The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, recently, labeled Nigerian youths as lazy during a business conference held in London. According to him, youths “do nothing and want everything free in Nigeria”. This, for me, is an aberration of language and most unfortunate. This statement is rejected in its entirety by the Nigerian youths.
Let me attempt to x-ray the President’s statement. He said “the youths” and by definition, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) puts the working population of a country between age 15-60 using employment as a basic indicator, invariably, The President is referring to this age range of persons as youths or may be the Presidency would come up with their own definition of the Nigerian youth.
By reference to the above definition, Mr President is referring to those youths who are struggling to write JAMB and are still working, those in university and same time doing menial jobs, those that have graduated and are working, those that have graduated but yet to be gainfully employed and the elderly about to retire. These are the people that Mr President has tagged as lazy youths.
A father that publicly cast aspersions on his child publicly gives the stranger the boldness to look down on his child and repeat same to the child by quoting to the child same statement made by the father. This is the scenario that Mr President has painted at the International stage. This is rather unfortunate.
Peradventure the child is not meeting up, the father is expected to diplomatically/strategically seek for assistance from the stranger (World Leaders) and by extension endear the child to the stranger for help because a popular and well respected clergy in Nigerian said “a closed mouth is a closed destiny” but unfortunately Mr President chose to make the wrong statement at the right time.
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Year in year out, millions of Nigerian youths come out in their numbers to write the almighty JAMB examination so as to gain admission into higher institutions, graduate and then hope to be gainfully employed someday but only a few of these intending students can gain admission because the government of the day cannot afford to build infrastructures to admit these determined youths. Let us critically look at it, who is really lazy and visionless here? Is it the youth that are determined to burn their mid-night candles because of irregular supply of electricity or the government who could not provide the necessary infrastructures both at federal, state and local level?
In other climes, the government appeals to the youths to go to school but in the case of Nigeria, the youths are fighting their way through day and night like the principle of survival of the fittest states; yet, The president had to make such defamatory statement at the international stage. This is the height of poor international relations.
Probably Mr President sees the Nigerian Youth as the average Almajirins who moves from one place to another seeking for arms because I cannot imagine what could necessitate such a statement. Again, probably Mr President is not aware that Nigerians youths are scattered abroad with vigor, determination, poised with an undaunted spirit to succeed in life especially when faced with challenges and then the spirit of never say die erupts from the inside.
Today, so many Nigerians youths are making waves in sport, science, commerce, art and other professional fields world wide and they have refused to come back home but rather remain as nationals of other countries because the government have failed to meet up with their own side of the bargain.
Dear Mr President, in case you are not aware, the PR implication of this statement is that you have further damaged the international reputation of Nigeria and by extension, the Nigerian youths because other leaders like Trump will latch on your statement and look at the Nigerian youth with such disdain and call us “Shit-hole-youths.”
- Benjamin Eremen
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