Nigerian Graduates: Life After School And The Question of Demonstrable Skills By: Seun Sobola

The view that titles occupy an exclusive place in writing is very much in line with common sense. A good title forecasts the message of a writing. So, to take advantage of that fact, I have succinctly created a concise and informative title to draw your attention.

There is no need to put on a camouflage title, no need to crank up titles that would satirise the pains of Nigerian graduates, it only requires me to inform that the piece was inspired by three different events that I experienced.

I was sitting in the office of Dr Segun Omosule, the Head of Department of English, Olabisi Onabanjo University when two 400 level students came to greet me. Soon we were to talk about school generally, and whether the course they have been studying for four year has prepared them for miracle-breaking jobs in the labour market.

The female, after a fractional smile, comprehensively said that no course has given her a flicker of usefulness, application and anticipation in the future. Although she buried her face instantly, I asked her if truly she would be leaving school the same way she came. She gave me a thin-laughter.

After I regained my seat, I told her that the purpose of school is to provide ‘a runway to define your own journey’. You may want to engage with and help others. You may want to effect change in the world and in yourself. You may wish to be heard. You may want to write. You may want to sing. School only provides that myriad opportunities and space to do so. To support this point, I cited a concept in drama called ‘adaptation’.

Adaptation is the process of recreating an existing work in a way which gives a new meaning. This concept has been utilised by writers, movie producers and scientists. For instance, a recent blockbuster Yoruba movie Big Brother Ibadan (2023) is a reworking of the popular Nigerian reality competition television series, Big Brother Naija . Big Brother, this time, takes the competition to Ibadan where twelve stupid characters together in a solitary house msut live with the winner to cart away a total of 10 million naira. Ahmed Yerima also remixed Shakespeare’s Othello in Otaelo , rendering the classic Othello into the language, cultural reality and setting of the Igbo people.

It sounded very significant that adaptation sourced from Arts and its value as a form of knowledge cannot be greater. But at the same time, we are given an insight that school will make you intellectually potential and not readily design a job for you. We are left to challenge ourselves in the curriculum and opportunities available to us in the outside world. You may choose career in music, communication, boxing, teaching, nursing, politics, farming, banking, law, fashion designing amongst others.

Translating professions or skills into businesses is equivalent to demonstrating them. That expression derives strength in the statement of the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, who said that ‘university degrees will no longer be sole guarantors of job opportunities in the country’. Therefore, it is prerequisite that every graduate finds himself or herself rooting for skills that may not have been taught in school. The fact remains, though that skills may not be enough. Skills can be potentially beneficial when coupled with personality and virtues. Virtues are innate and in-built by the way.

Dear Nigerian graduates, let us forge a new path with fastidiousness and ingenuity by demonstrating our skills. In the era of Technology, skills are transcending geographical boundaries. There is an undeniable truth in this, skills are where tomorrow’s workforce will come from.



Seun Sobola holds a first class degree in English from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. He is an exceptional writer and can be reached through: 08101106313/ seun.tobi101@gmail.com

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