Nigeria’s First Minister of Sadness


By Haruna Mohammed Salisu

Two things prompted this write-up: just last week, I travelled to Kano to collect my result, certifying me as a graduate of mass communication with 4.07 as my cumulative CGPA and the second best graduating student, secondly, the world happiness report released by the United Nations sustainable Development Solutions Network. The survey ranked countries based on their abilities to provide basic necessities of life for their citizens thereby making them happy .The report published on several news outfits ranked Denmark the “ Happiest Nation, Burundi, the least happy” and Nigeria 103rd least happiest in the World.

But to start with the first one, as usually the case with many students who graduated and are awaiting mobilization for National Youth Service, I started browsing the street of some major towns and cities in search of a temporary job to earn a living and avoid being dependent.

I visited several secondary schools in Kano to see if I could be appointed a classroom teacher, of all the schools I visited, the school principal pulls out dossiers of applicants waiting to be called for an interview. I wasn’t discourage, I visited some private radio stations where some of my friends work, one of them whispered: “ we haven’t been paid salaries for three months”. What!

A friend and classmate who resides in Gombe told me of a newly established Radio station—Progress FM. He advised I visit him to see if I could be lucky this time around. I conceded. Upon entry into the reception of Progress FM in his company, I demanded contact with the General Manager which I got within a couple of minutes. I tabled my issue immediately. She replied, though in a very encouraging tone at least not to get me demoralized. “We have over 40 staff already” wow!

I thanked my friend for his support and left for Bauchi, my home state. Upon arrival, another friend of mine who studied mass communication at the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi and have completed his NYSC but is still jobless told me to hold on a second.

I thought you have been an Editor-in-Chief of Bayero Beacon and THE READER, your school based Newspaper and Magazine? He interrogated. Yes. I replied. And you also have more than four points as your CGPA? Yes. I answered again. Then you have a chance to work with the Daily Trust Newspaper, he said. No. Daily Trust only employs best graduating students and I am the second. I replied in a rather low tone of hopelessness.

What about other National Dailies such as Vanguard, The Guardian, Sahara Reporters, Premium Times and other online newspapers? He further queried. Probably they only employ more experienced writers and seasoned journalists, but unfortunately I’m not one. I conceded.

But you can apply for Graduate Assistant in your University or Polytechnic where they teach Mass Communication, what about that? He continued with his mind boggling questions. This time around, he mentioned what I like doing most, but I was getting angrier with his questions. Universities no longer employ graduate assistants, and even if they do, you need the support of someone very influential to bag the job, I told him.

Just hold on, after your NYSC, you can apply for Nigeria Defence Academy and join the Army, he insists. I also have interest in joining the army. And I believe I have something to offer, especially in the areas of strategic communication. I believe, with a well coordinated strategic intelligence and communication, the army will unequivocally defeat the Boko Haram insurgents, I declared.

But if I could not get job in all the places I mentioned earlier just because I am not an anointed candidate and lack the support of those in position of authority, I wonder how I could have access to join the army.

These are my predicaments, and no doubt of thousands of graduates in Nigeria who are still jobless for no fault of theirs. And whose future is still cloudy. Aren’t these enough to make me sad? If you think these reasons are not enough, then hold on.

As I said earlier, Denmark is ranked the first “happiest nation on earth” and Nigeria is 103rd least happiest. Do you know that only Nasarawa state is richer in terms of mineral resources than the entire Denmark? Denmark has Natural gas, Limestone, Chalk, Clay, Sand, Gravel, Salt, Wind, Water, Solar and fuel trading.

In Nassarawa state, all the above resources are available plus;    Beryl (emerald)   Asquamirine and   Haliodor), Dolomite/Marble, Sapphire, Tourmaline, Quartz-   Amethyst (Topaz, gamet), Zireon, Tantalite, Cassiterite,  Columbite, Limenite, Galena, Iron-Ore, Barytes,  Feldspar, Limesstone, Mica,  Cooking coal, Talc, Cay, Salt, Chalcopyrite. Not to talk of oil, richer agricultural land, our sea and water ways. Isn’t this enough to make you sad?

In Denmark, a lawmaker takes 38,000 US Dollars as his annual salaries while a Nigerian lawmaker takes more than four times that per month (181,974 US dollars), yet a graduate in Nigeria cannot afford three square meals. In one year, a Nigerian lawmaker takes $2183688 US which is equivalent to four hundred and thirty million, one hundred and eighty six thousand, five hundred and thirty-six naira (N430186536) and his Danish counterpart has to work for more than 57 years to earn that salaries.

Not only that, a Nigerian worker who earns N18,000 minimum wage has to work for more than 190 years before he will bag what a “distinguished” senator will earn in one year. Aren’t all these enough to make you sad? Then hold on. Do you know that a Nigerian Senator earns more than Barrack Obama of US and David Cameron of UK? A lawmaker in Sweden has to work for 12 years before he/she will earn what a senator in Nigeria will take home in 12 months.

Despite all the jumbo salaries of our lawmakers, about 300,000 children die annually of, guess what? Malaria! But no child dies of malaria in Denmark. As of 2015, our infant mortality rate (number of babies dying before they reach one year per 1000 birth) was put at 57 children while only 3 children die in Denmark before they reach one year. Isn’t this enough to make you sad?

Even citizens from war torn countries like Libya, Somalia, Lebanon and Tunisia are happier than Nigerians according to the ranking.

While countries like United Arab Emirates are appointing Minister of happiness to “align and derive government policy to create social good and satisfaction”, Nigeria should appoint its first ever minister of sadness to mobilize and coordinate sad people in Nigeria and at least remind them that President Buhari is in charge, probably things may get better.

I am calling on PMB to appoint me as his first minister of sadness, but my worries for now lies on the fact that I may not pass ministerial screening especially in the event that the National “Legislooters” (Legislators) become upset with my article

Haruna Mohammed Salisu writes from Bauchi. He could be reached at 08063180608 or [email protected]