Monday, March 22, 2010
A colorful framed poster hanging in our house reads: “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Galatians 6: 17.” Thus, when I first heard the term “Enough is Enough”, that was the first thing that came to mind. However, the new youth movement in Nigeria themed “Enough is Enough” is not a religious affiliation. If you are Nigerian, you most likely understand the context of this dynamic emergence of a new generation with zero tolerance for corruption. We are talking about a generation nauseated by the unprogressive government leaders tying Nigeria down in underdevelopment and poverty even though our land is rich in natural and human resources.
When young Nigerians converged at the National Assembly to peacefully protest on March 16th, it was neither to show-off how energetic youth can be nor to punctuate the day to announce that 70% of our population are youth (under 35years). According to the letter sent to the Senate President/The Speaker of the House “the march is only the first step in a series of many geared step towards creating the condition for a Nigeria that will no longer make breaking news on CNN.” But I thank God this March made the news on CNN- Nigerians abroad got the clear report of the vibrancy of the revolutionary movement.
To resonate what the Coalition expressed in their letter to our government leaders: We demand an overhaul of the security and intelligence apparatus in Nigeria. We demand that the government give practical plan to solving our electrical power problem. President Yar’dua should officially resign if he can no longer serve the country, due to his health problem. We demand that the government leaders put into action the recommendations of the electoral reform report. “We want a country where infrastructure work, where politicians are committed to the common good, where opportunities for its citizens are fair and possible.”
We are tired of government leaders serving themselves instead of the people. We are tired of the fragile security system in our country. We are tired of walking in the dark; reading for exam with candles/kerosene lantern, touch light or cell-phone beam and graduating from school with no employment opportunity in sight. We are tired of an education system that is out of shape. We want a New Nigeria where leaders and followers understand the value in integrity, commitment and unity.
But we are not just stopping at the demands. Individually and collectively, we will play our role responsibly. Enough is Enough! This is a “battle for the soul of Nigeria.” Join the movement: www.enoughisenoughnigeria.com Are you taking a positive stand or sitting in silence?
Posted by Jennifer Ehidiamen at 1:19 AM
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
We are our mother’s son and daughter. Today, as we join the rest of the world to celebrate the women who have nurtured us to be strong enough to grow through life and teachable enough to learn from experience, we hope you stay inspired and take out time to appreciate yours too as you read about the lessons we learnt from our mothers!
Timothy Ogene and I in the early hours of Thursday morning, sat down to reflect on the current issues- not to lament over the insidious trend of our government leaders. Our focus was on the exemplary leaders who, in a failing system have not relented in nurturing the future.
Our mothers taught us to be receptive. As a child, I was always thrilled by my mum’s ability to run an open-door policy in our home. We didn’t need to live in a mansion to be able to host extended family, friends and even strangers for holidays and all. My mum’s warm and receptive attitude made our home livable. From her I learned the importance of being receptive towards others, irrespective of their background.
Our mothers taught us hard-work. My mum was always working at something. She was a serial small-scale entrepreneur. My dad lost his job when I was about 10years old. She single-handedly supported the family economically. In the process, I learnt how to manage my resources in times of deficit. She was not a waster. While other women spent money on make-up and stuff, she saved hers for her children’s education. Her prudence robbed off on me.
Choose God and a good education. We knew the way to church as well as the way to school. But the real education for us started from home. Our mothers did not compromise on discipline. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). My mum was very strict about not sparing the rod to spoil the child. Being a teacher’s daughter, one of the things that was always present in our household was the discipline-cane and the Bible. If you are caught talking "harsh works”, be sure to get a knock or a few strokes of the cane. And, yes we turned better.
Our mothers taught us that sincere love is required to make the hurting heal. They taught us that resilience and passion make challenges easier to tackle. Our mothers represent God-fearing, strong, intelligent women. We learn so many things from them, especially the lesson of taking personal responsibility and being audacious in achieving one's goals. Happy Mother’s day to all fabulous role models and nurturers we call mothers.
Posted by Jennifer Ehidiamen at 6:13 AM
How can the alarming statistics of the 40 million unemployed youth be brought to naught? Is it possible to salvage the future of the 23 million youth categorized as unemployable? What are some of the qualities employers are looking out for in the workforce? According to the 2009 survey from CareerBuilder and Robert Half International, aside from having the basic job qualifications, other important qualities employers lookout for include the ability to multitask, ability to take initiative and creative thinking.
