You guys are lazy jor!
The father of the nation, President Buhari calls you lazy and you are angry? Are you guys serious? This is Africa for goodness sake! A father calls his children lazy and they’re angry. Isn’t this ridiculous? Does being President mean the man shouldn’t speak his mind or say the truth? President Trump speaks his mind and he doesn’t try to be politically correct. Why shouldn’t PMB? Many people have blamed him for calling you lazy. Many of them are politicians who are trying to gain political capital out of the controversy. They are your enemies. They know why the President said what he said. But rather than face the bitter reality, they are trying to dance around the real issues, by playing politics with your future. Mr President loves you. That’s why he has told you the bitter truth. The rest is now up to you and what you do about what he said.
I will give you a brief background to help you understand why you have now been branded Lazy Nigerian Youths. In 1978, the Military Government of General Obasanjo decided to increase the cost of feeding and accommodation in Nigerian universities by 50 kobo. The students promptly mobilized a protest and demanded the immediate sack of the Education Minister, Ahmadu Ali. The protests turned violent and a student was shot. This aggravated the situation and sparked more protests nationwide. That was the popular “AlI Must Go” protest. But it was only one in a series of frequent student protests. The Government preferred to call it, student unrest. Those were the days when students constantly gave the Government sleepless nights. Armed with Marxist, communist and other revolutionary ideas, students would march out of the campus at the slightest provocation. But what is happening today? Where are the student bodies? Where are the protests? I do not recollect in recent memory any minister of education coming up with any visionary master plan to revamp our universities and return them to the glorious days of yore. Neither has your labour minister articulated any grand plan for employment generation. But do you ask for your ministers to be sacked? The youthful energy once channelled into student unionism and activism now seems to have been directed towards cultism and other vices. If you don’t give your leaders sleepless nights why won’t they call you lazy?
Are you even aware that there is a Ministry of Youth and Sport Development? What is this ministry doing to develop our youths? Have you seriously questioned their activities and demanded action? Do you know that the law that says young people below 18 years of age shouldn’t vote is archaic and undemocratic? Have you demanded for the amendment of this law? In this hi tech age, can anyone reasonably justify why a 16 year old has no right to have a say in who controls his or her future? Can you now see why the President has branded you lazy?
Today, you have a House of Assembly that annually allocates money that should be spent to improve facilities in your universities to its members to fund their ostentatious lifestyles. But instead of organizing protests, you are busy sharing and broadcasting videos of the senators dancing and displaying the most irresponsible behaviour. You share videos of their lavish parties and expensive cars, instead of marching to Abuja to demand their removal. I am puzzled that under a democratic system, and given the legendary incompetence of our governments, we no longer have student protests. A democracy gives you more power than you seem to comprehend. But you do not use it. Why are you surprised that the President called you lazy?
Right now, high school students are organizing protests in the United States to demand action on gun control. These are students that are not even old enough to vote. But they are making their voices heard. They are actually marching on Washington to compel their leaders to take positive action about a matter of grave concern to them. They’re not sitting on their smart phones and typing their future away. No. They are taking action. Back here, terrorists kidnap secondary school girls in Dapchi, what do you do? Chibok girls were taken hostage for years, what do you do? Your universities are decrepit and neglected, what do you do? Your President is too soft on corruption, what do you do? Cases of massive fraud are uncovered almost on a weekly basis, what do you do? A minister reportedly steals enough money to build several 21st Century universities, what do you do? Even when a snake swallowed JAMB money, what do you do? You spend your whole lives on social media sharing and broadcasting these things instead of taking affirmative action to save your future.
I have heard many of you complain about the old generation clinging to power and not giving opportunity to the youths. But in this same democracy, Donald Duke became a state governor at the age of 37 and Dimeji Bankole became Speaker of the House of Representatives also at the age of 37. So who is stopping you from exercising your democratic rights? Do you now understand why the President thinks you are lazy?
In the entrepreneurial sphere, just consider that Dangote started trading before he was even a teenager. He is just one of many industrialists and businessmen in this country who started as youths and are billionaires today. But sometimes, it is worrisome that some of your most popular tunes have phrases like “Yahoozeee, Yahoozeee” and “Maga don payyyy, shout Haleluyah”. One of you even sang that Dangote doesn’t have two heads, so God should make him a billionaire too. Is this the way hard working people should reason? Why are you surprised the President called you lazy?
It is certainly not a good label. The perception of our youths is anything but positive right now. And this is unacceptable. It is even dangerous. I know there are always exceptions and as the President said, many of you, not ALL of you are guilty as charged. But you must take the President’s statement as a challenge! The mobile phones in your hands are powerful tools for change and you can use it to mobilize yourselves and hold your leaders accountable. You must now rise up from your slumber and take control of your future. It is important to get your PVC, but that is not enough. You must revive the culture of protests because this is want will keep our democracy alive and safeguard your future. Nobody will come and wake you up and offer you the office of Vice President. You have to go for it and fight for it. You have to take your destiny in your own hands.
• Muyiwa Kayode is CEO at USP Brand Management and author, The Seven Dimensions of Branding. Brand Nation is a platform for promoting national development based on the universal principles of branding.
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