A Public Letter to Nigerian Parents by an anonymous writer has recently been making the rounds again. It is just as relevant today as it was when it was first published. Parents and any caring adult should read this and ponder on the content.
Friends, Let me add the benefit of my time as a student and then resident in the UK – and I live in Lagos now. The first thing that I discovered about UK-born, white, English undergraduates was that all of them did holiday or weekend job to support themselves – including the children of millionaires amongst them. It is the norm over there – regardless of how wealthy their parents are. And I soon discovered that virtually all other foreign students did the same – the exception being those of us status-conscious Nigerians.
Nigerian Love Flying In Style
I also watched Richard Branson (owner of Virgin Airline)speaking on the Biography Channel and, to my amazement, he said that his young children travel in the economy class -even when the parents (he and his wife) are in upper class. Richard Branson is a billionaire in Pound Sterling. A quick survey would show you that only children from Nigeria fly business or upper class to commence their studies in the UK. No other foreign students do this.
There is no aircraft attached to the office of the prime minister in the UK – he travels on BA. And the same goes for the Royals. The Queen does not have an aircraft for her exclusive use. These practices simply become the culture which the next generation carries forward.
Have you seen the car that Kate Middleton (the lady soon to marry Prince William) drives? VW Golf or something close to it. But there’s one core difference between them and us (generally speaking). They (even the billionaires among them) work for their money, we steal ours!
Value of Hardwork
If we want our children to bring about the desired change we have been praying for on behalf of our dear country, then please, please let’s begin now and teach them to work hard so they can stand alone and most importantly be content, and not having to “steal”, which seem to be the norm these days. “30 is the new 18”, which seem to be the new age for testing out the world in Nigeria now.
That seems to be an unspoken but widely accepted mindset among the last 2 generations of parents in Nigeria. At age 18 years, a typical young adult in the UK leaves the clutches of his/her parents for the University, chances are, that’s the last time those parents will ever play “landlord” to their son or daughter except of course the occasional home visits during the academic year.
At 21 years and above or below, the now fully grown and independent-minded adult graduates from University searches for employment, gets a job (could be in another city from the parents) and shares a flat with other young people on a journey into becoming fully-fledged adults. I can hear the echo of parents saying, well, that is because the UK economy is thriving, safe, well structured and jobs are everywhere? I beg to differ and I ask that you kindly hear me out.
Overindulgence as a Nigerian Trait
As a UK trained Recruitment Consultant, I have been practising for the past 10 years in Nigeria. I have a broad range of experience from recruiting new graduates to executive director level of large corporations. In addition, I talk from the point of view of someone with relatively privileged upbringing. I was driven to school every day, had my clothes washed for me, was barred from taking any part-time job during my A-levels so that I could concentrate on studying for my exams. However, I got the opportunity to live away from my parents from the age of 18 and the only time I came back home to stay was for 3 months ever summer before I got married!
Am I saying that every parent should wash their hands off their children at age 18? No, not at all, in fact, I enjoyed the savings that I made from living on and off at my parent’s house in London. This is indeed that is the primary reason for my being able to buy myself a 3 bedroom flat in London at age 25 with absolutely no direct financial help from my parents! For me, pocket money stopped at age 22.
However, today we have Nigerian children who have never worked for five minutes in their lives insisting on flying only first or business class. They are carrying the latest Louis Vuitton ensemble, Victoria ’s Secret underwear and wearing Jimmy Choo’s; fully paid for by their loving parents.
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I often get calls from anxious parents, asking me to assist with getting a job for their son who graduated 2 years ago and is still looking for a job. Oh really! where exactly is this child?. I am yet to get a satisfactory answer when I ask why it is mum or dad making this call. However, between you and I, chances are that big boy is cruising around Lagos with a babe dressed to the nines. It is likely that the car he is driving is his dad’s spanking new SUV, with enough “pocket money” to put your salary to shame.
It is not at all strange to have a 28-year-old who has NEVER worked a day in his or her life to be earning a six-figure salary; from parents for doing absolutely nothing. I see them in my office once in a while. Or a 26 years old with absolutely no skills to sell, apart from a shiny CV, written by his dad’s secretary in the office.
Of course, he has a driver at his beck and call and he is driven to the job interview. After we have a fairly decent conversation, I ask him what salary he is looking to earn? He answers with N250,000.00 per month. Oh, why do you think you should be earning that much on your first job? Well, because my current pocket money is N200,000 and I feel that an employer should be able to pay me more than my parents.
I try very hard to compose myself, over parenting is, in my opinion, the greatest evil handicapping the Nigerian youth. It is at the root of our national malaise.
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We have a youth population of tens of millions of who are being “breastfed and diapered” well into their 30s. While the examples I have given above are from parents of considerable affluence; you can see similar patterns from Abeokuta to Adamawa and across all classes.
Wake up, mum! Wake up, dad! You are practically loving your children to death; No wonder corruption continues to thrive.
Many young people now expect something for nothing; as if it were a birthright. I want to encourage you to send your young men and women; actually anyone over 20 can hardly be called a child; out into the world. You might want to consider reducing or stopping the pocket money to encourage them to think, explore and strive. Let them know that it is possible for them to succeed without your “help”.
Take a moment to think back to your own time as a young man or woman. If someone had kept spoon feeding you, would you be where you are today? No tree grows well under another tree, children that are not exposed to challenges, don’t do well.
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That is why you see adults complaining that their parents didn’t buy clothes for them this Christmas and when you ask him or her, how old they are; you might be shocked to hear that they are over 30. But you see, it is because of the challenges we faced in our youth, that we are what we are today. A lot of parents are unknowingly destroying their children’s tomorrow with this syndrome of “my children will not suffer”.
I learnt the children of a certain rich Nigerian who has (billions) monies in his custody, still, go about with security escort. They are on drugs, several times because of the drug, they collapse in public places. The escort will quickly pack them and off they go, what a life. No one wants to marry them.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.- Henry Ford. Hard work does not kill, everything in Nigeria is going down, including family settings. It is time to cook our children, preparing them for tomorrow. We are approaching the season in Nigeria where only the RUGGED, will survive. How will your ward fare?
If the present generation of Nigerian pilots retire, will you fly a plane flown by a young Nigerian pilot; If they were trained in Nigeria? People now have first class, who cannot spell GRADUATE or read an article without a bomb blast! Which Way Nigeria!, Which Way Nigerians!! Is this how we will ALL sit and watch this country SINK?
[Read: The Silent Tragedy in Parenting]