My service year is slowly but surely coming to an end, and I am eager to flip past the ever-depleting pages of this chapter in my story. In my state as a Corp member, I have seen and heard many things. I believe myself a Corp member because there are levels to this—there are ordinary Corpers, and there are Corp members; to what category you believe yourself to be in, I leave it up to you.
When I first graduated from College, I went through the job hunt process, where I participated in several interviews, sent dozens of emails, and received a tsunami of rejections. One major reason made known to me, was the fact that I came off as unsure of myself, and maybe sometimes even down on myself. That made potential employers doubt my skills, and therefore, my ability to perform.
In my mind—still very much affected by the archaic aspects of the Nigerian culture—I wanted to maintain a certain level of humility in my endeavors. That state is no longer a position I find myself in, as I now value honest self-promotion, as opposed to fake humility. The whole notion behind the concept irks me; I once met someone before the presidential elections who believed Kingsley Moghalu to be the most qualified candidate, but wouldn’t vote for him because he did not come off as humble. Damn this country and its propagated beliefs. It will be the end of us.
I now believe in shameless, unapologetic self-advocacy, and I do not plan on looking back. This is why I intentionally started this week’s article on a note of semi-flamboyant arrogance. I have also returned from my optimistic, three-column-hiatus; I am back to bashing Nigeria.
It occurs to me, in my observations thus far, that a majority of the Nigerian work force does not value itself for what they bring to the table. Maybe the state of mind is valid in some cases, because the civil service consists of masses that come to work, to do everything but work. Aside from that, the employer-worker relationship has degenerated into many instances where the employee may see his or her employment as a favor from the employer. This should never be the case, though I expect nothing more from a workforce that has scores of unqualified employees hired, due to unholy levels of nepotism, and not merit.
A situation where the employers feel like they hold all the cards can be a dangerous place to find oneself in—last week, a friend of mine told me of how she had escaped being sexually assaulted by her company’s Managing Director. What shocked me was how she told the story with a sense of normality; almost as if to say that this isn’t a surprising or new thing in the working culture of the place she found herself in. As she told me of what had happened, I was an emotional mess.
I understand how hard it is to find employment in the Nigerian job market. I also understand that this is a lot harder when one decides to go through due process, as a majority of the time, Nigeria operates on having an inside man. Due process simply means ‘you wee sleep there.’
Unfortunately, this column does not end on a high note of some deeply rooted solution to one of the problems that I see which plagues my nation. I am heavy-hearted as I am in flagrant disobedience to my sense of civic journalism. But I simply do not have the answers, nor do I know where to go and source them from. I simply believe that this should be something to ponder on, especially to those who are still kicking off their careers, and figuring out the next steps in their lives. Food for thought; think about it.
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