After a seeming momentary holiday, the Courtroom scribes have come again to argue out a most recent issue of national concern. This issue is none other than that of the wild reactions of the Nigerian youth against President Buhari’s recent statement. The considered case in the Courtroom, this week, reads: ‘Is Buhari’s Statement on the Laziness of the Youth worth the Criticism it Received?’

The Prosecuting Counsel has come forth by proclaiming his observation that the president has always been a faithful merchant at the business of laying blames. He claims that President Buhari has always found one or more persons to blame at any instance of shortfall in expected government delivery — either the predecessors are blamed or members of the opposing political flags are. He further states that, notwithstanding the possibility that the president’s statement may be referable to some folks, its logicality is definitely still blemished by the inductive nature of the claim. He goes on to lend plausibility to his argument by referring to a 2018 ranking of the world’s top ten fast-growing economies, given by the World Bank. In the list, Nigeria proves to worthily remain the Giant of Africa as she successfully finds no place. The Prosecuting Counsel has thus posited that the standard of living be favourable first, before we can safely accuse anyone of unproductivity.

On the opposite, the Defending Counsel has projected his concession to the president’s claim. He sets out by saying that, in the statement, neither was all Nigerian youth referred to nor was the viral word, ‘lazy’ explicitly said. Also, he mentions that none would have been so reactionary, had the president’s words been eulogistic. Further, the Defending Counsel cites certain degenerate group of people in the society, largely comprising the youth — touts, al-majiris, killer herdsmen, Boko Haram, fraudsters amongst others. He keeps at his argument by again saying that President Buhari’s assertion would not be the first in history; rather, his has been preceded by related, also more blunt and biting, youth-lashing accusations by some other notable political leaders within and beyond Nigeria. He concludes his argument by reminding the court of how the same President Buhari had plainly rejected Theresa May’s suggestion of entrenching same-sex marriage in the Nigerian societal affairs, without attracting so much criticisms or praises.

Now, my verdict:

First and most importantly, we must have a critical reflection by means of a grammatical analysis and logical consideration of the so controversial statement. And, in doing this, we have to consider certain words or phrases used in the statement. Truly, the statement was made without mentioning the word, ‘lazy’ and without saying ‘all’ the youth. Rather, what can be physically seen in the statement includes, ‘a lot of them’, as well as ‘sit and do nothing’. Now, the consequent questions pertinent to be asked are: what does ‘a lot of them’ denote? and what does ‘sit and do nothing’ connote? Simply, the former means ‘majority’ which is thinly separated from the word ‘all’; the latter means idleness which ultimately translates to laziness. So, why the needless need to begin proving that ‘all’ or ‘lazy’ is not meant, when, actually, it is grammatically-cum-semantically implied?

Sincerely, there may be some Nigerian youth who may be appropriately called lazy; however, there are still many more who have shown their mettle as regards being hardworking amidst the harsh national realities of this Nigeria. Can anybody claim not to know about those young men and women, even children, who engage in laborious works in deadly precarious situations? Does anyone not know about those who work as petty workers; do menial jobs; earn meagre pays in companies especially in Lagos, all in a bid to earn an honest living? What about graduates of higher institutions amongst whom some have resorted to the business of commercial transport so as not to fritter away their time since employment is a scarce phenomenon in this nation?

Really, the president’s claim might not have attracted too much fury, had adequate educational facilities and employment mechanisms been put in place. Sadly, however, none of the aforementioned could be confidently shown to the world; yet, he accuses the young citizens of not being in school or working. May we just ask questions concerning the non-existent? Where are the schools which a lot have not been to? The dilapidated ones or the ones under tree shades? Where are the jobs provided by the government which a lot have not engaged in?

Even apart from the foregoing, may we, if for once, pitch a common tent with the president? Let us join in blaming the predecessors of President Buhari for the rot and atrophy in which Nigeria has perennially been. We accept that Nigeria’s image has already been crumpled for years and cannot be straightened overnight. But then, why should the same usual errors and failures be repeated or even replicated? For instance, the education sector has often received a despicable percentage of the national budget. This ridiculous feat of educational derision is repeated again even under the presidential watch of Buhari, the so-expected conqueror of Nigeria’s woes, as education is allotted an insignificant 7℅ of the total budget. Yet, we can still blame ‘a lot of’ the youth for not being in school or productive? And the conscience is not pricked as to what extent of enabling environment has been provided against that?

In general, it remains that the president’s statement suggests laziness, albeit the underlying representation of it. It should be, thus, necessarily expected that it could only lead to the upsurge of resentments. Therefore, as can be deduced from the aforesaid, it would not be out of place, illogical, or inconsiderate to conclude that the livid reaction of a vast majority of the youth to President Buhari’s statement was worth it. It stands that for the government to safely criticise anyone of not been schooled or being at work, laudable provisions of the needed facilities ought to have been existent.

I rise!

Reader: Yusuff Uthman Adekola

Occupation: Student

School: University of Ibadan

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Telephone: (+234) 8166599760

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