Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is under fire from critics after a speech in which he blamed the youth of his country for wanting to “do nothing” and take advantage of the oil money.
The head of state, who recently announced his intention to seek a second term in 2019, was speaking on Wednesday at a Commonwealth business forum in London.
According to President Buhari, “many of them have not gone to school and claim (…) that Nigeria being an oil producing country, they can sit and do nothing and have access to housing, health care and free education,” he said.
His remarks triggered the ire of Nigerians on social networks, in a country hit by poverty and lack of basic public services, such as the provision of running water and electricity, although it is the first economy of West Africa.
On Thursday morning, the hashtag #LazyNigerianYouths (“Lazy Nigerian Youth”) was looped back on Twitter, with netizens listing the efforts and sacrifices made by the youth as Nigeria struggles economically.
“The government has never created anything for me, I feed on my resourcefulness and yet they say we are lazy,” wrote one of them.
The combined rate of youth unemployment and underemployment hovered around 50 percent at the end of 2017, after Nigeria experienced the worst economic recession in 25 years.
Growth picked up slightly last year, but non-oil GDP remains marginal, notably due to the country’s glaring lack of infrastructure.
Nigeria, which already has more than 180 million people, is expected to overtake the United States to become the third most populous country in the world with more than 300 million population by 2050, according to the UN.