Justine John DYIKUK
For most intending and serving corps members, ‘labour market’ is a constant anthem on their lips. Living in black Africa has its many challenges. With the demons of poverty, illiteracy, economic malaise, disease, series of crises and gross unemployment, being a youth here seems being on fire-line. Not only that the coast is not clear for attempting to swim through the trouble waters of underdevelopment and youth restiveness occasioned by job losses, the hopes and aspirations of many a youth are dashed.
This reflection sets before itself the many challenges starring intending and serving National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members in our country. For many, passing from childhood was an uphill task. Also, passing through the University immersed in the scandal of recurrent strike actions as the one currently embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), almost made those years eternal. Surviving those years of rigorous reading, sleepless nights, hunger and academic fatigue was a miniature miracle.
Consequently, for many, graduation comes with mixed feelings. Joy and sadness, hope and despair. Yes, elation because the tertiary formative years are gone but an ill-feeling because no one is sure of what the future holds. It is common to hear politicians and elder states(wo)men challenging the young with the American swag: ‘Don’t think of what Nigeria can do for, think of what you can do for Nigeria.’ Beautiful sermon! But what do we make of unemployment that is man-made; fuelled by many years of looting the national treasury by a few for personal comfort? What sufficient reason can we give our army of jobless youths for government’s inability to diversify the economy, attract investors and boost small and medium scale enterprises?
Some commentators blame our economic stagnation on our educational policies which stress paper-qualification over and above practical knowledge and technical know-how. Does our education prepare our young to be inventors and entrepreneurs? Me thinks not. Ours is an education and economy of consumers not producers; if not, why do we fill our markets with Chinese mobile phones, radios and other like goods? Does China and Japan feel the impact of our exports? Are we able to motivate our University graduates to be creative/inventive, self-reliant and confident about the future of this country?
In the interim, it would seem that taking ones’ destiny into ones’ hands would be uppermost. The idea is that, since government has failed the youth in most cases and cannot provide jobs for everybody, it is important that our university graduates and corps members begin to introspect. First on the list is, your mind is the most powerful labour market. This will set the initial stimulus that would see you through life.
Second, be confident and hopeful about the future. No not lose faith because the turbulence is overwhelming. Even as you are unsure of what will happen to your future in terms of securing a job, getting a future partner and settling down finally, remember that ‘tough times do not last but tough people do.’ This entails being dogged about life and the challenges it has to offer.
Third, do not peg your future around white-collar jobs. Some University graduates have attempted suicide because they had prepared their minds for working in the bank or an oil company and it failed. The saying goes, ‘if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.’ Testimonies abound of graduates who started life after service-year with selling recharge card or okrika. Some operated restaurants and did menial jobs at construction sites. Today the story is different. They are well-off and those years of suffering only reminds them that ‘nothing good comes easily.’
Fourth, have the patience of a life-time. This is not easy. It is here that your faith as a devout Muslim, Christian or Traditional worshipper comes in. When you make, ‘your endurance will win you your life’ a personal dictum, you are able to swim over the waters of trial, tribulation and temptation and land safety at the shore of progress, peace and prosperity. There is the temptation to want to be rich overnight. This has led many young people to their early graves. Don’t go in that direction.
Fifth, don’t compare yourself with others. The labour market is wide and competitive. Others sail across quickly, don’t look at them otherwise you will miss direction or worse still, hit an iceberg. Immediately after the service-year, it is likely you hear some people making it to the ladder of success and financial breakthrough. You are different and so are God’s plans about you and your future. Waite for your time and your turn!
The challenge of the youth is the challenge of our country since they are the lifeblood of society. To all intent and purposes, if parents/guardians, government/major stakeholders and young people seek forthrightness, ours will be a better country. Make your mark, contribute your quota, make your impact felt and the labour market will expand for the good pleasure of one and all. Happy navigation, dear NYSC members!
Fr. Justine John DYIKUK, a Catholic priest, freelance writer/poet and Public Affairs writes from, Centre for the Study of Africa Culture and Communication, Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where he is a post-graduate student in Communication Studies/Pastoral Communication!
Emails: justdyik@yahoo.com and justinejohndyikuk@gmail.com
Tract me on Tweeter: @just4realsquare