Jan 21, 2015
I remember leaving Aberdeen to return to Nigeria, December 2009. I was too eager, too anxious, and happy to see family and friends again after nearly 2 years. I had so much to look forward to I thought, as I excitedly boarded a Nigeria bound jet. I had great company all through that journey, the lady who sat next to me was an absolute joy, we had some good conversations.
I graduated in the summer of 2009 with a distinction from the University of Aberdeen Scotland, after a gruelling Masters programme in Management Innovation and Change. I studied hard, made new friends, explored a very rich Scottish and English culture and was returning home to put my knowledge to good use. I also did a 3 weeks course in marketing at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Surely, with my improved resume I would finally get my dream job and put my passion to work. I wanted something that would provoke creativity, innovation and promote change. A job with the World Bank, United Nations or a purpose driven NGO would be a dream come true. Having worked in the financial sector previously, I wanted another challenge.
Six months later, I am yet to get a job and I am becoming a nuisance sitting in front of my computer all day applying endlessly for the limited jobs available. I decided to join the family business a small scale enterprise founded by my Father. I could not sit around idle any longer, I had to keep moving. Four months later, my happiness quotient is near normal, I am thankful to be employed and giving it my all. However, as much as I love myself my thoughts these days are hardly about me and this is why.
I read a British Council’s report on Nigeria, titled “Nation risks demographic disaster” published in September 2010, with great sadness. Too many angry young men and women roam the streets daily with no visible means of livelihood. If I could not get the job I hoped for after studying extensively, I can only imagine the plight of the vast majority of our population. I know there is a global recession but for many a Nigerian youth this is depression worse than anything ever experienced in human history. Please allow me rage, I know some of these statements are heavy but that’s the state of my mind. We are a country with a large youth population. Joblessness increases the risks of kidnapping, cyber crime, domestic violence, diseases and loss of too precious lives.
It is now common to see brave women saddled with the sole responsibility of raising children without any external help. How does a family of five survive on a dollar per day? How do we stop recycling poverty? The British Council report recommends the creation of “25 million jobs” in the next 10 years. I like the way the report emphatically stressed that it is the youths and not oil that will develop Nigeria. I could not agree more.I sincerely hope that someone is listening and taking action. My mind continuously run riot, trying to find solutions, if only to keep me sane in the wake of a very challenging society that refuses to prioritise.
I learnt an important life lesson whilst desperately searching for a job, "the power to change your situation lies within you". Nigeria has everything she will ever need to move from this pedestrian economic state to something more robust that focuses on preserving and improving the quality of life. Young people also have a choice to either remain static or decide to beat daunting economic challenges and survive, I know it will be hard but trust me it is worth it. There is something legal and positive that you can do with the little resources that you have. Explore your passion, start small, and dream big, stay focused and never ever give up. It will be incredibly hard but continuous work and diligence will be potentially rewarding. Like everyone else I am eagerly awaiting the day when all these needless challenges will be history but until then we must persevere. I am still thinking of ways to beat our collective challenges and if I find any answers, I promise to share with you. Hopefully we can find a way together.