By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu
Last week, the Kano State Coordinator of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Mr. Sanusi AbdulRasheed, lamented that 89% of corps members in the country, could neither write a good letter of application nor communicate effectively in the English language. According to AbdulRasheed, “the NYSC researched into what (the corps members) were writing in the form of applications for one thing or the other.
The management noted that about 89percent of NYSC members could not write a good application”. The situation is so pathetic that the Corps chief advised that the corps members he addressed (who were actually passing out from the year-long programme), should “not feel too big”, but should “go and buy primary and secondary school books”, in order to learn the rudiments of how to write good applications.
These frightening outcomes of a research had been released to corps members preparing to enter the jobs market in the country. Mr. AbdulRasheed cited an instance when “a majority of (the corps members) start writing application with their name like: ‘I, Sanusi AbdulRasheed, hereby…’. It was also noticed that the majority of the corps members “were more at home with the use of ‘broken English’, as a means of communication”.
In short, what the Kano NYSC chief was saying is that Nigeria’s “generation next” is ill-equipped for the business of building our country.
They neither possess the basic tools of communicating their thoughts nor are they able to write sensibly to get a look-in, in the very competitive world of work! Most employers of labour, today, quietly lament the serious deficits in the quality of young graduates entering the job market. The quality is so bad that one doesn’t know how to recruit.
Let me illustrate. This situation that the NYSC chief was lamenting in Kano last week, has been with us for many years. When I worked as GM at KWTV, I once asked a youth corps member attached to my office to do a draft letter for me, which I was to take to government, because I was working on a much larger document. A few hours later, I asked for the draft and what I got did not make sense whatsoever!
The writer could not have attended a university as far as I was concerned but the candidate was on national service! As Editor of a newspaper, I also saw the level of deficiency in the quality of reports that reporters would file. We would have to get much more experienced people to re-write basic copies that made no sense. I had lamented the situation for years, until I started receiving reports that a lot of these individuals actually purchased their ways through school.
They will offer money and other gifts to lecturers, while Professor Okello Oculli, once told me of the prevalence of STDs in Nigerian universities, but he had actually meant: “Sexually Transmitted DEGREES”! A lot of the young people do not even have the basic background of learning to be in school in the first place, while they are often loathe to doing the hardwork which intellectual exertion entails.
And because this trend has been with us for a very long time, there is a gradual erosion of ability to communicate all around us. In truth, the level of spoken and written English (and other languages) has dropped dangerously in Nigeria.
It is not unusual to meet top people speaking very outlandish English; they mix up basic tenses, revealing the depth of illiteracy around us. During the 2011 elections, INEC employed intellectuals as returning officers and on television professors were announcing that: “My names are…”.
Nigeria is hurtling through a sorry pass in practically every area of endeavour. We seem to go for the lowest common denominator in many choices we make, and the 89% of youth corps members unable to either communicate properly in the official language of education and of work, only reflect the national malaise while underlining the dim future the country faces! In the past five years, there has been a steady build-up of failure in schools’ certificate examinations.
Such a serious deterioration should have been at the heart of a national endeavour of restitution, but those whose responsibility is to lead action for change don’t seem bothered. We can ask many pertinent questions about the morass we are in today. For instance, how can students work and learn adequately within decayed university systems where facilities have remained literally in a time warp?
What about the incessant strikes by academics occasioned by the irresponsibility of a government that signs agreements but reneges in implementation? Why are academics complicit in the systematic subversion of processes by passing students who have no business in the schools system?
And don’t parents assist in inducing teachers for their children to get degrees they haven’t truly earned? The questions are many indeed! We face the danger of not having the requisite levels of human development to win the battle against underdevelopment and it is clear that the problem is already suffocating our social space.
When 89 percent of youth corps members cannot write a decent letter of application for employment, then something is truly wrong with our country!
The Nigerian economy of Aliko Dangote
I Have had cause to write a couple of articles in the past on the larger-than-life image of Aliko Dangote, and the place he occupies in Nigerian society, but especially the economy. When the media began to celebrate his accession into the exclusive rank of billionaires, I had argued that it was wrong, because he had taken so much from our country, but had not given back to society, through foundations dedicated to philanthropy.
