It’s no longer news what happened over the weekend in some parts of Nigeria. The news of the unfortunate death of some young people seeking recruitment into the Nigeria Immigration Service (N.I.S) went viral through social media platforms. Image after image from various centres across the country portrayed a bitterly glaring fact- the massive levels of unemployment in the most populous black nation on earth- the giant of the black continent.

As expected, some saw the funny angle and shared (unnecessary) jokes; but to the families of those who died, Saturday, 15 March 2014 will forever be a black day to remember. It seemed convenient to sit at home over the weekend and scroll through those pictures of hundreds of thousands of young people, sitting (or standing) in the sun. We could have felt disconnected from the realities those young Nigerians were confronted with in their search for a decent job. But it’s not funny.

Some have reacted to the incident with the usual lines ‘pray for naija’, ‘na wa for this country’, ‘what will our children face?’, ‘what hope is there for this country?’, ‘this country is finished’ and so many other variants. Some insisted that the Head of the N.I.S resigns  immediately or be sacked. And I’m thinking, why? If we held back our emotions for a minute and applied some objectivity, what will the resignation/sack achieve? If the fingers that type his resignation/sack letter will also type out appointment letters for even just 20% of those applicants, then by all means, go ahead. But we know that’s not possible, right?

So I’ve not come to rant and rave today. I’ve found that venting may ease our emotions- but only temporarily. And when we run out of jokes, abuses or negative comments, the problems will still be there- with a smirk, staring us right in the eye with that daring look that says “Is that all you’ve got- complaints on social media?”

I’m thinking this morning. What is the way forward for the young Nigerian? Two thoughts and I’ll be out of your way.

First, the way out is Leadership. Wait, wait, wait. Please hold it right there for just a sec. What crossed your mind when you saw ‘Leadership’? Did you think in terms of politics, ‘our government’ and ‘our leaders’? That’s exactly the problem. Why do we always think of ‘leadership’ in terms of political offices? Is that real leadership? I don’t think so.

Leadership is about taking the lead. It is about taking the initiative to solve problems. It is about taking responsibility and choosing not to blame anybody but focusing instead on finding solutions and creating them when they can’t be found. Leadership is about accomplishing a task. It is not about occupying an office or bearing a title. The way forward for the Nigerian youth is leadership. We are not the leaders of tomorrow- we are the leaders of today. We must change our concept of  leadership from that of POLITICS and POSITIONS to RESPONSIBILITY and INITIATIVE.

We must lead ourselves first. We must lead ourselves to take responsibility for our lives and stop blaming people who are not even thinking about us. Let me shock you dear young person- NOBODY, that’s right, NOBODY IS COMING TO SAVE YOU. The earlier we admit this to ourselves, the faster we’ll engage our minds and hands to design and build the future of our dreams. Now I understand that there are certain levels of change that CANNOT take place without commitment and massive action from the top, but that does not mean we have NO power to effect changes in our personal lives. We must step up, first to the challenge of self-leadership. That’s where true leadership starts- we must gear up to lead ourselves and drive our lives forward by the use of our minds and hands. Waiting for ‘the government’ is death in slow motion.


Secondly, I believe the way forward for the Nigerian youth is Entrepreneurship. Let’s face it- there are simply not enough jobs to go around. That’s the blunt reality. But there must be another way. And I believe entrepreneurship is the answer. There may not be enough jobs but there is sooo much work available. Look around- every problem is work in waiting. The question is- are we ready to roll up our sleeves to build something from the scratch or we all want to keep fighting for the ‘already-made’ slots in a few establishments? Are we looking for jobs or work? If it’s the latter, there’s super-abundance of work to be done. Femi Taiwo, founder and leader of H.O.P.E (Helping Other People Excel) once said “entrepreneurship frees us to do more work”. How true! We can’t keep waiting. It’s time for us to be bold enough to sacrifice the love of comfort for all the rewards that await us when we stretch ourselves through social and economic entrepreneurship. If we don’t, who will?


We can’t keep cramming ourselves into sports stadia when there’s so much else we can do. Entrepreneurship is the way forward, for me and for you.

Our hearts go out to the families of those young people who lost their lives. We pray for the strength to bear the loss. For those of us still on this side of eternity, we must move on to build a better future for ourselves, by ourselves. All the waiting, blaming, ranting, venting and complaining will NOT help us. It’s time for action. Build YOUR life.

To your future.




Add yours

  1. Hmmm…forceful remarks Yemi. I hope that we all learn the vital lessons this tragedy threw up again.
    As for the Comptroller-General, you and I can only watch to see how the drama unfolds; but while that plays out, we must keep making personla progress and inspiring as many others as we can to do same.


  2. So so true Femi, the change is possible- if we choose to be ‘response-able’. We’ve reacted enough. It’s time to respond.


  3. I totally agree. But I’m compelled to respond to this part of your piece:
    “Some insisted that the Head of the N.I.S resigns immediately or be sacked. And I’m thinking, why? If we held back our emotions for a minute and applied some objectivity, what will the resignation/sack achieve?”
    The tragedy reveals shameful planning and hopeless logistics. It shows that the entire management team of the N.I.S do little or no thinking. To have invited thousands of people for an examination the way they did, despite the myriad of smarter alternatives available, is a big disgrace. So, yes, they need to go find jobs that require less thinking, jobs they can cope with.
    What will it achieve? The removal of a thoughtless management team.


    1. Very valid point Yemi. But history has taught you and I that replacements of this kind are simply cosmetic- they effect no real, positive and lasting. Removal of the present team is only half the job. How certain are we of the replacements?
      Although I do not have all the facts, could it be that they (N.I.S) DID set up a system to manage the crowds but it simply got overrun by the impatience and lawlessness that’s so rampant? Just throwing up a perspective.


      1. Nope. Take a second look at the caption photo you have. There is NO way you can conduct a valid examination in that condition. There is NO sense in shortlisting 520,000 people for job openings less than 5000.

        I agree that people were impatient but that is expected of any crowd, any where. It is the responsibility of the planners to ensure proper coordination. Stadia, full of thousands of people (68,000 in Abuja, 25,000 in Rivers State, etc.) is a ridiculous idea. And that is the crime.

        Their removal is a necessity. We would take our chances with their replacements since we are not sure they would be better, but as for them, we are certain that they are unless at their jobs and we cannot continue with them despite our certainty. They have to go.

        However, I agree that personal leadership and entrepreneurship are key solutions to the current problems. From the stories I have heard from people I know personally who attended the NIS examinations, participants put themselves in shameful conditions. Someone I know said she and thousands others scaled fences to get in. Some crawled underneath brushes guarded by barbed wires and their skin got tangled in the barbs: blood, bruises. They pushed and struggled and died, like people with no alternatives when alternatives abound.

        I asked another person I know who attended: “Do you realize officers of the NIS wear uniforms? You are really into fashion, can you imagine yourself in that uniform?”
        And her response was something in the area of “Any job is fine, whether they wear uniforms or rags! Anything!”
        This is a rather sad perspective that allows thoughtless leaders dole out miserable things. Young people, we need to know who we are! We need to take responsibility for our lives!

        But not everybody knows this, only a few are privileged enough to have this ‘leadership and entrepreneurship ‘ perspective. And platforms such as Grow360 are doing well in spreading the word.

        But in the mean time, Honourable Minister of Interior and Distinguished Comptroller -General of N.I.S, please pack your briefcases and leave.


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