National Youth Service Corps (NYSC); when I asked him his next plan, he said "I want to move to Lagos in order to get a job." His response did not come as a surprise because I was once in that level of consciousness. His comment also evokes memories of my experience as a fresh graduate a decade ago, when about seven hundred of us had our POP, an acronym for Passing Out Parade after we had successfully completed our NYSC. We hugged, back slapped, smiled and took pictures after we were issued our certificates in a stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Almost every one of us at that time had a common ideology and ambition: getting a job. Two days later, I left Uyo, the state Capital of Akwa Ibom and arrived Lagos, the commercial nerve center, a place I have lived and studied since high School. Most of the POP graduates that resided outside Lagos and Abuja saw those of us that lived there as lucky, since Lagos is the commercial hub and Abuja the capital city. Every other state was seen as a place where activities are on the lull. A lot of my colleagues who had someone to squat with relocated to either Lagos or Abuja, to have an opportunity not only to job hunt, but also gate crash for any aptitude test. It was a norm we all did.
Apart from more than a hundred companies I submitted my application, soft and hard copies, I personally dropped hard copies of my CV in 19 out of the entire 25 Commercial Banks in their various Head Quarters here in Lagos. In all, only two Banks invited me for aptitude tests. To my dismay, I never passed any of the tests. I was consumed by inferiority complex at Awolowo way Ikoyi-Lagos, in the spring of 2006 when I met a colleague that graduated from a different department in the same year I graduated. He ordered his Chauffeur to pull over beside the road and got down from his official car. We greeted and exchanged numbers, but he only filled my heart with illusory hopes after that scene.
I finally got a job in an Investment company as a marketer eighteen months after staying idle at home. The work was short lived after I endured a meagre salary. I had to ink my paper to offer my resignation inside fourteen months of working without any savings from the diminutive income.
My business background and the hard time I was going through inspired me to some creativity "man must wark". I had no option than to partner with someone in order to set up a small scale marketing outfit as a freelance with almost practically nothing. A bigger boost to the business was that I did not have to pay for accommodation. The journey wasn't over for my colleagues that were unemployed. Their quest for a job continued. A hand full got jobs in some Banks, while very few were employed in oil companies. Others who had some money from friends and families resorted to trading.
My figurative analysis can be misinterpreted as doom saying. But it's the sad truth. There are no jobs out there. I wish our youths can channel their mind on this truth. Anyone may be lucky to get a job with a take home pay of say two hundred thousand Naira monthly. On the average, the possibility is infinitesimal.
Most jobs that are available for graduates come with very miserable salaries, just like the one I did a decade ago. The kind of jobs I have seen graduates do disquiet me badly. Some work as security men, drivers, Bar men etc. I was listening to the Radio on May 20, 2015 and got some harrowing news. One million five hundred thousand graduates pour out of different Institutions of higher learning annually ie Universities, Colleagues of Education and Polytechnics. One quarter of that figure (375,000 graduates) every year are not guaranteed employment on the salary scale mentioned above. The entire Banks put together do not have the capacity to absorb them either.
That staggering figure surely ends the hope of millions of Nigerian Graduates who want to earn a living form getting a job. As the number of unemployed continues to soar, their hope is replaced with despair, the happiness that was widely exhibited on the day of the POP vanishes, and frustration begins to set in day by day. A lot of Graduates have dreams that require basically finance to kick off and make a remarkable break through. I have been faced with this challenge.
I wish the voices of our graduates will be heard in order to cut down the huge number of the unemployed that has continued to rise over decades. If we do not do anything to end this nightmare, our great grand children will surely suffer, and perhaps blame us. The next generation of youths, not only the educated need to earn a living. Let's make it happen.
God bless the endeavors of our graduates and Nigerian Youths.