Professional Certifications: Why Have Them?

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The National Youth Service Corps(NYSC) was formed as a means of promoting national integration. The scheme has not only served as a forum for national integration, but also as an avenue for some Nigerians to exploit innocent fresh graduates.

It is no longer news that the rate of unemployment in Nigeria is very high, and the government has not been doing enough to assuage this. There are few jobs available for graduates to take up after their compulsory one-year service to the nation in the NYSC scheme. Motivational speakers/career coaches have made things worse by advising young graduates to improve themselves and position themselves for gainful employment by obtaining professional certifications without telling them how to go about it. As good as their advice is, fresh graduates tend to take it the wrong way, and fall prey to companies offering several professional certifications. Many corps members in a bid to position themselves for gainful employment have paid thousands of Naira for such programs.

Wherever you are posted in Nigeria, many companies will be waiting for you to introduce courses like Health, Safety&Environment, Project Management, Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA), etc. These courses come at different prices usually starting from N10,000, and they are mostly concluded in a weekend or two; lectures and exams. You’d be given a certificate to show that you have participated. Aren’t certifications not about certificates? It is sad how corps members out of their desperation to be in a position to get a good job fall for it.

Before signing up for any professional certifications, aren’t there questions you should ask yourself? Of course there are several questions begging for answers. If you can’t answer 70% of those questions satisfactorily, you’d be better off feeding with your money or buying nice things for yourself. I will list just two of those questions below. These are the same questions Akin asked himself only after he had spent tens of thousands on a professional certification which turned out to be baseless. These are the same questions Femi has been asking himself after spending 6months without a job and without anyone commending him on his four professional certifications, with some potential employers having to ask him “which body offers this?”. You have a chance to answer those questions now and make the right decision before you get to where companies will brainwash you and coax you into signing up for courses they offer. Here are the two questions you should ponder on.

1. What kind of job do I want after now? Although it may be hard having a straight answer to this due to the kind of country we’ve found ourselves, but you should have a list of the kind of jobs you can do. Have a plan, it will help you do things right.

2. What kind of certifications are relevant to the jobs I can/want to do? For example, if you are looking at a career in taxation(Revenue boards of the Federal government and states, private tax companies), get certified by Chartered Institute of Taxation(CITN). Other examples are Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria(APCON), Chartered Institute of Personnel Management(CIPM), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria(ICAN), etc.

There are so many questions like I earlier mentioned, but if you are convinced with your answers to the two questions above, you may proceed in whatever you want to do.

I never said those safety courses are bad nor did I say project management is a scam. In fact, they are essential courses for Engineers. But if you have to do those courses, make sure the company certifying you are themselves certified. It happened in Uyo when two companies offering safety courses and Project management courses held their program in the same secondary school. I had friends on both sides, and they came back with the same story of their tutors calling the other company fake. Are we thinking alike? I think they are both fake and they know it. I know there will be some genuine ones around. Ask around and be sure before you let them take your hard-earned money in exchange for a printed paper they call certificate.

These people are so good at what they do that they can convince a doctor to take a course on taxation. They are not the worst of all as the NYSC has joined forces with NIM to convince lawyers, engineers, doctors, scientists, to take their examinations. It comes so cheap that everyone is encouraged to offer it. The certificate comes with the NIM logo on a side and NYSC on the other. What kind of professional body gives a real professional certificate with an irrelevant body’s logo on same? NIM is a registered and viable body, but the certificate they offer to corps members who offer their courses is not viable. Maybe I’m wrong, but ask everyone working now who has the NIM/NYSC certificate if it was one of the professional qualifications that got them the job. If you still doubt me, check out CITN, ICAN, APCON, CIPM’s certificates.

Nigeria is a country where everyone takes advantage of everybody. They know of your desperation to get professional certifications, hence your vulnerability. They have goods to sell and know you’d buy without asking questions because they will attack where you are weakest; you crave a good job after youth service and you heard professional certifications are the keys. Professional certifications don’t just fall on people’s lap, they sweat for it! You can’t just get yours in a weekend or two and expect it to be just what you need. I have never heard anyone fail those safety courses, those project management courses; they are just there for the taking.

I’m a man of few words, therefore I will stop here. I just hope I’ve been able to torch your path as you serve your nation in the NYSC scheme, or even you, as you search for your dream job. Think twice before you choose.

Follow me on twitter @ScotorJay
Facebook: facebook.com/naderibigbe
niyiaderibigbe@hotmail.com

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A LEO’s Speech

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I was just going through my archive and I saw a speech I wrote for a friend last year; thought you may like to take a look.

The Speech of LEO Kayode Olawale, Immediate Past President of Unilorin Campus Leo Club at the Investiture Program of LEO Bolade Niniola, President, 2011/2012 Lionistic Year

Ken Blanchard once said;”I absolutely believe in the power of tithing and giving back. My own experience about all the blessings I’ve had in my life is that the more I give away, the more that comes back. That is the way life works, and that is the way energy works” This were the words that inspired me to join this great club. I eventually found a platform to give back to the society. It was like joining a family you never had, and I vowed ever since to continue doing my best to help the less privileged.

