The multiplicity of “talent” hunt programmes being sponsored by the likes of Globacom, MTN and others leave little to be desired when critically analysed. Rather, they are only fostering a situation where our already low productive populace in which we lack the necessary skills needed to meet up with the advanced world is further worsened. Certainly, we have so many challenges in our country that the greatest needs of the hour are creating and expanding our knowledge base and helping the youths to gain more knowledge and work experience.
As a young man, I am disappointed that so much energy is injected into Nigerian Idol, Talent Hunt, et cetera, than into how electronic routers, electronic switches and so on which are used in bulk by the Telecoms can be manufactured in this country. I am disappointed that rather than brainstorm on how to set-up firms that will reduce the strain and the attendant capital flight on consumer electronics, these companies and their collaborators are busy occupying Nigerian youths with programmes that are only good for the imagination but take us to nowhere.
If these companies really want to help nurture talents, there are better areas they should spend more energy. I am not saying singing is not needed; we need people to sing. I am not saying we don’t need comedians. What I am saying is that we need to get our priorities right. Our house cannot be burning and then we organize a feast. What for? That our house is burning?
Nigeria is a nation that is very poor and vulnerable in the real sense of the word. To what extent can we survive without foreign help? Can we produce oil by ourselves without foreign expatriates? What consumer electronics can we design and manufacture? They say Nigerian graduates are featherless chicken, and I believe Nigerian Idol, Talent Hunt and the likes are only exposing us to the cold of backwardness. If we remove Japanese cars from our roads what will remain? If Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil pull out of Nigeria today, will we not stop producing crude oil straight-away? Can we protect our airspace as a nation? Do we have the know-how, the wherewithal? A young man graduated from Agricultural Engineering, another from Zoology, another from Microbiology and they all end up working in banks and other financial institutions eventually getting a certification in ICAN and ACCA! Yet, there are vast areas of land that are lying fallow and not utilized. We still import rice, wheat and all manner of food stuffs in very large quantities. Can we feed ourselves?
They say we should setup an SME and become entrepreneurs. We ask what kind of SME? Certainly not an IT firm or any other tech company for we need readily available electricity, good road networks, a stable government policy that can be banked upon. But to tell me to be painting house, to be selling recharge cards, to be wiring houses, to go to Dubai and come back with goods to sell is a wild notion, a very ugly idea. Do we think Apple, Sony, Google and the likes just emerged? Without a sane government it would have been impossible.
A whole nation with 150 million people can only generate electricity that a mere city in the US or Germany doubles. Texas alone generates far more electricity than we generate at our peak. We still rely heavily on refining our crude oil in distant and better climes. These are pressing needs; these are urgent issues that need to be attended to. There are millions roaming our streets for lack of work to do. There are millions of talented youths not furthering their education for lack of finance. The whole system is chaotic and disordered in terms of economic viability and virility. We should be busy raising up monument here and there. We should be busy reducing our dependence on foreign countries for basic needs. These companies and their collaborators should be hunting for these talented youths beclouded by a greedy and unpatriotic system.
My contention here is that seeing “there is fire on this mountain” of ours, we should be more alive to putting it out than any other issue. The Americans that we are copying are far ahead of us. They have secured their houses, put things in order and they can joke all day if they like. But ours is a pathetic case; this is not time to joke, it is not time to feast. What are we doing to solve the problem of massive failure recorded in WAEC, NECO and UME exams? Certainly companies can help challenge youths to be more studious; they can “hunt” for talents among these youths and help launch them to a path of honour and national service. I pray the management of these companies and their collaborators receive inspiration to invest in better projects.