The Presidency has clarified President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments on Nigerian youths at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Westminster, London on Wednesday, insisting that he never said they were all lazy.
It said that Buhari only made reference to “a lot of them (Nigerian youths)” not “all” that are lazy. Buhari was yesterday reported to have said that Nigerian youths were lazand depended on handout because the country was an oil-producing nation. But Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement yesterday, insisted that Buhari did not call all Nigerian youths lazy.
He blamed “manipulators and twisters” of statement for the outrage over the comment. He, however, noted that every country has idle population, but that Buhari values Nigerian youths who have excelled in diverse fields. While responding to a question in London on Wednesday, Buhari had cause to talk about Nigerian youths.
The President had said: “We have a very young population; our population is estimated conservatively to be 180 million. More than 60 per cent of the population is below the age of 30. “A lot of them have not been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria has been an oil-producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing and get housing, healthcare and education free.”
The Presidency stated that Buhari did not take Nigerian youths to the cleaners with the statement. According to Adesina, “Typical of their stock in trade, manipulators and twisters of statements of Mr. President, who lie in wait to make mischief, interpreted the comment to mean that President Buhari had taken all Nigerian youths to the cleaners. But elementary English recognizes a wide gulf between “a lot of” and the word “all.” How can “a lot of them,” suddenly transmogrify to mean “all of them?” Mischievous and unconscionable!
“There is no way President Buhari, father of the Nigerian nation in every sense of the word, who equally has biological children of his own in the youth age bracket, pass a vote of no confidence on all youths. It can only exist in the imagination of those who play what the President has described as “irresponsible politics” with everything.”
The presidential spokesman said Buhari has always applauded and celebrated Nigerian youths who excel in different areas of endeavour, from sports, to academia, and other realms.
“And he will continue to do so, because he values the youth, and knows that they are the fulcrum on which the future of the country rests,” he said.
The Presidency noted that Nigeria, like every other country, has idle population and Mr. President is committed to providing an enabling environment to achieve their potentials. “Indeed, every country has its share of idle population, and it is the bounden duty of government at all levels, to create an enabling environment for them to actualize their potentials.
That is what President Buhari is committed to doing. “The focal areas of the administration; secur-ing the country, reviving the economy, and fighting corruption, are actually intended to give youths a future and a hope. This much was emphasized in an April 5, 2018 comment by President Buhari, while receiving Letter of Credence from the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria, when he said: “Our insistence on probity is to encourage people to be accountable, and accept honesty as a lifestyle so as to secure the future of our youths,” Adesina said. He explained that the President also said more than 60 per cent of Nigerians fall into the age category of youths and deserve to inherit a stable and prosperous country that they can be proud of, adding that the government will work assiduously to prevent waste and the depletion of resources by corrupt Nigerians. “It is futile for mischief makers to lie in wait, and take a minor part of the words of the President, and turn it into negative commentary, peradventure they could diminish the profile of the President.
Nigerians across all walks of life know who is serving them faithfully and truly, and they will always reciprocate such fidelity as occasions demand,” he added. Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said President Buhari was off the mark when he described Nigerian youths as lazy and uneducated. PDP, in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Nigerians find it extremely shocking that President Buhari could make such a false, derogatory and unpatriotic comment against the citizens at a time the nation was looking up to him to properly present the nation’s potentials to the global business community.
“It is alarming that at every international event, the president makes it a favourite past time to de-market, paint and denigrate our dear nation and her citizens in very negative light, an indication that he has stopped believing in Nigeria,” the party said. The PDP added that the Nigerian youths have demonstrated industry, and, therefore, cannot in any way be described by anybody as lazy.
“Mr. President’s latest salvo is totally unacceptable and must be condemned by all right-thinking people to avoid further verbal assault against our country, particularly at international fora. “How can President Buhari describe Nigerian youths as lazy, when they have proven, without doubt, to be one of the most industrious sets of individuals across the world?” the PDP asked. Also, Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has called on youths to show Buhari that they were not lazy and uneducated by voting against him in 2019.
“It is painful that the President could describe youths in Nigeria that are daily struggling to make a living under a harsh economy as lazy people.
“Contrary to the morale- killing comment of the President, Nigerian youths are hardworking, intelligent and enterprising. Their future was mortgaged by past leaders like President Buhari, who had everything at their beck and call as youths. I imagine the youth of today having half of the opportunities available in the 50s and 60s.”