Friday, 10 February 2017

NYSC: ‘Living in Reality’ presupposes that there are situations of reality and there are situations of fantasy —Samuel Mariere

Today at the NYSC Orientation camp Issele Uku Delta State, Hon. Bar. Samuel Mariere, a member of the Delta State House of Assembly, representing Ughelli North Constituency 1, strongly advice the National Youth Service Corps members to learn how to live in reality, that even in the midst of a dwindling economy like that of our country Nigeria, there is Need to be self employed.

The Honorable member who is a farmer, spoke and taught the corp members from his experiences in life. In a speech presented by the Honorable member, it reads after the cut...


The title of this talk, ‘Living in Reality’ presupposes that there are situations of reality and there are situations of fantasy. It is natural for a youth to live the life of fantasy.

I remember when we were young; we had very mighty dreams; the kinds of cars we wanted to drive; the kinds of houses we wanted to live in; the kinds of food we wanted to eat; the kinds of drinks we wanted to drink etc, and these changed with time and experience.

As a young village boy growing up, my fantasy was limited to the village. My dreams were limited to being like the few celebrities around. I was fortunate to come from a village of very great men like the Mowoes, the Mudiaga Odjes, the Scott Emuakpors, the Obahors and so on. So the dream of all the youths in our circle then was to be like one of these people either in education or in social status.

When I left the village, I started visiting my elder brothers in Lagos and Port-Harcourt. My dreams and aspirations were further broadened. When I later got admitted into the University of Calabar, I met people from various backgrounds; the ones from very wealthy homes; the ones from not too wealthy homes; the ones from poor homes and the ones from the very poor home and my dreams and aspirations further changed. But one thing I learnt in the course of my studies and interactions was that there was a difference between fantasy and reality and that all these fantastic dreams and aspirations can only be met when you live a life of reality.

As an undergraduate at the University of CaIabar I took elective courses from the Department of Economics and was fortunate to have attended a lecture by the famous Professor Eskor Toyo, the then Head of Department of Economics. He was a Marxist and he never liked Capitalism. However, while he was negating Capitalism and valourising Marxism, we were carried away and greeted his comments with approbation.

One of the things I learnt from his lectures was that you can never be a wealthy man unless you are self-employed. Prof. Eskor Toyo was of the view, and rightly too, that the employer will always make the employee comfortable enough to assist him to either get comfort or create wealth for him. So, the basic duty of the employee is to create either wealth or comfort for the employer. The good example I can still remember was that of a typical civil servant which also applies to the private sector.

When a graduate civil servant in Nigeria is employed, he will be placed on Grade Level 8. This graduate will be between the ages of 25-30 when he is employed. His salary will be just above Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000). This is enough wages for a young man of twenty seven who may still be living under his parents’ roof, pairing with friends or at the most, in a single room or self contained apartment. Depending on the location, he may not be spending up to twenty percent of his salary on accommodation. He may also spend another twenty percent on feeding and still have about sixty percent to play around with. He is reasonably comfortable. He still gets tips and other incentives from his senior colleagues, friends and relatives.

After three years, when he will be thirty or thirty-three years, he will be promoted to Grade Level 9. At this point, there will be an increase in his salary that will have to give him a relative comfort in a larger apartment like a two-bedroom flat. He will now have a steady relationship, take on some responsibilities of his younger ones if he is unfortunate not to be a last-born like me. Even his parents may be expecting some things from him. The little salary increment is designed to help him take care of these new challenges and also as an incentive to be able to deliver more on services.

After another three years when he will be thirty-three or thirty-six years, he will be promoted to Grade Level 10. At this stage, he will be ripe for marriage; prepare for it and eventually get married. His responsibilities would therefore increase. He will then be looking for a larger apartment while he also has his new wife to take care of. The tips and encouragements would have reduced as people would now see him as a “man”. The society, and the Church if he is a Christian, would be expecting more from him.

After another three years, he will be doubly promoted to level 12 because, at this point, those who designed the structure know that he would have started having one or two children having married three years earlier, hence the double promotion and the doubling of the salary. At this time, he will be about thirty nine years if he got a job earlier, otherwise, he will be about forty-two. The increment is made to take care of the extra responsibilities that will come with fatherhood.

At forty five, he will be promoted to Grade Level 13, thereby moving to Director’s cadre or Deputy Director, having been fortunate to have an official car and other perks of office like allowances, running cost and the rest of it. At this point, the kids would have started school and the salary would barely be enough to pay school fees and take care of the extended family and the other added responsibilities.

By the age of 48-49, he will be on Grade Level 14-16. If he is not a professional in the administrative cadre, he will be stagnated there. By 55-60, he would have completed the training of his children in the university. He will now realize that he has no home to retire to as retirement will be so close by this time and thus he would have developed high blood pressure, if he is unfortunate to have taken loans to solve some pressing family or personal issues. At 60 when he retires, he will be in a very serious dilemma. This will lead to many health complications and ultimate death between the ages of 65-70.

