A gathering of young Nigerians used to illustrate the story [Photo: Guardian Newspaper]
President Muhammadu Buhari has offered further explanation for his take down of Nigerian youth while speaking at a forum in London last month.
The president described Nigerian youth as lazy elements of the society who sit back, do nothing and expect the riches of oil wealth to touch them.
“More than 60 per cent 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,” Mr Buhari was quoted as saying by The Cable during an April 19 panel appearance with world leaders at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London.
The comment sparked nationwide anger and a flurry of protests sprang up on social media under several campaign tags, including ‘LazyNigerianYouth’.
The presidency later explained that Mr Buhari meant ‘a lot of’ and not all Nigerian youth.
In a recent interview with the Voice of America, which is part of his trip to the United States, the president gave what he believed was a clarification of his earlier comments.
He was asked by the interviewer to explain his what he meant by his previous statement on Nigerian youth.
In response, Mr Buhari said, “You know they say we are over 180 to 200 million people in Nigeria and 60 per cent are the youth below the age of 30.
“In the North, for instance, most have not attended school or they abandoned halfway. If not because we had favourable rainfall in the past two seasons; most of them have no job, just idling away.
“People like them, even if they go to the South, for instance, what they will make will not be enough to even pay their rent not to talk of feeding, clothing and transport back home,” the president said.
He added that the media might have caused the uproar generated by his initial comments and went on to say what his government had been grappling with.
“That has not been explained enough and you know the media, especially the print, are simply doing whatever they like.
“We had two successful farming seasons, people went to farm and did very well, but no one is talking about that; only insults.
“That is why the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, had to respond to the letter of insults released by Mr Obasanjo
“We spoke about it and I asked him not to respond but he refused and said he will just respond by stating the situation we met the country, where it is now and what was done in between and the monies we are getting,” Mr Buhari said.
The president repeated one of his controversial talking points that oil sold at an average $100 a barrel for the 16-year rule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). PREMIUM TIMES examined at the claimhere last October and found that it was inaccurate. The president’s claim that he met “nothing” in federal treasury when he assumed office was also debunked in that article.
“Recently, I had to come out and state that from 1999 to 2014, anyone who carries out a study here in America or Europe or India will know that we were producing 2.2 million barrels of crude oil daily at a price of at least $100 per barrel.
“In those 16 years of PDP rule, Nigeria was getting 2.1 million x 100 everyday, every week, but when we came on board, the price fell to between $37-38 and hung around $40-$50.
“I went to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), – the governor of CBN is here – and asked him, how far? And he said nothing was left apart from debts.
“I said, but this is what the country made? And he said: Yes. He knew, and I asked him, where is the money? All gone.
“Nigerians know that there were no roads or rail lines, there was no power, despite the billions of dollars spent. Only God will judge this thing,” Mr Buhari said.