The Plight of Unemployed Graduates in Nigeria: An Open Letter to GEJ
Written by Ademule David ‘Enigmatic’ Gandhi
Let me begin this letter, Mr. President, by telling you the three great fears I have writing this letter. The first of my fears is that this letter may never get to your desk. The second is that even if this letter gets to your desk, being a very busy man, you may never find the time to read it. My last fear is that even if you eventually, perhaps by some enigmatic providence, read this letter, you should not discard it as one of the nonsense coming from a youth that has been instigated by the opposition party. I should, however, state that the first fear I mentioned is the greatest of my fears.
Lying quite helpless in the valley of my fears, Mr. President, I have decided to write this letter still, because Nigeria has not become worse to the extent that a jobless graduate like me cannot afford a pencil and a paper.
Having stated my fears, Mr. President, let me briskly bring to your attention the plight of unemployed graduates in Nigeria. To be candid, Mr. President, only few Nigerian prisoners have a single reason to envy the unemployed graduates in the streets today.
As a matter of fact, most prisoners are happier than most unemployed graduates; perhaps this was the reason why Mr. Sunday Omotayo, an unemployed Mechanical Engineering graduate of the Ekiti State University, recently walked up to some prison wardens to either kill him or have him imprisoned forever. Mr. Sunday Omotayo knew very well that there are some privileges he would get in the prison that are unavailable to him as an unemployed graduate.
Mr. Sunday may have also learnt that prisoners don’t worry about food, because they have access to free food, which are unavailable to unemployed graduates. Prisoners have access to free water – nearly every prison has a stable water supply, but, Mr. president, unemployed graduates don’t have access to constant water supply. Mr. President, prisoners have access to security; policemen and soldiers ensure that prisoners are safe, but unemployed graduates have no access to security. Again, Prisoners have access to free health care scheme, but unemployed graduates cannot afford malaria drugs when, in the quest for seeking jobs, they fall sick from walking in the scorching sun.
Mr. President, although I admit that prisoners don’t have freedom of movement, unemployed graduates cannot exercise their freedom of movement efficiently because they cannot afford transportation fare. So, Mr. President, you see that I am not lying? Do you now see why Mr. Sunday Omotayo preferred to be jailed than being an unemployed graduate?
Mr. President, I should thank you for the approximate forty thousand naira you gave us when we were being discharged from NYSC. But I should say that the money did not last two months. And as soon as the money is exhausted, Mr. President, our suffering begins. We have to print large copies of our CV and unsolicitedly send them out to organizations, where we believe job opportunities exist. We have to wait for text messages; wait for mails; wait for calls; and even wait for whispers. We have to wait, and wait and keep waiting, Mr. President.
Some of us have waited for days, for weeks, for months and even for years; yet we are still waiting. Mr. President, waiting has turned some of us into lunatics, because we now read every handbill and bill board we see, thinking they are job adverts.
Mr. President, apart from the trauma we face waiting for jobs and job opportunities, we are also losing our dignity in the eyes of the society. We have become ‘failures’ in the sight of those who cannot write the letter O with the base of a cylindrical bottle. Those who envied us when we were still schooling, have started to ridicule us. We have condemned pipeline vandals; we have condemned internet fraudsters; we have condemned snatchers of ballot boxes; we have condemned thugs and prostitutes. But today, Mr. President, these people are now buildings houses and riding cars; yet many of us, who claim to be graduates and good citizens, are still sucking our mothers’ sagging breasts at 32, the age at which General Yakubu Gowon became the head of state. Mr. President, criminals are prospering, should we not join them?
Things are hard for us. We have no access to pleasure. We have been rendered powerless. Mr. President, our uneducated neighbours disrespect us every day. Mr. President you know what they do? I guess you do not know, so I will tell you. They have turned us into the custodian of keys; wives give us their keys in the morning, instructing us to give their husbands or children in the afternoon or in the evening. They know we are jobless and would stay at home all day. Mr. President, as if this is not enough, our neighbours deliberately ask us to list the number of those who visited them while they were away.
Mr. President our parents did not send us to school to learn how to keep keys or document visitors; Mr. President we need jobs – befitting or unbefitting; we just want something, anything. We are frustrated.
I should tell you, Mr. President, that staying at home from sunrise to sunset is like living in hell. Aye, Mr. President. We cannot watch television or listen to the radio because PHCN see no reason why electricity should be available during the day when the sun is up. Consequently, Mr. President, we roast at home. Heat chases us in the sitting rooms and in the bedrooms; yet we dare not sit in the corridors because passers-by would shake their heads at our sight.
Mr. President, the absence of power means we cannot charge our phones; we cannot access the internet; we cannot charge our fairly used laptops (the ones we manage to buy with the meagre NYSC allowance you paid us). Some of us have missed job interviews because we had flat batteries. If we had a job, perhaps we would be able to afford generators to make life worth living for us.
Mr. President some of us have contemplated suicide. Our aged parents are losing money and resources to feeding us. They have sent us to the universities and polytechnics with the hope that we would one day fend for ourselves, with the hope that we would one day pay their bills, with the hope that we would one day make them proud. Mr. President, the truth is that our parents are still feeding us one, two, three, four, five years after graduation. When would the ‘one day’ come? Is it when our parents are already too old to distinguish fish from meat? Is it when they are dead or when we start growing grey hairs?
Recently, the drums of ‘self employment’ have been blaring from you and members of your cabinet, and, I should confess, it is a good drum to which we would love to dance. But Mr. President, how can we dance to the drums of ‘self employment’ when we have no capital. Is it not an act of inconsideration on our own path if we should persuade those who sent us to school to establish us a business? What about the millions they spent to ensure that we become graduates? This is why if we must be self-employed, a quota of help should come from the government; a quota of help should come from you. This is the only way it will be easy for us to dance to the drums of self employment.
Before I put my fainting pencil to rest, Mr. President, I want to humbly ask you some questions. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the only Harvard graduate in your cabinet (to the best of my knowledge), announced that about 1.6 million jobs have been created by your administration. Ah, Mr. President, were the jobs created for those thugs in the motor parks or for unemployed graduates? I am asking this quite silly question because it is a surprise that many of us are still unemployed considering your minister’s claims.
I am aware that militants are paid some amount of money every month to prevent them from returning to the creeks. I am also aware, Mr. President, that kidnappers are paid huge ransome whenever they lay their hands on the right victims. Again, I am aware that your ex-minister Stella Odua spent over 255million naira on bullet proof cars, and that the Honourable minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Allison Ojo Madueke, allegedly spent about 10billion naira hiring private jet. Mr. President is Nigeria too broke to provide unemployment benefits as it is done in Sweden, Israel, Germany, Finland, Norway, Japan, US, etc. Mr. President, at all at all nahim bad pass.
I will conclude this letter by quoting the words of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. His words are: “When you sit with the President, he appears a nice and simple person who is trying to do his best.” I strongly believe that you are truly a good man, but my belief is not enough to make you a good man. Your actions, above anything else, are what people would use to judge whether you are a good man or not. Mr. President, prove to us that you are a good man. Prove to us that we should vote you again in 2015. Give us jobs; give us life; give us hope; give us a reason to remain good citizens.
By D.G Ademule, an unemployed graduate from Lagos State.