President Buhari’s Speech at the Commonwealth Summit and the Nigerian youths
In July 2011, I was 21 years old when I got invited on merit to join 119 other youths around the world to attend an energy summer school in Paris. In 2012 and 2013, I was 22 and 23 years old when I received invitations from both Federal Youth Ministry of Russia and University of Cologne to attend International Youth Forum in Russia and World Business Dialogue in Germany respectively. I worked hard for them. I had sleepless nights writing and researching essays. I traveled long distances talking to mentors and advisors.
In one of those trips(I think it was the trip to Cologne), while on entry queue at Frankfurt Airport; I was approached by Police officers to step aside and verify my documents. I gently obeyed and followed them into a police booth where two other black young people were also seated. They took my documents and asked me to sit down and wait. I was conscious of the time because I was on a free ticket sponsored by Lufthansa Airline. After five minutes, while others were still seated, I stood up and approached the person I perceived to be the most senior officer:
“Excuse me please, may I know what’s going on because I am a bit late for my next trip to Cologne”- I inquired in a calm voice.
The officer looked at me with disdain, kept quiet and moved on with his job. I felt mad and disrespected. Is it a crime to be black? I am not a criminal and why would anybody be treated this way? I approached another officer and this time, I was not calm at all.
(in a loud voice) “I am really interested in knowing whatever is going on here. Your government through the university of Cologne invited me for a conference and here you are delaying my trip. If I don’t get a response within the next five minutes, I will put a call through to the university and inform them that I have been unlawfully denied entry by their police.”
After the outburst, another police officer approached me with all my documents and apologized for the delay. That was how I left the the police booth. I tried intervening for the two black people I met but they didn’t understand English language and I was not good with French language at the time. I couldn’t understand what they were saying but I felt frustration in their gesture.
As part of my daily routine, I was going through pages of newspapers yesterday and stumbled on this news piece written my friend Tijani Mayowa of The Cable Newspaper where the President of Nigeria talked about Nigerian youths as not willing to do anything and only waiting for free things from the government. I felt really bad. How can such disasters as this and the drama in the national assembly happen to Nigeria only in one day. The people that represents our image in the international community are the ones disgracing us and making it difficult for us to prosper.
I searched further for more evidence of the President’s speech and I saw the video where he actually accused 60% of the population as being lazy to do anything. 60%!! On behalf of the sane Nigerian youths (not the ones blinded with nepotism and tribe), I disagree with such statement with all totality. Nigerian youths are hardworking even when older generations like them have failed in their duties to provide an enabling environment for them.
I also think that Mr. President is just too aloof of everything going on in the country. He is not in touch with our realities and what we have to go through to achieve the simplest of things. His Vice, Yemi Osinbajo and Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu were jointly on a tour of the tech community in Lagos and they attested to the hard work being done by the booming youth population of Nigeria. Was the president not briefed that Nigeria has the best and largest payment systems in Africa- Flutterwave and Paystack of Iyin Aboyeji and Shola Abiola respectively? Just imagine the creative of work of Farmcrowdy in Agribusiness, Coworking places or how the likes of Ayobami Oyaleke are providing internship and employment through placements.ng. The list goes on.
We have a lot of music icons such as Olamide Adedeji, Whizkid Adedayo, David Adeleke, Tiwa Savage, Don Jazzy, Yemi Alade, Folarin Falana performing on international platforms alongside stars from across the world. There are countless number of our intellectuals like Dr. Dipo Awojide (Ogbeni Dipo), Chimamanda Adichie, Feyi Fawehinmi outside the Nigerian shores doing great things. There are countless businesses being carried out by Nigerians under 30 in Aba, Abeokuta that are only waiting for the government to do its part. Why is the president not talking about this?
If a section of the country is not doing well as a result of little or no access to education, should that form the image of the entire country? Is it not the work of the government to fix that?
I have said this several times in conferences or shows I have been invited to; leadership is a function of intelligence and integrity. If a man says he has integrity but lacks intellect, he is not fit to lead and vice versa. But what I have found out is that the current crop of leaders lacks both (except for a few) and this is very tragic. Imagine a government that was brought into power by the same young population with the hope of fixing the basic challenges of amenities turning back to them with such uppercut.
How come the president talks only when he is outside the country is another riddle I am yet to unravel? Because if he has been practicing before leaving home, such monumental disgrace to our collective reputation would have been averted. And young people like me struggling to make lives better will not be met with such disdain outside the shores of my country.
Adetunji Adeniran leads Young and Emerging Leaders Conference (YNAG)
Appendix: Reactions from Nigerians
Dear @mbuhari, Nigerian youths are not waiting for handouts. They are making the most of what has been left for them, which is nothing.
Under your administration, unemployment has climbed from 8.2% in Q2 2015, to 18.8% now. Many want to work, but they have no opportunities.
— Kingsley Moghalu (@MoghaluKingsley) April 19, 2018
Kai! You for no talk so o, Mr President. You for no even think am at all. Sigh! https://t.co/6yPFWlQUA1
— Dr. Joe Abah (@DrJoeAbah) April 19, 2018
What has Buhari done to address the Almajiri menace in Northern Nigeria?
How many kids have they taken off the streets?
What has Buhari done for the education sector since 2015?
What has Buhari done per youth development since 2015?
Don’t abuse my PhD please. Just answer.
— Dr. Dipo Awojide (@OgbeniDipo) April 19, 2018
What’s tragic about PMB’s comment is that it was in response to a clear question: ‘what are the investment opportunities in the NE?’
This was an opportunity to talk about the vibrancy of our art, music, photography or warmth & resilience of Nigerians
— Ayisha Osori (@Naijavote) April 19, 2018
He missed an opportunity to sell d North East, as in it is now open for business. Boko Haram has been vanquished & there are opportunities to rebuild d human & physical infrastructure that connects an old world into a modern world. A smart man connects the dots in this fashion.
— Deola (@Naija_Ijebu) April 19, 2018
What @Mbuhari said in London is not what a President should ever say about his people. Mr. President got this one utterly wrong. That was not bluntness but a lack of understanding of the essence of marketing your own. VP Osinbajo by his actions disagrees with him.
— HENRY Okelue (@4eyedmonk) April 19, 2018
In the 60s & 70s, Nigerians who studied abroad didn’t have to remain abroad hanging on or looking for greener pasture. Most of them came back home. But Buhari & his Army friends didn’t let them enjoy the country with their coups and counter-coups.
Today he blames young people.
— Dr. Dipo Awojide (@OgbeniDipo) April 19, 2018