They say a beggar cannot be a chooser, or so they say in Nigeria. I dont know what the exact saying is. Perhaps I would substitute a chooser with picky but what do I know about such things. I am just a jobless young man. Jobless and determined to follow my dreams in terms of career and not succumb to the pressure to just get something to keep me busy. I dont want a job I m not passionate about. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have the support of my lovely family and so I am not on the streets selling akara or hustling to make a living. My day starts with a similar routine everyday, I wake up early enough to see the sun come out, the movement of my cousin who is my roommate typically alerts me. I used to be a deep sleeper but alas ever since I got back home, I dare not sleep or I will hear about how lazy I am. So I have been tuned to the timeline of the people around me so as not to offend. I wake up and help my cousin with some errands, we wash the cars, feed the dog, clean up its poop and then we get set to drop my little sister at school. This is typically the highlight of my day as I get to feel like a responsible big brother. I make sure the music I play in the car are eclectic because I know that even though she is young, she is going to remember the songs I play in the car much in the same way I remember the music my dad used to play in the car when he took me to school. I remember hearing everything from 80s rock, to disco, to reggae and the current hip hop and RnB cassette that he got from his barbers. So I drop my sister at school, no sentimental moments here the little lady loves school and is very independent, she will wave my goodbye and walk into her class without even looking back. She clearly did not inherit the emo genes I have.
I get back home and not long after the parents and everyone leaves and on a good day there is power in the house so I get to watch tv or the pirated copy of a season of my favorite shows I miss from college. On those days, I am happily sitting down watching How I met your mother, Big Bang theory and co. I also go to my favorite Nigerian job search sites, joblistnigeria.com, jobberman.com, naijahotjobs.com and see what is the latest goings-on in the world of the professional applicant. I churn out applications at a breakneck speed. Several months after my NYSC and I am still waiting for the call from the company I served in, it never came. Does not matter that I worked like a jaki, kissed ass to the best of my ability. Truth be told I do not excel in ass kissing. All my life I had relied on a combination of my intellect, merit and Godly favor to succeed and as such I had not developed the ass kissing survival technique needed to get a job.
The 1 year I spent being a professional job hunter in the country we call Nigeria was highly humbling to say the least. It seemed that every month I was traveling at least once to some city for a test or interview of some sort. I passed a lot of test and got to many interviews and passed many stages but alas I was still jobless. It was quite the buyers market because the supply of jobseekers overweighed the demand for jobs. In our dear country, this gave the companies carte blanche to treat a lot of jobseekers like shit. You would have thousands of people show up to write a test and when it started raining you will let them stand outside in the rain or if it was sunny you will let them stand out there for hours. Sometimes we got reimbursed for part of our transportation fee, these were the fancy companies. Other times, some people spent their last money on the hope and dream of getting a job and these people did not give us a kobo. Woe betide these companies if a vengeful fellow like me were to ever become labor minister or be in a position of power, I will severely punish companies that maltreated our youth in the name of recruitment as well as those who were very dishonest in the recruitment policies.
The utter dishonesty of some of the recruitment processes I had been to was alarming. You had people who had not attended the screening tests who came to the interview. You had people who were given special treatment because they had some relatives in the company who were big shots. This is what people call “long legs”. This is the favoritism that someone gets as a result of the network he has within the company he is applying to. In Nigeria, long legs could mean you skip the recruitment process and get the job straight. This is the loophole that allows for nepotism, bangism (where you bang/kpansh your way to a job, applies to men and women o! Yea I m talking to you who bedded that alhaja to get job) and of course tribalism. You had people who interviewed me and were instantly put off/aggressive once they found out what part of the country I was from. I have the privilege of being to the typical Nigerian ethnically ambiguous. They arent 100% sure what part of the country I am from until they ask me. What probably goes through their mind when they find out I am an ‘arewa’ boy is, “these people that have been in power for almost 40years of our independence and have been living off our oil money have sent this boy to take our jobs eh?” This is of course all conjecture. I might just really suck at Nigerian job interviews or as folk in church would say, “ Maybe it is not God’s will for you.” God’s will is for me to be happy but that is a topic for another day.
One of the funny things about going from job test to job test and interview to interview is that you form a sort of camaraderie with other job hunters. Heck you might even meet someone to set p with at one of these things. It must be that misery loves company thing people keep talking about or just the fact that you have a bunch of youth all vulnerable and seeking for the same thing. Sometimes people you met at job tests were people you shared hotel with since you were visiting a new town to take the test or they were people you shared one or two drinks after the interview. They were people you went out and actively searched out the surroundings of the test center for food. At the end of the trip, you all exchanged phone numbers or emails as the case may be so that you kept in touch if the company called any of you. Sometimes you met the paranoid ones who called you every week to ask if you had heard from the company. As it is with my nature, for the most part of this one year I was outwardly cool as a cucumber.
On the inside, I was really losing my mind at the time. I was questioning my greatness. I was waiting for a brilliant idea to hit me. I felt I missed out on an opportunity to be creative and come up with some brilliant scheme to employ myself and perhaps others. Perhaps that was the case. Perhaps it was my opportunity to hook up with as many chicas as I could. Don’t judge me, only God can do that. I was at home for a year and it was hard being a professional job applicant. It was hard being at home after years of being in school and living without rules other than mine. However, I knew that I had to be grateful because at least I had people to support me. There are many job applicants that have been on the job search for years without any positive result. There are many grim stories out there of young men who have lost all hope. I know that if it was bad for me, it must be worse for many out there.
On the particularly bad days, I felt dehumanized. Perhaps if there was to be a youth charter it should include the right for every youth to be gainfully employed. If you came expecting a criticism of the Nigerian government, sorry to disappoint. I know we all have to believe in something but I dont believe in my government. What do I believe in? God for the most part and man/woman. This was me being emphatic to all my folk out there in Nigeria job searching. Keep the hope alive. Believe. We all just have to try.