Sept. 20, 2013
NewsRescue– Sadly, the Nigerian system seems to be a despoiling mill where castles of dreams are shattered, hopes dashed and aspirations lost. It is often a snag walking the dream-wire in Nigeria. The nebulous system eviscerates and enervates even the strong willed and lion-hearted. This is not to imply that you cannot beat the system, you can, but you need extra effort. Of consequence is the effect of the moulding of the Nigerian system on you. You are by default crafted in the soul of the blighted system. All your actions and inactions become visual, mental and plausible clues to understanding the Nigerian system.
You have a taste of the Nigerian system after graduating Magna cum laude from university. You have always heard that unemployment is at a very high level in Nigeria, but you have never cared to take it seriously. It is just a hyperbolic estimation by frustrated fellows- pessimists, you say. You conclude with the Pentecostal line, “It is not my portion!” You understand it is your portion after scouring all the corners of Lagos for jobs. And after all the job sites you have registered with stop sending you job notifications because you have stayed too long in their data bases. You wonder why you do not get calls for interviews. Perhaps, it is something about your curriculum vitae. You tweak it, and tell some lies in it, survival lies; you call them, for that is the Nigerian way! In your struggles, you chance on meeting an old friend who now works in a bank. You try to hide your frustration from him, but he sees through you. You open up, “O boy I don waka for job taya!” He tells you not worry, that there are job openings at the bank where he works. You wonder how that will solve your problem since you have never studied anything about banking. You have studied Micro-Biology. Although, you do not like the discipline, it was the only option left for you when your mark did not reach the cut off for Medicine and Surgery. And considering the difficulty in getting admission into Nigerian public universities, you had to take Hobson’s choice. The system chose the discipline for you; you did not choose it, for that is the Nigerian way!
You tell your friend your fears concerning possible rejection since you have a degree in Micro-Biology and not in Banking or any related subject. He tells you not to bother about that, that the banking industry is populated by many “accidental” bankers. And that many in the industry have degrees in Languages, Zoology, and Agriculture for that is how the system has fated them, it is the Nigerian way! His confession makes hope come alive in you. You are determined to follow through on this one. You ask him for the necessary things to do to clinch the job. He tells you that there is a certain Madam in her late forties, but still single, who likes “fresh boys”, that with her one of the jobs is good as yours. You need connection to get even a cleaning job for that is the Nigerian way! He hammers into you. You submit, that is not a hard thing to do, after all you are a “fresh boy”.
After the interviews and trysts with the Madam, you finally got it. A bank job! Nevertheless, you have mixed feelings. It is not the perfect job for you. You would have loved to work in the field of science. But that is not forthcoming. The same fate replays itself. You did not choose the job; the system chose it for you! And out of frustration, out of the pang of hunger and the agony of joblessness you gave in. It is the Nigerian way!
The new job takes you to Abuja. You say thank God, you are separated from that Madam, that hag! At least, you will stop lying to Nkiru, your girlfriend about your “kukere” meanderings.
In Abuja, you understand why your selfish politicians say the city is not for the poor. Accommodation is unbelievably expensive. You cannot afford descent accommodation. Not on your bankers’ wages. You are lucky Sunny lives in Abuja, so you move in to stay with him promising that your stay is only temporary.
You enter the jungle of the employed. No rest, you barely have time to read the books you buy, your life revolves around your job and you are fastened to the ground for stipends. All the dreams you have always had are now taking wing. Your job is top priority. You have always wanted to do a postgraduate study, but not on this nine-to-nine job. You affirm. You cannot quit, it is too dangerous. You remember how hard it was for you to get the job. You stay on.
Sunny tells you, he is getting married so you have to move out. You are not surprised, you have always prepared for it. You have been saving. Thank God, you say. You are able to get a self-contained room at Zuba. That is where you can afford to pay for a room. Your office is at Maitama, so you wake up early to get to work early. You are in a treadmill.
You spend five years in the treadmill. There seems to be no change. The city swallows your salary as you get it. You are now thirty five years old. And under pressure to get married. You visit your girlfriend’s parents from Imo state. They give you a long list of items and other marriage accoutrements to buy. The cost of the things for the marriage rites is put at three million naira. Even all your savings from years of hard work are not up to that. You mutter, Ndi Igbo and money.
Back to Abuja, you continue trudging in the daily toil. Nkiru your girlfriend does not understand why you keep putting off the traditional wedding date. You keep assuring her that you will marry her. And so it continues.
To your victory, Nkiru announces that she is pregnant and that according to her custom she must be married before she gives birth to a child. You are not fazed. You have a bargaining chip now. The fallout of the conditioning of the system.
Her parents get word that she is pregnant. They are devastated. How could she let down her guard? They are angrier with her for letting their meal ticket go. However, they do not want shame in their family so they come to you saying, “whatever you have bring it”. You smile. Finally, you got them; you are now an “Agbero” of the Nigerian system. Without hesitation, the marriage is done. At the end of it all you spend twenty thousand naira, just bride price. You have conquered. You are now married, the Nigerian way.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and a poet. Email:[email protected] 08167992075