Having carefully designed his birthday colloquium to project his presidential aspiration and offer himself as the most suitable choice to succeed Buhari, Bola Tinubu stepped to the podium on Monday and set off a big debate on his capacity for the job he will be seeking in a few months time. Turn to any of the commonly used social media platforms, and you will most certainly notice Nigerians debating the proposition.
So, what did Tinubu proposed and why is it generating reaction? Uncomfortable with the country’s unemployment figure and the implication on security, Tinubu proposed that young Nigerians should be massively recruited into the military. That is, draft 50 million youth to the military to cut off potential recruitment sources for terrorists and other criminal activities.
“Recruit 50 million youths into the army, take away from their (the bandits’) recruitment source,” the former Lagos state governor had noted in his speech at the colloquium to mark his 69th birthday that held in Kano. This recommendation, no doubt, provided a clear insight into Tinubu’s mindset, particularly on solving the unemployment crisis.
In fairness to Tinubu, the high unemployment rate presents a feeding ground not only for bandits but other social vices, which in recent times have gone so bad. But anyone who has taken the time to analyze the problem will realize that Tinubu’s proposition will realize how poor it sounds. Why? This is no brainer and I will do my best to make you understand.
When Nigeria got its independence in 1960, there was some sort of consensus from within and outside, that it would go on to be one of the greatest nations on Earth. But the huge prospects that heralded the country’s birth have since been lost to irresponsible leaderships, who consistently show poor understanding of problems or deeply think through remedy.
The very fact that we’re in this terrible situation as a country, where nothing seems to be working to expectations, should be enough for anyone to realize that this isn’t a time for an unfeasible proposition. What Nigerians need, especially after realizing their misjudgements with Buhari, is a president that is thorough in thinking and ideas on turning things around in the country.
Unfortunately, what Tinubu showed us on Monday in Kano was a replay of the failed ideas that counted for the country’s abysmal outlook. Perhaps he was too lost in his desire to impress supporters that he failed to realize that drafting 50m youth, which is 25% of Nigeria’s population, into the military is outrageous and unsustainable.
But he tried to dismiss the argument by suggesting that young people recruited into the military can eat “Cassava, corn, yam in the afternoon….. it is grown here.” This is unbelievable and to imagine that an aspiring president thinks what matters to young people is only food is unsettling.
More than ever, that kind of mindset is telling us something especially at a time when leaders elsewhere are aggressively encouraging their youths to go into STEM, robotic engineering, programming, and other critical knowledge that will define the future, including the military sphere. True, security is a necessity for any country to experience growth and development but thinking that the only way to achieve it is through military option is a big gaffe for someone who seeks the highest political office in the land.
Times and again, we have learned through various research works how a high level of illiteracy serves as a fertile ground for terrorism. It was on that strength that a former Vice President Atiku Abubakar rued the indifference shown so far by the government to the level of illiteracy as the figure of out-of-school children, which currently stood at 10.3 million, disappointingly showcased.
It is a good thing that Tinubu joined the growing list of Nigerians who are not comfortable with the country’s rising unemployment rate but as a presidential hopeful, he should be able to show that he can do a better job. This is exactly what Buhari failed to do when he serially seek the country’s top political office, but unfortunately, many Nigerians didn’t pay attention and here we are now.
Tinubu turns the lens on himself through that proposition, and I can say, just as many others have observed on various social media platforms, tells us something uninspiring about him. As against what many of his supporters have always wanted us to believe, I’m afraid Tinubu sent the wrong signal.
By Oke Umurhohwo, a Political Analyst and Strategist. He tweets via @OkeStalyf and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org