The central character in this reflection is an international figure as I write. She does not need further introduction since she already has the name recognition as the half Nigerian, half British born woman who now works as a senior aide of the Secretary General of the United Nations. However, in the context of this article, we need to recognize the fact that she is of a very privileged background by virtue of her biological birth by a British mother married as it were to a Fulani Nigerian Man. Her father is also an elite.
Wikipedia entry of her identified her as a politician belonging to the All Progressives Congress. I do not know if her appointment by the United Nations Secretary General was facilitated by President Muhammadu Buhari because her quitting of her political office in the ministry of Environment was during the first tenure as elected President of her kinsman Muhammadu Buhari on 24th February 2017.
Amina Mohamed was also identified to have a middle name called Jane but it is clear that she is a Moslem by religious affiliation going by her mode of dressing patterned after Arab tradition.
Amina Mohammed has always been around Nigerian government circle for a long time. So, she may as well fit the description of a politician she was identified with by those who wrote about her on the Wikipedia entry that I consulted on June 29th 2021 at exactly 12: 45pm.
She was on the board of National Human Rights Commission alongside this writer. She also held another strategic position under the people’s Democratic party during Olusegun Obasanjo, Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan epochs.
She very easily found her way around the Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2015 who immediately elevated her to the position of a cabinet level Minister to chair the environment department of the Federation. So for the better part of her youth, she has held one good position or the other. She has only just rounded up first five years or so as senior adviser of the secretary General of the United Nations and the Secretary General Mr. Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, a Portuguese gave her further five year tenure as soon as he won the second five year tenure at the UN.
As soon as she got the second appointment as Deputy Secretary General which is purely a discretionary appointment by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed came to Nigeria and made a couple of media appearances and even addressed a forum of selected youth leaders.
What has motivated this write up is her sermonizing to youth to stop what she calls working against Nigeria because according to her, the World does not have good enough space to accommodate the well above two hundred million refugees that may emerge if Nigeria breaks away.
Amina Mohammed, then urged Nigerian youths to stop condemning the West-African country, rather, they should start building the country with their God-given skills and talents.
The statement was titled, ‘Be proud of Nigeria, don’t condemn her, don’t lose hope -– DSG Amina J. Mohammed tells young Nigerians’.
“You have got education, you have the tools, and you have a huge future ahead of you, and you are condemning yourself before you start on that journey. Do not do that! Be proud of Nigeria your country; do not condemn her and do not lose hope.
“If you think Nigeria is worse than better, then how are you going to turn it around?” Ms Mohammed asked and stated further, “If you do not want to build this nation, I do not know where you want to go. I can assure you the world is not ready to take 240 million Nigerians. Therefore, let’s think about how to salvage it together,” Mohammed was quoted as charging youths.
On young men and women who are quick to compare Nigeria with other countries, the Deputy Secretary-General urged them to compare Nigeria with other countries with equal population and that had independence at the same time. “Do not compare apples with oranges,” she added.
The former Nigerian minister of environment explained, “Whilst I agree that the potential of this country has not been fully met by successive governments, but I disagree with the view that there is no hope; I disagree with total condemnation of Nigeria. Nigeria is a great country and the best on earth.
“With every right comes an obligation to tell the truth. But the truth in many cases come in different colours depending on who is telling it. As an educated person, your statement has an impact on people’s lives. Some people take you seriously because you are educated and in the university.”
The Deputy Secretary-General urged them to be sure of their statement and always weigh the implications of their words as there are opportunities to collectively make things better in Nigeria.
“Young people must get involved. There is no reason to throw stones at any institution of government unless you are willing to get into that government and do something about it. It might take you a lifetime, but it does require people to make the sacrifice. If enough of us are pushing in the right direction, there will be a big difference,” she added.
Fair enough, Amina Mohammed is free to hold whatever opinions she deems fit. But what is totally superfluous and laughable is her pretence to have forgotten that the young people she is preaching to are really not the root cause of the issues threatening to tear down Nigeria into pieces. She forgot or chose not to remember that the problem lies squarely with the political leadership. If she decides to play politics, has she not bothered to find out what Iconic writers like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and a plethora of other great minds have written about when the rain started to beat Nigeria?
