The Nigerian Graduate And The Unemployment Dilemma

I find a number of things perplexing these days… While around the world there is so much noise about youth unemployment, the same is also true in Nigeria. It is a top discussion topic across society and affects everyone and everything – from the youth themselves and their families to potential employers across sectors and government. We’re all concerned because it impacts on the development and progress of our society. Definitely. But looking around the country at the multitude of unemployed graduates to the thousands others soon to join the numbers upon graduation, I have always wondered where the problems really lie and what the solutions can be. As a fresh graduate myself, this affects me and many close to me and I ask you to please indulge my random musings in this post. In Nigeria, Tuesday editions of The Guardian newspaper is known for publishing vacancies, and has always historically been the go-to source for the latest vacancies by any serious jobseeker. That, combined with numerous other internet job boards, many jobseekers have taken their search online. A simple Google or specialist job website search will reveal myriads of job vacancies in Nigeria. And herein lies my confusion. Since there are such high numbers of graduates in Nigeria, why are they not easily filling these vacancies? And since there seems to be a high need for new recruits by employers as evidenced by the myriad of job advertisements, what then seems to be preventing these jobseekers from being successfully matched with the thousands of available jobs? In essence, what is the missing link? I decided to conduct a quick informal poll of my own among my friends and online followers. The responses I got were both eye-opening and mind-boggling at the same time. Some respondents took the conspiracy theory route – that the majority of advertised vacancies were mere propaganda and already have candidates, identified and selected for the said jobs. Conclusions to support this view can be drawn from the recent Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment debacle. Other respondents proposed that the job requirements advertised (such as minimum five year work experience, very specific skills requirements, post graduate qualifications, international experience , etc..), were simply unattainable and young graduates with 0 – 3years post-graduation do not stand a chance. The common slogan from employers is that the average Nigerian graduate is simply unemployable. I wonder what they mean by this and I intend to find out in my next posts. But I have my own opinions about it all. My initial thoughts are how a young graduate can gain the required five years job experience and skills without being employed first? Drawing on the arguments of the Nigerian employer that Nigerian graduates are not job ready upon graduation, I wonder what role our universities can play in achieving this. I also wonder what steps the Nigerian employer is taking, if any, to work with our universities to meet their recruitment needs and fix the obviously missing link. As I pointed out earlier, these are just my own random musings. In the meantime, I’d be interested to know what your views are on this discordant situation of graduate joblessness and job vacancies advertisements in Nigeria? This post was created with the kind collaboration of Yemi Makinde, Founder, Akada Network, and was first published in April 2014 on Akada Network Community Square Section

The pains and gains of social media

The social media has come to be a part of our lives, and has indeed changed the way everything is being done nowadays.
However, it’s not unusual once in a while to still find people in the perennial argument of whether the Internet has caused more harm than good? In fact, a few days ago one of my friends was told to speak on the topic “the Internet is man’s worst enemy”… The debate continues, and both sides of the divide continually reel out points in Cavour of their chosen motion.

Today, I would play the devil’s advocate.

Personally, I’m at a loss as to whether to claim gains, or rather pains from social media. Truth is I can hardly imagine a lifestyle without the influence of social media… It’s more or less difficult for me to imagine a week without tweeting, updating my Facebook status, relating on BBM or whatsapp, putting up a blogpost, etc… All these have become a recurrent theme of my life, and helps me share momenta and lessons from my own daily activities with a many that care. That much I consider a gain.
But I would not fail to forget my early days on social media… In fact, days when it was yet to be as popular as it is now – at least not around here. I remember my days of addiction to wap sites, chat rooms, and overnight calls following the escapades from chat rooms earlier in the day.
In my personal reckoning, I have always maintained that these days cost me an additional academic year because I make myself believe that I could have channeled those hours to additional studies that might have, amongst other things, gotten me a better result in a particular exams…

Looking back however, I would not say I in anyway regret those days… I indeed very grateful for those delays and I’m actually really enjoying my days on social media presently…

I mean, there were days when my activities on social media was deemed a nuisance to some people, but these days, that same nuisance is being paid for… and I also get to volunteer my time on social media for other causes like live feed of events, etc.

So depending on how you look at it, social media has its pains… but I bet to say the gains are rather enormous!!!

