THINK OUTSIDE THE BOXJuly 24, 2015 - Author: Omonioboli - 9 Comments
A few days ago, I was privileged to speak to a room full of young Nigerians at the summit on unemployment by Young Business Leaders of Nigeria (YBLN) and here is my speech.
My name is Omoni Oboli. I am a Nollywood actress and filmmaker and I am proudly Nigerian!
A lot of young people have this idea that a job is one which entails sitting behind a desk, or one where you must have a boss or a steady salary. This idea has somehow sent many teeming youth and potential business moguls into intellectual and creative freeze zone. The quest to ‘look like a worker’ or ‘sound like a worker’ because the society, friends or families demand it as a form of security, has made many give up on their God-given talents and ideas to seek what is ‘normal’. The idea that that is securing your future is an illusion that serves mostly to make those who ask it of you to feel good about themselves or to speak to what your innate training understands to be ‘normal’, or in this case, secure.
Am I saying seeking for a job is wrong? Of course not! Neither is it out of hate or dislike (arguably) that people around you demand it of you. But Nigeria is a country that is virgin in regards to the opportunities that abound from the blessings that God has naturally endowed us with. And I’m not talking about oil alone or the abundant mineral resources underneath our soils. I am talking about the one factor that makes any nation great, which many rich nations of the world understand if they need to ensure sustainable, long term growh within their communities. Population! We have people in our country, people! There’s nothing you sell here that would not have a ready large market just because of the sheer number of people. I’m sure Mr Aliko Dangote can testify to that. You don’t need a 140 Million people buying your product, but the probability that there would be 200,000 customers from that number is much higher than in a country where their population is just 14 million or less.
The possibilities are endless. If we can only stop to ask why we devote our energy and time to seeking what we are capable of building ourselves, thinking outside the box would then become a lifestyle, rather than a desperate necessity. There’s very little you couldn’t learn these days on the Internet, for many who feel that they don’t have the natural gifts or abilities, or even ideas. Learning must be continuous and only when we fill our heads with knowledge, and I’m not talking formal education alone, can we begin to expand our minds and open ourselves to possibilities that have always been around us.
I stepped into an industry that was built on this very idea of thinking outside the box; It was a recession, just like we are experiencing now, a man, in a desperate bid to sell off his video tapes ( which, by the way, was his hard earned money just sitting in his office), decides to fill those tapes with more value than it already possessed. He filled the tapes with a movie he produced so that through what he put in it, he could dispose of his tied down investment that wasn’t making money. He produced ‘Living in Bondage’, and from that innovative desperate act, many of us who would have been chasing after other possibilities found a voice, a platform to express our gifts and ultimately create the over 1 million jobs we see today. In the film industry for instance there are tons of successful makeup artists, costume designers, editors, sound men, gaffers, drivers and even cooks. But as expected, when you talk about entertainment, everyone wants to be Dbanj, Wizkid or Omotola and Ramsey forgetting that for everyone of these celebrities, there are tens or hundreds of people behind the scenes who make it all happen. We have so many successful makeup artists, gaffers, editors, cinematographers, drivers, assistants and even cooks! The entertainment industry, along with the sports and agricultural industry are the industries that provide possibilities to many who would have had to go through a university degree program first before they could get a job. It invites creative minds without demanding formal university education first, except when you aspire to reach to greater heights within the industry. Don’t get me wrong, Formal education is priceless, but many have used the lack thereof as a plausible excuse to stifle their move towards achieving in life.
For many who do go for the formal jobs, the approach should be one of giving excellence and dedication at all times, so that mediocrity is approached with the disdain that it deserves. How can you demand a pay at work for what you didn’t give to attain it? Why should someone else bear the brunt of your incompetence, when there are others out there who could possibly give much more? So many of you complain about not having jobs, only to become the employees from hell when the opportunity presents itself. The inefficiency of many employees, due to many young people having gone through a formal school system without getting an education, or other reasons, have caused many who had the job to lose it because the company they worked for folded up because of incompetent workers. Attending classes in school and getting a certificate is one thing, but being educated and knowledgeable enough to add value to an establishment seems farfetched for many of our youth.
But, complaining and pointing to the problem, unless in a bid to broker solutions, will not help. We should stop looking to others for the solutions. We should have a sense of responsibility, and not a sense of entitlement. We should become the solution that the establishments we aspire to work for are looking for, or the solution that the society at large, and indeed our great nation, is looking for as you start a business that serves a need or needs.
I didn’t get to where I am by chance; there was an orchestrated effort, from my educational background, my upbringing, my acquaintances, my personal education, my school, my friends, my family and my society at large that triggered a series of events that brought me to this. The only thing I needed to bring to the table was my choice! I chose to do the right thing when I had the choice to do the wrong. I chose to educate myself outside my formal education to increase the knowledge. They say “Warri no dey carry last”, and I’m a Waffi girl, but someone pointed out an angle to that quote that got me thinking; “If Warri no dey carry last, then they are second to last, abi?”, he said, “Why do we assume they are first because they’re not last?” Let’s not assume that one thing suddenly translates to another, because it may only happen in our minds and not in reality. Let us aspire always towards excellence and not set our sights only on not being last.
The Nigeria of our dreams can only be built when our dreams of Nigeria are built! The government will not change Nigeria, Nigeria will truly change when we Nigerians change our mindset. When we, each one of us, wake up everyday with the sole purpose of doing something positive that would move Nigeria forward. Think not what the nation can do for you but what can you do for the nation!
So I say once more, think outside the box!
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