Presidents all over the world are the lens through which the international community and indeed the world views a nation, her people and what they represent. In other word, he is the chief marketer, call it image marker if you like of the entire nation both locally and internationally. To this end, he must at ALL TIMES be mindful of his thoughts, utterances and behaviour. This, beyond having a nexus with the prestige attached to the office of the number one man in the entire nation will also go a long way to shapen a global view of what the people are. This probably accounts to why utmost care and caution is taken in the process of recruiting foreign ambassadors so that only those with the character, integrity and competence emerge.
Unfortunately, since president Muhammadu Buhari took up the job of our number one image maker in 2015, to say that he has not disappointed in showing incompetency and lack of capacity to package Nigeria as a marketable product may be too charitable. Any time the president finds his mouth on the microphone in an international forum, it automatically switches to diarrhoea mode, apologies to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The president, like a toddler who has been bribed with chocolates begins to spew words that do not only demean but disparage his office, ridicule the entire citizenry and further jeopardize our waning reputation in the global community. If the president is not telling the world that our economy is not investible, he is telling them that Nigerians are corrupt or that his citizens are divided into 5 and 97 percent. For a man who will tell the world that his wife belongs to “the other room”, could anything ever be beyond him?
This reporter was not one of those who were startled by the president’s decision to boost his CV of international gaffe and wittin demarketing of whatever Nigerian youths stand for when he chose a gathering of world leaders while speaking during a panel discussion at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Westminster, London to say, “we have a very young population and our population is estimated conservatively to be 180 million. The 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 and therefore they should sit and do nothing and get housing, healthcare and education free”.
No responsible father will ever come to the community square to speak ill of his household. On the contrary, he would put up any defence and reject unsavoury utterances and gestures targeted at ridiculing the image of his family. Who would imagine an Emmanuel Macron of France come so low as our president did by practically calling French citizens lazy? Or Germany Angela Merkel slam German citizens with paintbrush of “sit and do nothing”?
It’s obvious that this is far beyond physical. It has a spiritual undertone. It’s either the president has a problem standing before a large crowd to talk without being arrested by stage fright or that the president spoke from the subservience of a slave to (colonial) master. This is the time we need the services of spiritualists and medical researchers most. Mouth diarrhoea should not defy medical solution, at least for our sake.
Let me remind the president that out of the reported 3000 people who have died in the last four years in an attempt to cross to Europe through Mediterranean sea and Sahara desert, over 60 percent of them are Nigerian youths between the age of 25-40. While the repatriation of the lucky ones continue, others are stranded at various detention camps in Libya not being certain of what their fate would be.
With all due respect to the president, Nigerian youths are not embarking on these perilous journeys for the fun of it. It is in a desperate effort to succeed and earn a living away from a country that has callously deprived them of their economic right, suggesting that they are not lazy after all. This suicide mission to Europe through the black market has recorded a geometric increase since president Buhari came on board. In fact, if anyone is lazy, those whose leadership has not added a single value to the standard of living of Nigerians should look at themselves.
The president should also please permit me to prod his memory on the immigration recruitment tragedy at Abuja international stadium in 2014 and other recruitment centres where about 16 youths died in the 6.5 million turnout for 4000 vacant positions available in the service. Reason for their tragic end is not unconnected with overcrowd. They came for work.
It’s a pity that when other world leaders are busy marketing and preparing their youths for exploits and the big things in the global stage, our president refused to take a cue from them or better still, leave us the way we are let’s continue to eke a living from our sweat. He chose to do the unthinkable. He went and ruin our reputation right in the presence of the entire world. The truth is that no leader in the history of this country has brought us international embarrassment, shame and disgrace like Buhari has.
In case the president has not been to the South since it’s obvious he is judging us using his Northern yardstick, a visit to GSM village Lagos, Alaba market, Onitsha main market, Ariaria market Aba and so many others will convince him on how smart, industrious and hard working our youths are, surmounting the environment-infested challenges and keep their heard above water.
It is also a half truth if not a total lie that we have not been to school. For instance, jamb in its official website pegs the 2017 official number of those who registered for UTME at 1,736, 571 in the 850,000 admission slots available. Whose fault is it if some students are denied admission at the end of the day, having met all the requirement? While this is happening, the Federal Ministry of Education is virtually doing nothing in terms of upgrading the carrying capacity of the existing universities or building more universities to absorb the backlog of admission applicants. Now the president knows why some youths have not been to school.
NYSC on yearly basis mobilises several thousands of youth corps members for the compulsory service to a fatherland that has permanently mortgaged their future and continually bring them international shame. The fact that the president chose a day when some elements in the senate decided to bring their rascality and bad upbringing to the hallowed chamber to do what he did makes our matter more hopeless.
The cardinal duty of every government is to protect lives and property. Where a government fails to do that, it is not only indicative of weakness but abysmal failure and the byproduct of brazen laziness. Our innocent citizens are totally at the mercy of some criminal gangs and lethal bandits who continue to kill our compatriots in their numbers everyday as a result of the inability of the government to protect them. Under this government, mass burial has become a daily ritual across the nation. The lives of our people have been reduced to a mere statistics. The entire land has been dotted with blood. We have developed a thick skin to the news of the death of fellow citizens due to the frequency at which they occur as a result of the murderous missions of some Fulani herdsmen and boko haram.
Under this government, our people have experienced a debasing standard of living and hardship like never before. The president’s unjustified outburst and deliberate provocative remarks against the youths is a dance on the graves of those who have paid the supreme price in an effort to get themselves engaged.
While the president was moving in full throttle in this epic goofing, I know his image makers must have been telling themselves “this guy wan put us for trouble of defending this kind yeye talk”. Expectedly, the youths have taken to the social media to register their disapproval and vent out their disagreement.
It is enough reason to be angry that this government has sent more people into the job market than it has taken out. NBS in its report, had said the number of Nigerians that became unemployed under the Buhari regime rose from 8,036 million in 2015 fourth quarter to 15.998 million in third quarter of 2017. How else can one define incompetence?
Where is the housing, healthcare and education the president claimed we are sitting and hoping to get without doing anything? We know those who were trained with oil money but have refused to train others. We know those who lived in free accommodation throughout their military career and those on who the nation has spent million of dollars in London and other part of the word for a sickness whose name has been shrouded in secrecy. Their sons are not exempted.
If the president wants to know how ready we are to work, let him paste job notice for 20 people at villa gate and see how many will show up at the end of the day. Only the owners of the insult will decide on what to do with it in 2019. They will choose between an ambassador that will always protect their image and welfare and the one that will go to the global square and stamp them with a nomenclature that is not theirs.