THE TRAVAILS OF AN UNEMPLOYED GRADUATE
BY DONS EZE
I was not an exceptionally brilliant student during my school days, yet, I managed to be ahead of most of my classmates, and had never descended below the tenth position in every of my class. I was a disciplined student, and had never crossed paths with any of my teachers, nor with my fellow students.
My parents, even though they did not attend the White Man’s school, were very appreciative of Western education, and were always proud of me each time I came home from school and narrated my examination results to them. They would assure me of their maximum support, and would do everything within their powers to ensure that I attained the educational height I would wish.
Therefore, when on completion of my secondary school education and got admission to the university, they wasted no time in disposing their only piece of land to enable me meet the financial needs of my university education, such as paying for my school fees, money for feeding and accommodation, for buying necessary text books and writing materials, for sundry fees, like courses registration, faculty and departmental fees, library, students union and sporting fees, etc.
The original plan was that I would spend four years in the university, but I later ended up spending six years, due to many strikes embarked upon by different staff unions of the university, like the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU), Senior Staff Union of Universities, etc. These frequent strikes had caused serious drains on my parents’ pockets, which had forced them to borrow money from a moneylender to ensure that I completed my university education.
To be able to access that loan from the moneylender, my father was forced to part as collateral, his 504 Peugeot pick-up van, which he was using for transportation. He promised to repay the loan within four years, when I would have graduated from the university and started working. But as it later turned out, I was to spend two extra years, due to frequent strikes by university workers, and as such, he was not able to repay the loan as at when due.
After my graduation and completion of my one-year compulsory national service, I began hunting for jobs. For the next three years, I hunted for jobs, without success. I had marched through the length and breadth of many cities of the country looking for jobs, but did not find any. I then became tired and frustrated.
I had written several job applications and submitted uncountable number of my curriculum vitae to different companies, most of which did not even acknowledge receipt of the applications, let alone invited me for interview.
I had borrowed a lot of money from friends which I paid to different individuals posing as job recruitment agents, each of who had assured me that they would offer me job as soon as I paid the stipulated amount of money they charged. But none of them was able to deliver. So, it turned out that they were all scammers.
There was nothing I did not do to have something doing in order to keep body and soul together, but they all became wild goose chases. I was even tempted to join some bad gangs, like Yahoo Yahoo boys, or kidnappers, which they claimed was a lucrative business, if I could take the risk, but I did not fall to their tantrums.
At a stage, I hated myself, and regretted the many years I wasted going to school, since most of my age mates who did not go to any school were doing well in their various businesses.
When, however, in 2015, I saw retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari came out once more to contest for the Presidency of Nigeria, I heaved a sigh of relief, with the hope that my woes would soon be over. With his promise to turn everything around for good if elected President, including providing jobs to unemployed youths, paying them unemployment allowances, and righting all the wrongs of the PDP administration, I doffed my cap for him, prayed and campaigned for his election.
When finally Buhari won the election and became President, I was highly elated, and most of us saw as the Messiah we were waiting for, one who would end our travails, our woes, our agonies, and our tribulations.
But that was not to be as the situation even became worse. Many companies began to shed weight or to retrench their workers, due to difficulties in accessing raw materials caused by high exchange rate of the Naira against most foreign currencies. Some of these companies even folded up. In the same vein, virtually all the foreign companies in Nigeria left, due to unfavourable business climate. In that circumstance, nobody recruited, so I remained unemployed.
Meanwhile, my father’s creditors were seriously on his neck, requesting for repayment of the loan he took to finance my university education, together with the accrued interests, which then had swallowed the principal. My father was helpless, and he did not have any money to pay.
So, while being disturbed about how to repay the loan, how to pay the hospital bill of my mother who was bedridden, how to provide money for the upkeep for his unemployed graduate son, how to pay school fees for his other three children, how to feed the entire family and pay house rent, my father was hit with stroke. We began to battle for his life, but he would not make it. Three months later, he died, heartbroken and disappointed.
On my part, I was greatly devastated, became helpless and completely worn out. It looked as if the entire world had collapsed, and descended on me. From where would I start my journey? Who would bail me out of this predicament, as I automatically assumed the responsibility of being the breadwinner of the family- an unemployed graduate!
Eight years after my graduation and 35 years of age, but no job, when then do I marry and raise my own family and do others meaningful in life? It was a hopeless situation.
In 2016, when the present administration came on board and introduced the N-Power scheme where each participant would receive a monthly stipend of N30,000, I had applied, but was not selected. Last year, 2020, another N-Power scheme was advertised, I also applied, but up till today, nothing positive had come out of it.
Even though my friends have been mocking me, and wondering what N30,000 monthly stipend could do for anybody in this era of hyper-inflation, buy I wouldn’t mind, provided I have something doing. My only worry is that I would have nobody to speak for me, which is the Nigerian tradition.
Thus, while bemoaning my fate, and my agony, I also pity millions of my fellow countrymen and women, members of my unfortunate generation, who are left without hope or future, who are shut out of the system by their greedy and selfish political leaders.
Some of these my compatriots had already died while struggling to make existence, recruited either as Boko Haram members, as bandits, kidnappers, political thugs, etc., while others have bade farewell to Nigeria, doing menial jobs in other countries of the world, far less endowed than their own country, which is very unfortunate.
Dr. Dons Eze, KSJI