This is a writing assignment put together in about 10 – 12 minutes with minimal pre-thoughts…
So lemme know what you think.
Thanks

21st century beggars: a peculiar Lagos experience

Not too long ago, the Lagos state government deported certain beggars to their home states and there was a whole lot of hullabaloo as a result of that.
My intention is not to revisit that sourly event or even the ridiculous apology and politicking that followed, not at all… But I intend to discuss a new form of begging – in a rather civilized and cultural way; beggars who I think no state government can possibly deport.

It would surprise you to know that begging has taken a whole new sophisticated level in recent times, and you would be astounded by the calibre of people that can now be safely regarded to as BEGGARS without any sense of apology to the word.

I tried as much as possible not to write this piece, but I had to succumb following the barrage of encounter I have had with these beggars in the last couple of days.

The begging mentality has successfully ingrained itself into our culture such that it has now become a norm, and consequently it is an anathema not to give in to these beggars.

From the policeman, to the gateman, to virtually anybody who thinks they deserve to get a stipend from you for no obvious reason of course, the list of beggars is endless…

It’s funny how the gateman quickly assumes anyone that drives through the gate is better than him and as such deserves to give him some stipend for the weekend, something for the festivities, etc.

The security guard or porter believes every student is definitely richer than him and must give him something.

The policeman/traffic warden stops in traffic and approaches a Jeep, of course expecting the occupant to part with some stipends for him.

I’m personally bewildered by this beggar mentality that’s now common place in our society. It is a big part of a culture of undue subservience even in corporate settings.

I remember someone sharing with me recently and comparing the nature or attitudes of stewards, security guards and gatemen in corporate settings in Johannesburg and Lagos, having lived in both cities. He was quick to mention the absence of this undue subservience and beggarly attitude among such workers in Johannesburg, and I totally agree with him.

As I conclude, I have not in any way insinuated that giving is bad. I’m only troubled by a mentality that makes our people think they’re inferior and expect hand-me-downs from some more superior persons… As a people, we must put an end to this kind of mentality and begin to embrace one that promotes self dignity and confidence among each and every one of us…
Let’s together say NO to beggar mentality…

21st century beggars: a peculiar Lagos experience

Not too long ago, the Lagos state government deported certain beggars to their home states and their was a whole lot of hullabaloo as a result of that.
My intention is not to revisit that sourly event or even the ridiculous apology and politicking that followed, not at all… But I intend to discuss a new form of begging – in a rather civilized and cultural way; beggars who I think no state government can possibly deport.

It would surprise you to know that begging has taken a whole new sophisticated level in recent times, and you would be astounded by the calibre of people that can now be safely regarded to as BEGGARS without any sense of apology to the word.

I tried as much as possible not to write this piece, but I had to succumb following the barrage of encounter I have had with these beggars in the last couple of days.

The begging mentality has successfully ingrained itself into our culture such that it has now become a norm, and consequently it is an anathema not to give in to these beggars.

From the policeman, to the gateman to virtually anybody who thinks they deserve to get a stipend from for no obvious reason of course, the list of beggars is endless…

It’s funny how the gateman quickly assumes anyone that drives through the gate is better than him and as such deserves to give him some stipend for the weekend, something for the festivities, etc.

The security guard or porter believe every student is definitely richer than him and must give him something.

The policeman/traffic warden stops in traffic and approaches a Jeep, of course expecting the occupant to part with some stipends for him.

I’m personally bewildered by this beggar mentality that’s now common place in our society. It is a big part of a culture of undue subservience even in corporate settings.

I remember someone sharing with me recently and comparing the nature or attitudes of stewards, security guards and gatemen in corporate settings in Johannesburg and Lagos, having lived in both cities. He was quick to mention the absence of this undue subservience and beggarly attitude among such workers in Johannesburg, and I totally agree with him.

As I conclude, I have not in any insinuated that giving is bad. I’m only troubled by a mentality that makes our people think they’re inferior and expect hand-me-downs from some more superior persons… As a people, we must put an end to this kind of mentality and begin to embrace one that promotes self dignity and confidence among each and every one of us…
Let’s together say NO to beggar mentality…

There Was A Christmas

Christmas 2013 is come and gone, and yet again I can say I had a very boring Christmas… Okay, maybe it’s not that bad but nothing spectacular happened. And funny still, I happen to call a few friends and hardly did any of them have any fun thing to say about how they’ve spent the Christmas. With this, I can’t but wonder what happened to Christmas…?

