Nigerian Youths: The Unemployment, Underemployment and Un-employability DilemmaArticles/Opinion Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
By Joel Pereyi
Year in, year out, parents and guardians in the country over pour in their lingering hopes, and in some cases their all into the successes of their children and wards. After much have been expended, our ivory towers certify them worthy in learning and character, only for them to be rubber-stamped and christened unemployable by employers of labor. This has been one of the absurd realities of the youths of this generation, and more disturbing, however, is the fact that we seem not to be in a hurry to alter this sorry fate.
My friend, Udi Martins, graduated three years ago with a second class(upper division) in international relations. Appealing to my naïveté in the arts and humanities demographic, he used to tease me with literary terms and I responded with all sort of scientific arcana. I recall how he spoke French with the eloquence of Charles De Gaule and English with the dexterity of a Winston Churchill. Undoubtedly, he was and still is an intellectual aristocrat of an urbane and literal temper. To this day, my dear friend is underemployed. It sickens me he has been denied an income that befits a man of his brain and brawn.
Layefa, Nonye and Nonso – friends of a friend – cleared the doubts of those who held contentions to Jim Rohn’s law of averages in all metrics. This troika were outstanding students who topped their respective departments – Sociology, Petroleum Engineering and Geology – and as such, they carried themselves with the deliberate aplomb of book–bound gurus. Either Layefa or Nonye – I can’t remember which – secured overseas scholarship immediately after her service year, while her friends had to make do with low paying teaching jobs. About two months ago, my body squirmed as if it had received a jolt to the nerves when I saw Nonso walking on crutches. On more enquiry, I heard she was a victim of the Immigration Recruitment Exercise.
Contrasting Martins, Nonso, the Oscar contending theatricals of one Mr. Sunday Omotayo, an unemployed graduate of Mechanical Engineering, Ekiti State University, who perfectly played a national itinerant, company-to-company, job seeking fellow for a decade, before he frustratingly attempted suicide along Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo, some days after we were crowned the biggest economy in Africa, the thousands of duly qualified candidates that flock interview venues whenever rumors of employment are circulated, and the number of Ph.d and Masters degree holders who sought placement as drivers during Dangote’s 2012 recruitment exercise, to the Rasaq Okoyas, Cosmos Madukas, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okochas, Innocent Ifediaso Chukwumas, Vincent Obianodos, Onibalusi Bamidele – a teenager who pulled $50,000, yes $50,000 via copywriting, and many other unsung, yet, very successful plumbers, mechanics, carpenters, bricklayers, et cetera, who we’ll tag illiterates in good conscience, in addendum with the adjective “stark” sometimes, if not for their successes, after all, they never saw the four walls of a higher learning institution. It will amount to unredeemable foolhardy not to insinuate that the fastest solution to this problem – unemployment, underemployment, and un-employability – is both individualistically challenging and stupidly simple.
In an attempt to proffer a long lasting solution to this festering malaise, I quizzed the cause, and admonished my respondents to suggest long lasting solutions, through an opinion poll on social media. Expectedly, their views varied like their respective nomenclatures. Their opines reduced the figurative giant of Africa into a somewhat funny pie chart. While some took solace in shooting brickbats and sentimental canons at the establishment, others premised their conclusions on the quantum cum quality of education churned out at our academe grounds. In all, the better part of their resolves fell within a comic range that went from slapstick to satire. How sad?
While almost all my respondents admitted that this debacle is a plethora of problems on its own, many failed to admit that an a la carte approach – where one choose which angle to tackle, and which to ignore – wouldn’t solve it in finality. Tackling it solely from government’s vantage point or the under-commitment of students or our Methuselah reminiscent curriculums will be like cutting a tree with a knife, which further lends justice to the comical aspect of their resolves.
Unbeknownst to them, the breakthrough blueprint poises culpable obligations on us all. Yes, government ought to create an investment friendly atmosphere, with constant power, good road networks, grants, soft loans, and a check on ridiculous interest rates. We shouldn’t fail to pronounce and accentuate their positives – Youwin and Sure P – regardless of our variant degrees of skepticism to their successes. In truth, a million and one such schemes wouldn’t bid us adieus to this unfortunate fate. They’ve never solved it all, not in Europe, America or other civilized climes. More so, the process of transforming an erstwhile decadent and corrupt system is extraordinarily difficult, agreeably, it is certainly not a tea party.
Youths caught in this twist of fate tellingly have much to do. Enough of the equally strident and bellicose murmurings and blame gaming. The heat of nepotism and cronyism our institutions and companies exude is intense enough to waylay us to take cues from the aforementioned exceptional Nigerians. The fact that successive governments have failed us should spur us to don our thinking caps and perhaps, think out of the box(if need be). Isn’t it clear enough for even the blind to see that there is more than one way to be educated? But, that is a topic for another day. Our curriculums are long overdue for shake up. With a sense of impending urgency, they should be retailored to meet our current challenges.
Conclusively, our responsibilities can be distilled down to three necessities; identifying needs, creating value, and charging a fee for it. Regardless of discipline, opening one’s eye to identify societal problems and needs isn’t too daunting a task, is it? Sequel to that, however, is acquiring the necessary expertise to solve such problems. It might require starting small and informally, with a skewed salary structure, leveraging on supports from friends and family, but one thing is cinch; it will amount to creating value and at the same time, getting paid to make the world a better place.If our necessities can be seen beyond mere rhetoric, it wouldn’t be long before we subject this hydra headed monster to the annals of history. But first, we’ll have to confine it to our memories, by standing up for our respective selves.
Joel Pereyi is a freelance copywriter, and a final year Petroleum Engineering student of Niger Delta University. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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