A religious group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) said President Muhammadu Buhari’s characterization of Nigerian youths at an event in London last week is ‘apt, precise and succinct.’
The group, in a statement released by Professor Ishaq Akintola, its Director on Monday also accused the media of deliberately twisting Buhari’s statement as it argued that the president did not use the word ‘lazy’ in his speech.
The group said, “Nigerians need to contextualize the president’s comment. We have seen many youths functioning as political thugs as the 2019 general elections approach. They have started vandalizing properties and disrupting political gatherings.
Can anybody tell us that those political thugs are old men? What of the herdsmen who are terrorizing innocent farmers around the country? Are they not young people? Are they not lazy? Are the kidnappers who make life unbearable for innocent people not lazy? But are they not youths?
Has anyone seen elderly people among Boko Haram insurgents and Niger Delta militants? What of the ‘area boys’ syndrome and the al-majiri phenomenon? Are the Yahoo Yahoo boys not of the same age bracket?
“Are they not all lazy? What of the ‘agberos’ or touts who have now spilled out of motor parks unto the streets and bus stops? What responsible work are they doing? Are they not youths? What do they contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)? All they do is to stand at the bus stops to extort money from drivers of commercial vehicles. Are they not lazy? When will Nigerians admit this reality? Who pulled the wool over our faces?”
The group said but for the fact that Nigerians like to run away from reality, many would have taken the president’s description of the country’s youths as accurate.
“Many of our youths are lazy but we don’t want to admit it. Instead of commending this truthful leader, we started calling him names. Collective amnesia appears to have gripped Nigerians. We have forgotten that Buhari is not the only leader who described Nigerians and the youth in particular in this manner.
“Governor Dickson in a media chat on 17th May, 2016 was alleged to have said, "Bayelsans are so lazy, they want everything free, they don't want to work". The 25th September 2017 edition of a northern-based newspaper also reportedly quoted Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as saying, "Northerners are lazy" while General Babangida (rtd) allegedly opined during a BBC Hausa service interview of 16th April 2010, "The Nigerian youth is useless, cannot lead." Senator Shehu Sani added flavor to this in December 2017 when he reportedly said:t "Northerners are lazy and unproductive".
“During the launching of a book written by Chief Gani Fawehinmi in 1974, Chief Obafemi Awolowo complained that, ‘The trouble with many of our youths is that they sleep too much; play too much, and indulge too much in idle chatter and gossip.’
“If indeed the above were the views of a governor from the South-South, a leader from the South West, a former military president, an ex-vice president and a distinguished senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, all of whom are from the North, it stands to reason that Buhari has not said anything new. Neither is this pragmatic assessment of citizens by their leaders limited to Nigeria. During a town hall event overseas, ex-President Barrack Obama referred to Americans as lazy.” He pointed out.
The group urged Nigerians to embrace a new political culture that promotes hard work.
“Islam abhors idleness and laziness. It appreciates the dignity of labor. The Glorious Qur’an implores every man to work hard, “Tell them to work. (If they do) Allah, His Messenger and the believers (citizens) will appreciate their work” (Qur’an 9:105).
“To round up, we invite Nigerian politicians to brace up for a new political culture of probity, accountability, and pragmatism.
“We call on the youths to abandon the counter-productive race for emergency wealth, to shun betting and to concentrate on education, training and hard work. We charge parents to inculcate core values of honesty, dignity, and diligence in their offspring.”