No doubt, the fun of Christmas has been totally doused…

Could it possibly as a result of all the reason for the season, etc ish… just wears me out personally tho…

In fact, you never know it’s Christmas season in most places in Lagos… save places like Ajose Adeogun, some parts of Ikeja, and a few others…

So this was how my boring Christmas started… Woke up thinking of what to do differently that day, buh alas! Nothing came to mind… So I found myself hopping my bag and jutting out to class to read… whoops! Don’t be scared, ’twas nothing academic. Just wanted to read through some things online and all that… Fortunately for me, there was no light so I could only read for so long… In no time, I was on my way home… and the rest of the day was rather very predictable… just sit and watch movies till the end of the day. Same routine over the past so many years, save last year when I actually went visiting on Christmas! *so sad*

I cannot but wonder, but there used to be a Christmas!

I remember the new clothes, new hair style (okay I’m sure you girls still make Christmas hair, lol), toys for Christmas, etc… Really, there was a Christmas!

There was a Christmas when you just want to have all the fun you can because you know that in a few weeks when school resumes, you’ll be writing an essay on ‘how I spent my Christmas holiday’… But of course, we all know many of you lied in those essays. Story for another day, eh!

There was a Christmas… when you can’t just wait to return from the church service… in anticipation of the chicken that’s about to be devoured… and not to forget an opportunity to eat pounded yam, probably for the first and likely only time of the year… what a time it used to be… There was a Christmas… deep in the recess of memory, I can remember my first and only time at the Bar Beach, Lagos. And it was on a Christmas Day, many years ago.

