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Misconceptions surrounding white-collar jobs, self-reliance, and deterioration of our values, by Yusuf Alhaji Lawan


Misconceptions surrounding white-collar jobs, self-reliance, and deterioration of our values, by Yusuf Alhaji Lawan

There was a day I paid a courtesy visit to a renown personality during a feast, while he was attending to me, three people came in, he excused me and attended to them. Shortly after, he returned. After apologies, he explained that one of the three authored a book “Independent Slavery” and brought the document for input ahead of publication.

I was flabbergasted at the title of the book and kept pondering on the content. Why would one be independent and voluntarily choose to be a slave? What are the joys of slavery that can make one opt for it? What are the benefits derivable; physical, psychological or otherwise from slavery worth accepting? Is the slavery practiced based on sheer ignorance? These questions and many more made me reflect so much on life and its dynamic nature, exploring the “uniqueness hypothesis” of humans.

Before the coming of colonial masters, our societies had distinct ways of life, order of administration, educational systems and rich cultural heritage that fit us as a people with relation to our environment, pattern of life and other characteristics. When they came, conquered us, imposed their ideas and lifestyles on us, influencing us to think and behave like them aimed at creating their ideals in us. There have been good things to learn from them, but that does not mean we abandon our values hundred percent.

After independence, we had a level of freedom to operate, our founding fathers sacrificed a lot to institutionalise indigenous system to help us maintain our identity. Despite, the ability to make a paradigm shift from what we were trained on, to what will benefit us more becomes a tug of war.

Prior to colonialism, there was nothing like civil service. People engaged in manufacturing, mining, extraction, construction and rendering of services to earn a living. Barter trade was the order of the day before the introduction of money. Some of our parents, grandparents who did not have the opportunity of passing through formal systems of education also lived a happy life as independent people.

All of a sudden, our system of life changed. We were made to understand that one can go through formal system of education and be employed, after retirement there would be pensions. Then, the population size was minimal compared to now, jobs were readily available waiting for graduands. We all keyed into the system and it worked, still working for us to an extent.

Now, everything has turned otherwise. Paid employments are not readily available for all. Government cannot employ every eligible job seeker. Private sector is supposed to be the driving force of the economy, but conducive atmosphere is not created for its optimum participation, hence, majority of the populace relying on government for paid employment. It’s a fact that the expectation cannot be met considering the reality of our nation.

Then, how do we survive if paid employments are not forthcoming? Is it not time for our liberation from mental slavery? Isn’t this the time to expand our horizon, think out of the box and start to generate our individual and collective jobs? Why are we glued to white collar jobs, higher paid jobs, despite the change of time and situation of life? In recent times, several aspects of our societal structure have been questioned, especially concerning misconceptions about white-collar jobs, neglect of self-reliance by the educated youths, and the gradual shift in our value system.

This doesn’t mean we should all resign and go back to the lives of our parents, grandparents, or that no one should apply for a paid employment. However, it’s a wake-up call to the new generation to study courses they can use to be employers of labour or at least, generate their employments from within. Those that have graduated, struggling in the labour market, should embrace the challenge of self reliance. Other employees who enjoy average payment should think of incorporating side hustles as approved in civil service to meet up with financial responsibilities, not craving for higher paid jobs. This discussion becomes necessary considering the pains salary earners endure, living in great difficulty and disgrace. There is no record available of an employee who became rich with salary no matter how fat it may be.

It’s unfortunate that we fail to realize this reality. Unemployed are working hard to be hired. The employed are always eyeing higher paid jobs. This made some not to derive pleasure in their existing jobs, some fell into the hands of fraudsters for buying and replacing jobs. These days, job racketeering has taken centre stage as if it’s not a crime in the laws of the land, generating legal cases while others having to forfeit huge sums.

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I read a press statement and watched a press conference recently organized by Nigeria Police Force in Kano about an ugly incident that led to the manslaughter of an innocent by a supposedly friend. The victim was said to be a staff of Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company Kano. The sum of three million Naira was collected on the pretext of getting him a higher paid job. When the accused squandered the money and couldn’t fulfill the agreement or repay back, he set a trap, lured the victim to a location without the knowledge of anyone, and perpetrated the heinous act alongside collaborators.

Our people have an illusion that paid employment represents prestige and makes people have means of living in an easy way. This makes some trade with appointment letters like a commodity and are sold to the highest bidder. However, those monies raised for purchase of appointments are enough to be capital and “cetris paribus”, the tendency of making it in business is more than elsewhere especially to people who are ready for business life.

