THE MISEDUCATION OF NIGERIANS
I first read Robert Kiyosaki’s evergreen book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ in 2005 shortly before I dropped out of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos. It gave me the impetus to permanently drop my earlier ambition of being referred to as a learned gentleman because it showed a clear nexus between pursuing ones passion and success. It also pointed to the inevitability of being groomed over a period of time to win life’s daunting battles. Robert began taking lessons from his rich dad at the age of nine and ‘graduated’ at the age of thirty-eight – twenty-nine unbroken years of toil, pain and blood equity. The whole idea to study law was my dad’s who wanted some form of financial security for his eldest son. His intentions were noble and altruistic but was it what I wanted? I had spent three years in law doing everything other than studying it – politics, wild parties, chasing the cutest of nubile maidens, alcohol and the finest of Cuban cigars. I was tired of living a lie and like a demon possessed by a maniacal spell, I took a year off in 2005 without informing my inner circle and came back a year later to switch to English as there was a decision taken two years to bar law students from switching to political science which I would have preferred to go to.
I have two journalism fathers – my biological father, Prince Kanmi Ademiluyi who became the Editor of the defunct Financial Punch, Member, Editorial Board of the now rested Concord and Editor of the defunct Democrats all before he turned thirty. The other is Jimi Disu who was the Assistant Editor of Financial Punch straight from the University of Lagos at 25. He had earlier turned down an offer to study Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to go to the University of Benin where the deft combination of the effective use of the press and street smart activism saw him rattle the administration of the then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tiamiyu Yesufu who had no choice but to flush him out and the other dissidents which made him seek refuge in the University of Lagos fondly referred to as the School of First Choice and the Nation’s Pride. He was later to turn down an offer from the Times of London at 27 because of his die-hard belief in the Nigerian project despite the fact that he has a British Passport. This same insane patriotism has made him turn down all entreaties from friends and family members to go on exile during the heady days of the military rule where he was incarcerated for his NADECO activities with his firm, Jimi Disu & Associates being denied briefs. Things got so bad for him at a point that he watched in tears, a Corona alumnus enroll his children briefly in a Lagos State public school.
A critical look at the life and times of all great men reveals that they first had a great love for what they eventually went into. Money wasn’t the motivating factor. Zik of Africa had the dream of owning a printing press as a callow minded student of Methodist Boys High School. His inspiration to study in the United States of America rather than the United Kingdom which was the popular educational route was obtained after he read the works of James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey. Gani’s principal at Victory College Ikare wrote a letter to his father advising him to study law because he saw the traits of an activist in him. Back to Disu, he started his journalism career at the Methodist Boys High School and did a vacation job at the Daily Times pro bono at 19. This explains his seamless transition from the print, radio, television to online journalism despite the challenges that were sturdy enough to break the heart of a lion.
The current placebo given to unemployed youths to acquire vocational skills is highly flawed. A public policy aimed at creating a plethora of youths to end up as mere mercenaries totally separated from the economic endeavours they pursue is a gargantuan recipe for disaster. It is counterproductive to tell a jobless youth to go and learn sewing, baking etc and sell the scam to him/her that there lies their economic salvation as if those fields don’t pose their own form of unique challenges.
Permit me to go Biblical: When God created Adam, he gave him the task of taking care of the garden and naming the animals. There was no evidence of a pay cheque but his needs were still met somehow. The same Bible also says ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness and every other thing shall be added to you.’ I will rephrase it to suit this context ‘Seek ye first purpose, passion and smart work and every other thing including a solid financial base shall be yours.’
We are in the age of the apotheosis of human capital development and no nation can develop on the back of youths who have been reduced to mere hustlers who lack the vision to look beyond weekly, fortnightly, monthly, bi monthly or yearly credit alerts.
The wonders of the inventions of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Sergey Brin etc would never have occurred if they were misinformed to study some courses that would be ‘lucrative.’
Zuriel Oduwole at barely 14 has interviewed over 100 world leaders; Malala Yousafzai became the world’s youngest Nobel Laureate at 17 because she followed her passion as a female education activist in the repressive Pakistan.
How many more ‘Bill Gates’, ‘Steve Jobs’ are sweating it out in ACCA classes because of the sinister mentality of job security over complete mental liberation and by extension financial independence.
The tide is changing as we are witnessing the rise of bloggers with the likes of Japheth Omojuwa, comedians – Emmanuella is the most widely viewed Nigerian on YouTube far surpassing media power houses like Channels and Pulse, Falz the Bad Guy etc. However, for the war to be totally won, the passion for success tale must evolve into a national ideology with its anchor being firmly planted on forming formidable alliances with conservatives the world over.