FEATURE ARTICLE

Thursday, May 17, 2018
amobipchuks@yahoo.com

THE JOBLESS GRADUATE

earning is a continuous process. Just last week, I was invited by an erudite Professor to the maiden public lecture organized by the Department of Education of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, in Anambra State. The theme of the Lecture was: "Restructuring Education in Nigeria to Meet the Economic and Social Challenges". I dressed colourfully in my clerical milky cassock with a matching well polished pair of shoes. On my hands were a jotter and a pen for taking notes. You and I are still students so far as we are in this physical world.

When I came into the well decorated University Auditorium, I saw different faces, old and young, beautiful and ugly, handsome and gloomy, tall and short, fat and thin, et cetera. The first two rows of seat were written in bold letters: RESERVED. I respected myself and moved towards the back. I did not want what happened to me when I was in class 4 in secondary school to happen to me again. On that fateful day many years ago, I went with my boyfriend to a Community Secondary School in my home-town on the day of her Inter-House sports. Proudly we sat on two of the seats with V.I.P inscribed on them. We regarded ourselves as very important persons since we were semi-finalists at Aguata High School, Aguata in Anambra State. We were proudly waiting for the occasion to commence. Suddenly, we were humiliated from behind by a zealous male teacher who barked at us saying, "Get up and get away! Who invited you?" Simultaneously he carried our seats up with force. Both of us fell down on wet red soil. Our white trousers and shirts got soiled. Great shame covered our faces. We left the venue through a bush.

Now let me go back to the Lecture at Unizik Awka. Luckily I found an empty seat at the centre of the auditorium. As I was about to bury my buttocks on the seat, someone tapped me at the shoulder from behind. Some powers went out of me and I turned sharply. He was one of the organizers of the public lecture. Smiling he said, "Father, you can't seat here." I smiled and obeyed him promptly. He escorted me gently to the first row of the reserved seats and pointed at one of them. He asked me respectively to seat there. Appreciatively, I sat there with honour. I shook hands with him and appreciated his nice gesture.

Immediately he left, I started smiling and speaking to myself. I looked up and down, left and right and asked myself: "So I am a reserved person?" Sitting on a reserved seat means now that I am a very important person (V.I.P) unlike the sad incidence that happened to me and my friend many years ago. I remembered the biblical passage where we are asked to take the lowest seat when invited to a feast. But if we occupy the highest seat by ourselves, we may be humiliated when somebody more important comes in. Thus, "He who exalts himself will be humbled. But he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:11).

Ushering of special persons to the high table commenced. The Vice Chancellor was represented. The Chairman of the occasion, Head of Education Department and some popular elite were called up. The Guest Lecturer, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu was decorated and given a special seat. The Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, was ably represented by the Commissioner of Higher and Tertiary Education. Without prior notice, the master of ceremony invited me to say the opening prayer. I called down the heavenly powers into the auditorium. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit appeared and sat on their thrones inside the auditorium. Holiness filled the place. I saw the devil running away from the door behind. All protocols were dully observed. One thing followed the other.

At last, the Guest Lecturer, Chief Emmanuel Chukwuemeka Iwuanyanwu (Ahaejiagamba Ndi Igbo), rose like a giant and stood at the rostrum. He gave out freely a booklet containing his well articulated lecture. I expected him to read out from it. Surprisingly he lectured us over an hour without glancing into the booklet. He taught with conviction and authority. His English and intonation were superb. He gave the history of Education from the Divine and human aspects. After the creation of man and woman, God gave them a mandate: "Go, fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen 1:28). It is through education that man subdues the earth. The great Philosopher Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living. He was a great educator and philosopher. Plato, a student of Socrates, was also a great lover of education who said, "It is better to be unborn than to be untaught, for ignorance is the root of all misfortunes." Ignorance is a moral and academic disease. It can only be cured through education.

The Guest speaker identified the following as the main constraints to Nigerian educational system: Inadequate funding, Poor and inadequate infrastructure, Corruption, Large scale unemployment of Graduates, Cultism and Irrelevant Curriculum. As remedy to the above constraints, Chief Iwuanyanwu suggested: (1) Every child born in a society has the right to education (2) The profession of teaching is a very honourable one and every government owes it a duty to his people to ensure that the dignity of teaching profession is preserved. (3) Government must pay special attention to the training of teachers of all levels. (4) It must be clearly understood that the potentials and capabilities of individuals vary from person to person. (5) Establishing more universities is unnecessary without equipping and inspecting the existing ones.

At last Chief Iwuanyanwu bemoaned the ugly trend of having many jobless Graduates roaming the Nigerians streets. Even the few who are employed earn meagre salaries. He stated that his driver and his cook earn more than many employed graduates today. Therefore he called for skill acquisition as the way forward.

Immediately he mentioned 'jobless Graduate,' I developed serious headache. Goose pimples filled my body instantly. I saw many question marks hovering over my head. My brain went into labour. I rushed into the labour room to ease my academic and psychological pregnancy. How can a student who graduated in one course or the other remain jobless? Students while in the university should acquire a skill that can make him or her self-employed at graduation. How can an ordinary street motor mechanic be more skilled than someone who graduated in the University in Mechanical Engineering? Some time ago, an Electrical Engineer brought an ordinary electrician to repair the electrical fault in his house. Last time I saw a jobless Medical Doctor in a medicine shop asking the quack chemist to mix drugs for him (the doctor). How can an illiterate cure a literate? Those jobless graduates who graduated in Business Studies or Marketing should move down to Onitsha Main Market, Ogbete Main Market Enugu, Kano Main Market, Eke Awka, Eke Ekwulobia, Nkwo Aguluezechukwu, the various Markets in Lagos and other markets scattered here and there to transform marketing. Those who graduated in Education should educate others. Knowledge acquired and not passed to others is useless.

Mass unemployment is seriously confronting millions of Graduates today. It is said that an idle mind is a devil's workshop. The devil is really working in the minds of many graduates. Hence they resort to Cultism, Kidnapping, Armed Robbery, Prostitution, Illegal Migration to Libya and Europe. In the process many have died in the desert or in the sea. Many are languishing in cells and slavery all over the world. Instead of perishing in the devil's workshop, is it not better to humiliate oneself and do a menial job to survive? A jobless graduate can set up Suya Joint, Hair Dressing Salon, Barbing Salon, Cosmetic Workshop, Fried Corn Square, etc. Graduates can transform menial jobs to a higher level. Last time I met a graduate of Economics riding commercial Keke Napep. On the rear he inscribed: "Hunger has no respect." Another graduate riding commercial motorcycle alias Okada wrote on it: "No Condition is permanent." Another jobless graduate who graduated in Hotel Management opened a small restaurant. On his sign-post he wrote: "Graduate Food and Drinks Spot." In no distant time, all the food items and drinks in his shop graduated with honours. Today he is almost a millionaire. He has got branches in many cities of Nigeria. It is an insult to remain a jobless graduate.


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