I was however given more than I asked for when the baton of leadership of this club was passed to me. Although I saw it coming because of the system of hierarchy in the presidency of the club, but it was a great challenge to be charged with the responsibility of leading a generation of impact-making LEOs in helping the under-privileged in our society.

Bill Gates asked a question; “Is the rich world aware of how four billion of the six billion live? If we were aware, we would want to help out, we’d want to get involved.” Even if we are not rich under the world’s classification of ‘rich’, there are millions of people that we are better than. We can start making a difference by helping this set of people. In view of this, the LEO club under my tenure as president embarked on some projects, and we finished most if not all.

The good work has continued has the baton has been passed to an amiable,intelligent, change-driven young man in the person of Leo Bolade Niniola who has taken up the mantle of leadership and is being inducted today. I appreciate your cooperation while I was president, and I believe you’d give him much more. I also appreciate our friends that have always been there for us, as well as past LEOS(although, once a LEO, always a LEO). We love you all, and I hope you’d never stop being there for the club.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to lead you guys in using our Time, Talent, and Treasure to serve the less privileged. Thank you.

Jeans: World’s Most Accepted Clothing

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Dresses come and go as fashion trend changes, but jeans has proven over grosses of years that it will always be with us. Jeans is as ubiquitous as air; found everywhere, worn by almost all. Jeans erazed the fashion line between the rich and the poor. You don’t have to be rich or poor to wear a pair of jeans. Jeans is a clothing item that has become quintessential in our fashion, found in almost every wardrobe.

Jeans came to being in 1860 as the jeans worn by Giuseppe Garibaldi in May 1860 are regarded as the oldest jeans in the world,and they are preserved in the Museo Centrale del Risorgimento in Italy. Jeans, a.k.a. denim, was a fabric that originated in the Italian town of Genoa, and was used for sails because it was very sturdy. Because of its durability and resistance to wear, jeans started to be used to make clothing for peasants. The word “jeans” comes from the Italian word “genuense”, literally “of Genoa” and from “jean”: the local word used to denote corduroy. Genoa was famous for its cotton corduroy, called either jean or jeane. The jeans fabric from Genoa (at that time) was in fact very similar to corduroy, and the jeans were exported by sailors of Genoa throughout Europe. In the French city of Nimes, weavers tried to reproduce the fabric exactly, but without success. However, with experimentation, and through trial and error, they developed another twill fabric that became known as denim, literally “de Nimes”. Only at the end of the eighteenth century did jeans arrive in the United States. A lot of people had believed that the United States of America was where jeans came from.

Levi Strauss was a dry goods merchant selling blue jeans under the “Levi’s” brand to the mining communities of California in the 1850s. One of Strauss’ customers was Jacob Davis, a tailor who frequently purchased bolts of cloth from the Levi Strauss & Co. wholesale house. After one of Davis’ customers kept buying cloth to reinforce torn pants, he had an idea to use copper rivets to reinforce the points of stress, such as on the pocket corners and at the top of the button fly. Davis did not have the required money to purchase a patent, so he wrote to Strauss suggesting that they both go into business together. Strauss accepted Davis’ offer and the two men received U.S. Patent 139,121⁠, for an “Improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings,” on May 20, 1873.

After Levis’ jeans, there were other brands that went into production of jeans. Historic brands include Levi’s, Lee, and Wrangler. There are many types of jeans based on how they are sewn, cut, texture, or colour. They include; Denim overalls, bell bottom jeans, Stonewashed jeans, Daisy Duke, Acid wash jeans, Baggy gangster jeans, Distressed lowrise jeans, Nudie jeans, skinny jeans. Jeans also come in various fits, including skinny, tapered, straight, boot cut and flare.

Jeans has eaten deep into our fashion so much that we can’t get rid of it; we can’t even seem to do without it. It is one of the most comfortable and most stylish attire loved by all regardless of their status, suit for all weather and almost all occasions. It cuts across age, gender, culture, and would have been more popular than soccer, had it been a game.

Jeans did not originate from the United States though, but America made jeans popular. However, Americans are not the highest users of denim in the world. According to recent surveys, Colombians own the most denim items and own the most jeans on average, while Germans wear denim jeans/shorts most often (4.5 days per week).

Michael Belluomo, editor of Sportswear International Magazine, Oct/Nov 1987, P. 45, wrote that in 1965, Limbo, a boutique in the New York East Village, was “the first retailer to wash a new pair of jeans to get a used, worn effect, and the idea became a hit.” He continued, “Limbo hired East Village artists to embellish the jeans with patches, decals and other touches, and sold them for $200.” In the early 1980s the denim industry introduced the Stone-Washing technique developed by GWG also known as “Great Western Garment Co.”. Donald Freeland of Edmonton, Alberta pioneered the method, which helped to bring denim to a larger and more versatile market.

Many consumers in Western societies are willing to pay extra for jeans that have the appearance of being used. To give the fabrics the worn look, sandblasting is used.

