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Life And The Nigerian Graduate (A Memoir)

Nothing can sufficiently prepare one for life after university in Nigeria.
The uncertainties of a career path, good job, marriage and many more, hit me like a harmattan haze, as soon as I parted ways with the University of Lagos. Not even a second class upper in political science was enough to soothe my frail nerves. It also became clear, acutely so, that quotes from Plato and other philosophers I had read wouldn’t improve my chances of getting a job that much, if it would at all. And that those aunties and uncles that said “don’t worry, just finish with a 2:1 and send me your CV” had no “connection” after all.  They are average Nigerians.
Although I must admit I expected a tougher reality after graduation, life’s complexity startled me and I was flummoxed half the time. The corporate world is rigorous and there are hardly second chances. Mail your CV to a potential employer without the healthy dose of veneration (‘Dear Ma/Sir, Please find attached herewith; My CV and Cover letter) and there goes your job: like air in a pricked balloon.
Throughout my university days I was cramped in the present. My life, like the earth, orbited around academics, girls (I didn’t do this much but let me add it for cliché sake), parties, student unionism and other youthful indulgences. “After graduation we go hustle am” was my de-facto riposte whenever the leitmotif of life after school came up. I never took internships during breaks, had no work experience, never wrote a CV.  But somewhere in the innards of my utopia, I envisaged life would fall into line, shy and complaint, asking me “Master, how shall I proceed?”
But it’s not the case that I didn’t have a plan, I did. A university degree, without prejudice to ASUU strike, student union protest and other disruptive causative factors, is supposed to take a minimum of 4 years. My projection was this – final exams and research thesis would be completed in November, convocation would be February of the following year, while I get shipped out for NYSC in March. I would fine tune my plans during NYSC and I expected my Eureka moment to come then.
It was that simple.
At least until the new head of department, a quack Marxist yet a hardnosed one, assumed office. Upon assumption, he introduced a rather tactless idea of sending copies of our research thesis to the Obafemi Awolowo University. The norm was to invite these external examiners over and have them check for plagiarism with isiewu and alcohol to pass the time.  A fairly modest procedure, pretty efficient too, but Marxists are known to complicate things.
In the archetypal Nigerian way, a thing led to another, and our research thesis gathered more dust than expected at O.A.U.  Consequently, the department missed the deadline for NYSC Batch ‘A’ mobilization; I would have to go with batch ‘B’ much later in the year. I wanted the old man’s head at the stakes, Like Charles I of England.  Ironically,he teaches ‘revolution and society’, a course I took in third year. I thought it was fair to start a revolution in his decrepit office.
With the hiatus after convocation and batch B mobilization a fair estimate of 6 months, I began to hunt for jobs. The first résumés I wrote were a drivel, so shockingly bad that upon reflection, I admit even I wouldn’t have employed me. A skyrocketing youth population, many of who are graduates, seeking employment also didn’t help matters. The process of getting a job had turned a survival of the fittest struggle Charles Darwin would have been proud of.
Employers were also demanding skills- computer skills- that a four year university education didn’t equip me, or any other graduate I daresay, with. Nigerian graduates in a desperate bid to pick up computer skills often enrol in computer training centres. Centres whose instructors, ironically, are usually less “educated” than they are.
I/we are the offspring of an educational system that knows much but understands little. A system of antiquated curricula that doesn’t groom you for the 21st century economy, yet somehow expects you to succeed. How?
And so now, having realised how worthless a university degree can be, especially in Nigeria, I have decided to be a university drop-out in my next life. I’ll gain admission to a university, study hard for three years, and call it quits.
Just like that.



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