Will Nigeria Ever Get It Right? By Enenim Ubon
We learn from history that we do not learn from history. ~Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Thinking,writing or even talking about the myriad of problems facing Nigeria can be somewhat depressing, for the simple reason that these problems never seem to disappear year in – year out, rather they triple with each passing day. A times one wonders if some persons are not jinxed to perpetually take this nation backward inspite of the progress of our contemporaries all around us. Our leaders and citizens alike make the same mistakes over and over again without learning anything from each experience.
In 2010, a school mate of mine who just returned from youth service made an attempt like every ‘fresh’ graduate to get a job and subsequently applied to work for one of the numerous federal government parastetals. She left her home on that fateful,dropped her bag with her friend who worked quite close to the parastetal’s office, promising to pick it up after completing the ‘mandatory fitness marathon’. She never returned to pick her bag,the next time her friend saw her was in the morgue – she had slumped and died while ‘running to get a job’. That’s just one case out of many that happened that fateful day, four years ago.
Fast forward to 2014 – one would have expected that various agencies of government would have learnt how to conduct test in the 21st century, but the occurrence of Saturday,15 March 2014 is a clear indication that we are more that 50 years backward as a nation. Thousands of unemployed youths thronged various roads/streets in the name of writing aptitude test for Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment. Passing by one of the venues, a lot of thought flashed through my mind; how on earth were the organizers of that sham going to control such a large number of restless youths? Was it really necessary to assemble people for an aptitude test in that manner? Why wasn’t the test arranged in batches? Why even ask people to come along dressed for a fitness test when they haven’t scaled through the written test? How can a written and fitness test be scheduled for the same day in a centre of not less than 3000 persons? How many spaces are actually vacant in the service? As I thought of all these things, I pitied those who ‘wasted’ their time to go to those centers and I wished things had just been done the right way.
I tried all day to avoid the social media as people kept reeling out various numbers of the dead and injured persons across the various centers, I still feel pained that people died while trying to get a job they may never have gotten even if they were to be alive and I ask once again would the Comptroller General of Nigerian Immigration Service, have allowed his son/daughter to participate in such a poorly arranged exercise? How would he feel if he said goodbye to his job seeking pregnant daughter in the morning only to hear that she has died in a stampede later in the day? It has become obvious that some of these people know the right things to do but their insensitivity will NEVER allow them think straight.
The happenings of that day points out two important things clearly: a) that something urgent MUST be done by the government (at all levels) to tackle Nigeria’s unemployment problem. Whatever is being done now (if any) or has been done in the past is clearly not enough. A country with more than half of its young population unemployed is a country that has ‘vowed’ to remain backward and someday, the fire of fury will consume EVERYBODY (high & mighty, big or small, poor or rich).
b) Educational institutions should do much more than teach theories. Self reliance should not only be taught, there should be a practical approach. Some of the persons who lost their lives in that sham wouldn’t have been there in the first instance, if they had known a better way to sustain them. I think this era of emphasis on paper qualifications has not helped in anyway, it is high time undergraduates are taught to use their hands and also their heads.
Its sad that people had to die but I do hope this will once again show our leaders (at all levels) the need to do things properly else worst days lie ahead and slowly but surely, this fire they have started will consume them also. We MUST get things right and this nation MUST move forward.
Enenim Ubon tweets @enenimubon
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