Life has become quite a predictable path for many nowadays. It starts at birth, progresses through early education up till university and then plunges into the labor market. A number of people get corporate jobs while others tow the entrepreneurial line. We start to gradually ascend the corporate ladder from the lowest rungs. The rat race sucks us in so deep that we do not realize that all our desires in life are now directed at getting to the top of the ladder. Nothing else matters. Is there really anything wrong with that? Maybe not. In recent times, a few questions have come to the fore: “Is this all there is to you?” “Are you all you can be right now?” “Is there more to you than what you do (as a job)?” “Does your innate capability exceed your current displayed ability?”
It is evident that corporate/formal jobs may end up tailoring your career to fit a particular path without fully exploiting your innate abilities. The truth though is that the capitalist world we live in was strictly designed to employ resources to maximize profit for the owners…. nothing more. While people get all buried in work with grandiose desires to rise to the top, they need to realize that their skills and capabilities are only utilized while they fulfil their organizational goals of profit maximization. For example, a foreman at a construction firm who is also a skilled saxophonist is not likely to be able to use his musical skill to enhance his company’s profit. This always holds true except in a rare case in which his music is used to boost the productivity of his peers.
Similarly, a basketball enthusiast who works as a bank manager will not use his sport skill to enhance the bank’s bottom-line except perhaps at the State or National Banker’s Games where a win may boost the bank’s brand.
After a while, the basketballer’s mind becomes filled with thoughts of what could have been- “Ah! I used to play basketball a lot”. He watches helplessly as the rat race takes over at the detriment of all his inbuilt skills, talents and capabilities. While he might enjoy tremendous career success and rapid promotion, somewhere in him lies untapped and unexpressed potential.
This is the dilemma which many young people find themselves in today. They work at full time jobs that offer considerable career growth and pay the bills to the detriment of the expression of their full potential.
What other options of self-expression are available to people considering the demanding nature of their regular jobs?
The most common option is for such is to take advantage of annual vacation. Let me ask – How do you spend your vacation? Or hol’ up! Do you even take vacation? The few days or weeks away from work offer an excellent opportunity to work on your other skills and capabilities. The saxophonist may want to spend days rehearsing with an ad hoc band or even play with an existing band. This might provide him an opportunity to meet others who share his musical interests. Many interesting collaborations have been birthed at “strange” places. The basketballer may find herself providing coaching assistance to young ones at a stadium or nearby sports facility. One can only wonder how many sports academies are ‘locked up’ in the hearts of many corporate executives whose lives only revolve around their formal job.
What happens to those who rarely get time off work all year round? While it is not healthy for individuals to work without sufficient rest, the reality suggests that this is not uncommon. After some time, diminishing returns set in, morale wanes and such an individual ends up in the coping zone.
What to do? Consider maximizing public/bank holidays and weekends. A typical example is that of a medical doctor who is IT savvy but whose time is taken up at the hospital attending to patients while preparing for career examinations by the side. There are quite a lot of routine processes within hospitals that are in dire need of automation. As a subject matter expert, the doctor is in the best position to solve such problems. Any spare time could be used by the doctor to build applications that would help optimize medical processes and make work easier. As with most ventures, the most important part is taking the first step. Generally, one should focus on using every free time to hone skills that are not necessarily used on your job.
The options listed are by no means exhaustive. We must consciously ensure that we are living our lives to the fullest, using all our capabilities to positively impact our world. A wise man once noted “The graveyard is the richest place on the surface of the earth because there you will see the books that were not published, ideas that were not harnessed, songs that were not sung, and drama pieces that were never acted”. Maximize your capabilities and be all you can be!
Information is power… a commonly referenced phrase. The world, at large is said to be in the information age. Clearly, knowledge is king in these digital times. An individual’s wealth of information and knowledge can very well distinguish him or her. Where it remains difficult to access knowledge, the bane of societal transactions results… information asymmetry. Information, in today’s world, must be available, accessible, verifiable and reliable.
Every now and then, one hears this question thrown to the public fore – “How do I join a political party in Nigeria?” “What’s the process to follow?” Naturally, when people require such information nowadays, a Google search does the trick, yielding as many results as possible, meeting the information need. However, a quick Google search for the process of joining a political party in Nigeria yields little or no information. Link to link, page to page, there is hardly a well laid out process for joining. So, for the politically minded Nigerian youth, interested in getting involved at the minimal level of party membership, information asymmetry is the first bottleneck.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) website, there are currently 25 registered political parties in Nigeria. 7 of these have listed websites, but only 2 are functional at the moment – PDP and ACN. Websites have become a basic and primary information channel. The PDP website alone includes a page on ‘How to Join’, detailing eligibility for membership and steps to follow at Zone, State, Local Government and Ward levels. No other party website provides this information. In a country with up to 135 million connected GSM lines as at December 2012, such information ought to be widely spread and readily available online and perhaps on mobile devices. The inadequacy of reliable and clear information in this regard has resulted in people depending on ‘word of mouth’ as an alternative source of information on how to join a political party.
The generally accepted and verbally communicated process of joining a political party in Nigeria is as follows: Interested individuals are advised to visit the respective party headquarters at their Wards and seek the attention of the Ward Secretary (Each Local Government Area is subdivided into Wards for political purposes). The individual will fill a party registration form and provide supporting documents and payment as may be required by the party. Once registration is judged to be complete, a membership card will be processed and issued to the individual as confirmation. Then, the individual is referred to as a ‘card-carrying member’. Political parties typically hold weekly Ward meetings which members are expected to attend. A simple process, yet, requiring increased awareness and widespread documentation.
The least expectation is that each political party manages a functional website, publishing therein its national structure – a breakdown of Zones, States, Local Government Areas and Wards with contact details for party officials at each level. An individual who seeks to join a political party should be able to pick an internet enabled mobile phone, browse the website for the party of interest, navigate the national structure down to the Ward closest to him/her, copy details of the responsible party official, make an inquiry call and/or physical visit. Information should be at the public’s beck and call. So, while the PDP site provides initial information on ‘how to join’, it needs to incorporate information and contact details down to the Ward level. It currently lists PDP State Chairmen with few of their contact numbers but excludes details on LGA and Ward officials.
The Lagos State Government has been kind enough to publish via its website, the list of all Lagos State LGA’s, respective Wards and contact details of the Chairman and Vice Chairman – a ready-made template for each political party to adopt. The Oyo State Government website has a similar list of LGA’S within the State. Unfortunately, there is no breakdown of the Ward structure for each LGA, neither are contact details included.
Moreover, each political party should fully explore and execute the option of online registration for prospective party members. The Action Congress of Nigeria seems to be the trailblazer with this concept and may be testing it already via its Join ACN Today link.
In enhancing our growing democracy, information on political processes and requirements for partial or total involvement must become readily available to the average citizen. The ease and speed of accessing reliable information are key success factors to increasing and improving political involvement especially for Nigerian youth.