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Paper qualification: The bane of Nigerian’s development


There is an endless list of which their permissive occurrence the progress and development of the nation Nigeria shall remain a mirage. Corruption, cronyism, sectarianism, religious extremism, power outage, nepotism, biting unemployment, terrorism, et ceteral, are among the prominent topical issues that seems to have come to stay with us, almost comfortably. But at the background and quite inconspicuous is the practice of demanding for job qualification based on paper (curriculum vitae) at the expense of evaluation of competence and skill. The effect of this anomaly may look subliminal but nevertheless it lies at the root of what plagues this ailing nation. It engenders examination malpractice in our schools; it helps to package mediocrity in our work places; owing to paper qualification, the elimination to all the other national debilitating vises aforementioned here is almost an impossible mission.

I have had to ask, why would any upcoming white collar job seeker had to give self to diligent study when the person knows that all it takes for any plum job to be secured at the end of the day is an ordinary paper called “certificate”? Simply put, just let money exchange hands and pronto, the thing becomes yours and thus the highly sought criteria is bestowed upon the bearer, albeit unworthily. The experience of this writer while he sojourned in Japan will shock you. Both in white and blue collar job sphere in Japan, competence and ability is precisely what they reckon with.

Being a non-English speaking country, language barrier becomes real for foreigners seeking greener pastures in the land. So within the space of 3 months, this writer had a crash language study enough to engage in a daily conversation in Japanese. Then search for job, begun. “Sumimasen, shigoto arimaska?” Hello, please is job available? Where the response is in affirmative, it is not heard of or known throughout the country that you will be required to present your qualification in paper form. My personal findings also show that this practice is not only due to foreigners, it also applies to the citizens, invariably.


A friend has gone in search of job opportunity in Tokyo back in 1992. The first company he visited manufactures vehicle spare parts (kuruma buyin kaishan) had agreed to employ him, and after taking his measurements (and formally inducted him) discharged him but asked him to start work the next day. Basking in the euphoria of the employment that seem to have come to on a platter of gold, made his way home. Few meters away from where he had left, he sighted another company signboard. This other one is into aeroplane parts production. Something in him constrained him to give it a try. So he detoured, walked in. “Konichuwa,” Hello, good afternoon, he saluted. After he successfully introduced himself, he was shown a set up machine, and asked, “Kore wa degimasu ka? Can you operate this? He was asked…that is our C.V demand equivalent. “Hai, degimasu.” Yeah, I can. He enthusiastically answered. “Ja, dozo onegai shimasu.” Alright, please go ahead. That was how this guy, who had been wallowing and wasting joblessly in Nigeria, clinched a US$10 per hour job in Japan. The greedy man, oh sorry I mean the hardworking Nigerian did not hesitate to accept the 2hour overtime offer extended to him to cover 10 hours daily. I am aware you are already busy with the calculations. Take your time to do enough of that. But very painfully, this is a tip of the iceberg of what Nigeria is losing at the altar of sheer ignorance and elevation of mediocrity, all embedded in paper qualification and our political leaders are sleeping on it while the citizens are relishing it, too.

If you have not sat for any examination organized under the auspices of the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) or General Certificate of Education (GCE) or The National Examination Council (NECO) particularly in Nigeria, then you really don’t have sufficient reasons to cry for the future of Nigeria. Yes, you will not have a full grasp of the mess we are in. I have had to experience it two consecutive times and in each of those periods, I practically wept bitterly for Nigeria. (This is not an exaggeration please; the invigilator had to ask me if I lost someone in one of the times.) Some products of this godless system in Nigeria – the graduates, when they finally exit our tertiary institutions, as naive as they may be, repose some amount of confidence in that paper they flaunt and call certificate. Thus they will like to jet out of Nigeria with the hope that they can secure a good job in any Western country. Hello! Any paper qualification emanating from Nigeria, in the eyes of the employers yonder is considered an exhibit – not as valuable as the toilet paper in their convenience rooms. Apparently, you will not like them to employ an uneducated graduate only to jeopardize their modus operandi, I guess not.

Editorial of the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday 21/05/2010 entitled “Do We Need More or Better Universities” deserves to be repeated. The subject matter is cogently analysed and with touching emphasis, the innovative and research centers which our tertiary institutions is supposed to function as is pungently addressed. Also, the creative functions and scope of development are the areas which are supposed to feature. Enough of this rigmarole we have been undergoing since ages paste. The reading culture even among the students in Nigeria is abysmally poor. It is even worse among the out-of-school adults. Without prejudice to the all encompassing dividends being enjoyed in the entertainment sector, but if the government must do something to encourage, highlight, inspire and instill optimal reading habit among her citizenry, then certain television programs such as the unremitting soap operas (Zee World and Telemondo of this world) has to be strictly regulated. I have witnessed a secondary school teacher whose communication in English language is better left in God’s hands, glued her face to the television screen, watching Zee World episode during school hours. 

In conclusion, it may be true that our educational system is the very first victim of paper qualification, but the country’s socio-economic fate hangs in desolation upon such killer practice. Truth is, the serious minded students who are disposed to subject themselves to diligent and thorough learning process, abound. But the realization of their proper desire is stymied by the poor funding for education in Nigeria by the government. Fast forward to the repercussions of this on the socio-economic fiber, Nigerians whose potentials and competence are steadily frustrated in Nigeria are known to often thrive outside Nigeria when they find opportunity to migrate.

Brain drain! The remnants in Nigeria are left in the lunch because although they may have all it takes skillfully, however lacking the enabling environment and or the money to buy paper qualification is abandoned to their fate and redundant. Let the government see to it that our education sector is well funded. And employers should henceforth desist from judging the efficiency level of prospective employees upon the purported claims as printed on the resumes on interview day prior employment.
Orajiaku, a freelance journalist and social activist, wrote from Lagos


In this article:
Steve Obum Orajiaku
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