The Lagos state government will be employing 1000 university graduates as bus conductors. By doing that, the government aims to give bus-conducting a facelift, making it “attractive, respected and dignified as obtainable globally.” So far, the reaction to this development has not been pleasant and the outrage has been against the proposed N50,000 monthly salary for the graduate bus conductors.
While it is understandable for someone, who has spent about 4, 5 or 6 years in a university studying a course to become a professional in his or her field, to disapprove of this scheme because of the meagre financial reward involved, it won’t be surprising to learn that some other graduates rushed to grab the opportunity.
The unemployment rate in the country is alarming, plus it is recession time in Nigeria. Many people, including young graduates, are engaging in several activities to financially stay afloat. A good example of this is the get-rich-quick and Ponzi scheme which the government has repeatedly warned about, the “MMM Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
It is important to note that this isn’t about painting the bus conducting profession in a bad light or as an ignoble profession; after all, it has its own contribution, no matter how small it is, to the economy. It has helped to mellow social vices to an extent, as the job engages a portion of the active youth population who could have resorted to illegal acts.
However, the concern here is why the government and its collaborator–the Bus Conductors Association of Nigeria (BCAN) have targeted ‘university graduates’ with this programme. Perhaps, they believe the knowledge acquired by those graduates while they were in school may be applied to the bus conducting profession to give it a better look? One may also be right to think BCAN is trying to tap into the euphoria of having “graduates” in its fold, going by one of the things it hopes to achieve with the scheme: dignity.
All of these highlighted prospects can be perfectly achieved with the teaming unemployed non-graduates. According to the government, all those who will be employed to take up the job will be trained at the Lagos State Drivers Institute, (LASDRI). So, whatever change that is desired for the profession is taught at the institute.
This programme can be likened to the several nice schemes created by government but have engaged the wrong set of people. Similar to this development, last week, Ventures Africa explained how the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is a threat to the future of Nigeria.
If taming the unemployment of university graduates is a priority on government’s to-do list, but the financial buoyancy isn’t there at the moment, graduates can be absorbed into government ministries, departments, agencies and establishments, which are related to the field of their study through internship programmes. With a stipend of N50,000, the graduates will be happy because they are technically employed and prepared for their next job.
Apart from the money, after a while, these graduates would have improved greatly and be better skilled to take up full employment when there are openings. That way, it will be a win-win situation for these graduates. The kind of bus conducting profession desired by the government is not only achievable with university graduates; instead, non-graduates should be the target.