This article is part of our #FirstWord series to provide context on trending news.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on 18th April 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in the United Kindgom said that Nigerian youth do “nothing” and want everything for “free” in the (oil rich) country.
His statement was in response to questions about Nigeria’s northeast and the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (CCFTA), which Nigeria pulled out of signing.
“We have a very young population; our population is estimated conservatively to be 180 million. More than 60 percent of the population is below the age of 30.
A lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming, you know, that Nigeria has been an oil-producing country therefore they should sit and do nothing and get housing, health care, education, free.”
- Muhammadu Buhari
Reacting to the President’s comment, Nigeria’s young people took to social media to express their displeasure at the accusation that they do not put in work and want things to come easy. They also shared tales of how much work they do every day using the hashtag #LazyNigerianYouths.
Is he right?
He is correct that young people are uneducated - but not because they are unwilling to go to school. The system is designed to make it almost impossible to cater to the educational needs of the populace.
According to the NBS, 100 million Nigerians (60.9% of the population) live below the poverty line. A large number of Nigerians cannot afford basic meals, shelter and of course proper education. The United Nations International Children’s’ Fund (UNICEF) also estimates that 10.5 million Nigerian children of school age do not get into school at all – the highest in the world.
Not enough funding is dedicated to primary school education and if history is anything to go by, most of what is budgeted finds its way to the personal accounts of dubious individuals.
The story is similar in secondary education. In the proposed 2018 Budget, N400 billion of the N606 billion allocated to education goes directly to tertiary education, depicting a clear neglect on the foundation of schooling, primary and secondary education.
Tertiary education also faces issues despite its relatively high allocation. This is mostly because the current capacity of federal higher institutions does not match the number of young people who need it.
President Muhammadu Buhari has a point about a large chunk of the young people not going to school. However, this is as a result of decades of neglecting the responsibility of setting children up with basic education.