A controversial statement was recently credited to Muhammadu Buhari while speaking at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Westminster on Wednesday April 18th, 2018. The president said that Nigeria’s youthful population was reliant on the notion that the country is an oil-rich nation a lot of them waited on handouts from the government. Expectedly, his remarks have generated a lot of backlashes and furor/uproar back home and from the international community. On the account of that controversial statement, the main Opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), described the president’s visit to London as a waste of resources. According to the PDP, President Buhari only went to London to disgrace Nigeria. The spokesman of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that the president did not attract any investment as a result of his trip.
The PDP’s spokesman was of the opinion that “…President Buhari, in the quest to hide the failures of his administration and push his 2019 re-election bid downplayed the worsened economic and security situation in the country under his watch, but opted for self praise and brandishing unsubstantiated record of performance.” In Ologbondiyan’s conclusion, “this self-serving stance ultimately blocked all beneficial bilateral engagements that could have helped secure the much needed international interventions in those critical areas.”
The opposition might have used the gaffe to score some political points. However, it should be noted that President Gaddafi’s fall in Libya and the hostilities in other African countries might have led to the proliferation of small arms in Nigeria which has contributed in no small measures to the worsening economic and security situation in the country that the PDP spokesman was referring to.
While Colonel Gaddafi was alive, despite the fact that he was a despot, his welfare packages for the citizens of Libya, especially the youths, was second to none in the Africa Continent. He was even pushing for a common currency in Africa and ultimately a United States of Africa – a dream that allegedly did not go down well with some powers that be in International political arena. As a result of his ambition, a civil-war was allegedly sponsored against this maximum ruler of Libya which eventually consumed him and his government. And up till date, Libya is yet to recover from that devastating effects of that civil-war which is still having far-reaching effects in the sub-region including Nigeria. And since our borders are porous especially in the arid areas of the Northern part of the country, some of the arms used in Libyan and the Sudan civil-wars must have found their ways into the hands of some terrorist groups that are disturbing the peaceful co – existence of this country and hence constituting a big headache for our security agents. The president may therefore be right to attribute the security situation in the country partly to Gaddafi’s fall even though some political pundits didn’t see that as a tenable excuse for his inability to checkmate the festering security issues in the country which are being compounded by the unresolved Fulani – herdsmen/Farmers conflict which has been claiming innocent lives on a weekly basis. Last week, some suspected Fulani herdsmen reportedly killed two Catholic Priests in Benue State without any form of provocation.
Ironically, it is this same Nigerian youths, a demography that forms the bulk of our nation’s workforce which the president has described as uneducated and lovers of freebies, that have been winning awards/accolades in sports, arts and entertainment industry in the international community. Unfortunately, some of them had to pay the supreme price while hustling and looking for greener pastures outside the shores of their fatherland. Some of these youths ended up in the slave camps in Libya and Saudi Arabia. It took the investigative journalistic prowess and sagacity of the CNN International for these slave – markets to be discovered before the government could rise to the occasion and promptly evacuate some Nigeria youths from the hands of their slave masters. Unfortunately, some of these youths were not lucky enough as they have fallen prey and became victims in the hands of unscrupulous wicked people who are trading in vital human organs/parts.
Undoubtedly, there are cases of some of our youths who want to live big and ended up taking to criminal acts like cultism, armed robbery, kidnapping and cyber crimes. However, many of them are doing well in the international community in their chosen careers. And to capture the majority of them that are uneducated and hence unemployable, the government should open up opportunities for them in agriculture, solid minerals, tourism and entertainment industries. The billions of naira that are being recovered and allegedly being re-looted should be channeled to youth empowerment in the aforementioned industries. That is the way the government can encourage our youths and get the best out of these potential great minds. And the Scripture has also lends credence to this position when it states categorically and unequivocally that “….ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the LORD” – Ephesians 6:4, KJV.
In other words, the society can, in line with the above Scripture, get the best out of our children if we can cater for them and encourage them to bring out the best in them. But if we leave them unattended to, uneducated and shut them out of opportunities that the children of the privileged few in the society are opened to, we may inadvertently provoke this category of neglected youths to wrath and hence they may vent their anger on the larger society. It is also through the actions and inactions of our leaders that some of our children were turned into a game on the political chess board of our leaders. Up till now, the nation is still awaiting the safe return of Leah Sharibu – the only Christian Dapchi girl and the other remaining Chibok girls that are still in the capacity of Boko – haram insurgents. That is one way our society is provoking our children to wrath. We hope the concerned authorities are listening.
- Olakunle is the General Secretary, National Prayer Movement