In London, Buhari Says Nigerian Youths Are Unschooled Idlers

–President gets replies

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, Wednesday in London, painted the youth of his country black. At the Commonwealth Business Forum in Westminster, he said a lot of Nigerian youths have not been to school and they want everything free.

He said: “About the economy, we have a very young population; our population is estimated conservatively to be 180 million. This is a very conservative one.

“More than 60 percent of the population is below 30; a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil-producing country; therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free.”

On Facebook, other social media and online versions of newspapers, the Nigerian youths have been lashing back at Buhari. Some asked him what he did in his own youth beyond shooting guns in the army. Some asked him what his children who are youth are doing, and which schools has he established that is not patronised by youths.

America-based Nigerian Farooq Kperogi is quoted on Facebook  to have replied Buhari thus: “Buhari supervises a government that serially engages in secretive, illegal employment of the children and relatives of high-ranking political elites (including his) in well-oiled, high-paying government agencies while millions of brilliant, hardworking but underprivileged young people vegetate in agonizing misery, yet he goes to London and calls young Nigerians lazy, uneducated, and entitled; as people who want to ‘sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free.’

These are not the young people I see when I travel to Nigeria. They are not the young people I interact with on social media. Maybe Buhari is describing his children–and himself. If he insists he is describing “most” Nigerian youth, then his disconnect from reality is more severe than we had previously imagined.

Continuing his speech in Westminster, the Nigerian leader said his govenrnment has done well: “Recently, my minister for information was constrained to answer a question on people accusing this administration of doing nothing. He said ‘let Nigerians be reminded what position we were before May 2015, what condition we are now, and what we have achieved between then and now’ and I think people were impressed with the answer.

“For security, we have done quite well. Economy, we are doing very well, especially with agriculture; we are providing soft loans, and guarantee is that you have to belong to a certain locality and you have got land; you don’t have to go to the bank and [provide] physical collateral. I think a lot is being done.”

Buhari’s goof in London was one too many. Early in his three-year administration he was fond of dismissing Nigerians as corrupt people while in a foreign land. This time, here is a politician facing a poll in 10 months but condemning the same people whose votes he is expecting. Many young people have promised to reply him with their voter cards.

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