So I followed keenly a rife debate about the Nigerian youth being lazy or hardworking and I heard and read so many opinions, views, perspectives and sometimes dumb reactions to the debate and I laugh. Too many people were too emotional about the debate to even understand what they themselves were saying as well. I really had a good laugh.
In my opinion being hardworking or lazy is not even the issue, it’s in fact not even important to nation building. Hardworking youth don’t build a nation and lazy youth definitely can’t build anything. So whether you think the Nigerian youth is lazy or hardworking means nothing and amounts to nothing in my view. I think we got the basis all wrong and the debate eventually became inconsequential.
In my view and experience, the hard work of anyone is inconsequential if such a one is working hard on the wrong thing, at the wrong time, with the wrong tools and for the wrong reasons. Waking up early in the morning, dissipating energy in the sun, carrying heavy load and suffering to make ends meet can be driven by the need to survive and not to create or add value to anything or anyone. If you work very hard without creating or adding good value to anything or anyone, you are just a labourer and you’ll remain broke and have nothing to show for the hard labour and you will consequently blame others for your poor results.
Hard work is nothing without productivity, hard work is nothing when great value is not created, hard work is nothing if problems are not solved for others; your hard work will amount to nothing if the motive is selfish and self-serving.
People don’t pay people for working hard and sweating and hustling in the sun, people pay people for solving their problems and meeting their numerous needs satisfactorily. That’s the master key for obtaining a reward for your so-called hard work.
Yes, you may call yourself a hardworking youth, but are you a productive youth? What problems are you solving satisfactorily, what needs are you meeting excellently? Is your labour inspired by a need to pay your bills or the need to create solutions for other people and get rewarded? For Audio Version Click here
Are you driven daily by a need to build or create value or by survival or pure greed? I want the latest cars, the latest clothes, designer shoes, the latest phones, the latest gadgets, brand new laptop, a bad wristwatch, new hair extension, I want to tone my skin, live large, slay them, pepper them and be popping; I want to buy this I want to own that, hmmn, my dear Nigerian youth, the things you’re working hard to buy so as to impress or oppress or as evidence that you work hard, are the things other youths in other countries have produced through their hard work and productivity! My dear youth what are you producing for other youth of other nations to buy?
The Facebook through which you insult and curse people that tell you the truth was created by a youth like you when he was a teenager and he’s a multi-billionaire today, where is your own? No I can’t take bike or keke napep, I’ll take uber, I’m a big girl or boy now, the Uber app was created by a youth like you, where is your own? What are you creating, what are you building, what needs are you meeting; what problems are you solving?
In this era, hard work is less of sweating and more of brain work, how well is your brain functioning, where are your brilliant ideas, where are your excellent solutions? Party, drinking, smoking, getting high, clubbing, betting and social media addiction makes it difficult for your brain to generate profitable ideas that can make your hard work count. How do you invest your time, my dear youth?
Many graduates today bribe their way or sleep their way for grades through school and today carry results and certificates misrepresenting their true mental content and ability. Many criticize wicked and mean lecturers demanding bribes and gender favours from students, but if the student worked hard, read hard and passed why would such a student need favours from the mean lecturers? I schooled in Nigeria too and as of 2016 I was a postgraduate student of a federal university in Nigeria so don’t tell me things were different in my days, I’m also in school in your days. Lectures can hardly victimize brilliant and hardworking students’ successfully.
There are no jobs, there are no jobs, a student at my business academy in Abuja began to lament and ask for help from the class on a solution for her poultry business. She spends as much as 2 million weekly to feed and take care of her birds and she has nothing to show, why? The youth employed in her business was stealing the feeds in bags and selling to smaller poultry farms and stealing the birds and the eggs produced.
I counselled her on what to do and by the following class, she was shocked at what she discovered and who and who was involved, she’s even not sure whether to fire them as she’s not sure what the next set of youth she’ll hire would do to her big poultry business.
A hairdressing salon owner in my business academy in Lagos came to class depressed. The salon business was a huge investment and was a side hustle for her to compliment her salary. The hairdressers, barbers and even the manager who happened to be her niece were all stealing from the salon and cheating her. She decided to install surveillance cameras at the salon and in two weeks all the employees including her niece resigned and moved most of the customers to their new places of work where there are no cameras.
A friend I know runs a clothing and tailoring business. He has man tailors working for him and he pays them well. However, immediately its peak season for making clothes, usually towards the end of the year when weddings and ceremonies are plenty, the tailors began to misbehave and blackmail, they wouldn’t report for work and they’ll threaten to quit should the owner complain too much – putting at risk his business with the customers who need the outfits for weddings! The tailors are also Nigerian youth.
If 100,000 Nigerian youth have something good to show out of over 100 million Nigerian youth, perhaps it’s time to check your numbers and review your position again.
Please note that I’m not for the debate or against it, I’m just here to ask questions about productivity. Someone will argue now that the youth in other nations have an enabling environment and most youth submitting this argument have never travelled out of this country much less work in other countries. But don’t you think the enabling environment was made possible because the people decided to do the right thing even with imperfect leadership?
Won’t my student with the poultry business grow and employ more youth if the ones currently employed will let her business grow and survive? Won’t my friend with the hairdressing salon grow and have hundreds of branches nationwide if the youth currently employed will stop cheating her and let her expand?
Won’t we be able to create our own fashion labels and even export ready to wear clothing if the tailors will be loyal, honest and faithful and not be greedy blackmailers?
Why is unemployment a problem in Nigeria, my answer? Most youth employed to grow small and medium scale businesses into mega companies are more interested in stealing and destroying the small businesses than growing it. They are too greedy, selfish and disconnected to really want to build. They love to make money and enjoy at the expense of others.
Most young employees today, in my opinion, are manifesting the spirit of stealing, killing and destruction at their numerous places of employment.
Ask most entrepreneurs, they will admit to you, cash is not their numero uno problem in business, it is the human capital.
Most Nigerian youths don’t want a fair employment deal, they want you to pay them a lot of money and take away their rights to quality family time, a healthy life and required rest; they like it like that. Most don’t want decent employment, they want slavery in industries without regulations and unions, and companies without employee protection rights. Most won’t mind selling their destinies for money.
Dear Nigerian, youth, it doesn’t matter if you’re hardworking or docile, the question is, are you productive? What values are you creating, what problems are you solving? It’s time to think.