The last two weeks have witnessed unprecedented disenchantment from various quarters of the Nigerian society, especially the youth population which constitute roughly 60% of the population. The youth are resilient, hardworking and profoundly educated. One out of every five Nigerian youth holds a higher degree and are craving for opportunities where their skills and knowledge can be put to proper use. Unfortunately, this crop of people are the most misrepresented and decimated in a country blessed with abundant resources. In 2019, the estimated youth unemployment rate in Nigeria was at almost 14 per cent. Nigeria’s unemployment rate as in the second quarter of 2020 is 27.1% and the underemployment rate was put at 28.6%, indicating that about 21.7 million Nigerians remain unemployed and about 28.6 million underemployed respectively. Nigeria’s unemployment and underemployment rate is a combined 55.7% which is more than half of the entire Nigerian population of about 180 million people. The staggering figure of youth unemployment, lack of opportunity and deliberate detachment from the decision-making apparatus of the country provided the impetus for the widespread agitations sweeping through the country. The #Endsars mantra was just a euphemism for the failure in the leadership framework of the country and a further demonstration of the level of detachment between the youth and government forces.
The President Buhari government came into force in 2015 through the overwhelming support of the youth movement the #change slogan.
The Jonathan administration was considered too weak and condescending to boldly confront the challenges faced by the country, primarily in the area of security and youth empowerment. It was thought that using his military background, experience and seeming disposition against corruption, Buhari would present a credible alternative to Jonathan’s administration. However, events have shown that the youth were wrong and every notion about Buhari’s magic wand was a farce. All election promises have either been denied or completely jettisoned. And the youth have been left to wallow in self-pity and emotional solitude.
The journey of nation-building is indeed a tortuous and often cumbersome process. It requires patience, foresight and unflinching willpower. However, leadership must provide the required direction, vision and focus to steer the wheels of change and position the country on the path of progress and prosperity. A leader must be seen to be doing enough to reconstruct the destiny of the nation through policies and programs designed to impact directly on the lives of the populace. Ironically, President Buhari doesn’t appear to possess the charisma required to upturn the fortune of the country. He appears to lack direction, focus and clearcut strategy on how to reposition Nigeria for excellence. It’s sad!
Let me remind us that the Buhari administration is almost two years into its second tenure and less than three years to bid the nation goodbye. Yet, there is nothing significant one can remember about this government apart from Lekki Massacre. Nigerians have become more divided than ever with so many ethnic lines drawn. The country is now seen more through the ethnoreligious lens than ever. This is an area Buhari would have scored cheap points. It was a low hanging fruit for him considering the perceptions and sentiments of Nigerians towards his candidacy. He would have proven us wrong by being unbiased and Nigeria-centric. At last, he proved us right through his comments, lopsided appointments and in the spread of government projects, with the north being the ultimate beneficiaries.
The level of misery, anger and hostility in the land is mind-blowing. A country where a bag of rice, a commonly consumed staple, costs more than it’s minimum wage. The university system has been in hodge-podge and the health sector is witnessing alarming collapse. The question then remains; what has President Buhari done differently? The glaring answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing. It’s sad but true. Rather than do something meaningful Buhari has plunged us back into the abyss of economic emaciation, with the chronic exchange rate, epileptic power supply and shambolic infrastructural base. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the unprovoked killing of innocent and armless protesters in Lekki Lagos. It was the height of impunity, recklessness and stupidity. Though violence has been the trademark of this administration the mannerism of the Lekki incident leaves much to be desired.
It is, therefore, safe to opine that Nigeria and indeed Nigerians failed the very moment they elected Buhari president.