It is obvious that a lot of Nigerians have lost hope in the country. The reason behind this isn’t something that could be easily analysed because a lot of things have gone wrong with the system, starting from the simplest to the most complex.
I told someone recently that our education system doesn’t encourage students – primary to tertiary – to think outside the box. Teachers and lecturers expect students to give them back exactly what they were given. Any addition or subtraction from a student automatically lands him failure and its consequent lower grade. As a result, Nigerian education system continues to revolve around obsolete information and knowledge without allowing students to add new things from their wealth of personal experiences and imaginations.
But the greater consequence of this method of teaching and learning is that the students become living zombies, who only think through their teachers. They no longer have minds of their own and they believed that their experiences, ideas, thoughts and opinions are all wrong, or inconsequential. When these students leave school and move into the larger society, they wait for their parents, employers (if they manage to get one) and government to think and act for them, after all, zombies don’t think, they just do.
This piece is spurred by the reactions that followed Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe’s post on LinkedIn, which can be found here. These reactions showed that though a lot of things have gone wrong with the Nigerian system, many people still blame the government for all their problems. Yes, the government has its own blame, but so do the individuals within the country. And that is why I hold teachers responsible for pushing out zombies into the system to manage the affairs of the country – both in the private and the public sector.
To explain this further, I would like to invite you to share in different experiences that can tell of the mentality of some Nigerians, which need to be quelled as soon as possible.
I was in a cybercafé on Tuesday, 17th December, 2019 to scan and send some documents to someone in Abuja. While there, an elderly man walked in and struck a conversation with a woman there. I wasn’t paying attention to what they were discussing until the woman started yelling.
She was screaming about how she has been submitting applications upon applications since 2015 and none of them has been approved because they said she doesn’t have the required educational qualifications. According to her, she has heard that some people in some places who did not meet up to the desired requirements were considered and their applications approved.
To her, she is suffering because government officials are corrupt and tribal. She may be right, especially since I don’t know what she was applying for. But do you think she should accuse government officials of corruption when she does not attain the basic requirements for whatever she is pursuing?
I quickly finished what I came for and left because I know if I stay longer I might tell the woman that she is also corrupt for hoping that somebody should accept her for what she is not.
We have a lot of Nigerians that think like this. They want to cut corners knowing full well they will become the proverbial square peg in a square hole. I don’t really blame them because our system allowed and encouraged that. If these people have been taught from school not to dish out half measures, I believe they wouldn’t expect to be where they don’t belong.
This happened around October, 2019. I was in a commuter and soon I realised the men on the bus were discussing recent occurrence in the country’s political system (sorry I’ve forgotten what). They got to a stage where they became so worked up and turned abusive on the government. Then everything they said turned into “this country is useless”, “there is nothing good about this country”, “this country should just break up let everybody go his way”, “this country can never be good again” and so many other heart-wrecking expressions.
As far as this group is concerned, Nigeria is dead and buried. They have all lost hope in Nigeria. It is people in this group that wouldn’t mind leaving the country to do menial and illegal jobs in other countries.
The major concern raised by people like this is that they can easily be turned into human weapons. They have been so brainwashed that they believed nothing good can ever come their way as long as the system remains the way it is. Even if you tell these people that there are ways out of their predicaments they won’t listen because they are better off blaming someone or something for their problems. These set of persons are the worst and most dangerous analysts I’ve ever seen.
This happened on Monday, 16th December, 2019. I was in a salon when a female marketer from one of the banks walked in. She came to market a special account that qualifies its holders for December raffle draw, where the winner goes home with one million naira or so. This account, according to her can remain inactive for up to 2 years before it goes dormant (I don’t know how true this is anyway). What touched me was that one of the salon workers said she won’t open the account because she can’t afford to keep it active within the next two years. In her words, “What if I open it and after two years it goes dormant because I won’t have money to pay into it?”
To say I was surprised by such an utterance would be an understatement because here I saw someone who has given up on herself. She didn’t see her future as bright or even meaningful. She has already assumed the position of the downtrodden and has decided it’s the place for people like her. Rescuing someone like this needs more than motivational talks from me and the banker.
This happened sometime in June or July this year. Someone came to me for some career advice. She’s a graduate but has been unemployed for years. In fact she hasn’t worked since she finished her NYSC and she hasn’t gone into any business.
I asked her what she aspires to be but she has no idea. I asked what she studied, she told me. Then I asked the industry people with her qualification work in, but she had no idea. I was in a fix because I needed to help her out.
Well, I told her the only thing I tell graduates that really needed to get something doing but have no idea where to start. I told her to find a teaching job and allow it to navigate her. She told me plainly that she won’t be a teacher because they are not well paid. Well, I told her I’m a teacher and I still manage with what I’m paid. The long and short of it is that she came to me to give her my “connection” so she too could get a federal job.
I don’t know how to say this but it is quite unfortunate that most Nigerians believe without “connection” they won’t get good jobs. Maybe we should know the difference between “connection” and “referral”. You might be highly connected without landing that dream job, but a good referral is all you needed to be where you desire – and that’s how to land a federal government job. And if you don’t meet up to expectation, no amount of connections or referrals can get you there (even though federal character policy is undermining this).
The essence of this is just to state that there is need to rescue those people that remained unemployed because they are waiting for someone to give them “connections” to land jobs. They should start up something and then find out where they truly need to be. By the time they have navigated their career properly, they can then seek out referrals for their dream jobs.
We still have a group of people that don’t even know what is happening in the country. There are people that can’t tell you different occupations that exist in Nigeria and how to get them. This group really needs all the help they can get from us. If I meet any of them, I simply direct them to LinkedIn and ask them to “endure” the professionalism in the social media until they find their bearing. Permit me to say that most of them run off and never come back.
The truth is that there are so many things that need to be done to get Nigeria working as it should be. We may first start with our education sector, which needs to be overhauled. This doesn’t really need money; it’s just a matter of adjusting the way teachers are trained so that they could adjust the way they teach students. What Nigeria actually needs are people who can independently think for themselves and believe in themselves – be it in the private or in the public sector.