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Monday, September 15, 2014

How I Overcame Unemployment In Nigeria

How to tackle challenges in life

I got a deep impression in my heart to share this story of how I overcame unemployment to inspire anyone passing through the challenge of securing means of livelihood. This is my story: 

In 2008, I graduated from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, also known as UNIZIK, with high hope of carving a niche for myself in wider society no matter what it took. Between 2009 and 2010, I did my compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme in Ekiti State. And the thought of what would be my lot in the Labour Market… sorry Favour Market… became so strong during this period. 

My one year teaching experience as a corps member in Amoye Senior Grammer School, Ikere-Ekiti, was an eye opener. It gave me the first real taste of what a career life looked like. As an English Language teacher, I had to prepare my lessons, did the actual teaching, conducted exams and mediated class conflicts. I really cherished every moment I had there.

At the end of my service year, I was given a certificate of honour (a Commendation Letter) recognizing my contribution during the programme. To my greatest surprise, the then Governor of Ekiti State requested to see me in his office and subsequently offered me an automatic appointment in the State’s Civil Service. I felt like I was on cloud 9 as events occurred in quick succession: I was given an honorarium, automatic job, and other fringe benefits. Many things flashed through my ‘bamboozled’ mind. :)

Nigerian youth corps members
Making a speech during corps members sensitisation visit

Incidentally, this joy was short-lived. I went home after my service year to see my parents and share with them my new found fortune. When I came back from my travel, I was stunned to hear that the incumbent governor had been impeached. The feeling of shock stemmed from the fact that the state’s Civil Service Commission might choose to overlook the pledge made by the former Governor since the incoming administration knew nothing about it. That indeed turned out to be the case.

After several calls at Ekiti State Civil Service Commission, I was told to exercise patience for them to effect the directive already given for my employment. I waited for the job for nine good months, yet it ended in disappointment. It dawned on me then that my time there was up.

Why am I sharing this story? There's someone out there who needs to be encouraged in the face of hopelessness brought about by joblessness. I left Ekiti in 2010 for Lagos and decided not to return. The ‘prospect’ of being without a steady stream of income stared me on the face, but thank God I chose not to be a victim of my circumstance.

Having found myself in this situation, I resolved not to let what I read in school, Mass Communication, hinder me from trying other things. It is quite disturbing to hear the number of years some people have stayed without working: 5 years, 10 years or even more. Little wonder incidences of criminality in society is prevalent. If they refused to employ you, employ yourself! Not saying this to spite anybody, but it is better to be a groundnut seller than to be idle and waste valuable talents.

Back to my story, I settled down in Lagos after my 'escape' from the Ekiti imbroglio, thinking nothing but survival. I distributed my CVs online hoping to get a call someday, but it never materialized. For more than 2 years, nobody asked "O boy, what do you have in your CV", even with my 2.1 GPA brazenly inscribed on it. Sometimes I asked myself ‘What did I do wrong?’ ‘Was I not qualified enough?’; funny questions. :)

So I began to strategise on how to break even with my artistic ability while waiting for the "Big thing" . I drew and took my samples to people whom I felt loved artworks; interested ones would call and pay me to draw them. That was how I came about Wonder Arts. With this I didn't worry about  where my next meal would come from.

In the cause of my 'exhibitions', many realized my talents. Just as the Scripture says, “The gift of a man makes way for him”, my artistic adventure paved way for me to meet Bishop David Oyedepo and former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; got ‘parcels’ from the CEO of First Bank Nigeria, Mr. Stephen Onasanya, Dr Cosmas Maduka, Chairman/CEO Coscharis Group of Companies and a host of others - I won't tell you how much they gave me :) This wouldn't have happened if I was just waiting at home for a white-collar job. See more photos after the cut...

Mr Babatunde Fashola receiving his pencil drawing from a Nigerian youth, Obinna Onyenali
Making a presentation to former Lagos State Governor Fashola

Nigerian actress Omotola's realistic pencil drawing
Omotola's pencil portrait

CEO of First Bank Nigeria Stephen Onasanya's realistic pencil drawing
Portrait of Mr. Onasanya, CEO of First Bank Nigeria

As these events unfolded, I was still bent on securing a job that would help me express my passion for writing and communication. Shortly after, the opportunity showed up. I got a 3 months internship opening in one of the agencies in Lagos to work as a Public Relations Officer (PRO), at the end of which I was offered the job on a permanent basis.

The major challenge of many today is that they are looking for fast money, fast life, ‘already-made’ jobs, husbands, wives, etc. No one wants to take the pain of climbing patiently the ladder of success, knowing quite well that life is in stages and men are in sizes. With all sense of humility, I must admit that the experience I had in my quest to secure a job after graduation toughened me; from my disappointment in Ekiti to my appointment in Lagos is a tale that can fill a book. This has also given me the credibility to inspire others, who might be facing similar challenge. With the grace of God, persistence, patience and sheer hard-work, every challenge is surmountable.

I haven’t yet arrived, still a road under construction. We will all get there! 

Feel free to drop a comment on how we can curb the menace of unemployment in the country.


  1. It is essential for our unemployed graduates to read this so as to find inspiration from within... Well said

  2. Replies
    1. Yes my brother. By the grace of God, we will get there, where the menace of unemployment in the country would finally become a history.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for taking your time to read it, I'm happy it inspired you.

  4. Really inspirational.. Kudos bro

  5. Obinna, I read through the whole story and it really an encouragement and advice to pursue ones' goal no matter what the economy of Nigeria says...I 'm encouraged. Thanks

  6. Mr Obi................ Can we talk on wats app? My no 08038186786

  7. Hi Obinna

    What a story. I was indeed inspired. You Overcame your situation with a lot of determination and commitment to your dreams. Thanks for sharing. Take care

    1. My pleasure, Ike. I'm happy to know the story inspired you. Stay blessed.

  8. I never wanted to reveal my identity,but on second thought.This is inspiring,thanks for sharing..

  9. Hi John,
    I really appreciate your comment and I'm elated to know that you found this inspiring. Best regards.