By Dr. Thomas S. Wilson
Permit me to start this essay with a recent report on Nigeria by Aljazeera, an international news organisation:
“Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 170 million inhabitants, is one of the world’s top ten exporters of oil. But its youth have grown increasingly disenchanted. While they make up the majority of the population, more than one-third of young people are unemployed.
The situation in northern Nigeria is particularly dire. More than half of young people in the north are unemployed and the poverty rate is at 72 percent – double the estimate in other parts of the country. Northern youth have become ideal recruits, exploited in conflicts waged by politicians, gangs, and self-described Islamist Boko Haram fighters”.
Only a few days ago, thousands of youths gathered across the country for the recruitment exercise by the Nigerian immigration service (NIS).
It was alleged that only 240 slots were remaining from the 4,556 vacancies advertised and 522,675 applicants applied. As at this moment over 20 people have died nationwide from the stampede and exhaustion resulting from the exercise.
It is not my intention herein to analyse the various shortcomings on the part of the NIS regarding this exercise. Agreed, the manner in which the recruitment exercise was conducted fell short of sanity, yet I’ll rather concentrate on the several youths that gathered for the exercise here and leave the shortcomings of the government for another day.
Let me start by stating categorically that I do not begrudge the civil service. We cannot all become entrepreneurs. The civil service is noble. Taking up paid employment in the private sector is equally as noble. Yet there is ranking in nobility.
It is common these days to find youths who graduated from higher institutions of learning, sit at home for several years thereafter, doing nothing or at best, hopping from one office/ministry to another in search of jobs. When you ask to know why they are redundant, they will tell you that the government is irresponsible!
It is my opinion however, that the majority of our youths are far more irresponsible than the government they so castigate!
It is the peak of irresponsibility to become a perpetual complainant instead of taking advantage of the existing lacuna and converting it into commerce and legitimate merchandise.
One of my protégées called me from Lagos a few days ago, while the NIS exercise was going on. and put a call across to me. I told him immediately to leave the venue and return to his small scale business of making chin-chin and pop-corn. I had always told him to put in his all into the venture and nurture it to the next level. That crowd of about 70,000 youths gathered at the National stadium, jostling for an infinitesimal space was the ultimate catalyst he needed to take my advice seriously!
The truth is that your action is a product of your thoughts. And your thought is a product of what you deposit in your mind. Unfortunately, the majority of our youths do not make conscious efforts to develop their minds. They would rather spend hours on end on the social media, ‘catching fun’ than sit to read books or watch tapes that will transform their lives.
Many erroneously believe that their paper certificate is their key to a world of bliss. Hence, rather than study and have the content sink into their subconscious, they would rather cheat and get a certificate devoid of psychic development, constituting themselves into a nuisance in the labour market thereafter.
There is no tenable reason why any youth should remain unengaged for years in a nation like Nigeria, with so much latent opportunities, waiting to be tapped.
If they refuse to employ you, employ yourself!
Start something. It doesn’t have to be huge. Everything that we consider ‘huge’ today, started small. Your beginning may be ridiculous, but soon you shall experience the miraculous.
One mentality that the Nigerian youths must learn to discard, is the ‘white collar job’ mentality. You don’t have to put on a tie and suit or work in a government parastatal to excel. In fact, what some of our friends in paid employment make in a month, some of us in business make far more in a day!
But then, the desperation for getting a placement in government parastatals by our youths is a cause for suspicion. Is the core attraction the monthly remuneration or the couriered ‘manna’ shared behind the tables? That again, a discourse for another day.
Indeed, job placement should not be all about money. It is about fulfillment. Doing what gives you Joy, satisfaction and an avenue to impact lives positively. We don’t all have to be millionaires to find fulfillment and make impact, but we must all be gainfully engaged to so do.
Instead of sitting down prostate, blaming the government and blaming God for creating you a Nigerian, you can make the best use of the opportunities that lie fallow all around you, in this land of abundance.
Rather than playing the blame game, move. For until you move, nothing around you moves!
* Dr. Thomas S. Wilson sent this piece from Akure.