I recommend the book ‘THE TROUBLE WITH NIGERIA’ by professor Chinua Achebe to her whereby this legend correctly located where the problems threatening to destroy the Unity of Nigeria.
Let her find time away from twitter and her phone to read this small book of only 68 pages so that next time she would very rightly take her sermon on how to build Nigeria to the door steps of President Muhammadu Buhari who has in only six years destroyed the fabrics of Nigeria’s unity through a cocktail of nepotistic appointments that favour Fulani ethnic bloc and Moslems where Amina Mohammed identifies as her Primary constituency.
Achebe wrote and this is exactly what obtains in Nigeria of our reality.
Achebe laments thus:“Harnessed to the trappings of protocol and blockaded by a buffer of grinning courtiers and sycophants, even a good and intelligent leader will gradually begin to forget what the real world looks like. When a President of Nigeria sets out to see things for himself, what does he actually see? Highways temporarily cleared of lunatic drivers by even more lunatic presidential escorts; hitherto impassable tracks freshly graded and even watered to keep down the dust; buildings dripping fresh paint; well-fed obsequious welcoming parties; garlands of colourful toilet paper hung round the neck by women leaders; troupes of “cultural dancers” in the Sun, and many other such scenes of contented citizenry. But history tells us of wise rulers at different times and places who achieved rare leadership by their blunt and simple refusal to be fooled by guided tours of their own country.”
Professor Achebe then concluded thus “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.”
In case she (Amina Mohammed) has become ensconced in the cocoons of air conditioned offices in the United Nations and her almost life long privileged living so much so that her eyes are shut to the every day reality of millions of families all over the Country including the youths who are left at the margines of societal developmental trends by those who have hijacked power, Amina Mohammed need to be told of the statistics of poverty of millions of children and the unemployment and poverty and deprivation of Young Nigerians.
Amina Mohammed works in the UN but pretended not to have read about the number of out- of -school children in Nigeria, statistics that were conducted and compiled by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
In 2018 and up until this moment and with the frequent violent kidnappings of Northern School Children many more would by 2021 have withdrawn from schools for fear of terrorists.
Suffice to state that a survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicates that the population of out of school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million, the highest in the world. Most of these children are in Nigeria’s northern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, where Boko Haram insecurities have disrupted academic activities. The indistinctive chatter of young children playing outdoors is very familiar. The boys are playing football while the girls are jumping around, writes Timothy Obiezu in www.givingcompass.org. Most of the children are out of school while some have never been to school. Favour Shikaan a mother, is not left out of the fun. She joins the children’s play. But sometimes she worries about her children’s future. “They are four in number and … two are going to school. The other one is small actually, but even though she’s small, she has grown to the stage whereby she can go to school if not the financial…like the two that are going to transport from here to Apo resettlement everyday is not easy because there’s no money due to our economy today,” Shikaan said. Shikaan and her four children fled a Boko Haram onslaught in Borno in 2015 to settle here, in Abuja.
In the year 2021, the Nigerian government told a big lie by disputing the figure as aforementioned but the difference is like that between six and half a dozen.
Nigeria’s Ministry of Education said the number of out-of-school children stands at 10.1 million, an increase of more than 3 million from last year. While no reasons were given for the increase announced, experts point at the coronavirus pandemic and insecurities around schools.
Abuja resident interviewed by voice of America, Florence Ulo is reviewing her five-year-old son’s schoolwork at home and preparing him for an upcoming term examination.
When COVID-19 hit last year, Ulo, like many Nigerian parents, withdrew her child from school over fear of exposing him to the coronavirus.
Even after the reopening of schools, she says she decided that he’ll remain at home for some months.
“When the Covid thing started, once you contract the virus they’ll take you away. So the thought of being away from my child and being in another place and I can’t have access to him was quite frightening, so I couldn’t take the risk, we had to stay back for a while,” she said.
Ulo’s son recently returned to class after she said the school’s precautionary measures to keep pupils safe had improved.
But now, with many months out of school, he’s trying to catch up.
“I was going to the school to see their COVID-19 compliant level, when I was satisfied to an extent, not that I was totally comfortable with the whole thing. Left for me, my child won’t go anywhere,” said Florence Ulo.
Nigeria’s Education Ministry said the country has seen a jump of 3 million students out of school compared to a year ago.
