…had Buhari’s generation not squandered our oil fortune and failed to move the country towards industrialisation, we would not be having over 10.5 million out-of-school-children and 16 million unemployed young Nigerians roaming the streets in search of jobs.
It appears that President Muhammadu Buhari, who is supposed to be Nigeria’s number one image maker and promoter, is her most reckless image damager before the international community.
Buhari would not be rubbishing Nigeria and Nigerians before the international community for the first time. However, he took his gratuitous talk to an embarrassing level at the recent Commonwealth Business Forum in Westminster, London, last week.
“More than 60 percent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free”, Buhari said.
By this statement, Buhari did not only rubbish young Nigerians, he defined Nigeria as an unproductive land of hopelessness and a bleak future. He also demonstrated before the whole world that he is a ignorant and clueless leader, whose words should be taken with a pinch of salt.
In his widely published article entitled, “It is about Nigeria; not Buhari” in 2013, Buhari said, “Nigeria has been good to me. I was an orphan but it educated me and trained me and offered me the ultimate prize any citizen can hope for…”
To now imagine that the same man could brazenly say that young Nigerians have a high sense of entitlement and are indolent, calls for us to tell Buhari that he is a selfish leader.
What moral justification has a man whose medical tourism and that of his son cost Nigerian tax payers a huge fortune, to say that young Nigerians have a sense of entitlement to free healthcare?
If it were not for free education and the politics of entitlement, Buhari wouldn’t have made it into the army with what is known of his entry qualifications. That is if the version of his result in the public domain is not forged, anyway.
As a matter of fact, Buhari needs to be schooled that there are so many young Nigerians who have never benefitted a thing from Nigeria’s oil revenues. Yet, they have attained self-sustenance and are contributing positively to Nigeria’s economy.
Cut across all sectors of the Nigerian economy, from sports to the media, business to Information Communication Technology (ICT), fashion and style, to music and entertainment, agriculture, creativity, to energy, the resilience of the Nigerian youth has contributed greatly to the country’s economic growth, far more than kleptomaniac elected officials and their partners in crime – unproductive civil servants, have.
Although no young Nigerian has travelled to the moon, there are so many successful startup stories that compel one to believe that in the last two to three decades, young Nigerians have been breaking new grounds, disrupting entrepreneurship with technology, and helping the country to recover lost grounds economically.
Tara Fela-Durotoye trailblazed the Nigerian make up and beauty industry, growing a N15000 business into House of Tara, a company with over 3,000 representatives across Nigeria, and with presence in Kenya and Ghana.
Omoyele Sowore started Sahara Reporters with $20 12 years ago, while Linda Ikeji, Japheth Omojuwa, Uche Pedro, all blogged their ways to self-sustenance, creating jobs for others in the process.
From anchoring the Brekete Family radio show, Ordinary Ahmed Isah founded the first human rights radio in the world. Ola Orekurin, a medical doctor, founded Flying Doctors Nigeria, West Africa’s first Air Ambulance Service in 2007 in her early 30s.
Jobberman, Nigeria’s number one jobs website, co-founded by the trio of Opeyemi Awoyemi, Olalekan Olude and Ayodeji Adewunmi in 2009, now has an asset base worth more than $12 million. Jumia and Konga, are equally wonderful startup stories. They are respectively worth about $1 billion and $35 million.
In 2016, Forbes reported that Rotimi Williams, a 35 year-old journalist turned entrepreneur, owns Kereksuk Rice Farm, the second largest commercial rice farm in Nigeria in terms of land size. Williams’ farm employs more than 600 persons.
The sheer hard work of industrious young Nigerians grew Nollywood and Nigerian music and entertainment vibrant industries. According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Digital fuels growth in Africa’s entertainment and media industry”, Nigeria’s entertainment and media market hit US$4 billion in 2014. By 2019, it is estimated to have a total revenue of US$8.1 billion.
There are many more unheard of start up success stories of young Nigerians. Buhari cannot seem to know the amazing stories of young persons who are doing great stuff out there, regardless of the challenging Nigerian business environment. Or understand the impact of their businesses on the Nigerian economy.
After all, a president who is alleged to read only cartoon pages in the newspapers can carelessly adjudge 60 percent of young persons of his country on the basis of those he unfortunately sees around him.
That, however, does not change the fact that so many young Nigerians have grown thriving businesses out of nothing, and created reputable brands and job opportunities without any incentive from the government.
Moreover, had Buhari’s generation not squandered our oil fortune and failed to move the country towards industrialisation, we would not be having over 10.5 million out-of-school-children and 16 million unemployed young Nigerians roaming the streets in search of jobs.
It is, therefore, out of a poor sense of responsibility that Buhari insulted young Nigerians on whose back he rode to power, having promised to create jobs for them and failed to deliver on this.
Anyway, if we, young Nigerians, will not stop slaving for gerontocrats, we will remain “inconsequential” in the grand scheme of things. 2019 is the time to tell Buhari we are not lazy!
Ahmed Oluwasanjo writes from Abuja.