The tale of a hopeful Nigerian Graduate

Monday, 12 June 2017

/ by xclusivefx Channels
Bolu Ajibawo
The Tale of a Hopeful Nigerian Graduate

I completed the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme last week, it was a tumultuous learning experience.

Conquering the famous wall at NYSC camp

It was a small demo of the real world, full of ups and downs.

My whole life; I have been protected, shielded from reality, provided for, taken care of, sent to school. I just had to show up and all was well.

Now I am at the point of the cycle where I have to take care of myself, and eventually start a family.

On graduation from the university, 18 months ago; I was passionate, I had this strong belief in my country; Nigeria and its people. I believed we could do great things. That my generation was going to build global companies, we would make a dent in the universe.

I had no interest in working a traditional job, I wanted to go out there, explore and build a business from scratch. I truly believed all this could be done. I didn’t know how, but I knew why. Africa had been left in the dark for too long. My people were suffering, under-estimated, maltreated, condemned to mediocrity, we were black and poor (mentally and financially). I had been one of the lucky few to go through university education, I was enlightened, I had opportunities, or so I thought. There were no jobs, and I was single-handedly going to change this. I was optimistic.

Then came NYSC, the government programme that required graduates of higher education serve the nation for a year, at the end of which you get a certificate. The NYSC certificate was one of the requirements of job interviews and without it the likelihood of getting a good job is low. You couldn’t work for the government and big private sector companies without it.

I was going to build a business, and didn’t intend to work a normal job, so my thinking was I wouldn’t need the NYSC certificate.

Besides, there were no jobs to work (7 out of 10 youths are unemployed in Nigeria), and the 9 out of 10 people who serve in the NYSC are posted to schools in the village to teach. I wasn’t cut out for that. I had dreams, ambitions, and passion, the Nigerian government wasn’t going to draw me back.

I was really confused. Making life decisions is HARD!

I was considering whether to undergo the NYSC or not.

My family encouraged me to earn the certificate, I really didn’t want to. I didn’t see how it would serve my ambitions, but I had no strong alternatives. My main problem was: I knew what I wanted to do with my life, but didn’t know how. So I went the easy way, serve my country and figure my life out during my service year.

I struggled a lot with making decisions during this period, as I had no experience making major decisions for my life. I had been guided all my life, and now I had to be responsible for myself. 
I believe it is important to follow your heart, for it knows what you want, what makes you happy.

The NYSC service year turned out to be one of the best years of my life, at the NYSC camp; I met Nigerians from various tribes, and bonded with them. It was a unique experience.

I went on to serve my country in a city, and worked in a private company for a year. During this time, I tried and failed to build a business, I learnt a lot about Nigeria and how the real world works. I made great friends, had a lot of fun, worked hard and created unforgettable experiences. Looking back, it was a very special period of my life, and I can’t imagine spending the last year any other way. 
It gave me the freedom to explore, take responsibility for my life, look into the future and make adequate plans. This last year taught me how to face uncertainty, gave me a decision framework and showed me the importance of happiness. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I am much more confident in my abilities and what the future holds. I have a foundation to build on.

Shoutout to my batch :)

One of the most important decision frameworks I have adopted during my service year is:

What do you want?

What is true?

What are you going to do about it?

What do you want?

It is very vital to decide: What you want, Where would you like to be? What would you like to do? Especially looking long term (5, 10, 20 years).

In my case, I want to build a global tech company, that’ll make a real dent in the universe, and stand shoulder-to shoulder with the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook. I want to solve problems, to create jobs for my people, to make our lives better, to make my people proud.

What is true?

Take into consideration reality. What does the world around you look like? Your environment, the various factors that influence your goals. Where are you now? How far off from your goals are you?

At 23.5 years old, I am a Website Designer with no solid tech skill, but with just enough to make a living. Starting a business in my country is hard, we lack basic infrastructure; no power, internet is expensive, standard of education is low, and the average Nigerian is poor or a low-income earner. We have basic problems here.

Facing reality and working to change it is super important.

Nigeria is a country of 180 million people, with 60 million SMEs; with just 75,000 domain names; very few businesses are on the internet.

Every day more people are joining the internet, thus making the internet more valuable and mobile penetration is high.

World-class tech talent is rare in Nigeria (the internet and availability of information is slowly changing this), and there is not much business capital to work with, although the recent advent of Silicon Valley money being poured into Nigerian tech businesses is changing that.

In summary, TECH IS HOT, and can only get hotter as an industry. If you can get into the ecosystem, there is no better time than now.

What are you going to do about it?

To attain your dreams and ambitions, you have to work on the key factors that will take you there. You have to change and adapt your reality until it is moulded into your dream.

Our country has a lot of basic problems that tech could solve, and those come first before thinking about building a global company. Providing value for my people is my primary aim.

I am working on improving my tech skills, with a goal of building complex web apps from scratch in the next 3 months (realistically, it might take me 6 months or longer), but I have time, time is all I have. I started working on my upping my skills in November, 2016. It has been a challenging but rewarding experience.

My big plan is to use my website design business to fund my living and business ideas I have to improve our society and daily lives.

I need to be patient, but work every day to attain my goals. It would require a lot of hard-work, experimenting, risk-taking, passion and perseverance. It would require a real desire to make things better for my people.

The Future

A lot of my friends are travelling abroad: to Europe, the UK, the US or Canada. They are the smartest people I know, and they want to go further their education, perhaps get a job abroad, and live a better life. The Nigerian economy is not encouraging, bureaucracy is high, corruption is high, no jobs, and the rich are the corrupt politicians. It is not looking positive, but consider this, in the 70s, Nigeria had just discovered oil, Nigeria was independent, there was relatively consistent power supply (my father told me :), the economic signs were positive, however we found a way to screw it up.

Here we are in 2017, and despite the negative signs, I believe our future depends on the decisions and intent of the youth. Our generation can do great things, we can make Nigeria great. We are indeed the leaders of tomorrow, tomorrow is just sooner than expected.

This is a call to Nigerians in the diaspora, and those that intend to travel abroad, do come back as soon as you can. Without its people, the country is nothing.

Nigeria is home… We are one big family

The internet has levelled grounds. For the first time in the history of the universe, we have access to any and all information we desire. Knowledge is power. The problems we have here in Nigeria have known solutions (e.g. electricity, basic health care, poor education, bad transport network, pipe borne water etc). It is very unlike creating a Mars colony (tip of my hat to Elon Musk). The solutions are known, but need to be implemented. We have to make this country great, it is our duty and responsibility to do so.

Nigeria needs you, Africa needs you…
Adapted from medium.

posted from Bloggeroid

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