BY ABDULHAMID AL-GAZALI, OCTOBER 19, 2023 | 04:26 PM
I am excited that some laborers have begun a path to further their education after meeting Gov. Zulum in Bama. As a teacher in the university who is investing his all to improve the quality of the lives of students, this news should naturally excite me. But I am not only just excited, I now feel ‘validated’ that my time-tested belief is working.
For the whole of the last decade, the service of raising a community of fellow young men for shared prosperity has been brought to my path. I thus always find myself unknowingly playing a philosopher, with assorted ideas from God knows where. One of the things I kept harping on is for young people to do whatever they can do within their limits to create some value that can be paid for. I emphasize that where this doesn’t happen, they should at least not stay idle at home. If you cannot create value, go out there to derive some, wherever you can.
The path to success does not have a clearly marked out map; but there is a certain fact that never failed its test: those who go after it, always found it on paths they had never previously imagined. Even though going back to the classroom (or graduating from one) is not always a success in itself; it is however still one of the major random steps towards it. My point is that if these 37 laborers have not settled for this work, which is probably the best they can do at the moment, they would not have met Gov. Zulum, let alone getting offers to further their studies.
However, on a lighter note, I feel threatened by the offer as I was also previously deeply in construction, with plans of going back soon. But if I was still in it, I would certainly always shut down my site or send my laborers on break whenever I learn that Gov. Zulum will come visiting. Because if he continues to have this kind of interaction with my laborers at site, I will one day wake up to learn that I am left all alone to do all my work, all my laborers gone. But that is one a lighter note.
In any case, that is why I think Gov. Zulum should not send them to a university. Thanks to Prof. Ali Pantami, the new campaigner-in-chief for skills, who is now de-emphasizing our significance of university degrees in the path to success. It should mean nothing that Mr. Pantami fought tooth and nail to guard his very remote award for professorship since, whichever way, he ended up realizing after all the rollercoaster that degrees are almost worthless compared to skills.
Of course that was not what he meant, except that true to type, he has always innocently paid the price for his ignorance of how the Nigerian media space operates, where, as if we live a Bizaro World, black is white, white is black… everything is its opposite. Pantami meant that people should be able to ‘skillify’ their degrees; and if not, at least have skill, even if he didn’t mean or say that exactly.
In construction circles, when you say a laborer, it does not mean a mason or carpenter. He is just anybody working on a site doing unskilled menial jobs such as cleaning, loading or unloading of items, among others. If I suspend my journalism induced pedantry here, I will take the statement from his media aides literally. This means that I would assume the governor meant laborers who were either just cleaning or packing dirt on the site.
If that is the case, they have no any skill at all and thus you will agree with the governor that they need to be back in the university to earn a degree, then ‘skillify’ it (unfortunately a nonexistent word) but if not get a job that pays at the end of every month—and after 30 years or so start settling for pensions.
My thought is that, if they were masons, tilers or carpenters, the governor, a professor of engineering with numerous field experience, would have rather offered to enroll them in one of the many vocational training schools he has both built and rehabilitated to enhance their skills. If it isn’t, then oversights can happen.
As a wannabe entrepreneur, I understand the burden on our country’s ‘meagre’ resources, which even at that end up stolen by a few. But after every session in our higher institutions, we automatically enroll thousands into our army of entitled jobseekers who pressurize the government to create job spaces to offer employment in a system is already being computerized. If you don’t employ, they open social media accounts, buy data with the monthly maintenance fee they have imposed on their parents, uncles and siblings to insult the government, including criticizing every policy even if they don’t have the mental tools to understand them.
This why I always emphasize that those who are ready to go out to do hard labor jobs, are better provided with skills such as painting, plastering and etcetera. In construction, you find yourself doling out far more money to these artisans, who concurrently operate at several other sites, than you have earned yourself. It is a clear path to absolute wealth, massive job creation and social investment. So I will strongly suggest that the 37 laborers be enrolled in any of the vocational training schools to either acquire new or enhance their schools.
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