Ephraim Adiele, an Associate Editor with The Trent, writes an open letter to Zahra Buhari, the daughter of President Buhari.
Before the 2015 general election, the truth is that the Nigerian youth had a passive view on things regarding Nigerian politics and governance, which is evident by the sheer lack of involvement in young persons in the political scene.
But as the elections drew near, both leading political parties – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) – who were in a titanic battle of outwitting each other brought their dirty linen to the current-day social media. It is my belief that to the best of their knowledge, it was all part of the politicking process; they just needed to sway the people to their sides. But unknown to them they were making the youths more aware of stuff that had been hitherto “hidden.”
Soon enough, the elections came and went and the eyes of the youths had opened. They became very interested in what was going on in the corridors of power. In a bid to out-do each other, both sides of the political divide had embarked on mudslinging campaigns, with the APC hinging their propaganda on the basis of high-level corruption alleged to have been rampant in the Goodluck Jonathan administration. They also lampooned Jonathan over his inability to curb the threat of Boko Haram insurgency. On the other hand, the PDP went about reminding Nigerians of the years of Muhammadu Buhari’s days as military dictator, of the alleged corruption of those like Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi and others, who made his election possible.
This, in my opinion was the wrong way to introduce politics to the current day Nigerian youth. In order for the leaders of tomorrow (haha, yeah right) to get a healthy idea of what politics should be like, a policy-based campaign would have done a whole world of good to the next generation of leaders (haha, yeah right).
Anyway, the election has produced winners and losers. It’s time for the real business of governance and President Buhari needs to step up to the plate and begin to deliver on the APC campaign promises as it seems to me he does not know the magnitude of expectations Nigerians have for him and his government.
Since I strongly doubt that the president operates his social media accounts by himself, I want to use this medium to inform Zahra Buhari, his most popular daughter what the average youth of this country expects from her father.
THE ANTI-CORRUPTION WAR
After the election, when Buhari and the APC were harping about the corruption in Jonathan’s government, the then president-elect made certain utterances which he has definitely negated on several occasions. One of such utterances came when he said that his anti-corruption crusade would be focused primarily on those who siphon public funds AFTER May 29, when he must have assumed office,but we have since noticed that he has gone against this and is embarking on what may be termed witch-hunting of perceived political foes which is evident from the number of PDP persons and others in the Jonathan government who have been hounded since the aforementioned date.
People like former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; the former Chief Security Officer to Jonathan, Gordon Obuah; former PDP governors from Jigawa, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom just to mention a few. On the other hand, those in the APC camp who have been serially accused of corruption like Amaechi, Tinubu, Kwakwanso, El-Rufai and a ship-load of others who ought to face the same music are being rewarded with government appointments.
In any case, let it be known that I am not affiliated to any political party and might never be until idealism is entrenched in the country’s political terrain.
That said, Zahra should tell her father that the average Nigerian youth cares less about how much has been stolen in the past. We don’t want to know. We want Buhari to begin the business of governance in earnest. It has been more than 4 months since he assumed office and we are yet to see any policy statement or intent from the new government. The supposed corrupt officials are being tried at more cost when we are looking at ways to cut government expenditure. These litigations would take forever before a verdict is ever reached (if ever verdicts would be reached). Zahra should tell Buhari that we want to see him working, not pretending to work. There’s no need hounding some former governors while others are being made ministers. It makes no sense. It is a mockery of his inauguration statement: I BELONG TO NOBODY. Clearly the President and shown that he belongs to somebody.
Even within the APC, the only person who has been “probed” is the Senate President, Bukola Saraki,
who is being tried over allegations that are about 12 years old! And this came after he dared the party and emerged as Senate President. Am I missing something or did Buhari not say only stuff that happened after May 29. This is called selective justice, which is a far cry from the expectation of the average Nigerian youth, who is beginning to view the whole anti-corruption parade as a charade which is aimed at those who are not in the President/APC good books.
Zahra, please tell Buhari to leave corrupt people to enjoy their loot if he is not willing to probe his former boss, Olusegun Obasanjo, his military successor, Ibrahim Babangida and others who have been widely blamed for the country’s predicament.
When he was campaigning to be President, Buhari promised the youths a lot of things, including involvement in governance. I, for one did not believe a word of this no matter how many times it was repeated.
On December 24, 2014, I was invited to Oriental Hotel where Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the then Vice-presidential hopeful was to speak to a select audience of influential youth leaders. When quizzed on if the youths would have a part to play in their government if they win the election, the lawyer replied “of course.” He went on to brag that a large number of his staff were young people, adding that as a former university lecturer, he is in tune with what the youths can bring to the table as regards governance .
Months down the line and the President’s ministerial list has emerged with the youngest person being a 48-year old. The ever active social media sought to know why no youth was considered in the selection to which Osinbajo replied that the youths need to sit up as no worthy youth was found capable of filling any portfolio.
Bloody Christ, there are an estimated 68 million youths in the country and no one was found worthy? How nice! But we should not forget that the youths gave the APC a bulk of the votes during the election. Let it be known that a very large number of social media activists were employed by the APC to help with their campaign propaganda; I do not want to mention names. It should not be forgotten that these people, and not the old men that are not so far from their graves that made the APC campaign successful. It should also be noted that none of these individuals has even been considered for a Special Adviser role.
This, in my unsolicited opinion is an insult to the youths of this country.
Again I will like Zahra to remind Buhari that the youths have their eyes and ears on the ground and are watching what he is up to. She should tell him that the earlier he begins to see us as the leaders of tomorrow (haha, yeah right) the better for him as the social media, as it is today is capable of pushing forward a strong narrative against his non-involvement of young intellectuals to help his government.
