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Nigerian Steve Jobs out there?

By on November 12, 2011

Let me start this article by saying that I am not one of those people who believe that the college or university drop outs stand a better chance of becoming successful in life. I think it is rather naïve to think that every drop out will end up becoming like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or (to use an example our young people will find easier to identify with) Whizz Kid.

I am sure if we closely scrutinize the lives of all the drop outs in the United States over the last 2 decades, we will not even dream of encouraging anyone to abandon his education prematurely. Besides, Fortune magazine recently came out with the results of a survey that concludes that

What I do know for certain is that the Nigerian society is not very conducive for a young man or woman to achieve his or her dreams. What people like Steve Jobs did was to follow where their passions led them. They saw clearly that their future did not lie in getting degrees. They knew they could make something out of their lives. But most of all, they were not afraid to launch themselves into the unknown because society did not discourage them.

I had been thinking of writing this article for sometime but I lacked the inspiration and motivation which every writer must have if what he is writing about must make sense to his readers. The motivation came back a few days ago. I was about to embark on a rather long journey using public transport. Normally, I prefer to be left alone with my thoughts during such journeys. Unfortunately (or fortunately as we will see later) I got to sit beside a young man who was determined to make me his boredom reliever for the rest of the journey.

After a few unsuccessful attempts to get me to start to do more than just answer his questions in monosyllables, he decided to do all the talking. I must confess that after a quarter of an hour, I was more engrossed in the conversation than he himself was when he started talking. This was a very intelligent young man with lots of wonderful ideas on how this country could become the envy of other countries all over the world. I found myself wishing someone could give him a chance to try out these ideas. At the end of our journey, this man told me that he had been unemployed for quite sometime and all attempts at securing a job had proved unsuccessful. I thought to myself, what a waste of talent?

So I got inspired and here I am. What if Steve Jobs was born in Nigeria?

To start with, Steve Jobs was an unwanted child. Luckily for the world, his parents put him up for adoption instead of aborting him. Despite being against the laws of the land, it is very very easy to abort children in this blessed country of ours. So maybe our Steve Jobs never made it into the world. But then again, maybe he did. What next?

Paul Jobs, Steve’s foster father was a machinist for a company that made lasers. He taught his son the basics of electronics at a very young age. He also got him interested in working with his hands and thus ignited the passion which will later result in some amazing products. How many Nigerian parents want their children to learn some of these basic skills? Everyone wants his child to get a white collared job. That is where the money is. How many white collar jobs are available in our society?  How many graduates of  secondary schools get into universities? How many youth corpers eventually get white collared jobs. The statistics are flabbergasting. One wonders what happens to all the left overs? Are they condemned to unemployment for the rest of their lives or is their something else they could have done if they had been properly directed when they were young?

While in high school, Steve  attended after school lectures at the HP company in California. He was later hired there as a summer employee. How many young Nigerian students get to work in companies where they could develop their passions? We all know the amount of politicking that goes into getting university and polytechnic students into the few industrial training positions available in major companies. The students themselves are more interested in the money they will be paid than in learning anything. Summer jobs? Ha ha. Our students use their holidays to grow fat. Why will any sane person want to work during the holidays when he has been studying all year?

Steve later got a job as a technician at Atari. I wont dwell much on this topic. It is enough to know that many Nigerians who have gone overseas to get Masters degree have come back and still not been able to get jobs. Where are the drop outs from Nigerian schools. Apart from Whizz kid and a few of our footballers, I guess the rest are in the cyber cafes doing what they know best and soiling the image of the country.

Together with Steve Wozniak, Mike Markkula and others – Jobs designed, developed, and marketed one of the first commercially successful lines of personal computers. If he was in Nigeria, would he even have gone past the design stage? I work in a private technical school and everyday I meet bright young people who are very good working with their hands. However, I already know that, like all the students before them, they are going to be employed by a company and spend the rest of their lives moving from one job to another as long as they get better salary offers. Where is the innovation going to end up? The few ideas they ever get to develop will be put inside the shelf once their employers start demanding that they meet output targets? Our Nigerian version of Steve Jobs is probably trying to fix the spoilt valves of a conveyor belt in some remote factory somewhere.

In summary, the possibilities offered to our young people are just too little. Every one should be given the opportunity to discover his potentials and take them to the highest levels. I am not usually a supporter of the “Government should solve all our problems” argument but this is one problem that cannot be solved by individuals alone. There is need for a holistic solution. I shudder each time I think of the large population of young Nigerians who are being forced to make a living for themselves on the streets. The future is not only bleak. It is terrifying.


  1. Emmanuel Idoko Achile

    October 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Steve Jobs would have been a level 4 civil servant

    • Matthew Whingan

      November 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      May be a radionic in Alaba or Onisha markets.

  2. Seyi

    October 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    +1 to that  Emamanuel. Lol

  3. Xrosskris

    October 29, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    he will probably have a shattered dream! Nigeria a country where talented people are render useless. It is not all about education, the fact is that  the westerners are not even studios like Nigerian but they re doing best, Nigerian put all their lives on education , pursuing one degree and others with big vocabulary, but we end and achieve nothing. heheheheh funny country with funny people, funny government.other countries , you will find 17yrs old a millionairess because the environment encourage and open doors for opportunities. In Nigeria its hatred and jealous and  deprive common man to excel. 40yrs old Nigerian man still not able to discovered his root, worst country with poor human capacity building.