Saturday, 3 November 2012

Opinion: Questions abound for Nigerians


Not suffering fools gladly
This week had a number of events lighting up Twitter about Nigeria, it got so serious that I was fully persuaded to block a cantankerous buffoon pretending to smarts and a busybody whose alignment with the former elicited the advice that she stop following me forthwith.
Life must be easier than walking into idiots on the street or even worse, engaging them online where one’s belief in the best of everyone challenges the better judgement of just ignoring them.
Allegations are tough luck
The first news story was about the alleged arrest of the wife of the Oyo State governor for money laundering in London. This probably was the low-hanging fruit dropping on our heads despite the fact that it all appeared to be malicious.
The governor immediately slammed a suit demanding atrocious damages of the newspaper failing to realise the subtlety in the headline, it was alleged, allegations are just allegations, even the courts would have agreed that allegations could be made however vilifying, that is just the nature of the use of the various forms of allege.
However, there were more substantive issues to discuss as to whether she did make 52 trips out of Nigeria in 17 months considering the wives of the legislators of the same state had months before visited London a few months before to attend courses to make them better politician wives.
On further scrutiny
As a Nigerian, I can be persuaded to believe that after a certain number of trips to the United Kingdom the immigration officials will have their interest piqued to at least ask a few questions as to why the frequency of visits, for what purposes and to what ends.
We are not particularly aware of what particular profession she has to make her such an enviable globetrotter but when a close relation of someone in public office who apparently had also made over 40 trips out of Nigeria in the 17 months of his tenure, some answers are required to pertinent questions.
Girl alone abroad
Along with the strident denials came another snippet of information, in the words of the governor’s wife, she has an under-aged daughter attending school in the UK; the obvious question to ask is whether the schools are not good enough in Nigeria but that will be facetious.
However, the poor girl has being shunted out to the UK since the age of seven with the aim of probably making her a dysfunctional high achiever being so devoid of essential family life but she might well turn out to be a tough cookie being reminded constantly that daddy and mummy are putting all they have into her education that poor grades will be untenable.
This is all conjecture and it could all be far from the truth, but in the age of the lack of transparency from our political leaders, imagination is one virtue of man that cannot be trammelled.
PhD in steering
Did we not get agitated when the richest man in Africa suggested he will be asking university graduates to apply for jobs as truck drivers? One can assume with all the sophisticated technology installed on trucks for tracking, logistics, navigation and so on, a certain level of aptitude is required to operate the trucks beyond mitts on steering wheels and feet on pedals.
However, when the news came that of the about 13,000 applications, 6 had PhDs and over 50 had MBAs, even if just for a second the world had to come to a standstill to appreciate what all this meant.
The plausibility
Now, there are many who said they could not believe that such highly qualified persons would apply for such jobs. I doubt the said applicant will come forward to tell anyone that they did except if years hence their circumstances changed so radically that they had a different story to tell.
The matter however should not be the believability of the story but that there could be any circumstances where such could be possible.
Why a seemingly growing economy like the one of Nigeria cannot absorb talent at the level where they can be challenged, utilising their acquired skills beyond the optimum becomes a pressing question.
The missing fundamentals
The stark reality is the growth is only in the oil industry and probably in the religious industry and nowhere else.
The fundamentals for real growth are missing – infrastructure, industry and education. I say education because I believe the best education one can get is primary school education that involves helping pupils be daring, adventurous, precocious, inquisitive, questioning, challenging, curious and interrogating – such an environment can make a whole lot of difference to the kind of outlook the adult will end up having regardless of academic achievement.
Our educational system is in a mess, and only today I saw a video of a vice chancellor of a university with a curriculum delivered in English who could not string together grammatically correct English sentences – we have a problem.
Do good with them
My hope is that Mr Dangote will identify these highly academically qualified candidates and put them on some fast track management program either for his industries or for export to other African countries needing such expertise.
The individuals themselves do need to look at African possibilities and it is not beyond the African Union to sign treaties that allow for easier migration of highly skilled personnel between countries. Europe and the United States already recognises the need to retain highly qualified people for growing their economies.
Greater concerns
There is no doubt that we do need the Chinese in Africa but one million of them is probably 900,000 too many, our governments need to see the emergency that this is – the inability to get qualified personnel for the basic jobs and the waste of amazing talent on somewhat menial jobs.
Wages do have to be earned but the downward trend that might make Africa’s middle class highly qualified truck drivers is too worrisome for words.

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