Even though the Presidency declared that President Muhammadu Buhari, did not accuse all Nigerian youths of indolence, the President is under fire for making the denigrating statement.
Buhari had on Wednesday at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London asserted that Nigerian youths are not ready to work, but want everything done for them freely because the country produces oil.
According to Buhari, “a lot of them (youths) 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, education, free”.
But in a swift reaction on his Facebook page, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who is also running for the presidency next year, said: “I will never refer to Nigeria’s youth as people who sit and do nothing. They are the backbone of the country”.
Another presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, said that Buhari was being “humorous with our national pride”.
On Thursday morning, the hashtag, #LazyNigerianYouths, was trending on Twitter, with young Nigerians blasting the government.
“The government never created anything for me; I feed from my hustle and yet they say we are lazy,” said one tweet.
Nigeria’s combined youth unemployment and underemployment rate hovered around 50 per cent in late 2017, following the country’s worst economic recession in 25 years.
Also yesterday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), took Buhari to the cleaners for the statement.
The PDP’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Nigerian youths, by their demonstrated industry, cannot in any way be described as being lazy.
He said: “Nigerians find it extremely shocking that President Buhari could make such a false, derogatory and unpatriotic comment against our citizens at a time the nation was looking up to him to properly present our potential to the global business community.
“It is alarming that at every international event, the President makes it a favourite past time to de-market, paint and denigrate our dear nation and her citizens in very negative light, an indication that he has stopped believing in Nigeria.
“Mr. President’s latest salvo is totally unacceptable and must be condemned by all right-thinking people to avoid further verbal assault against our country, particularly at international fora”.
With rhetorical questions, the party asked, “how can President Buhari describe Nigerian youths as lazy, when they have proven, without doubt, to be one of the most industrious sets of individuals across the world?”
Questioning the rationale behind the President’s comment, the PDP noted that Buhari’s administration has in its three years of governance, contributed nothing towards providing opportunities for the youths and has not initiated or implemented any development project or set up any industry to provide jobs for the youths.
“Here is a President under whose watch, factories and businesses have shut down, resulting in over 24 million job losses and under whom no meaningful foreign direct investment has been attracted to the country”, the party said.
But the Presidency described the misperception, the understanding of Buhari’s statement, stating that he only referred to “a lot of them” and “not all the youths” in the country.
His spokesman, Femi Adesina corrected what he described as miss-interpretation said: “Typical of their stock in trade, manipulators and twisters of statements of Mr. President, who lie in wait to make mischief, interpreted the comment to mean that President Buhari had taken all Nigerian youths to the cleaners.
“But elementary English recognises a wide gulf between ‘a lot of’ and the word ‘all’. How can ‘a lot of them’, suddenly transmogrify to mean ‘all of them?’ Mischievous and unconscionable!
“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, can 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.
“President Buhari has always applauded and celebrated Nigerian youths who excel in different areas of endeavour, from sports, to academia, and other realms. And he will continue to do so, because he values the youths, and knows that they are the fulcrum on which the future of the country rests.
“Indeed, every country has its share of idle population, and it is the bounden duty of government at all levels, to create an enabling environment for them to actualize their potentials. That is what President Buhari is committed to doing”.
*Youths should brace for political leadership – Osinbanjo
Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has challenged the youths to brace for political leadership in the forthcoming dispensation.
Osinbajo gave the charge when he received a delegation of Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement, which visited him in Abuja.
He said that youths needed to be ready for political offices they intended to occupy, pointing out that leadership positions were not automatic.
“It is true that young people are participating in every sphere of the economy and they are doing well, but they ended up there through one process of training or the other.
“Just like you have to train before you can become a pilot, so it is for politics.
“I think that whatever age a person chooses to run should not matter; what should matter is the preparedness of the person because elective positions require some skills. Most times people train to acquire other skills but not politics; that’s the way of democracy”.
Earlier, leader of the delegation, Mr. Samson Itodo, said the campaign for the youths was a movement led by young people that would like to contribute to national development.
He said that one of the reasons for the movement was inclusion of youths in governance, because democracy lost its vitality without inclusion.