Like I said before, I did not believe more than 90% of the campaign promises I heard, including ALL promises made to the youths. My apprehension was confirmed when the Buhari instituted his transition committee, where there was nobody below 45 years old. I asked my friends: When will young people know what transition committees are about and how they are run? 2019? 2023? Two thousand and never?
Hell! Augu Ogbeh, even Lai Mohammed is going to be a minister and there are no worthy youths to be made minister. That is a joke I will forever laugh at.
Zahra should tell Buhari that the youths would like to have a feel of how the government is being run. We demand at least 40% participation. That is how things are done. Canada’s new Prime Minister is 43 years old. Barrack Obama was 44 when he became President of USA.
Please Zahra, tell him we are the leaders of tomorrow (haha, yeah right) and can start learning today (haha, yeah right)
When I met Osinbajo, he handed me a copy of the APC manifesto, and I took out time to study it word for word.
In a part of the manifesto, the APC promised that it would “Within the first year, employ 740,000 (20,000 per state + FCT) young graduates in immediate employment and empowerment scheme.” Zahra, please tell your father that he has just over 6 months to manufacture 740,000 jobs. The youths which make up the working class have nothing to do. To be honest, this is the reason why nefarious activities seem to be the only option for the youth. Many people my age have tried and tried to get legitimate jobs to no avail. Little wonder they pursue a “career” in internet fraud, which gives them the required funds to pay back their parents and help support the family and perhaps start a family of their own.
Asides fraud, the entertainment sector has been the other solace of the young Nigerian, for years without end, the youths of the country have sought out ways to fend for themselves in this sector without help from the government (not until Goodluck Jonathan helped out with the multibillion naira intervention fund for Nollywood). These two (crime and entertainment) are the two largest “employers” of youths, and it needs to change (for crime) and improve (for entertainment).
Zahra, your father may not know these things, but I have a feeling he listens to you. So please, talk to the man.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND SOCIAL AMENITIES
To be honest, the average Nigerian youth does not even care if Buhari gives those jobs. They don’t even believe in the concept of creating jobs especially as they have been promised and failed several times in the past.
So what does the youth want from Buhari? Social welfare!
We want qualitative education. I, for one have seen countless number of my friends leave the shores of this country in order to acquire an education. And when they are done studying, they never want to return to the country. Why? They have seen a working society and do not see the need to return to one that is far from working.
Buhari and the APC promised to target up to 20% of the annual budget for education. Zahra, remind him because the youths are watching and waiting, not for him to perform, but for him to fail. Tell him to
prove us wrong.
Asides this, your father also promised a lot of other things in the APC manifesto, but I would like to remind him of the following, as they will go a long way to reduce the everyday hustle of the less priviledged youth:
– Create an additional middle class of at least 4 million new home owners by 2019
– Ban medical trips for government officials
– In different phases over 4 years, APC will make monthly direct cash transfer of N5, 000 to the 25 million poorest citizens, if they immunize children and enroll them in school.
– Embark on a National Infrastructural Development Programme as a Public Private Partnership that will (a) ensure 5,000 km of Superhighway including service trunks and (b) building of up to 6,800 km of modern railway completed by 2019. (this last part about railways needs to be made a top priority in the transportation sector as it will greatly reduce the hellish traffic usually faced by commuters, especially in Lagos, where the youth population can never be over exaggerated).
Zahra, your father has been abroad a number if times, he knows what the rail system can do.
Dear Zahra, I know your father is a retired military general. And I remember that he and the APC condemned Jonathan for failing to curtail Boko Haram. He promised to rout the insurgents in 2 months. We knew it was just campaign gist, but hey! Its 5 months and the terrorists are becoming more brazen and frequent in their attacks. I love travelling and would have extended my nationwide tour to the North, but as you can see, it’s not looking like a wise idea.
Zahra, your dad wants to “sit” on the petroleum ministry. He has sat on the petroleum industry on more than one occasion: first as Obasanjo’s Federal Commissioner (minister) for Petroleum in 1976 and as head of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) under the late Sani Abacha.
My dear, we the youths do not understand the rationale behind him sitting on a sector he has headed before. If he failed to sanitize it then, why should we believe that he will sanitize it now? Why doesn’t he want to sit on the defence ministry, given his military background and the level of insurgency currently being suffered by the country?
Zahra, please tell Buhari that the youths expect him to take this Boko Haram matter more seriously. He needs to be aware of this. We believe he is not as serious about the fight against insurgency as he is about the fight against alleged corrupt political enemies. Talk to the man, our patience has started growing… very thin.
DIVERSIFYING THE ECONOMY
I will not spend much time talking about this subject. The youths have little or no stake in the petroleum sector, which drives most of the country’s economy. During the campaign period, Osinbajo was at an interactive session which had some entertainers in attendance. There was Olamide, 9ice, some actors and actresses and from their discussion, it was evident that old people like him and Buhari knew nothing about the problems the youths face in the entertainment sector. That is because they have their eyes on only the petroleum and maybe the banking/fiscal sectors.
Zahra, I know you are social media savvy and must know what is up in the entertainment sector. Asides that, the country is manufacturing close to no product. This is poor regarding we have a population of close to 200 million people. No functioning tourism sector. These things are means of diversifying the economy and create jobs for millions of youths.
Abeg I no wan shout, Zahra, please tell your father to sit up.
In case he doesn’t know, the youths do not give a hoot about APC or PDP. We just want a working Nigeria. If he cannot give us that, we are willing and able to run a “parallel government” for only young people, since they have forgotten that we are the leaders of tomorrow. (haha, yeah right).
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.