Interestingly, we all know the above listed characteristics are not things we pick up from our school curriculum. It has to be developed with time, but not in isolation. The way our education system is currently structured does not really encourage us to think outside the box. All our efforts are channeled towards a competitive stream of studying and passing exams. Hence, after University/College, graduates with impressive result are classified as unemployable.
Beyond the certificate, to be relevant in this competitive 21st century, we all need skills to augment our in-classroom knowledge. Young Nigerians need experiential learning to balance the classroom experience. Our academic curriculum must prepare the average Nigerian youth well enough to be able to graduate at any level (Primary, Secondary or University) with problem-solving skills (not just mathematics).
Teachers/Lecturers/Professors need to be less detached in encouraging students to be vocal in classrooms in order to build confidence. Educational institutions need to partner with the Corporate/Private sector to bridge the yawning gap that deters on-field training.
Young people in Nigeria should be encouraged to improve their research, communication, interpersonal relations and analytical skills and grow emotionally through active brainstorming/debate sessions and taking up challenging tasks both within and outside classroom settings. We cannot underestimate the importance of entrepreneurship and vocational studies- it needs to be more adapted into our curriculum.
Parents and other stakeholders- NGOS, religious leaders, etc. also have their role in providing constant support through mentoring. How can there be any motivation to invest in life-long learning and professional/personal growth if there is no mentor to show the way? As for the government, they need to put structures in place to revamp our education system.
The government must also work closely with other key players to ensure that as we ask more youths to become self-employed, there is room for them to receive initial start-up capital. These will not only equip Nigerian youths with the ability to multitask, take initiative and think creatively, it will also prepare youths to embrace self-employment towards economic and social sustainability.
(Pictures reflect the recent "Enough is Enough" Youth Rally)
Posted by Jennifer Ehidiamen at 6:02 AM
Thursday, March 04, 2010
“About 40 million youth are currently unemployed and of this figure 23 million are unemployable. It is a calamity. If 40 million people out of 150 million are unemployed, it is a disaster. To say you are unemployable means you are a candidate for crime. It means there are 23 million people that you can draft to commit murder, rape and other crimes. It means we have an army of thugs, rapists, assassins here and there.” Said Depo Oyedokun, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Youth and Social Development.
To ameliorate the situation, there is a scheduled stakeholders’ conference on youth scheduled for October 26-28. It seems like déjävu. How will the event unfold?
Day 1: Representatives from Youth organizations, National Youth Council of Nigeria, the Youth Parliament, National Association of Nigerian Students etc. will converge in Abuja, ready to be hosted in an expensive hotel for 3-days.
Day 2: Discussion forum. “Experts” in the field will present paper on the chosen theme “Stimulating an enabling and sustainable environment for self reliance and employment/empowerment opportunity for the Nigerian Youth.” New vocabulary and alarming statistics will fly from one end of the hall to the other. Youths will painstakingly ask questions about their future. No one will fall into a state of stupor.
Day 3: Another day of open-house discourse. It may be in form of question and answer session followed by an evening of certification. This is where all the participants are awarded certificate of attendance signed by the Minister of Youth development, Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi. The lead organizers will present a conference communiqué signed on behalf of the 40 million youths, out of which 23 million are said to be unemployable, to the honorable minister.
No practical solutions. No career fair. No Potential employers or captains of industry. No action. Three days of tale and talk is a vexation to the youth. All participants return to their various States. An online “after-conference” alumni is formed. The enthusiasts among them use it to communicate burning issues for a few days. But because the event has no rippling effect, nothing insightful is disseminated.
However, our Lawmakers are prepared. For them to announce a conference holding in October so early in February, without reticence and fear of being accused of their flaws that has contributed to the failed system, depict how good this might turn out to be. The minister of education, the minster of Youth development and other stakeholders will work closely with the youth representatives before, during and after the conference to create practical solutions. Revamping the decaying system to salvage the future is a continuous process, not just a 3-day conference affair.
Posted by Jennifer Ehidiamen at 11:22 PM