The number of young people without work should have decreased significantly if the National Bureau of Statistics’ claim that Nigeria’s unemployment rate has plummeted from 33.3% to 4.1% is accurate.

The truth, however, is that tens of thousands of Nigerian college grads are still unemployed. The narrative is consistent regardless of location.

Numerous graduates from the country’s universities, polytechnics, and schools of education are unable to find work each year. Many have advanced degrees, including master’s degrees, earned while precariously balancing the hopes that their employment prospects will improve once they completed their studies.

However, this never materialized, and instead became their greatest downfall as most firms avoided hiring them due to their lack of relevant expertise and the higher wages they demanded.

Graduates without jobs in Nigeria feel that society has reverted to a Hobbesian condition, where life is “nasty, poor, short, and brutish,” and only the strongest survive.

Since the job market is so unstable, graduates in Nigeria are open to taking low-paying positions that aren’t even in their field. They are forced to resort to taking on skilled-labor occupations.

According to research conducted by MISMOB, many unemployed college grads who value the dignity of labor have found attractive careers in areas such as operating motorcycles (Okada) or tricycles (Keke), driving taxis or commercial buses, providing house cleaning and laundry services, repairing generators, opening restaurants and car washes, and engaging in estate agency services and petty trading.

For some who desire to get rich soon, they find refuge in fraudulent ways of survival including kidnapping, armed robbery, internet fraud, advance fee fraud, ritual homicide, among other dirty and illegal jobs.

Stories of those who have chosen the honorable route by rejecting the degree label in favor of the toga of survival instinct have been inspiring and fascinating.

Many have elected to stay in their current location, which they view as less than ideal, in the hopes of improving their living conditions with the help of the government, wealthy individuals, or non-governmental organizations.

They think that if they could just secure some sort of financial backing, they could then start hiring unemployed Nigerians.

MISMOB, visited the city and learned that some people work low-wage jobs because they spent years looking for white-collar work and came up empty-handed. Others, even before college, have trained themselves to think of themselves as entrepreneurs.

Johnson Ademola is one such guy who, while in school, had no interest in working for the government or any organization.

His undergraduate and graduate degrees were in Philosophy and Sociology.

After that, he enrolled in a doctoral programme at the University of Ibadan.

Despite his extensive education, he finds fulfillment in a field that is commonly associated with high school and college dropouts: generator repair.

Ademola told the MISMOB about his life journey so far: “I studied philosophy in my first degree from the University of Ibadan in 2007. In 2011, I earned my Master’s in Sociology from the same institution. I am a doctoral student in the same department (Industrial and Personnel Management) at the same school.

He claimed he never bothered applying for work because he had begun training in his chosen profession even before enrolling in college.

Given this information, one could reasonably wonder why he went to such great lengths to earn certificates all the way up to the doctoral level when all he really wanted to do was fix people’s generators.

He explained, “When I was in high school, I was interested in science and wanted to go into mechanical engineering. So, after I finished secondary school in 1994, I opted to pursue this vocational training, which is a practical element of engineering while waiting for entrance into the university to read engineering.

After years of trying to pass the JAMB tests without success, I was finally admitted and told that I may study philosophy if I so desired. My hopes of majoring in mechanical engineering were dashed when I learned that I need only attend college and study “any course” to fulfill this requirement.

In addition, I am working toward a doctorate degree so that I can eventually teach. It gives me a great joy to impart information on people; it has been my passion.”

His degree, he told DAILY POST, is a major plus in his current position since it sets him apart from “quacks.”

“I am not like those quacks who don’t have a real education yet claim to be experts in this field. It also attracts clients to me because the way I explain topics is different from those who never traveled through the four walls of the institution. This has allowed me to distinguish myself from the pack. He gushed, “My education has set me apart from others.

In addition to fixing things, he now also sells generators. He claims to employ a small team of people who each receive monthly salary of $3,000 to $4,000. He has expanded his company to the point where students from technical universities intern for him.

