In his interactions with four new ambassadors presenting their letters of credence on Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari said, among other things, that Nigeria’s youthful population and ethnic diversity presented peculiar challenges.
According to him, “As you may know, Nigeria is an ethnic and culturally diverse society with various opportunities which we seek to creatively utilise for the benefit of our people. We are also a country with a huge population which is predominantly youthful. These pose peculiar new challenges.”
Even though he also invited the international community to take advantage of the youth population, in other words seeing the problem as opportunity, it is more significant that his mindset frames the burgeoning youth population and ethnic diversity as a problem. For him, therefore, it is a question of whether the cup is half full or half empty only that from the context of his statements, not to say the experience of his administration, he sees the cup frequently as half empty.
Nigeria’s youth population, as disproportionately large as it is, presents itself as an opportunity both for the international community, which is more adept at cashing in on such things, and the domestic economy. It is not a challenge in the sense the president tremulously expressed, not to say a new and peculiar one.
Furthermore, contrary to how the Buhari presidency has insouciantly handled ethnic suspicion, Nigeria’s ethnic diversity is a great opportunity to forge a country out of its diversity into a uniquely blended one. As the United States motto says, e pluribus unum — out of many, one.
President Buhari may be unaware of the nuances emblazoned on the statements he expressed before the four ambassadors, but the indisputable fact is that he worries about the consequences of rising youth population and ethnic diversity, two factors that a more enterprising government would see as an opportunity to manage and forge greatness.
Going by the president’s mindset on youth population and ethnic diversity, the country will continue to wrestle with an issue which if it had been properly framed as a solution and opportunity would have led to a pleasant and great outcome.
Why is anyone surprised that until the #EndSARS problem manifested, the government paid no heed to the looming youth crisis? Pursuant to this, would the government then wait until ethnic conflict ensued on a scale clearly more unmanageable than the youth crisis of today before seeing and exploiting it as an opportunity?