I got to know Fred few months ago when he was just about to be discharged from the National Youth Service. I asked him what he would be doing after service; he said, “look for a job”. It’s over six months, and he’s still not engaged with work – waiting for someone to give him a job. He had being brainwashed.
Our society has succeeded in brainwashing us that we need work in someone else’s business after graduation, instead of creating our own work and building our own businesses. It did not start today. Many years ago before the amalgamation of what they called ‘Southern and Northern protectorates’ in 1914 by the British colonial lords, every people who occupied the spaces that made up Nigeria were naturally entrepreneurs. For instance, the people of the Oyo Empire, the Benin Kingdom, the Kanuri Empire, to mention a few, had already established for themselves a civilization and entrepreneurship-based economy. They farmed, produced and paid royalties or taxes to the ‘Landlords’ or the king – everyone and every family worked for themselves.
When the British colonial masters arrived and defeated these native people through the superiority of their boats and weapons they changed the prevalent economic order and established a different kind of civilization and economy, one based on employee-ship.
They built factories, schools, churches and other businesses. They needed cheap labour to run and grow these establishments; it is interesting to note what they had to do – train the ‘primitive natives’ with just enough information and expertise to be dependent and never self-reliant — just enough to be able to do the jobs as the white man required. Those natives who gained British education were promoted as the most-refined, best and most intelligent and superior human beings among their kinsmen; everything and everyone else were regarded as crude and barbaric. Soon, everyone began believing in the theories and superiority of the white man; then no matter who you were, you worked for the colonial masters as an employee one way or another. Cheap labour and loyal employees were what they wanted and what they succeeded in instilling into those who went to school. Those natives who studied and chose their own paths were labeled ‘rebels’ who must be disciplined.
Nigeria was established as a base of cheap labour and raw materials for the British and foreign industries. After ‘Independence’ from British (and colonial) rule in 1960, our political leaders inherited a system and economy designed not to ‘empower’ and ‘liberate’ people economically but a system of servitude – where most people are only educated enough to serve or do the work required for a fixed amount of money that would never be enough. It has been a long time, and people have forgotten how to be entrepreneurs – productive and self-reliant. The mentality had been formed and perpetuated – to go to school and prove how a zombie you can be by taking orders and doing as you are told (slaves without creative thinking). Then you get fired at the caprice of your employer/master.
Today we have a society where most people, like my nice friend, Fred, think the only thing they can do is seek a job as an employee upon graduation from College or University. That is the effect of the brainwashing. And we have become worse for it. Young people graduate and many months or years after can’t find or create their own jobs. It is pathetic (!) and there needs to be a change. We need a re-building of our mentality, a re-orientation; one that is geared towards self-reliance, individual value and productivity.
When people seek employment it’s not necessarily because they love the job or their boss; they need the money that comes at week or month-end (this is the carrot which keeps the donkey working harder until its back breaks).
In less than six days thousands of Batch “A” ’13 Corps members across Nigeria will be ‘passing out’ from the National Youth Service. My question is, will you be asking “Somebody give me a job!”? If nobody wants to give you a job, create one for yourself and become a job-provider for others.
I say, think differently – your target should be to create and own your work. Kill the brainwashing.
Culled from the book “GOOD TO GO: How to succeed in life and work after NYSC” by Stanley G. Jack, coming out in June. All rights Reserved.
Stanley G. Jack is the author of “Who Took My Job?”(@WhoTookMyJob) and his next book “GOOD TO GO: How To Succeed In Life & Work After NYSC”, out in June 2014.