BEYOND BIAFRA: In Enugu State, young people look from education to enterprise

beyond biafra

by Victor Akhidenor

Nkechi Nwobodo looks glum right now and it’s for one simple reason: NYSC. More specifically, she’s unhappy with her call-up letter from the National Youth Service Corps.

“I’m not happy NYSC posted me to Plateau state,” she says.  “My parents own a shop in the state and that’s where we reside.”

She’d apparently been looking to NYSC as an opportunity to spend an extended period of time somewhere new. “I had wanted to be far away from home for once,” she elaborates. “But look at me going back to Plateau state for my youth service.”

Nwobodo, a graduate of Accounting at the Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT) in its temporary site in Nsukka, recalls her period of study in the institution with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.

“I didn’t enjoy my time in school,” she says. “I’m the quiet type but this school taught me how to hustle for everything. It was always one struggle or another. And if you don’t fight for things, nothing for you.”

“The lecturers were old and you could barely hear what they would say in class. Some of them shook so profusely you would have to pray they they shouldn’t take a tumble. It was drama each time lecture was on.”

The lover of music and dancing finally comes to life when she speaks on her future endeavours.

“I want to go into the business of selling food items like maize, beans, rice, and garri in a large scale,” she says. “I hope to open a big store for the business while also supplying companies and small businesses.”

Collins Chukwuma is a 200 Level Computer Engineering student of University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). In his spare time, he’s a dancer, a music producer, and a DJ (under the moniker: DJ See Gobe). With all of these, however, come a unique set of challenges.

“The number one personal challenge I am facing is my girlfriend,” he says, quick to go on to explain what he means.

“She’s from a poor home so I am supporting her university education,” he says. “In business, I need money to buy a mixer as well as a camera.”  And with his own schooling? “All is well. I just need money to make all my dreams come true.”

It is the wish of Ernest Chukwu to make the subject of Mathematics “learner friendly” in Nigeria. The final year student of one of the most dreaded subjects among many students in Nigeria will put that to bed pretty soon.

“Once I graduate from Enugu State College of Education Technical, I shall remove the fear many people have for Mathematics,” he says. “I will write books on the subject and simplify the way it is taught. I want people to know that Math is simple, easy, and fun to solve. This school has really helped me in understanding the subject and I am looking forward to graduating in 2017 because I can’t wait to start imparting the knowledge on people.”

Chidimma Ahamefule, a student of medicine and surgery in University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), is quick to explain that she’s camera shy.

“I don’t really like taking pictures because I feel awkward posing in front of someone with a camera,” she says. “I prefer people taking pictures without my consent because that way it will be more natural unlike the fake postures you see everywhere.”

One thing she isn’t shy about, however, is her ambition.

“I want to be a medical doctor and specialise in neurosurgery,” she says. “When someone is having ailments related to the heart and brain it causes me pain. I want to attend to such people myself in Nigeria. I want to save lives and also reduce expenditure on foreign medical trips.”

At the moment, however, she combines her studies with a different line of business.

“I’m working with my aunt at Relieve Market in Onitsha where she sells Indomie noodles wholesale,” she says. “It shouldn’t be all about medicine and surgery because I will need experience in business when I eventually open my clinic.”

In an interesting turn, her parents run a pharmacy and a clinic. She’s heard countless times that experience there would benefit her more than her work with noodles and cash. But it doesn’t matter, she says.

“I do stay with my parents sometimes but I prefer learning the business of my aunt.”

“But you know what parents are like most times. You should know”

She goes on to explain that it’s not an easy compromise. “But it will be worth it in the end.”

“I know it will.”

Beyond Biafra is YNaija’s citizenship series for the month of April. Find more entries in the series here.

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