Although some of my current staff are only apprentices, I do pay them a salary at the end of each month. I’m willing to foot the bill so that they can get where they need to go and take care of themselves financially. Internships for students from technical universities used to be offered at this company. The range of salaries I offer my employees is from $30,000 to $40,000.

Although he did not disclose his typical monthly salary for privacy reasons, the fact that he is able to regularly pay three people between N30,000 and N40,000 suggests that he earns a substantial sum on a regular basis.

“I don’t want to disclose what I make in a month for personal reasons, but I want to say that I am content with what I make,” he said.

James Okezie, a native of Abia State, is one of Ademola’s employees in the garage. He has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Port Harcourt in Sociology and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of Ibadan.

I have been searching for jobs but I have not been lucky,” he said to MISMOB on his employment search. I first met Mr. Ademola while he was a coworker of mine in Ibadan. In lieu of lounging around at home, I came here to acquire these skills.

He stated that he could now maintain body and soul together without much stress unlike when he was seated at home, doing nothing.

However, he encouraged the government to provide easy loans and ensure a stable supply of electricity so that the many unemployed college grads may start their own businesses.

Mr. Patrick Nnamani is a tricycle driver from Ikem, in the Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State.

He studied business administration at Enugu State University of Science and Technology and earned a degree there. After years of job hunting with no luck, he decided to try his hand at Keke, a type of tricycle transportation.

He explained, “Before I came to ride this tricycle, I searched for a job ceaselessly and without luck. I didn’t have a kobo when I got this job through a friend named Rashidi. He let me use one of his tricycles and made me promise to bring him N2,000 every day. In exchange, he let me keep the rest of my pay. I did that for a while until I had enough money to purchase one of my own.

Mr. Nnamani sees a lack of capital as the primary threat to the success of his company.

He admitted that he would be content with the position provided that he had enough money to purchase more tricycles.

He equally urged for government support, stating, “The only thing the government can do to aid us is to make loans accessible for us to acquire more tricycles. For instance, I won’t bother looking for a work if I can save up enough money to buy five or ten more tricycles. I’d tell other grads that trike riding isn’t hopeless.

“They can’t continue waiting for the government to produce jobs for them. We need low-interest loans from the government so that we can get this company off the ground. Many recent grads would like to join us, but they have nowhere to find bikes. The primary concern we have in our initial gate unit is that we don’t have enough tricycles. There are more people looking for tricycles than there are.

Enugu State native and University of Jos alum Onah Theodore Uzoamaka hails from the town of Imilike in the Udenu Local Government Area. She’s made a name for herself in the honey-selling industry.

She returned to the honey company she had started before enrolling in college after spending little time job hunting after graduating from college in 2007 and completing her mandatory one year National Youth Service Corps programme in 2008.

Although she felt disappointed initially because her main aim of going back to school to get first degree after her National Certificate in Education (NCE) was to get a good job, she later realised that the business was even more lucrative than any paid employment, so she committed more energy into it.

She proclaimed, “I took English classes in college.” I have exhausted my savings trying to get work as a photocopier and a driver, but to no avail. I was once scammed out of N40,000 when I tried to join the Immigration Service under false pretenses.

Before I was accepted to college, I was already running a successful honey company. I had NCE and assumed that was why I was having trouble finding work, so I went on to earn my first bachelor’s degree in the hopes that it would open doors to better employment opportunities. After realizing I had no options for employment, I returned to my hometown in search of the finest honey producers.

She said that government officers were too busy harassing and intimidating her to let her conduct business without interference.

People love me because I only sell the best honey, so it came as a shock when a group of vandals, purporting to be from the city council, showed up and trashed my store.

They wiped out the entire establishment, so I had to start over. That has been the government’s contribution to my efforts at surviving on my own. It’s disheartening to think that the government that refused to hire a recent college grad would then ruin the firm she and her husband had built from scratch. She said, “I am completely demoralized, and even sales have gone down.”

Uzoamaka does not intend to work for free like some recent grads do before landing a paying job.

