When she graduated from one of the universities in the South-West in 2010 after studying agricultural economics, Oyenike Ojo hoped that she would get a lucrative job immediately after undergoing the one-year mandatory National Youth Service Corps, a scheme set up by the Federal Government in 1973 to foster development and unity among Nigerians.
Then, after she must have got a job and worked for two years, she also hoped that she would get married – optimistically to a man who is also earning a good income.
However, as the saying goes, “Man proposes, God disposes,” since Ojo completed the NYSC in 2012, she has yet to get her dream job and a man of her dreams.
Instead, she works as a teacher in a private primary school in Ibadan and earns a salary of N15,000, which could barely take care of her personal needs, not to mention caring for her aged parents who depend on her and her two older siblings for survival.
She said, “I applied for jobs almost everywhere, sent my CV to family and friends who asked me to. But there is no job anywhere; that is why I am working temporarily as a teacher earning a meagre salary.
“If someone told me I would end up with a job like this after spending four years at the university and a year plus for a master’s degree, I would probably have cursed them. I have not quit hoping to get a good job, though. I will keep on submitting applications.”
Before she got the teaching job, Ojo, 27, said she enrolled for N-Power – an initiative of the regime of the President, Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd) – which started in 2016 to tackle youth unemployment.
According to the Federal Government, the N-Power is a job creation and empowerment programme of the National Social Investment Programme for young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 35.
The programme targeted about 500,000 youths, spread across the 774 local government areas of the country, who were deployed to teach in public schools, act as health workers in primary health centres (as agricultural extension advisors to smallholder farmers in the communities and also as community tax liaison officers.)
Ojo was among the first batch of beneficiaries enrolled for the N-Agro category of the scheme in 2016, earning N30, 000 per month, until July 2019 when she was disengaged from the scheme.
She said, “After my NYSC in 2012, I looked for a job for about two years. When I did not get any, I enrolled for my master’s programme which I completed in 2014. I thought it would boost my employability but I still did not get a job until 2016 when I applied for the N-Power.
In July 2019, I was disengaged and I looked for another job. When I did not get any, I had to look for a teaching job at a private school. Even getting a teaching job was tedious, but eventually, I got one at a primary school at Akobo (Ibadan). I have intensified my job search, though. I cannot settle for this!”
While Ojo continues to search for her dream job, her current salary can be said to be ridiculously less than half of that of a corps member, who earns N33,000. Her salary is exactly half of the new minimum wage of N30,000, which has yet to be implemented in many states of the federation
In January, the Federal Government increased corps members’ monthly allowance from N19,800 to N33,000 – in line with the new minimum wage of N30,000.
This implies that Ojo’s salary is even less than a corps member’s initial allowance (N19,800) before the increment to N33, 000.
She said, “I apologise to my parents every month because I can’t take care of them. They sent me to school and I am supposed to be paying back now, but it is quite unfortunate I’m unable to do so now.
“Thankfully, my siblings are better paid where they are working, so my parents get some stipends from them. But as the last child and only female, I ought to also care for my parents while they are still alive. I hope to be able to do that soon.”
But Ojo is not the only graduate earning less than corps members in the country.
Another graduate, Moses Akano, who teaches at a private secondary school in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, said he was earning N25,000 per month, which is N8, 000 less than a corps member’s allowance.
After being posted to one of the riverine communities in the state in 2015 for the NYSC programme and not knowing whether he would get a job if he returned to his home town in Osun State after the programme’s completion, Akano said he had to stay back in Yenagoa after he was offered a job of N25, 000.
However, the 28-year-old said he was doing private tutorials for some secondary school students and through this initiative he had been making extra income.