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Editor Laments: How Coronavirus Pandemic Killed Jobs: Offers Solutions

Yusuf Ozi Usman

The Editor-In-Chief of Greenbarge Reporters online newspaper and hardcopy magazine, Yusuf Ozi Usman has lamented that coronavirus pandemic has come to kill the few job opportunities that existed in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
In a lecture titled: Beyond Education and Acquired Knowledge, which he delivered today, October 10, on the occasion of presentation of cheques to beneficiaries of the Chief JO Omuya Foundation Scholarship Scheme in Okene, Kogi State, the Editor said that the discovery of Virtual official interactions had brought a complete new worldview of engaging in office work.
He explained that the lockdown that defined the outbreak of the virus killed the zeal in employers from offering jobs to job seekers.
According to Yusuf Ozi Usman, even before the outbreak of coronavirus, employment opportunities in public and private sectors were very fee and far between, such that they were mostly on sale to the highest bidders.
He said that under the situation Nigeria and the world found themselves, “we really need to reorientated and refocus the end to which modern education and acquired knowledge should be made to serve.
” Youths and students should be guided to go for science and technical based courses, such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, agric and agro-allied businesses, ICT, web and graphic designs, engineering and even journalism and public relations, so as to be self-employed eventually.
“In other words, we need to stop deceiving ourselves that any job is waiting for us after graduation, and to start refocusing on the new emerging world, to make us relevant, productive and up-to-date.”
Part of the lecture is reproduced here:
I had wanted to title this paper thus: AFTER EDUCATION, WHAT NEXT? But, because I’m not always comfortable with question, I decided to settle for what I finally chose.
And to start with, it is Aristotle, quoted by Diogenes Laertius in LIVES OF PHILOSOPHERS who said: “the roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” And juxtaposing this with Francis Baco’s Essay of the 16th century which says: “the desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall, but in charity, as in philanthropy, there is no excess; neither can angel or man come in danger by it.”
Now, while Aristotle talked about the importance of education, Baco talked about the goodness in philanthropy, which, of course, combined to form the parameter to situate the occasion we are privileged to be holding now.
For the purpose of digression, we all know that when education first set its foot on Ebira land, as in where we are coming from, our great leader, late Atta Onoruoiza showed good example of leadership by involving his household first. He was so foresighted, like late Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, that he mounted serious campaign to get children in his domain into educational institutions. I don’t need to overstress this point, but suffice to say that the subsequent leaders; like the late Ohinoyi, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Omolori and the present Ohinoyi, His Royal Majesty, Alhaji Dr. Ado Ibrahim towed the same line, such that today, not only their offspring, but the major constituents of Ebira nation are in various positions of respect in Nigeria and Diaspora public and private sectors. It started, like Aristotle said, as a bitter pill, but the results had been very sweet.
At what point there was derailment in the standard and trend within which Ebira people had been long located does not, in my view, matter much now, seeing that the standard and trend is wide spread across the country, and even within the circle of Africa. What is important is the salvaging antidotes, from the debris.
And what I think is important now, should be a refocusing and guidance from the leaders who have identified the fault lines; leaders who have vehemently refused to be carried away or subsumed by the negative tides, to redirect the ship from the tempest confusionism, in the systems. This is where the issue of educationists, philanthropists or charity givers comes in. In other words, within the context of the emerging trend, brought about more strongly by the outbreak of Covid-19 across the world, our educationists, philanthropists or charity givers need to chart a new pragmatic, more dynamic and productive education system towards self-sustaining and employment.
To be sure, even before the Covid-19 and the burden it brought to bear on jobs, employment opportunities were so skewed and far-between that even people with Masters Degrees and PhD could not have access to them. At a point, a few available job spaces in the civil service and even private sector were being sold to the highest bidders. Indeed, analysts have long concluded that salary earners, especially those at the lower and middle cadres are glorified slaves; slaves to salaries. The analysts calculate that if for example, a fresh graduate on Grade level 08 is receiving say, N50,000 as monthly take-home pay, he would end up spending it perpetually on house rent, feeding, transportation, clothing, medical attention and sundry matters. Chances are that he would never have any savings to think of capital project, such as building house of his own in his life time; except of course, if he has other means, usually illegitimate, of generating extra funds.
And now that Covid-19 has nailed any form of employment opportunities in civil and public services, thanks to the discovered Virtual interactions, meetings and official transactions from home, from the point of lockdown, we really need to re-orientate and refocus the end to which modern education and acquired knowledge should be made to serve.
