by Perpetua Omeke
The featured image portrays an AFFIRM in-house joke: “From Moi-moi to Genius” 😉 that Priscilla and I came up with in our constant discussions about SKILLS. We will write a blog post about it some other time but for now, here’s Perpetua’s post on the subject. It was one of the entries from #TheCompleteWoman writing contest.
If you graduated from a tertiary institution in Nigeria, you will understand what the question, “what next?” means. You will understand that ground no level for inside labour market for Naija. As Nigerian youths acclaim, the meaning of the line ‘So help me God’ in the Nigeria national pledge is embedded in life after graduation where employment is on the basis of recommendation and not by eligibility.
Even when one gets the job, the salary may not be commensurable to the stress therein. Some graduates end up teaching in private primary schools where they are paid a token of ten thousand naira. Some end up as sales personnel or personal assistants to some under-educated politicians. Others become marketers in banks or online vendors where they are always taking orders and supplying customers 24 hours a day.
There was no time to build up skills (whether hard or soft)
As a student in the Department of Microbiology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), there was no time to build up skills (whether hard or soft) alongside my academics, because of the fear that other scholars had built up in me. We believed that Microbiology and Chemistry are the two departments that hardly graduate their students.
So, as a good student, I focused on my studies to avoid resits or extra years. After all, who wants to have an extra year? I guess nobody.
After graduation, there was no immediate job that I could lay hands upon while I waited for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) list. I got tired of waiting because I was not the kind of girl to always ask of money, even from my parents, but that does not mean that I don’t like money.
I was finally employed as a nursery 2 tutor and was paid ten thousand naira monthly. This salary was too poor, notwithstanding, I ensured that I made use of the money judiciously by learning a skill that I shall use to make money.
A skill is the learned ability to perform an action with determined results often from training, experience and practice. Skills acquisition is an innate part of survival in the present world, especially with the evolving world and tightening economy. One always needs another source of income. Acquiring a skill, whether it’s a hard or soft skill, boosts one’s confidence and makes one garner more opportunities. It helps to learn more information and diversifies one’s interests in life.
Well, I never thought about all this until I got the job as a tutor. From that little salary, I attended a local catering school where I learnt to cook lots of local dishes and to bake. This earned me the position of “chief chef” in my family.
When I was called for service, the NYSC organised a skills acquisition programme during the compulsory 21-day camp at Issele-Uku in Delta State. I maximized the opportunity and learnt about making “bridal” products such as bouquets, fascinators, hand fans, etc. But I was still not satisfied with seasonal or events-based skills. So, I decided to take up a skill that my late mother taught me – one where I am always mixing vigorously to produce creams, soaps, detergents, hair relaxers, etc.
I now combine my mother’s teachings with my own knowledge of safe chemical use from the lab at UNN, and take the time to label and package the products carefully for others to buy. I am happy that my skills and experience are a way of immortalizing my mother and enable me to serve humanity through ensuring domestic cleanliness and offering good skin care to my satisfied customers.
I am Miss Onyekozulu Perpetua Omeke, from Enugu State, Nigeria and a Microbiologist, Public Health Scientist, Educationist, Caterer, Soaper, Dermatologist, Fashion Enthusiast, a proud Nigerian Igbo lady. My social media contacts are Linkedin: Onyekozulu Omeke, Facebook: Perpetua Omeke and Twitter: Omeke Perpetua.