By Onyedika Okafor
Too many Nigerian undergraduates dread the bleak prospects in the labour market. Unemployment in Nigeria is rife and needs not much elaboration. The bright face worn by fresh graduates on their convocation ceremonies soon evaporates on the thought of what lies ahead. Despite this grimness, many individuals and organisations have not relented in changing the tide. The Uhere Study Centre, Nsukka, stands shoulders high in attempting a reversal of this ugly trend.
Uhere Study Centre recently organized a seminar for students of the University of Nigeria Nsukka to shed off their worries of the perceived fight over jobs upon graduation. Pharm. Obinna Ekwunife, Director of centre, explained that Uhere is a non-for-profit organization and a brain child of the Education Cooperation Society. Uhere, a private male hall of residence, seeks to facilitate proper academic and moral education of students, both resident and non-resident students. The seminar was successfully organized by the Information Technology Academy (ITA), a pet project of Uhere and an avenue through which students of UNN acquire the Information Technology skills which is today the bedrock of any serious economy.
The purpose of the seminar was not to assemble students to teach them how to prepare an impressive CV nor how to perform excellently in a job interview; it had a different agenda. The guest lecturers were three-year ago undergraduate students of the Electronic Engineering Department of the University of Nigeria and also former students of ITA. Today, these gentlemen unlike most of their colleagues live a comfortable life without having the need to engage in endless search for job vacancies. The question is: how did these ‘boys’ manage to surmount the challenges every other person is complaining about?
Chidubem Njeze, a Senior Partner at Pyrich Ltd was the first to speak to the capacity crowd at the Princess Alexandra Auditorium of the University of Nigeria. He spoke passionately on ‘The Educated Slave: Developing the Entrepreneurial Mindset.’ He was followed by Chimezie Emewulu, the Managing Director of Seamfix Ltd who talked on ‘Developing Enterprise Web Application: What you Need to Know and the Nigerian Enterprise Web Application Industry: Career and Business Opportunities, Challenges in starting up an Enterprise Web Application Company’. The last speaker, Ezeukwu Osuagwu, the Executive Director Projects, Seamfix Ltd discussed ‘The Energy: Self Motivation and Self Actualization’.
Chidubem spoke vehemently against the general perception among students, the conviction that there are no jobs out there. But he was quick to point out that jobs are available only for those who have something exceptional to offer. He spoke against the timidity of young people towards starting up their own enterprise. As an experienced employer, the reason he gave on why school leavers do not get jobs is because many of them have nothing tangible to offer to enterprises willing to get their services. These set of people he called the educated slaves – those who call themselves graduates and yet have nothing ‘upstairs’ to back that up.
Chimezie was quick in concurring to Chidubem’s position on the need for quality improvement of graduates. He went further to proffer a solution for students especially those in Engineering and Physical Sciences. To make these set of students marketable on graduation, he suggested the acquisition of the knowledge of at least a software development language before graduation. He frowned at enormous capital flight from Nigeria due to the importation of software solutions, a situation that can be reversed if students put extra effort in learning software development languages. He cited India that make billions of dollars annually from software alone.
Ezeukwu ended the interactive session by stressing the need for students to put in their best in everything they do so as to surmount the mediocrity mentality of a typical African man. The mentality of being satisfied with the little we have achieved, he said, has caused us enormous delay in the development journey of this country. He called for renewed spirit of perseverance, dedication and hard work among students. He illustrated the need for the character of determination with the story of the challenges they encountered during the process of establishing their software development company.
The seminar has ended. The speakers have spoken and the listeners have listened. The question remains, are these bunch of students that left this seminar venue going to contribute enormously to the economy of Nigeria upon graduation. Are they going to be the force behind the age-long attempt to shrink the foreign exchange deficit of Nigeria? Whether this seminar will end up producing the next generation of young entrepreneurs or employees ready to replace the expatriates, time and only time will tell!
Onyedika is a student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.