Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can I get a job in Nigeria without doing the NYSC?

Question: Can I get a job without doing the NYSC?

Reply: Yes you can. While some employers require that applicants have the NYSC certificate, others don’t require this. Not everyone gets called up for service immediately they get done with university. I have friends who got called up to serve 2-3 years after graduating, and by then they were already settled in good jobs. It’s best to find out from the potential employer what their requirements are. PricewaterhouseCoopers for instance is currently hiring graduates and they require NYSC. Some companies might have different requirements for foreign-graduates--it is best to call or contact them to find out.

Keep in mind that if you want to obtain a master’s degree in Nigeria or hold certain public offices you must have completed the NYSC or obtained an exemption certificate. In fact, I read it is a criminal offence to dodge NYSC (huh?). British-trained Hon. Dimeji Bankole came under this fire when he was to be sworn in as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. If you didn’t follow the whole Speaker/NYSC episode last November, I've linked some articles below:

Lack of NYSC haunts speaker

Did speaker dodge NYSC?

Speaker Responds(click to view certficate heh heh)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Can I survive in Nigeria?

Okay, I have to post this quick, before my Internet dies again! The next couple of posts are my responses to some questions that a reader asked. These are my own experiences, so please feel free to make your own contributions. Thanks!

Question: Can I survive on my own in Nigeria? I have my parents but basically I need to know what I am up against in case anything happens?

Reply: Yes, I believe you can survive on your own in Nigeria. The trick is to get acquainted with the system. Identify the challenges and take them on. For example, accommodation is a major challenge for most Nigerians. Here, landlords require one or two year’s payment upfront, so you should save up and plan where you will live before you arrive. If you prefer, you might want to start off by staying with folks, friends or family and then get your own place when you’re more comfortable with the terrain or have saved up enough money.

It might take a while to find a good place that is available and within your budget. We own a place in Lagos, but we had to look for one in Abuja and that took a couple of months. On the other hand, it took my colleague a week to find a place. Be wary of the agents (you kind of have to use them to find or rent out apartments). Even if the agent came highly referred, don’t give them cash in advance! Big no no. I know two friends who got swiped by agents who came referred. Only when you’re ready to sign the agreement should money change hands.

Plan for transportation because mobility can speed up or slow down your settling down process. If you’re going to do public transport, get familiar with the routes quickly. If you have a car you want to ship down, find out if the spare parts are available in Nigeria. Mechanics are keeping up with the times and they have diagnostic equipment to handle the newer car models.

It seems like cars are more expensive here in Nigeria than in the states, but by the time you add the cost of shipping a car down and customs clearance, the cost evens out. In the States, with technology like Carfax you can get the lowdown on a car’s history. With vehicles shipped into the country you just never know. Most people still buy cars cash down but Nigerian banks and automobile sellers now offer car loans to those who have good regular incomes.

Friday, July 11, 2008

There's fire on our mountain oh!

“Keep quiet, keep quiet!” the exam invigilator kept saying. The noise level in the examination room was rising and it was not an open book exam.
We were taking professional exams. Exams that will usher us into the path of leadership and management excellence in Nigeria. Yeah. Right.
The test takers paid no heed to the invigilator. Instead they urgently called out more questions and replied with louder answers, as if to do the deed before he lost his patience. Which he did:
I don’t want to hear any noise! If you have anything to say, write it down and pass it!”
Huh? What did you say?
The class erupted in incredulous chatter and chuckles. We had just received an open invitation to cheat from our invigilator.

There’s fire on the mountain
And nobody seems to be on the run
Oh there’s fire on the mountaintop
And no one is running*

It seems to me that the silent mantra in this great country of ours has become:
Do whatever you can, say what you must, by hook or by crook, just stay on top.
We cry foul at the man-know-man job market. But the truth is, if I owned my own business, I too would give preference to candidates I meet through acquaintances and friends; people who can be vouched for. What use do I have for an embellished resume or a graduate who bought rather than worked for his certificate?
But again I don’t blame the individual…I blame the system that breeds and protects the individual. What is scary is that we will reap what we sow.
*Back to my story…
So being the opportunistic lot that we are, a self-appointed class rep rose up in class the next day and announced that he and his seat mates decided it would be wise for everyone in the class to contribute some money to give to the invigilator…so that the day’s exams will go smoothly! “Just something small for her to use to buy Fanta you know, then she can use the change to credit her phone.”
I thought (and hoped) they were joking, until one of them showed up to collect my contribution...

One day the river will overflow
And there’ll be no place for us to go
And we will run, run
Wishing we had put out the fire
*Fire on the Mountain—Asa/ Cobhams Asuquo

Monday, July 7, 2008

My 6 quirks

Nneoma tagged me. I don’t know if these are really quirky, but oh well, here goes:

1)I love to question people about their lives. It's like I'm on an interview or playing 21 questions because I keep the questions coming one after the other. It makes some people uncomfortable, while others love it. I like hearing people's's like reading a good book. I got away with it as a child since most kids can question you tire, but as I grew up it got me in trouble with my elders who felt that I was being nosy or rude. So I learnt to tone down on it...especially now that I'm back in Nigeria, but I always wonder what lies beneath...

2)I stare at them, coo over them and love cuddling them. I go ga-ga over babies. I might be in the middle of a serious conversation with you, but if I spot a cute baby…I’m instantly distracted, gazing and yearning to carry a stranger’s baby. Those wide stares, bobby heads and chubby fingers...they light my world any day. Just don’t ask me to tamper with their diapers !

3)I really don't like wearing sweaters, or any type of fabric that makes my skin crawl. Sweaters are elegant and keep you warmer than the cotton long sleeve, but for some reason sweaters make the hairs on my arm stand up, which makes me cold...and I usually choose comfort over style. They also make me sweat and I find the combination of sweat and cold yucky.

4)When I eat my meals, I don't drink water or any other liquid. It’s a habit from childhood. It’s not intentional and I didn’t know it was unusual until I’d sit down to eat with friends and they’d point out that I wasn’t drinking anything. Eating out has helped to cure me of this because they serve drinks first, but I finished eating 10 minutes ago and I am yet to drink anything, so excuse me while I get a glass of water!

Okay, I’m back…

5)I thrive on change and go out of my way to get variety. I get excited when my body lotion is about to finish because it means I get to try out a different brand. I get restless with routines so I look for ways to shake things up. I love different foods and almost never order anything twice from a menu. In Nairobi, Kenya, there’s a restaurant called Carnivore. For a flat price, they keep brining all sort of meat for you to eat until you signal for them to stop. I didn’t stop until I had tried it all: crocodile, giraffe, deer... sorry if you’re vegetarian and reading this ;)

6) I need humming sound to fall asleep. I think they call it white noise. A fan or a/c. It's soothing. Even if I have a cold, I'd rather suffer the blocked nose than face the silent room. However, I cannot fall asleep with the radio/tv/music on in the background...(future hubby take note!) Just a soft gentle hum. So what about when NEPA strikes at night and there's no appliance to lull me to sleep? I find myself awake and very alert to the strange sounds of the night.

Okay most of you have been tagged so I'll let you be. How have you guys been?