opinionBy Amaka Abayomi, Ebele Orakpo, Laju Arenyeka And Ikenna Asomba
More knocks than commendation have continued to trail the recent revelations that of the 13,00 applications received, six Ph.D, 704 Masters and over 8,460 Bachelor degree holders applied for the Graduate Executive Truck Driver of Dangote Group of Companies.
According to the Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, most of the applicants are from reputable universities and our plan is to eventually make them self dependent.
The drivers will get trip allowances on each trip along with their salaries, and will own the trucks at no interests or repayments after they must have reached 300,000km, (about 140 trips from Lagos to Kano) within two to four years.
Despite these pecks attached to the job, concerned stakeholders believe that more still needs to be done by government to create employment and the enabling environment for the organised private sector to employ more people.
In his reaction, VC, Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun State, Professor Isaac Adeyemi, called for the need to evaluate the PhDs.
"Several schools offer PhD programmes, but what is the quality of the PhD, how do they run their post-graduate programmes, in what fields and where? Assuming they obtained the PhDs from reputable institutions and in relevant areas, have they sought employment in the universities, polytechnics, colleges of education etc."
On if the economy or educational system is to be blamed for the apparent anomaly, Adeyemi said the educational system can't really be blamed because "there are checks and balances in-house in the PhD certificates from over 90 per cent of Nigerian universities apart from the involvement of external examiners. The provosts and deans of post-graduate schools are streamlining the procedure leading to the award of PhD certificates. The National Universities Commission also tries to monitor post-graduate programmes."
Proffering solutions to the problem, the VC noted that the problem should be tackled from two perspectives.
"One, from educational perspective; are we really producing graduates that will meet the needs of the nation? There is need for the educational sector to cooperate with the industrial sector in researches and in training. There must be target production of manpower and constant rubbing of minds.
"Two, our curricular should be dynamic so there is need to have input from other sectors of the economy, else we will not produce the necessary manpower to grow the economy. If we are not careful, we may get to a point where we will begin to depend on institutions overseas to produce the needed manpower for us."
According to Dr. Lanre Amodu, Senior Lecturer, Department of Mass Commuication, Covenant University, the unemployment situation may be responsible, but not to the point of having PhD and Masters degree holders as drivers.
"I don't think that it is as a result of the rot in the educational sector or a question of the competencies of the occupants, it's just that there are no jobs. Also, the person running the business may just feel that it adds to the ego of the business to have such qualified people in such positions."
For Mrs. Bunmi Etuk-Iren, Chief Lecturer, Mathematics and Statistics, Federal College of Education (Technical), Lagos, "people further their education to the PhD level because they feel it will help them get better jobs, but there are no jobs.
"People who are educated to that level should be able to start something of their own. That is where education comes in; the issue of entrepreneurship should be taught from the elementary levels of education. That's why the Japanese are different; they teach their kids to be productive from the onset."
On his part, Captain David Idiye, a retired teacher, said there's nothing wrong with a PhD holder taking up a job as a truck driver, noting that it's a matter of choice.
He, however, opined that this incidence is fallout of government's insensitivity in providing enabling environment for private enterprises to thrive.
"There's nothing extraordinary for a PhD holder taking up a truck driving job, but if you are an intellectual, you will be shocked. Howbeit, this scenario is not a good example for the younger generation. If a young boy sees a PhD holder driving truck, he will be discouraged from going to school because what comes to his mind is - what's the essence of going to school when there are no jobs after graduation."
On the way forward, Idiye opined that the over reliance on oil continues to spell doom for the country. He urged government to encourage agriculture as it is the backbone of every successful nation.
"Students can be trained on how to engage in cassava, cocoyam and potato plantation, rearing of rabbits, fishes, pigs, and even mushrooms. When this is done, you would have successfully empowered and established a self dependent youth society who will further create jobs in the country."