This picture, as gory and scary as it looks, is the true picture of the average Nigerian worker.

I was very fortunate to have seen this picture early enough in life and I told myself that if I am going to work for anybody, it is going to be for a very short period. Hence, when I graduated from the university, I had my tutelage under a very experienced Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the Late Dr. Donatus Duoms Mowoe. Having gotten this strong practice background for one year, I moved to Port-Harcourt where I stayed with my young wife in a remote area called Nkpor Rumuolumine. We started in a one-room apartment. Because I said I wasn’t going to work for anybody, I attached myself to a Law firm of Okere and Okere. I was not under any salary or emolument. The agreement was that I was to do my cases and also assist the office in litigations in courts, legal researches and other assignments that the Principal will give to me from time to time.

I had time to plan alternatives for myself. I went into properties and assisting landlords to recover rents. This was yielding some income. As a young lawyer, I had some compounds in Dibu in Rumuolumine area. I later went into land speculation, getting lands from landlords and looking for prospective buyers. Within a year, we moved out of the woods. My monthly income, since I was working for myself, ranged between one hundred Thousand, in very unproductive months, to over two million naira in some very good months whilst my colleagues who were working with big firms like OCJ Okocha (SAN) and others were earning between Twenty Thousand Naira to Thirty Thousand Naira. Since then I became an employer of labour and get people to help me to get comfort and create wealth.

In our current economy, this reality must dawn on you. To get out of the woods, you must think of simple things not complex, too scientific, capital intensive businesses that require so much expertise for you to start.

In my own case, going to solicit landlords to be their agent, to help them collect rents, didn’t require spending any money. Going to seek landowners, their properties and going to seek prospective buyers didn’t also cost me any money. All I needed was traditional marketing skills, catching in on relationships either from town unions, school mates, relatives, friends, churches, church members and other organizations which one belongs to. There are so many businesses around that need little or no capital to start.

If I were to be a mechanic, for example, and had read mechanical engineering, all I would have done from my third year in the university to my youth service days would have been to get attached to a mechanic workshop to learn to function as s roadside mechanic. If I open a mechanic workshop as a graduate, I will definitely do better than an illiterate artisan. Same with if I had read Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, etc.

There are so many small businesses like dry cleaning, interior and exterior decoration, production of confectionaries like chin-chin, meat pies even plantain chips popularly called kpekere and so on, that when packaged by an educated person can become a good source of income and demands for very little cash that can be gotten from a Youth Corper who lived a life of reality during his service year.
Creation of wealth is continuous and because there is nothing permanent or constant, apart from your primary source of income, you must create other secondary sources. You should be able to create something that will not need your presence or physical contribution to work.

About 10 years ago, a cousin of mine had an accident and broke his leg. He was home for 6 months and the question I asked myself then was that if I sit down for 6 months without going anywhere, will I be able to fend for myself and my family? The answer was a big no because as a lawyer, I need to move around, go to courts to be able to eke a living. This set me into serious thinking and this thinking moved me towards farming which I realize was a quiet money spinner.

Today, what I earn from my farm is enough to take care of my family in the unlikely event of every other aspect or source of income collapsing and above all. I don’t need to be in the farm for the farm to work. All that is needed is strict system and supervision.

I also invested in equipments because it is another area that needs little or no supervision and this can also take care of my family in the unlikely event of the collapse of all other areas.

I am also into dredging and haulage. All these various businesses are meant to stand as shock absorbers to each other and it should not be imagined that all these can be done in a day.

First, you must learn to sacrifice your time and your enjoyment. Talking about enjoyment, I remember in those days, my grandmother told me that once one is successful, all the beautiful girls will be for him to pick and all other enjoyment, in quote, will follow. But when you chose the beautiful girls and enjoyment early in life, suffering will follow and the beautiful girls and enjoyment will run away. So you must be very ready to make a lot of sacrifices.

Another way of living a life of reality is not allowing your success to speak for you. If you need to announce your success in your area of residence or among those who know you, then you aren’t successful.

Those designers’ clothes, shoes, perfumes, drinks and hanging out with the most beautiful girls which, of course, cost money, are all enemies of progress. I remember a very good friend, George Oyefia, used to calculate money in terms of bags of cement. That bottle of Hennessey that cost N9000 is equivalent to today’s value of 3 bags of cement. That Iphone6 that cost Six Hundred Thousand is equivalent to about 300 bags of cement plus 10 trips of sand. Every ten kobo to live a life of reality must be valued accordingly.

A youth corper will realize that, all his life, unless a few, he or she was always being given money without really working for it. Many youth corpers will receive their first salary in camp here and during their service year but the reality is that after the service year there is no employment anywhere. 90%, if not more of those leaving the service will not have any employment of any kind unless they decide to take the bull by the horn and create employment for themselves.

It’s left for you today, having gotten this tip to either wait for employment and create wealth and comfort for others or start something for yourself and create wealth and comfort for yourself. The decision is yours!


Disclaimer: Comment expressed do not reflect the opinion of Isaac Yoma