Even though authorities did not give reasons for the increase, the COVID-19 pandemic clearly was a factor.
My worry is that Amina Mohammed has never spoken loud and clear under the auspices of the UN to reject the constant violent kidnappings of students in Northern Nigeria but she had the effrontery to accuse the young people of Nigeria of disloyalty to a Country that cares not about their wellbeing.
For crying out loud, Amina Mohammed should be told that young Nigerians of all affiliations are the victims of the cocktails of political leadership failures and monumental corruption by the elites who are mostly older people.
BBC early March reported that since December, more than 600 students have been abducted from schools in north-west Nigeria, highlighting a worrying development in the country’s kidnap-for-ransom crisis.
kidnapping of nearly 300 students from the Government Girls Science Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara state, which ended with their release, was the second mass kidnap from schools in less than 10 days. Twenty-seven boys and their teachers who were taken from a school in Kagara, Niger state on 17 February.
The authorities say recent attacks on schools in the north-west have been carried out by “bandits”, a loose term for kidnappers, armed robbers, cattle rustlers, Fulani herdsmen and other armed militia operating in the region who are largely motivated by money.
Many here believe that a weak security infrastructure and governors who have little control over security in their states – the police and army are controlled by the federal government – and have resorted to paying ransoms, have made mass abductions a lucrative source of income.
It is an accusation the governors deny. Zamfara governor Bello Matawalle, who in the past has promised “repentant” bandits with houses, money and cars, said people “not comfortable [with his] peace initiative” were sabotaging his efforts to end the crisis.
Until now, kidnap victims have generally been road travellers in Nigeria’s north-west, who pay between $20 and $200,000 for their freedom, but since the well-publicised abduction in 2014 of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok secondary school by Boko Haram Islamist militants in Borno state, more armed groups have resorted to mass abduction of students.
Kidnapping hundreds of students rather than road travellers, guarantees publicity and government involvement in negotiations, which could mean millions of dollars in ransom payments.
Security expert Kemi Okenyodo believes that this has made the abductions lucrative for criminal gangs.
“The decision on payment of ransom should be reviewed. What are the best steps to take in preventing the abductions so we avoid the payment of ransom?” she asked.
President Muhammadu Buhari has also insinuated that state governors were fuelling the crisis.
“State governments must review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles. Such a policy has the potential to backfire with disastrous consequences,” he said.
The mastermind of the abduction of more than 300 students in Katsina state in December was recently pardoned in nearby Zamfara state after he “repented” and handed over his weapons to the government.
Auwalu Daudawa and his gang were promised accommodation in the town by Governor Matawalle, along with assistance to improve their livelihoods.
In July last year, Mr Matawalle promised bandits two cows for every AK-47 gun they surrendered.
Does Amina know how many young Nigerians have become refugees and internally displaced persons because of the attacks by terrorists who when arrested are rehabilitated and bribed by the government?
Did Amina Mohammed not read about how Somalia executed a lot of terrorists sentenced for their crimes against humanity whereas in Nigeria government introduced resettlement agendum for terrorists even as the victims are left to cruel fate?
In 2020, the estimated youth unemployment rate in Nigeria was at almost 14.2 percent. In 2019 it was 13.72%; and in 2017 it was 13.9%.
These are even official statistics as captured by www.statista.com. Today the unemployment rate is 33.3 percent or 23.3 million of the about 70 million people who should be working in Nigeria that are now out of work.
A well researched paper has these to say on unemployment: “The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics recently published the country’s unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of 2020, reflecting a continued deterioration during the COVID-19 year. The unemployment rate for this period stood at 33.3%. Ogechi Ekeanyanwu, from The Conversation Africa, asked Ndubisi Nwokoma, an economics professor, to provide the context.
Unemployment is when people are ready, able and willing to work, but do not find work. By the International Labour Organisation definition, a person is employed when they work at least 40 hours a week. The working age is regarded as between 15 and 60. Currently, 33.3% or 23.2 million of the about 70 million people who should be working in Nigeria are out of work. An acceptable level of unemployment would be 4%-6%.”
“The country’s underemployment rate – people who work less than 20 hours a week – is also high at 22.8%.”
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights commission of Nigeria.