In the period since the criticisms, Aliko Dangote has made even more money from our country; has become almost THE MAIN factor in our national economic life, in tune with the desire of our ruling class to make this a capitalist society, willy-nilly. Dangote looms larger than ever in the stock exchange; in governmental panels and in diversified investments in nearly every area of our economy.
If Dangote sneezes today, the Nigerian economy will certainly catch a cold! For the Nigerian bourgeoisie, Aliko Dangote is the poster child of capitalist success. I recall that once we went for a media briefing with President Obasanjo, and at the dinner table, he told the joke of a young Igbo man who converted to Islam, and was told that his conversion would be incomplete, unless he took a Muslim name, like Muhammad, Is’haq or Abubakar, etc. Obasanjo said the smart young man decided he wanted to be named Aliko Dangote!
Last Saturday, LEADERSHIP WEEKEND newspaper did a cover story, which underlined the essence of the Dangote phenomenon. The story said that in the next five years, Aliko Dangote would outstrip the Nigerian Federal Government, as the largest employer of labour in the land.
The Dangote Group plans to create 750, 000 jobs in the next five years and that will eventually reach one million. The report added that the Group presently employs 26, 000 workers, “spread across its subsidiaries in cement, salt and sugar manufacturing and packaging plants”.
On the other hand, the report said the FGN has roughly 90, 000 civil servant, “but the figure will come up to at least 600, 000 when added to those in the military and paramilitary organizations”. Aliko Dangote long recognised as Africa’s richest individual, “…has in the pipeline, a 300, 000 hectare sugar plantation in KebbiState, rice plantation in KwaraState, and a fertilizer plant and a refinery in the OKNLG Free Trade Zone in Ogun and Ondo states”.
That is not all. There is “the planned expansion of its three cement plants in Obajana in Kogi State, Ibese in Ogun State and Gboko in Benue State, and the planned Independent Power Plant, IPP”.If we are still finding it difficult to wrap our heads around these incredible forays into several areas of the national economy, the Dangote Group recently signed a $3.30billion loan with a consortium of local and foreign banks, “to finance the construction of a petrochemical and petroleum refining plants at the OKNLG Free Trade Zone in Ondo State” and that plant will be largest of its kind in Africa.
Aliko Dangote has changed the face of African capitalism forever; he moved from being just a Comprador to a genuine national (and in fact, a Pan-African) bourgeois! Capitalism is without doubt the most radical development process in human history. It tore asunder the sloppiness associated with all hitherto existing forms of organisation of human society.
Modernity and post-modernism are both products of the radical impact of capitalism. By investing in different sectors of the Nigerian economy and in all parts of the country, Aliko Dangote has made a definitive statement of confidence in Nigeria and its people. His contribution to the making of the Nigerian nation is very significant because it is located at the level of the political economy.
There are always criticisms that can be made, especially at the moral level, about the waivers and advantages that Dangote has taken from Nigeria. The Nigerian state, especially since Obasanjo, seemed to have bent backwards to accommodate Dangote, Femi Otedola and a whole cabal of stupendously rich individuals who were also often financiers of the political agendas of those in power.
But staying within the ambitions of the ruling class to create a capitalist society, Dangote has made a remarkable contribution and continues to do so! At a time when some members of the political elite and intellectuals pooh-pooh the idea of Nigeria or when some lamenting that we have not become a “nation” (whatever that means!) almost like the absurd intellectual in Diogene of Sinope’s painting, who carried a lamp in the afternoon searching for the “righteous” man, a capitalist entrepreneur, Aliko Dangote, is helping to create a Nigerian working class, or more appropriately, a Nigerian industrial proletariat.
These working people are his greatest contribution to our country and they demystify the insulting nonsense that reduces us to just a collection of warring “tribes”; the fixation of certain intellectual and political circles, especially in Southern Nigeria.
And to crown it all, Aliko Dangote has also discovered the métier in philanthropy. I have NEVER met Aliko Dangote in my life and I am an eternal critique of capitalism. But as Lenin used to say, facts are stubborn things! The fact here is that Aliko Dangote is making a huge contribution to the capitalist development of Nigeria.