She is completely dedicated to the honey trade.

“I can’t tell you that I would utilize what I realise here to print CV, go to the internet to send applications or drive myself to submit job applications. The answer is obviously no; I can’t repeat it. There are certainly employment opportunities in Nigeria; yet, without the proper network, success is out of reach.

Some of my coworkers are able to make a living because of where they’re from in the country. Educatively, they did not fare any better than I did. Therefore, I cannot waste what little money I have left on a lie about hunting for a job that does not exist. At least, I am getting my daily bread from here even though the bread may not be enough,” she submitted.

Kemi Adewale Kehinde, a resident of Ogun State and alumna of Madonna University Okija in Anambra State, studied business administration.

After repeated failed attempts to land a good job, Kemi, a minor trader, decided to start his own company.

After completing my mandatory youth service, I looked for work and was hired by a stock broking firm in Marina. However, after the 2008 stock market meltdown, the company was unable to pay me and others like me, so I had to find other work.

She continued her search for employment until 2010 when she decided to launch her own business selling items for women such as weave-on hair extensions, perfume, body cream, and other cosmetics.

She believes that with a low-interest loan, she can keep running the company and stop worrying about finding work.

“So far, I thank God but my difficulty is that the site is not strategic and that has affected my growth in my firm. It’s not going in the direction I thought it would, and that’s discouraging.

I wouldn’t mind putting down permanent roots with the firm if the government could help me out with a lenient loan and a move to a more favorable area. I think it is a terrific business provided one gets a better site and considerable funds to put in it,” she assured.

Mass Communication major Emmanuel Agu of Enugu’s Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) has taken to cleaning and doing laundry as a means of supporting himself and his family.

He has been actively seeking employment since graduating in 2004, but to no avail. Although he has ideas of enterprises he could start with little capital like car wash, he could not accomplish that since he lacks the capital to achieve that.

A car wash is an example of a business that requires only a little initial investment, but unfortunately, I don’t even have that much money to get started.

So, in the meantime, I get by on house cleaning, laundry, and whatever odd jobs come my way. He said, “I’m still holding out for a better job.

What if he killed himself in front of his classmates? The man replied, “No, it has not been simple at all. The saying “the harder the work, the less you get paid” rings true in this corner of the world. I’m doing it purely for survival, not because it meets any particular need of mine. The lack of support has made the process difficult.

When you do work for someone, they may not pay you or you may have to fight for your compensation if the labor is irregular. In a month, you may obtain maybe two or three jobs.”

Rowland Akande, originally from Osun State, attended Ambrose Alli University in nearby Ekpoma, Edo State, and majored in accounting. He worked for an Indian company in Victoria Island, Lagos, from 1999 to 2001, when he quit due to the low pay.

In time, he became an agent in the real estate industry and hasn’t looked back since.

I’ve been doing my hardest, and for that I’m grateful. It’s a good profession, but it takes time to learn how to do it well. During my apprenticeship, I networked with estate surveyors, lawyers, and other professionals in the field. That’s how I really honed in on the job’s specifics. People have been giving me property to rent out and sell on their behalf, and I have my own clientele,” he said.

Mr. Akande has stated unequivocally that he will never again seek employment elsewhere; he is committed to building his own firm, which he claims is profitable enough to support him and his family.

Regarding difficulties in the position, he remarked, “The primary difficulty is patience because you need to have a good knowledge.

The ability to read and understand legal documents is crucial in this role, especially when dealing with government-owned property. You should also know where to go for answers about a document’s legitimacy.

“As for the job hunt, well, I’m over 50 and I’ve also gotten to the point in this practice where, if connections start flowing in, it will come with nice income. I’m well-known now. Because of the confidence they have in me and the results I get for them, my clientele is quite sizable.

So, I wouldn’t want to merely quit; instead, I’d like to pursue a career as an estate broker. I utilize it to provide for my family, and the sky’s the limit from there. So, I am not keen about hunting for any paid career any longer. As of right now, I am happily employed as a real estate agent.

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