President Muhammadu Buhari recently said in the last seven and a half years, he has done his best for Nigeria and prioritised challenges facing the country’s youthful population.
The president made the comment in the United States during the US-Africa Summit, according to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President, Malam Garba Shehu.
Verdict: Largely False
According to a statement by Garba Shehu, Buhari spoke in Washington, USA while meeting with Al-Mahfoudh Bin Bayyah, secretary-general of the Abu Dhabi Forum, and Bob Roberts, his deputy.
The statement quoted Buhari as noting the vast nature of the country adding, “We are big in size and population, facing many challenges, but in many areas, we are trying. In seven-and-a-half years, I have done my best”
According to him, the problems affecting youths are the priority of the government as they are the country’s promise for a better future.
The president also noted the need to raise generations of youths devoid of religious extremism and bigotry.
He urged the Abu Dhabi Forum to sustain its works in the area of youth mentorship and capacity building.
“Your work is very important in helping, especially the youth, to understand one another and at the same time, to be proud of their heritage,” he said.
“This great initiative by you will help future generations to plan well and live together in peace.
“On our part, we’ll continue to solve our problems, especially as they relate to the youth.”
Verdict: Largely False
Checks by Daily Trust show that statistics and reports from verifiable bodies both national and international indicate that the indices on youth development and empowerment under the Buhari administration are quite low.
Although the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government has introduced youth-targeted empowerment programmes, such the N-Power, Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES), Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), among a few others, the programmes have not yielded the desired results on the targeted group and national economy.
Statistics from reputable institutions have shown that the youth empowerment programmes have had little impact on the country’s youths.
It also indicates that youths in the country are not meaningfully engaged to be productive in different fields.
According to the latest Labour Force report of the National Bureau of Statistics, unemployment among young Nigerians (15- 34 years) is the highest in the country, with 21.72 million or 42.5 per cent of the 29.94 young Nigerians unemployed, while the national unemployment rate stood at 33.3 per cent as at December 2020.
A breakdown of Nigeria’s unemployment rate showed that as of the last quarter of 2015 when Buhari took over power, unemployment rate stood at 10.4 per cent according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
The figure went up to 14.2 per cent at the end of 2016. At the end of 2017, it moved up to 20.42 per cent. It moved up to 23.1 per cent in 2018 and the latest figures from the NBS indicate that the unemployment rate now stands at 33.3 per cent.
The report notes that most unemployed people in Nigeria are youths, which shows a big gap in the unemployment space facing Nigerian youths.
The challenge that has worsened the unemployment rate in the last seven years as observed by Daily Trust is the inability of the government to create enabling environment for the private sector to create jobs.
Most businesses and companies, especially in the production and manufacturing sectors, are stifled by the inadequate power supply, multiple taxation among others.
50% of Nigerian youths want to relocate permanently — World Bank
Similarly, the World Bank last year in a report revealed that about 50 per cent of Nigerians are willing to leave the country for a better economic future abroad.
The figure represents an increase of nearly 20% since 2014.
The bank disclosed this in its report titled, ‘Of Roads Less Travelled: Assessing the Potential for Migration to Provide Overseas Jobs for Nigeria’s Youth,’ which was published on its website.
The report says Nigeria ranked 3rd highest in West Africa behind Liberia (70%) and Sierra Leone (60%) of responders who would move permanently to another country. The least-ranked country in the report was Niger Republic at 10%.
The World Bank noted that young Nigerians were increasingly opting for irregular migration routes to realize their hopes for a better life.
“With rising migratory pressures created by poor employment conditions, Nigerians are increasingly choosing to migrate through irregular means,” the bank stated.
It added that Nigerians represented the largest group of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa arriving in Europe in 2016 and 2017 as nearly 40,000 Nigerians arrived in Italy in 2016 with over 90% of those arriving via sea routes.
“A larger share of Nigerian migrants arriving in Italy was women (32 per cent) compared to migrants from the rest of SSA (24 per cent),” the Washington-based bank stated.
It also revealed that while the number of asylum seekers from Nigeria has declined in recent years, that does not translate to decreased demand for migration from Nigeria. The drop in migration levels from Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries to Europe is a result of tighter border control policies supported by the EU in transit countries such as Libya and Niger.
“However, the underlying economic and demographic factors that create migratory pressures are unlikely to subside in the near future, with other potential irregular routes being reported through Sudan and Chad to Libya,” the report added.
The ‘Japa’ syndrome
The ‘Japa’ syndrome is becoming popular and has now become the story of many young citizens leaving Nigeria today in search of greener pastures.
The word ‘japa’ is derived from the Yoruba language which means to run quickly, to avoid, to terminate, or to escape from a difficult or uncomfortable situation or circumstance, which has now become the tale of Nigerian youths about their country.
The ‘japa’ syndrome became very popular towards the end of 2021.
Subsequently, according to a report by the Africa Polling Institute in 2021, seven out of 10 young Nigerians are willing to relocate to other countries for various reasons, with a good number of them recording success.
According to the report, “What is alarming is that the present groups of Nigerians leaving the country are professionals seeking better career opportunities. It is safe to say that migration is a normal and constant thing, as people will always move from one place to another to seek greener pastures.”
The report notes that “Bad leadership, socio-economic issues, inflation, lack of opportunities and insecurity are mainly the reasons why people are leaving the country.”
This is indicative of the fact that the federal government has not created a friendly environment to keep the most productive segment of its populace which is the youth.
Also, Daily Trust noted that the country’s youthful population has become frustrated by the inability of the government to provide enabling environment for entrepreneurs and young professionals to thrive.
Speaking to Daily Trust, a young medical practitioner, Kadri Jimoh, who has now moved permanently from Nigeria to the United Kingdom, noted that the welfare of health practitioners is vital in the UK and the country understands that, unlike Nigeria.
He said, “Here, because medical practitioners are essential service providers, their welfare and conditions of service are excellent unlike in Nigeria that medical practitioners, both doctors and nurses, will be going on strike just to press home their demands for better welfare.
“These are some of the reasons why I left and since I arrived here, the difference is clear,” he said.
Conclusion: Relying on data from credible institutions and the current situation in the country, Daily Trust concludes that indices relating to Nigeria’s youth development and empowerment are quite low, as such, the claim by President Buhari is largely false.