Always left out in the cold, the Nigerian youth have never had it well (if there are or were any at all) in the political, social and economic configurations of Africa’s most populous country.
The Nigerian youth have always struggled to find a space to fit into an overcrowded political space. Constantly struggling to make a way out of limited or virtually non-existing roadmap to a secured future, the Nigerian youth have relied on their sweat and blood to make a success story out of a painful, tedious, unpredictable and bumpy journey. His journey can be likened to a lion’s cub abandoned by its mother to survive in the wild laden with packs of hyenas, crocodile infested rivers, fellow feline rivals and a hostile climate.
Its survival definitely rests on its doggedness, resilience and perseverance unto finally becoming a full-blown Lion capable of protecting its territory and family. Hence, it is understandable to see the reactions that greeted or trailed the alleged utterances of President Muhammadu Buhari at the Commonwealth Business Summit recently, berating that important and productive human demography that holds the key to the country’s today, tomorrow and future.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement has been subjected to various interpretations or deductions despite the damage control or limitation efforts by his media team, saying he was quoted out of context.
Whether blurted or admitted, hinging on or in part attributing the failure, shortcoming and ineptitude of the government-past and present-on the youth is totally unfair and reeks of perversion of justice and at the same time manipulation of facts and events.
His statement if not carefully watered down, can become a weapon or tool honed to change the course of history by a political set-up whose credibility and people-aura is already scorched and up in smoke. For all the failings of the Nigerian state, no other group than her youths have borne the burden and effects of a chaotic, visionless and sterile leadership.
This scarred and scathed Nigerian youth has had to make do with an educational system already in decline and decrepit to acquire knowledge.
Glorified Secondary Schools called universities, lacking infrastructure and suffering from dearth of fund have struggled to offer a glow that illuminate the path to a greater and fulfilled future for her.
It is a rot- not of her making -that has eaten too deep and eroded the capacity of the country to achieve optimum human development. A problem that even the dysfunctional system pretends to be oblivious of and had often times expressed fears over her employability.
The stakes are greatly stacked against the Nigerian youth. Against the tides of unemployment, insecurity and hopelessness, the Nigerian youth has displayed tenacity and valour. The Nigerian youth’s will to survive is unquestionable. They have been the true essence and embodiment of the Nigerian spirit. Examples abound in able-bodied young men unable to find jobs falling in love with baking and pastries. They are the everyday road-side snack vendors frying and selling puff-puff, buns, egg-row and even bean cakes to earn a living.
They are the graduates with distinctive grades in various disciplines that couldn’t practise what they studied but, are forced to channel their inner energy into unlocking their passions, flairs for entertainment, fashion and sports with groundbreaking results.
They are the ones who put their lives on the line to escape the misery and hopelessness by embarking on the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean sea to start a new life all over in Europe.
They are the rejected stones in their homeland turned cornerstones in foreign lands. Anthony Oluwafemi Joshua, the world heavy weight boxer now donning British colors, Adeleke a one-time fastest 100m runner in Asia representing Qatar just to mention two are examples of the Nigerian youth deemed not good enough by their fatherland but, are celebrated elsewhere.
They are the ones who dared and overcame adversity inflicted by the actions of those who have been entrusted with their future. President Buhari’s sympathizers, who would claim he was right because the Nigerian youth remain an “uneducated lot, that believe the country is an oil-producing one hence, they deserve freebies,” y should have a rethink.
Surely! Not total freebies but, the Nigerian youth deserve reprieve. Unlike her counterparts in the West, US, Japan and China, they remain reclined and enclosed in an atmosphere of uncertainties and unpredictability. The conditions to excel and chart a roadmap in life are non-existent.
While her foreign counterparts have a shoulder to lean on in their government, they are left hung out. Admittedly, the Nigerian youth may not be perfect after all, however, the government should take a huge chunk of the blame for the vices they embraced.
Years of dysfunctional leadership and system that has openly embraced mediocrity and celebration of corrupt leaders have somehow rubbed off on the leaders of tomorrow. It is a toxic baby formula that has greatly altered and impaired the political and civic growth of the country’s youth.
President Buhari should know that the political leadership has compromised and thus lack the recipe to being a good role model for them. It is the bitter truth the current All Progressives Congress (APC) administration can’t shy away from. Addressing Nigeria’s socio-economic malaise lies in the ability to invest in her human resources. With a burgeoning population brimming with youthfulness, the country has a powerful economic key to unlocking her potentials.
The current government can kick-start the evolution of the Nigerian youth by having a vibrant blueprint or policy focused on education, research and development and empowerment. It should be a mission statement and commitment of the current and future governments. Protecting and securing this vulnerable and left-behind group is now a priority. President Buhari’s should know that they are the real victims, the casualties and not the other way round.
Lawal-Solarin is on the staff of The Sun