I watched a program on a television channel and a finance expert was interviewed, making comparison between paid and self employments. He cited an example saying it’s like having 10 oranges thrown out to 100 people, the tendency that some would not get any is higher, that represents paid employment, meaning that less than 10% makes it to financial freedom. On the other hand, he said when 100 oranges are thrown out to 10 people, the tendency that each will get a number at least one, exist. That’s for self employment. That means an average of 90% of business people make it to financial freedom in life.

One of the significant benefits of self-reliant jobs is the autonomy they offer. Self-reliant individuals have the freedom to choose the projects they take on, set their own schedules, and make decisions without constraints that come with a traditional workplace hierarchy.

Self-reliant jobs often provide a platform for individuals to express their creativity and pursue their passions, which may not always be possible in a corporate setting. This can lead to higher job satisfaction and overall happiness. Self-reliance can challenge individuals to develop wide range of skills, such as; time management, problem-solving, and resourcefulness. This broad skill set can benefit individuals both personally and professionally and make them more adaptable in a rapidly changing job market.

Unlike paid employment, self-reliant jobs allow individuals to have a more flexible lifestyle. They can choose when, where, and how they work, enabling them to prioritise their personal commitments and better manage their work-life balance. While there may be some risks associated with self-reliant jobs, they often present greater potential for higher earnings compared to traditional employment. The absence of a salary cap allows individuals to pursue multiple revenue streams and take on as much work as they can handle. Self-reliance can foster personal growth, as individuals learn to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship, self-promotion, and networking. This experience can also boost self-confidence and resilience.

The sense of ownership and pride that comes with being self-reliant can be highly rewarding. As individuals work towards building their own businesses or brands, they can take pride in their accomplishments and the impact they have on their clients or customers. It is important to note, however, that self-reliant jobs come with their own set of challenges, such as financial instability, the need for self-discipline, and lack of employer-provided benefits. These factors should be considered when weighing the advantages of self-reliant jobs over paid employments.

Part of the challenges of self-reliant jobs include:

1. Financial instability: Without the guarantee of a regular paycheck, income can be unpredictable and inconsistent, especially in the early stages of building a business or client base. This may require careful budgeting and planning to manage finances effectively.

2. Lack of Auxiliary Benefits: Unlike traditional employment, self-reliant jobs typically do not offer employer-provided benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, or paid time off. Individuals must arrange these benefits on their own, which can be costly and time-consuming.

3. Effective time management: This is also crucial for those engaged in self-reliance. Balancing multiple projects and clients while maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be challenging. Additionally, some individuals may struggle with productivity and procrastination in the absence of a structured work environment. Self-reliant individuals are responsible for every aspect of their work including; marketing, accounting, customer service, and administrative tasks. Juggling these various responsibilities can be overwhelming and may require diverse skill set.

4. Uncertainty and Risk: Self-reliant jobs often involve a degree of uncertainty and risk. Businesses may fail, clients may be unreliable, or market conditions may change rapidly. This unpredictability can lead to stress and anxiety for those engaged in self-reliant jobs.

5. Networking and Building a Client Base: Success in self-reliant jobs often hinges on an individual’s ability to network and build a solid client base. For some, the constant need to self-promote and seek out new opportunities can be exhausting and challenging.

6. Loneliness: Working independently can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. The absence of co-workers and the camaraderie of traditional work environment can be difficult for those who thrive on social interaction and collaboration.

7. Work-Life Balance: Achieving a healthy work-life balance can be particularly challenging for those engaged in self-reliance jobs. The pressure to succeed, combined with the absence of clear boundaries between work and personal life, can lead to burnout and difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family.

While these challenges can be significant, many self-reliant individuals find that the benefits of autonomy, flexibility, and personal fulfillment outweigh the drawbacks. It is crucial for those considering self-reliant jobs to carefully weigh these factors and develop strategies to overcome potential obstacles.

In conclusion, it is high time we come back to our senses and _bell the cat_ the earlier the better. Getting out of independent slavery starts now, no better time than now. A saying goes that the journey that is compulsory, preparations for it is of most worth.

Yusuf Alhaji Lawan writes from Hausawa Asibiti Ward, Potiskum Yobe State. The writer can be reached via nasidi30@gmail.com.

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