Although his media handlers have vigorously protested that President Muhammadu Buhari did not categorically use the term ‘lazy’ to describe Nigerian youth, yet the import of his comment has continued to rub on the youth the wrong way.
Certainly not ‘lazy’ by any means, the maligned country’s youth have shown that they could lift a hand to help themselves when the need arises. And so they have appropriated all possible platforms to contest Mr. President’s wrong estimation of their ability.
In nowhere else was this more glaring than at Yaba Connect Centre Poetry Slam, one of the poetry clubs of Eriata Oribhabor-led Poetry in Nigeria (PIN) initiative scattered across the country.
From one performer to another, echoes of ‘lazy’ Nigerian youth tag rang out and Buhari became the butt of the many poetic lashes for his gaffe. Of course, Buhari is widely known to speak ill of his country whenever he was outside the country.
But in an era of a social media, Buhari’s mistake is amplified in manifolds.
For instance, Yusuf Balogun, who first won the Spontaneous Poetry Writing contest, titled one of his poems ‘The Mace and Lazy Nigerian Youth.’
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In it he catalogued all the good things Nigerians of Buhari era as young men and women had for free and how they frittered away the country’s resources when they became leaders and made the country a living hell for her young ones.
The matter should have been left there, Balogun poetised, if the youth had been spared needless censure.
Another poet, Clementina Owumi’s lines were quite punchy. In her piece titled ‘How could you?’ she charges: ‘Buhari… Go get busy/at fixing Nigeria./Buhari… not elected president of the world/remain at home to work for Nigeria.’
In his sarcastic poem titled ‘Let the old man speak,’ Onose Asotie-Enaholo did not spare Mr. President either and other political office holders, saying their stranglehold on the country was choking it to death.
Even more caustic was Paul Njoku’s poem in which he labeled Nigeria’s political class as Siamese twins in their determined efforts to sink the ship of state just to satisfy their greed instead of developing the country: ‘My country hosts more (political) parties and manifestos/yet she cannot find her feet/All politicians are Siamese twins,/milking my country dry… ‘
At the end of the poetry slam, Bright Chimezie Osunwoke emerged winner with his piece ‘Wailings of a Nigerian youth’ after the initial 25 contestants were scaled down to 12 and then five. He took home the N25,000 prize on offer.
Njoku and Olatunbosun Opeoluwa came second and third respectively. Osunwoke’s first and second poems were ‘For the Hustle’ and ‘How to Succeed.’ Mrs. Shola Phebian, Holloway Olulu and Prestige Ifeanyi Bernard were the judges.
Osunwoke said his poem ‘Wailings of a Nigerian youth’ encapsulates “The rants of a Nigerian youth about the wrong happenings in government and how it is affecting me and other Nigerian youth.
Issues such as herdsmen attacking innocent people in Enugu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of dead people in government’s agencies, poor governance and bad economy; these things are affecting me and millions of youth. As one from a humble background, I have no job as a graduate.
“I think Buhari’s statement about youth is a wrong one. In the past three years, the economy has been dull. Youth have woken up and they are active and fending for themselves. Youth are working in different spheres, yet nothing is coming from the government. It’s just unfortunate that he made such comment. More youth have been rendered jobless since Buhari came to power due to his poor policies.”
Osunwoke, who studied Business Management at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, advised his fellow youth to be faithful in the things they were doing, saying they shouldn’t be docile.
He also advised them to be outspoken always about ills in society. He said the prize was his first in a contest and commended the Oribabhor-inspired PIN, organiser of the contest.
Creating platforms for Nigerian youth to excel, Oribabhor said, was why he set up Poetry in Nigeria, particularly in a country that lacks such platforms for youth to express their latent creativity.
The Yaba Connect Centre Poetry Slam, he also noted, was aimed at “providing a platform for young poets in the country.
Jos centre was opened last week. I’m living my dream by organising this slam. PIN promotes poetry in its entirety.
Today, we promoted written and spoken poetry. So, we’re using poetry to affect society in diverse ways. PIN means poetry for service!”