By Kayode Ketefe
When will this myth about incompetence of our youthful generation go away? This was the question that popped up in the mind of this writer upon reading a statement recently credited to Head of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Nigeria, Mrs. Toyin Ademola.
Speaking at a recent career fair organised by her professional body in Abuja, The ACCA boss struck the familiar, albeit unproven chord, by saying the many graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions don’t get jobs because they are not employable.
She was further quoted to have added that there are many vacant positions in government and private establishments but our graduates don’t have the professional wherewithal to appropriate them.
This write up is not in opposition to this particular statement of Mrs. Ademola since the ACCA boss is just toeing a familiar path. Her position obviously re-echoes the popular presumption about the intellectual incapacity of our graduates and youth generally. Rather, the attempt here is to deconstruct the myth itself which is being sustained by nothing but generational bias!
We are all used to the self-deprecating rhetoric of branding our educated youth ‘half-baked graduates’ who are irredeemably unfit for any worthwhile employment.
The younger Nigerians have over the years being unduly victimized through home-spun warfare of unsavoury verbal attack culminating in psychological torture and at times, erosion of self- belief. They have been spared no negative epithets by the older generations who perceived them as some sort of inferior specie on all indices that define human personality.
The youths are morally insolvent, intellectually incompetent, and even spiritually blind! All the adjectives in thesaurus that have semantic connection with words despicable, contemptible and miserable have been lavishly exhausted in description of the Nigerian youth by their own people whose only difference lies in being older!
Yet all the socio-economic misdeeds culminating into woes afflicting the younger generations have been perpetrated by the older Nigerians. Many graduates of today are unduly adjudged unemployable educated illiterate, hardly capable of any worthwhile cerebral exploits.
Even though there are no attestable proofs to justify the postulation, its proponents miss no opportunity to expound this pernicious philosophy. This myth, it appears to this writer, has always been perpetrated out of sheer generational bias. This view, nay mindset, is rooted in vainglorious desire for contrived self-importance, even at collective level- a base kind of arrogance that flows from concocted superiority.
In truth, the assumption is most unscientific, science tells us that by the very process of evolution, the human species, like other species, are evolving towards perfection on all fronts, including intellectual, thus the homo sapiens is evolving towards ‘homo sapiens sapiens’ that is from ‘the wise man’ to the ‘wise wise man’ or in better term, the ‘super man’.
But the advocates of this generational bias are saying the exact opposite. By common sense, if human beings are retrogressing in intellect rather than progressing as the theory of evolution suggests, then the entire landscape of the earth should be brimming with morons by now,-through gradual descent into intellectual senescence over the millennia.
Furthermore, empirical evidence does not support inference of any disability in the intelligence of a Nigerian youth. Nigerian educational system could have fallen over the years as a result of underfunding and disregard by the rulers, but certainly the intellect of the youth has not fallen with it. The youth have developed numerous compensatory measures to remedy whatever defects that arose from their deprivations.
To drive home the point, it is a common knowledge that Nigerian youth take part in many international professional examinations and acquit themselves well. Many of them are adept at manipulating computers and other sophisticated paraphernalia of modern technology which the older generations never heard of in their own times.
If anything, I think the present generation of youth should be lauded for long suffering, perseverance and doggedness. There were times in this country when employers would invade venues of graduation ceremony and scooped up fresh graduands for immediate employment.
There had been times when fresh graduates were enticed with cars to take up employment; the older generations who enjoyed all these perks are the one quick to condemn the younger ones who had no such incentives to goad their intellectual enterprises.
Many of the older generations learnt the expertise on the job and did not just become gurus upon graduation from tertiary institution but the youths are expected to be perfect straight away from school. There are many young Nigerians brandishing local and international academic/professional certificates, including the vaunted ACCA, and yet have no jobs. There are simply acute shortage of jobs leading to mass unemployment and under-employment and the problem is not because the youth are unemployable.
We should learn to appreciate our youth and stop denigrating them as if they did not genetically descend from their progenitors who have chosen to don the toga of unfathomable superiority. Whatever vices now being exhibited by the youth was not inculcated in them by some subterranean spirits, the youth acquired them through indoctrination by the older generations many of whom now deprecate the same youth with unbridled passion.
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