Editor’s note: The writer, Tunde Ososanya, disagrees with President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertion that Nigerian youths are lazy. He highlights what the president has obviously missed about the Nigerian youths. Ososanya also suggests to the youths what they can do to prove Mr. President wrong.
Our dear President Muhammadu Buhari was quoted to have said that Nigerian youths do nothing and want everything for free because the nation is rich in oil. The president said this during a business conference in London, United Kingdom.
This didn’t go down well with my fellow youths, and they have been all over the place, telling the president who the lazy one is and telling him how hardworking they are.
My friend, Harry Nlebedim, said nobody should argue with the president over his assertion, adding that Nigerian youths, of course, know who they are. I don’t agree with Nlebedim that we shouldn’t argue with Mr. President on this, for our silence will be tantamount to our acceptance that we are indeed lazy.
The question is, are Nigerian youths lazy? Definitely not. Anyone asserting that Nigerian youths are lazy, is obviously a stranger in this clime, and if he isn’t a stranger, then perhaps, he hasn’t been very much around. So is the president a stranger in our clime? No he’s not. That brings us to the conclusion that he hasn’t been very much around.
The fact that he’s the president of the country and is domiciled here doesn’t automatically give him the knowledge of his people. It is obvious that Buhari is out of touch with the youths. His knowledge about the Nigerian youths is disappointing.
Talk about hardworking youths around the globe without including Nigerian youths, you’d be making an unforgivable omission. I have respect for Nigerian youths because of their ingenuity and hard work.
According to the president, more than 60 percent of the population is below the age of 30, a lot of them haven't been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria has been an oil producing country; therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare and education free.
The above statement is repulsive, and anyone defending the president’s statement is only doing the job he’s paid to do, or he’s just a blind Buharist who sees nothing wrong in anything Buhari does.
The special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, falls under the first above category.
He said: "There is no way President Buhari, father of the Nigerian nation in every sense of the word, who equally has biological children of his own in the youths age bracket, pass a vote of no confidence on all youths. It can only exist in the imagination of those who play what the president has described as "irresponsible politics" with everything.”
The minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, also falls under this category when he said: “Some people have just made it their full-time job these days to scrutinise and twist whatever the president says out of context.
“I wonder how a government that has employed 100,000 unemployed graduates and also feeds about 7.5 million people daily could be tagged anti-youth.
“Our social investment programme has continued to generate jobs and created opportunities for our teeming youths, while our empowerment programmes have been providing soft loans to over 400,000 youths. Millions of families and individuals have also continued to benefit from our Conditional Cash Transfer initiative."
I would have agreed with Nlebedim if he said Adesina and Mohammed shouldn’t be argued with. This is because both men would only act in the interest of their principal.
As a Nigerian youth who has been toiling hard for a very long time, I’m offended by the president’s statement as much as my fellow youths are.
The more Buhari’s aides and loyalists try to twist the statement in order to reduce the effect of the damage done to our sensibilities, the more they get us offended. But like I earlier said, their principal’s interest is more important to them than ours. So we can only expect more slaps on our faces as they continue to defend the president’s statement.
Show me 100 hardworking youths from different parts of the world and I’ll tell you 85 of them are Nigerians. Our zeal for survival is second to none. The president should take a tour round the country and see how the youths are eking out a living for themselves despite because available jobs are being occupied by those who know someone who knows somebody.
The president should read stories of Masters degree holders who drive cab because they don’t want to be idle. Has the president heard of youths who defy all odds to embrace menial jobs despite having university degrees?
There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria is where it is today because those in the president’s age bracket don’t see a Nigeria beyond oil. They are the ones depending on oil, not the Nigerian youths. The president doesn’t seem to know the Nigerian youths, despite being a beneficiary of their votes, which earned him the presidency.
When an innocent man is accused of theft, he tries to prove his innocence. Therefore, Nigerian youths should try to prove that Mr. President is wrong. How will they prove him wrong?
Nigerian youths can prove Buhari wrong by replacing the old with the young. The Nigerian youths have the power to give Nigeria a new set of leaders in 2019. If the youths can be in charge and they are able to salvage Nigeria, then we will be proving to Mr. President that we are not lazy.
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