This is an updated plan for Nigerian youth in President Buhari’s strategy

In 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari criticised the attitude of some Nigerian youth, saying “more than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free.”

In 2016, during an interview with UK Telegraph, President Buhari some Nigerians in the UK, mostly youth, are disposed to criminality and should not be granted asylum there.

His submissions have been countered by Rice University, who showed that Nigerian youth are the most educated of all migrants in the country. Also, Flutterwave’s story, the phenomenal growth of the tech space in Nigeria, Nigeria’s youth amazing strides home and abroad has shown that not too many people care about the oil as much – they want to build and provide solutions.

Still in 2018, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited young innovators in the large tech community in Yaba. He saw, first hand, ideas turned into solutions and the need for more policies to enable growth of these companies, and opportunities for more youth.

The migration problem in brief

Economic hardship, unemployment, poor leadership, structural barriers have been identified as some of the reasons Nigerian youths ditch being patriotic and travel abroad – to seek greener pastures, or just breath the air of working systems.

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In 2021, Feminist and Communications Consultant, Oluwatobi Ayodele, in a podcast, Live Abundantly, anchored by Dr Onyerinma Ama, said, “Young people are not doing jobs anymore. When you look at the economy, the price of clothes and other necessary things have increased tremendously. Nigeria is not the best place to be when it comes to the state of the economy.”

She added that insecurity is now a pandemic – an issue that has tired many.

Buhari’s submission

President Buhari says the mass migration of youths is not good for the country, and wants to partner with European countries to stop the trend.

At Brussels, Belgium, for the 6th EU-AFRICA, President Buhari said, as published by Politico, “By 2050, Africa’s population of 1.3 billion is set to double, making up a quarter of the world’s total. My country, Nigeria, is set to double its population to 400 million by then, surpassing the United States to become the third-largest nation in the world.

“This means a huge youthful market right on Europe’s doorstep and – with increased trade – a growing middle class with money to spend.”

He adds, “however, despite burgeoning possibility, irregular northward migration from my continent drains Africa’s talent pool, while provoking political crises in the EU. Despite its best efforts, Europe will not find a sustainable remedy to this problem by further reinforcing its Fortress Europe approach.

“Indeed, more opportunities must be created for Africans at home, providing alternatives to the decision to take a life-threatening boat journey in order to seek them elsewhere. The relationship between the EU and Africa must be rebalancex to power job creation. Unfortunately, today’s arrangements do just the opposite.”

The reality

Emigration started in trickles in the mid-80s and has become a slang – japa. Added to the list of issues causing migration are political instability, police brutality, high poverty level, demographic pressures, unfavourable systems.

If some of these problems are mitigated, then the conversation on migrating may change. For now, Dear President Buhari, Nigerian youth may not have too many options.

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