In all these, I’m realizing I’m growing old…

Oh! There was a Christmas…

MEMOIRS OF CAPE TOWN: The Flight

The only thing on my mind as I stepped aboard was ‘when will the food be served’, I tell you… ’twas around 12midnight already and I was yet to have breakfast… The day leading to The Departure was such a buzz. Being my first time flying, I would have expected myself to be more excited and all that… But hunger plus my experience that day totally zapped off any such euphoria I might naturally have felt.
Anyways, I quickly muddled my way to seat 23E and settled between two gentlemen who hardly took notice of me… not like I cared either! And I doubt if I spoke a word to either of them for the entire 6hours duration of the flight… i really doubt… you don’t blame though, I was quite tired and all I had on my mind was food, food and food. As we settled in, I tried to fiddle with the personal entertainment devices on each seat a while, half listened to the cabin crew take us through the safety guides, emergency exits, and all…
In due course, my dreams came through; food was served! Haha… Typical Nigerian diet, little did I know it’s gonna be my last for at least the next one week, but then I voraciously consumed the minuscule morsel of food, with a tiny cup of fruit juice to accompany… so much economizing on the part of the airline, I must say… Or pardon my naturally voracious appetite plus the consequent humongous hunger of that day.
Before long, time wore on… hours past hours… moved from one cycle of sleep to another… and the skies began to brighten… The first light of Johannesburg in view… the nostalgia… looking down at the landscape, buildings, roads, picked out a rail line, rivers, etc… finally, here we come, and then the announcement was made: get ready for landing… tick tock, taxiing, stop, OR Tambo!!! As I stepped out of the aircraft, I got my first baptism into cold weather… ’twas such a dramatic change of conditions I actually froze!!! Quickly hurried my frigid self into the transit bus… off to the international arrivals terminal… and cleared entry. Now my journey was just about to start, with less than three hours to my presentation.
After clearing customs and all that I obviously couldn’t meet the 7am flight to Cape Town no longer so I had to chill… I practically walked through all the airline shops in the airport looking for the cheapest return flight to Cape Town. Really, it was such an hustle that fateful morning… as if my predicaments weren’t bad enough, my UBA VISA card decided not to work abroad… I was literally stranded… but thanks to some little cash, that was crisply meant for my hotel rent. At least let me get to Cape Town first and we will be seeing to the rent palaver later. So lesson to be learnt, hold cash anywhere you’re going O… forget cashless policy I tell you. It will shock you. In fact, some stupid ATMs abroad crush your card once its rejected… That’s someone’s testimony when I shared my own travails with him… he was act silly stuck as well… back to my story: due to shortage of cash, I booked a one way trip to Cape Town that morning, ultimately incurring higher costs inevitably.
So as I waited for my 8am flight, I looked everywhere for a mobile charging spot… and I did find one, thanks to VodacomSA… yippie… you know that actually made me buy a VodacomSA sim eventually, though very expensive… okay now I’m already jumping stories… lemme try to take it one by one… I’ll try!
Finally, I was able to power my phone and laptop… and quickly used the opportunity to put finishing touches to my presentation… now that’s being modest, I actually did not touch that stuff since the previous Thursday, and thanks to the high commission that doomed my plan of completing it on Monday… So that one hour waiting time, and the VodacomSA mobile charging point came in handy in finalizing my presentation… to the extent that I almost missed boarding… and it was interesting to hear that South African voice try to pronounce my name over the PAS as the only passenger yet to board… oops… quickly packed my stuffs and rushed off… luckily, I was not left behind.lol… so my second of four flights in a week, OR Tambo to Cape Town… The atmosphere was totally different… Damn, I was almost looking lost… ’twas like dropping black dots on a white clothe… I mean… and all kind of tongues ensued… It’s just gonna be two hours tho… So I can cope!
Now the high point of this second flight also happen to be the food… I’m one hungry dude eh? Don’t blame me. When I was asked what I would want, I had no clue what the guy was saying.. so I just murmured something and left him to interpret it however he desires… So he brought me Kish with chicken sausage and mushrooms… damn, mushrooms!!! OMG… my torment was about to begin…
I had promised myself to be more receptive of foreign diet unlike my last time in Ghana where I refused to take any local diet, not even the popular Banku or Watche (however it’s spelt jare) and I kinda was not happy with that… But how can I start this new resolve with mushrooms?! Why me… Well, I gave it a try… I totally enjoyed the kish, surprisingly, managed to endure the chicken sausage, and totally would not risk mushrooms… had a bite, and that was all…
Was some flight I tell you, and that plane never looked like it was moving at all… I kept seeing the same view from the windows O… felt like looking at a geography textbook or some map reading ish… finally finally, the capes appeared… with snow caps on many… We’re at Cape Town… and that sets the tune for The Arrival… watch out for it…

MEMOIRS OF CAPE TOWN: The Departure

I literally rushed off to South Africa… Yes! And that’s the part many of you don’t know!
Talk about me and my last minute escapades, eh? Almost same way I rushed off to Ghana the other time… Funny I’m yet to write about my time there. Well that’s story for another day! So back to the matter, I actually promised myself that if I could pull the South African thing through then I really must be a don in fire-brigading! A skill only but a few can claim to have mastered successfully…
But I must tell you, it wasn’t an easy process at all… And that’s what I’m about to share with you.

It all began when I got a message from my 500level project supervisor, “Dare, come and go to South Africa”… Trust me, I took that with a pinch of salt… Buh long story made short, I submitted my project abstract and the rest is history as they say.

Then came the time for preparing to attend the PHASA conference. It turned out about 10 of us were due to attend the conference.

After a series of rigorous and interesting turn of events, 5 dropped along the line. I tell you, I personally gave up like a million times in less than a month… You must have seen my poem on Musings of a befuddled mind… That was born out of my frustrations over the whole process of getting a passport, registration for the conference, uncertainty of visa issuance, funds, etc… it was no fun at all… I swear!

