There’s a long-held dancing tradition in my school in Nigeria. I cannot tell if that annual display of excitement is common to Ladokites, Akokites, FUTArians, UItes, Unilorites and other survivors of the Nigerian Education Firing Squad. But in the Obafemi Awolowo University, it is such that graduating students of each department gather after their final exams to dance round the University halls of residence, accompanied by hired drummers and trumpeters chanting like those volunteering for rapture. Interestingly, a vast majority of these “frosh” graduates return to their humble abodes (after the dance) to meet the big long-abandoned question, “WHAT NEXT?”
This is the one big question that makes the hearts of fresh graduates vibrate like a swinging pendulum undergoing a simple harmonic motion. When they consider the days of assignments and project works, the regular days of waterless fastings, the terrible times of empty bank accounts – with MTN’s daily alert testing people’s patience, thus elevating one’s blood pressure. Consider the days of protests against fee-hike and the angry seasons of wait-and-get semesters punctuated with slim-fitted examination time tables. Placing all these on the platter of evaluation, one is tempted to rejoice and pretend the big question doesn’t exist.
Let’s face it, there’s yet a microscopic few who needn’t bother answering the big question. They’re the descendants of the socio-political gladiators and economic goliaths, whose parents fall within the high class category of the Nigerian economic reality. I mean, the post-graduation working places of these ones have been settled before the receipt of their admission letters. Be that as it may, I think this piece is particularly directed at the vast majority whose uncles’ Doctoral degree couldn’t earn him a Truck Driving position with Dangote and those whose elder siblings got injured during the March 2014 NIS recruitment exercise.
Taking the discourse a little further, I consider it unfair for anyone to put pressure on the expectations of the future without a prior evaluation of the experiences of the past and the experiments of the present. Most people will encounter the difficulty of answering the big question, “WHAT NEXT?” after shying away from the question, “Thus Far, how far?”. Perhaps, the greatest contribution of Nigerian students to the nation’s unemployment woes is the coexistent duo of untapped (malnourished/untutored) creativity and undeveloped capacity. Trust me, this is the moment you ought to reflect on the creative ideas that popped up in your mind during ABC 306 class or XYZ 401 laboratory. Now is the time to gather the skills you’ve learnt outside the 8am-4pm lecture hustle and the evenings of fellowship engagements. Before you start getting tossed to and fro by the winds of economic doctrine, you must realize that your skills and potentials are the only hope for some companies or societies to survive. As an intending employee or an entrepreneur, always remember that you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand.
But, hey, no regrets, my dear. It’s not too late to return to the drawing board, rather than “waiting” for service. The Chinese Proverb says: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is NOW.” Do you have a business idea? Get a proposal now. Want to connect with renowned specialists in your chosen field? Integrate your online presence now. Need to improve your oratory prowess? Take an online course now. Want to hone your writing skills? Attend a workshop now. Want to feature in October 2? Register for auditioning now. Lover of humanity and public service? Volunteer as an intern now. Now. Now.
As I draw a conclusion of necessity, I wish to remind undergraduates of the throngs of young Nigerians who wouldn’t wait for the day of departmental dance, before connecting their skills to their society’s desperate needs. I wish to remind you of Olaoluwa Balogun, who started ACI with 400-naira as a 300-L Geography student of OAU, and is now training 10,000 Nigerian kids in Robotics. I wish to remind you of Muhammed Abdullahi, who built a digital home for young writers, while studying Law at the University of Ilorin. I wish to remind you of the bold and beautiful Sheye Oladejo, whose fashion house is fast becoming a national phenomenon. What shall I say about IsholaTaiwo, who wrote for national dailies as a medical student of University of Maiduguri? The list is endless, my dear. I’m convinced that the progress of our dear nation is consequent upon our social integration as individuals. Therefore, ensure you have what it takes to take what you don’t have.
Adeniruju Adedapo Treasure is a leadership enthusiast, aspiring broadcast journalist, research mogul and prolific writer, with an undying passion for self-development, youth capacity enhancement and social integration. He’s the founder of The Reflector Team and he tweets via @TreasureNGA