Government does not owe you anything: How convenient, how true?

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government does not owe you anything

On Monday, 23rd of January 2017, the Nigerian Minister of Mines and Steel, Dr Fayemi Kayode, warned Nigerian youths to stop whining.[1] He criticised the “entitlement mentality that is commonplace among young people”[2] in Nigeria, noting that government does not owe you anything. Like other youth-thrashers, he bragged that he drove taxis and worked as a security guard in London for survival. Weh don Sir, government does not owe you anything abi? This is another style of singing the “Nigerian-youths-are-unemployable”[3] hymn by the pre-1980 free-education beneficiaries and floating motivational speakers.


Truly, there seem to be a common entitlement mentality among Nigerian youths, especially after graduation from the university. Many young people quickly replace the attitude of hard work with a habitual blame for everything but themselves. Those who failed to study in line with their true passion and talents blame parents, government and society for their misfortune. Even those who were lazy to study, and who paid for good grades, also blame government for their woes. Hence, it might be justified to state that the government does not owe you anything, especially when you are not helping yourself.


Yet, the society is the custodian of the individual’s rights and liberties, whether lazy or hardworking. And government is the machinery for organisation of the society for human development, wellbeing, peace and progress. Members of a society compromise some of their rights, liberties and possessions for the society’s harmonious organization and governance. In turn, government, as the machinery of the social organisation, takes care of the necessary aspects of the members of the society. Hence, the insistence that government does not owe you anything signals an approval of government irresponsibility in Nigeria.


Replacing the colonial powers, Nigerian government MILITARILY snatched the rights to all mineral resources[4][5][6] in Nigeria from the ethnic communities. These resources are the fundamental materials for manufacturing tools and other commodities for physical development in the society. The process of locally extracting mineral resources, purification, processing, association and distribution can sustainably engage Nigerian youths’ productivity. But instead of organizing youths for processing these mineral resources for production in Nigeria, Nigerian government auctions the resources to foreigners. Thus, they sacrifice job opportunities for millions of Nigerian youths to foreigners in exchange for forex and imported goods.


But the Honourable Minister of Mines and Steel insists that Nigeria, society, government does not owe you anything. This comes after government seizure of all mineral resources that ethnic communities should use to produce what they need for survival. Afterwards, government officials use funds from sale of seized resources to fund a national assembly that gulps 25% of annual budget.[7] This is in addition to other wasted /diverted funds on recurrent government expenses and inflated contracts. Even government officials from poor states, who lack education and economic activities, openly buy foreign estates and private jets.


Joint account - Nigerian representatives

When challenged, government spokesmen ask you to hold your own government official responsible for not sharing resource-money to reach you. After twisting the illegitimate constitution for immunity,  scary-security and judicial protection, they tell you to hold your government responsible. After seizing resources as fundamental elements of livelihood, productivity and sustainable development, they insist that government does not owe you anything.


Science graduates may not be effective without resources to implement the productivity of their scientific knowledge. As a good farmer is useless without access to land for cultivation, so are energetic Nigerian youths hopeless without access to resources for production. The Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act ensures the sustenance of this hopelessness and uselessness among Nigerian youths. This is why intelligent Nigerians struggle to travel outside where there is access to resources for demonstrating the genius in them.


The effort to justify government irresponsibility by flaunting few people who survived after much hardship is not only fallacious but wicked. What is the RATIO of those who luckily survived the extreme hardship to the millions who are still dying miserably in the hardship? What is the proper order of human capital development and engagement in a reasonable society? Should the survival/breakthrough of a few hundreds justify the system where millions of Nigerian youths are miserably hopeless?


A properly formed state trains and engages its citizens to utilize their resources for producing what they need. It does not just wait to canonize few citizens who excel as importers, reporters, counters and socio-religious entertainers without actual transformation and productivity. This attitude forces actual nation-builders into an individualistic desperation for survival through unsuitable or illegal ventures. This attitude officially announces to Nigerian youths and children that nobody cares for them, hence, they can cheat, rob or kill to survive.


The statement ‘government-does-not-owe-you-anything’ could be used to motivate people towards creativity and independent reasoning. It is necessary to push citizens out of their comfort-zones in order to discover their inner capabilities and greatness. However, it is now used to justify wickedness in Nigeria, where government seizes all resources and labels the youth as lazy/unemployable. Until the illegitimate constitution is changed, and the ethnic communities manage their resources for common good, the statement ‘government-does-not-owe-you-anything’ remains a lie.



[2] ibid

[3] Femi Falana, The Right To Education And The Challenge Of Knowledge-Production In Nigeria, in a convocation lecture at Dominican University, Samonda, Ibadan, on 7th June, 2017

[4] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2

[5] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[6] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[7] Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Daniel Kanu and Andajibola Abayomi, Nigeria: Sanusi Insists National Assembly Takes 25 Percent of Govt Overheads, 10 December, 2010. Extracted on 6 September, 2017