Youths and students should be guided to go for science and technical based courses, such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, agric and agro-allied businesses, ICT, web and graphic designs, engineering and even journalism and public relations, so as to be self-employed eventually. In other words, we need to stop deceiving ourselves that any job is waiting for us after graduating, and to start refocusing on the new emerging world, to make us relevant, productive and up-to-date.
We should endeavour to heed the saying of a renowned philosopher, H.L Menchen who said: “an idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes it will also make better soup.” After all, as Averroes, another philosopher said: “knowledge is the conformity of the object and the intellect.”
Our education and knowledge we acquire, therefore, should be the source of our personal pride, hope, achievement and above all, march into the future with gallant posturing. It should not be a source of technical slavery and despairs and drudgery.
It is my view, on a general note, that the easiest way to destroy a society and even individual is to inadvertently remove education, I mean quality education, and replace it with ignorance or shadow education or half-baked education and or other elements that are not clearly defined.
Conversely, the easiest way to move the society and individuals faster forward to progress in all fronts is to promote quality, productive, self-satisfying education and knowledge, especially, within the context of the emerging new world.
Therefore, now, more than ever before, Ebira nation needs philanthropists and charity givers, in the mould of late Alhaji Isyaka Sule education Foundation, late Professor Albert Ozigi, De Club 10 Nigeria and a host of others, including this JO Omuya Education Foundation scholarship scheme, to propel the education standards and relevance at all levels not only to greater heights but also to the point of making such education the source of individual and societal development in all ramifications.
Lest I forget, the Conference University of Science and Technology, Osara, initiated by the dynamic, proactive and foresighted governor, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello is a good example of the type of education that should dominate the thinking of our leaders. Products of such education are definitely going to be a reservoir of human capital and human resources for the upstream and downstream sectors of the iron and steel project, which is shortly going to be the main focus of the economic development of the country.
The beneficiaries of this JO Omuya scholarship scheme should consider themselves lucky, and should make greater use of the opportunity it offers to be productive and active while in schools and outside the schools. The fact that they got in, through both divine luck and hard work (as the would-be beneficiaries were randomly selected) should be a source of their commitment to their studies, so that they would come out as productive parts of the society, sources of pride to themselves, their parents and families, and above all, to the kind-hearted JO Omuya Foundation, scholarship scheme.
May I end these random thoughts of mine with just two stories: one – late Professor Albert Ozigi once told me of how a serving Major General in the Nigerian Army he thought he had never met in his life paid for his air ticket from Lagos to Abuja and even gave him some money: when he asked him who he was, the Major General said: “sir, you sponsored my university education years back even though you didn’t know me.” The second story is when De Club 10 Nigeria was holding one of its Annual General Meetings in the residence of late Alhaji Isa O. Ademoh in Okene years ago, a young man busted in and prostrated on the floor to show appreciation to the Club for shouldering the financial aspect of his engineering course in one of the nation’s universities. As a matter of fact, one or two of the students who were trained through De Club 10 Nigeria to university levels and graduated as medical doctors and engineers, had at one time or the other, featured as resource persons in the subsequent annual Summer School Programme that produced them in the first place.
What Chief Joshua Ozigi Omuya is doing today, creating a golden opportunity for the children of the poor to have access to education, and which he has been doing for many years before now, is, indeed, a great investment, which rewards, unquantifiable, are both immediate and long term, as well as being full of divine bliss.
And finally, it is refreshing to know that apart from sponsoring brilliant but indigent students to different conventional schools to study various disciplines, the JO Omuya Foundation scholarship scheme has also gone into giving emphasis to skill acquisitions, including cloth weaving. It is on record that Ebira people, especially women, time immemorial, are famous in this trade, which both represents our cultural profile and as commercial venture. For the fact that the scholarship scheme of the JO Omuya Foundation turns its attention to such age-long trade, shows its foresight and the realization of the importance and beauty of re-awakening spirit of industry in the people.
Martin Luther King Jr. must have had Chief Joshua Omuya in mind when he said, in his famous speech in 1963: “if a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” Chief J. O Omuya, apart from having long cut a niche for himself in many departments of life, including family relationship against the backdrop of how he wants to be remembered when he crosses over to the other side, by instituting this scholarship scheme, he has not only discovered something, but practicing “something he will die for” and is “fit to live.”
May he not get tired
May his tribe of philanthropy increase in number in Ebiraland
May his efforts be crowned with the pleasure of life, of living and God’s mercy
I’m sorry if I had wasted your precious time all this while mumbling
Thank you, sirs.

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