So we have probably all seen the reports of UNN’s Best Graduating Student receiving the grand prize of N10,000 ($27) for her achievements, on a disproportionately large cheque from GTBank. We saw the outrage on Facebook, Twitter, Nairaland etc. over the paltry sum, wondering how the message of ‘education is the key to success’ is supposed to fly in the face of such meagre rewards (quote from @DirectorSolomon).
Well, it turns out that the award was actually given by the Nigerian Medical Students’ Association, a non-governmental body representing Nigerian medical students all over the country. And according to other reports, it wasn’t the only award; she received well over N200, 000 in total from the medical school.
So that’s it, folks. Problem solved. You can stop vexing now. Right?
How much does a medical student spend on textbooks? Tuition and accommodation for seven years of medical school? ‘Sorting’ school admin officers so their results aren’t inexplicably lost? Of course this isn’t limited to medical students. A lot of professional courses are quite expensive; one of my law lecturers used to say you had to be rich to study law comfortably.
It isn’t just navigating the financial difficulties. It is in the same UNN that a lecturer infamously stated, “A is for God. B is for me, and C is for those who try.’ These lecturers set academic records during their own undergraduate days, and would rather fail students than let those records be beaten. These same lecturers threaten students with failure unless they bought ridiculously overpriced handouts, and sexually exploit female students with the same threats of failure. Then there’s the ever-present danger of strikes, cultism, school losing accreditation etc. My own sister had to start over at a private university when IMSU lost accreditation last year. Four years of medical school, gone in a flash. And what was Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo State doing? Spending N600 million on a Christmas tree.
After all this toiling, oppression and spending, you graduate only to find you would have a better shot at life if you had competed (and won) Big Brother Africa instead of reading your books. Oh well, there’s always militancy. Or Yahoo (419). But here, have N200, 000 for your troubles. Use it to pay one month’s rent in Obiagu, and keep the change (lol). Is it any wonder that UNN witnesses at least one suicide every year?
The final straw comes when you hear some pompous, self-righteous fifty-something year old lamenting ‘the youths of nowadays’ and their lack of work ethic. Or worse, when you see someone younger say something like this:
This is where you begin to understand that respecting our elders is a vastly overrated norm. What exactly is wrong with wanting a better salary? And why shouldn’t medical school be subsidized? How else are you supposed to entice people to study medicine in a Third World country, where after spending hours saving your patient’s life with no working machines, your patient brushes your hard work aside and donates his thanksgiving money to the church instead of the hospital?
The generation born before 1975 have singlehandedly destroyed every sector in Nigeria with their greed and stupidity. The impact on the education sector alone is devastating: more than 10.5 million children out of school, the largest in the world. Universities can only accommodate 40% of the applicants, and 47% of Nigerian graduates are unemployed. What is the government doing about it? The 2017 budget only allocates 6% to the education sector, and it says absolutely nothing about spending on research and development. Meanwhile they keep blaming the youths for not working hard, for not being employable, for not knowing English or computer skills, for not solving their problems by themselves. Of course. Because it’s the youths that should provide electricity, infrastructure, affordable internet, basic amenities in schools, teaching materials and other educational facilities. Oh, wait…
However you look at it, there is simply no motive to excel in Nigeria. There is no adequate compensation for all the stress we go through, no headhunters waiting to snap up brilliant students during graduation, no opportunities lined up post-school, no funding for your great invention that could save millions of lives. You hear stories of Nigerians abroad doing astounding things in their fields, but what happened to that man in Aba who created a car out of scrap metal? Has he been contacted by the Ministry of Science of Technology, Industry or even Economic Development? When your work goes unappreciated or unpaid at home, isn’t the next step to go somewhere you can flourish?
Make no mistake: if after all these years and all the oil money squandered laundered and looted, we still cannot fix the education sector or provide an environment for young educated Nigerians to prosper, then Nigeria is already dead. No-one has any right to demand that we stay behind and keep struggling in this corpse of a country. If you feel like staying behind out of some misplaced patriotism, good for you. The truth is, after providing your own light, water, education and security, you owe this country absolutely nothing. You deserve a better life, all of you.
Sources: Quartz Africa, UNICEF, Premium Times Nigeria, BudgIT NG.