, Shakespeare said it best in Julius Caesar. “There is a tide in the affairs of men…” which is why some people stand defiant and aloof on world stage, on another a pariah. This is the time for Nigeria’s youth to crush the walls of injustice against them and the only weapon needed for the battle is permanent voter cards (PVC).


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Muhammadu Buhari‎
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