Most interesting of all was actually the intrigues of obtaining the visa… Having made so many last minute attempts, we were promised the visa issuance would be accelerated, and indeed it was as my friend got his just after two days but mine wasn’t ready though we applied same day… That was dilemma unexplained… I mean, I had to go to VFS in Ikeja twice that Friday, called South Africa several times, before eventually being told I’m supposed to go follow up at the South African high commission in VI… Boom, got a cab and zoomed off to VI, and actually got there in less than thirty minutes on a Friday afternoon in Lagos! I bet you know that’s some massive feat, big ups to the baba cab driver (who was such an handful though).
Only to get to VI o and those ones said the office closed two hours ago! I mean, what sort of penkelemes is that?
There I met another person who was obviously in same shoes, or even worse than mine. Simply, I was not alone. Little did I know that I’m still even going to meet more people on Monday.
The return journey that Friday literally made me and Dr Balogun forget our sorrows (howbeit temporarily) as the cab man did not cease to enthuse and amuse us with stories of his escapades with women, black magic, etc!!! It was an horrendously interesting evening, and I can never forget the man (aka Omonla)… He’s some dude I bet you. He literally leased his phone and airtime to me for the duration of the time we were together! Some dude I must say…
Well, the weekend was no fun at all… While my colleagues were packing and ready for the trip, I was still in a fix and so unsure of what to expect on Monday…. I tell you, I could not imagine returning to class on say Monday or Tuesday and telling guy that I did not travel again… (I sense there were people that were praying for that sha… Enemies oshi… Haha). I already told my roommate sef that if he sees me in the room on Monday evening, then yawa don gaz be that.
Alright Monday came o, and we were back at the high commission… After series of serenren, we sha finally got attended to. So much drama in that place mehn… All sorts of people with all sorts of issues… Naija and South Africa sha, una no try.
You won’t believe the snail that was attending to us did not bring out any visa until 3pm! Damn, to think we’ve been there since 9am… But the worse was yet to happen! Of course, not all the visas were ready. Sorry, only one was not ready… and it just had to be mine… My mind quickly sprinted to my poem again… and could not but visualize them enemies having their good laugh… Hahaha!
Dude said he couldn’t find my application! I mean!!! I had to start tracking VFS again to see if par adventure it had been processed and returned for collection… tho that would mean I can’t get it till Tuesday and definitely miss my already late flight and ultimately miss my presentation and the student symposium. Luckily, I suppose, it wasn’t in VFS yet. So it has to still be here in VI… And in the spirit of solidarity, the others refused to leave until I got my visa. Wow! I was quite impressed but then, how long can they wait…? They have to leave to process their own flights and all that too… Little by little, they left with good excuses and I totally understood… But Dr Balogun would not leave O! She wasn’t traveling again anyways, she just ex the thing cos of the mess up and all… But like I said, how long can she wait… before long her husband called and she just had to leave… So I remained the only non staff left in the South African high commission, waiting for my visa. And the snail never replied.
With the intervention of one of the security guys however, at 5pm, my passport was brought out with visa granted… to think the other person the security contacted got it out in less than ten minutes!!! My gawd!!! The same thing that snail of a man could not find since say 9am… Mr Martin or whatever they call you, na God go help your condition I swear!
So at 5pm o, I had my visa and then and only then was I assured of going to South Africa… less than 16 hours to my presentation!!!
So I gladly appreciated the security guy, the Nigerian way, and proceeded on the challenges ahead…
Several calls to my travel agent guy on how to get flight and all… then calls to raise extra bar for the now increased flight fare, all to no avail… Since its past 5, there was no way to pay the travel agent again… So I had no flight booked and was therefore entirely on my own!
He however gave me an important advice: just go down to the airport… So the rush began… Back to school, after a good dose of Lagos traffic… Rushed to cyber cafe to see if I could still book a flight online, and after trying for like thirty minutes I realized ticketing was closed. The agent called me only to hear that I was still in school… I mean, if he had his way he woulda flogged me right on the phone… Guys who saw me were already wondering why I’m still around… as I could smell those enemies again.. Hahaha… abeg no mind me and this my enemy gist o…
I sha rushed off to the airport that night… I mean RUSHED… just pack this, take that, put this… and off… you don’t even want to know how many things i forgot to take along!!! well, i sha arrived the airport after threatening the cab guy to fly if he can… just get me to the airport in the shortest possible time! Got to the airport o, managed to get the last available seat on Arik, after some ‘negotiations’, checked in… hmmm, not so quick… the dude actially checked my papers and tried to put unnecessary fears in me O… guy shook his head and promised i woud be turned back from Johannesburg! i mean, enemies don reach here too!!! i fear small sha O, but nothing! he sha checked me in, I cleared customs… and refused to ‘wash my virgin passport’ for the last custom guy! That cost me like some 5 minutes delay sha… Finally finally sha, I sha clear every checking, board, and at 11:55 (delayed), Arik Air W104 took off….
And that was THE DEPARTURE!!!