Wearing jeans became a symbol of youth rebellion during the 1950s after James Dean popularized them in the movie Rebel Without a Cause. Because of this, they were sometimes banned in theaters, restaurants and schools. During the 1960s the wearing of jeans became more acceptable, and by the 1970s it had become general fashion in the United States for casual wear. Today, an average American has 7 pairs of jeans, just behind an average Columbian in the number of jeans owned.

Worldwide production of denim stands near 2.5 billion yards. The US denim mills alone turn out about 1 billion yards annually between their American and foreign production plants. Countries involved in denim production apart from the United States include Italy, Greece, and Brazil. Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Japan, Taiwan. Korea, Hong Kong, China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Australia, Dubai, South Africa, Philippines, Mexico, and Spain.

In 2004, Americans spent more than $14 billion on jeans and $15 billion in 2005. Surveys are ongoing on how much Nigerians spend on jeans, but it has been noticed however that every ‘normal’ Nigerian owns at least a pair of jeans.

You gotta love jeans as they are utility wears that are suit for all casual outings. If you don’t own a pair, you are missing a lot. No pant gives you the comfort jeans gives. Get a pair today, it’s in shops all around you.

Femi and Farouk : Lessons of The Scandal

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A lot has been said about the Farouk Lawan-Femi Otedola bribery scandal in a country that has been filled with nothing but ills recently. Having read a lot of commentaries on the issue from several people with offices and titles who may well have a side, it is important to hear from thoughtful Nigerians’ point of view who has no sides on the matter.

The year started with the Federal Government’s announcement of increase in fuel pump price as a result of fuel subsidy removal. The illegal recipients of fuel subsidy for years needed to be fished out, as the government argued that it was necessary for it to stop paying subsidy when it was obvious it only ended up in some people’s pockets. There arose a need for a probe arranged by the Federal House of Representatives and a chair for the ad-hoc committee in charge of the probe. Some Nigerians were elated when news of who was the committee’s president hit the media. With so much respect the man has garnered over his 13 years as a legislator in Nigeria’s House of Representative, a lot of Nigerians believed he was the right man for the job and hopes soared high on what would be outcome of the probe.

As expected, Farouk Lawan delivered. We all saw the company names that came up with the amount they illegally collected as subsidy and were expected to refund.

Farouk Lawan’s committee made Nigerians happy, and his report was the cynosure of all eyes. I can remember how people shared it on every media possible. Despite the various national issues that were snuffing life out of our dear country, the report came as a respite and Nigerians were grateful for the progress made in at least one of our many issues.

Sadly, it turned out recently that Honourble Farouk Lawan had just been characterized by excessive piousness and moralistic fervor and was never an honourable man. No honourable man would take bribe!

He was one of the few respected Nigerians, at least by me, a role model to the youths, but like everyone of them has done, he has failed the younger generation.

Many young Nigerians have spoke of the wealth of Femi Otedola and has made him a role model, but what kind of role model gives bribe? Why did he offer Farouk Lawan bribe?…so that his company’s name will be cleared out of the subsidy probe report. There were over sixty companies in that report, why was he the only one who offered bribe? If others did, was the bribe rejected? Why hasn’t anybody else come out? Can you imagine the evil this used-to-be-respected Nigerian has been doing? He has literally been stealing from this country while we celebrate him as one of the richest men in the country.

We have to consider this issue critically and not allow our leaders toss us around. Farouk Lawan did his job whether he collected bribe or not. The report must be fully utilized and the people involved made to return all the money they’ve illegally collected. The only reason why Femi Otedola came out to talk was because Farouk Lawan did his job.

Speaking of Femi Otedola, isn’t it insane for you to come out and say you offered bribe? Was the involvement in fuel subsidy scam not enough to chew than to indict yourself in another scandal? Didn’t anyone tell him that offering bribe was a punishable offence under the law? I copied the following from a law publication. Maybe someone should show him in case he never heard of it.

“The law provides that any public official who corruptly receives any property
or benefit of any kind for himself or for any other person on account of
anything already done or to be done in the discharge of his official duties shall
be punishable with 7 years imprisonment.

The law further provides that any person who gives, confers, procures any
property or benefit of any kind to any public officer on account of any act or
omission, favour or disfavour to be done or shown by the public officer is
guilty of an offence and be liable to imprisonment of 7 years.”

If there was any truth in what I just quoted, Farouk Lawan and Femi Otedola should be facing a 7 year sentence each and should be cell mates in prison so as to settle their scores there. But, who are we fooling; are they even going to be tried? If they were sentenced, are they going to be put in real prisons?

They are both Nigerians we should be ashamed of. We can’t know the absolute truth in the matter especially if we consider the despicable things people do to get what they want. In situations like this, even confessions to me are not totally genuine, it’s just that a confession is a confession.

Farouk Lawan claimed he informed Adam Jagaba, Chairman, House committee on Drugs, Narcotics, and Financial crimes about the bribe which the latter utterly denied. Why would Lawan lie about something like that? He might have been stupid in handling the bribery issue before it came out in the open, but what if he was threatened? I read a commentary where the commentator said he never saw a gun pointed at Farouk Lawan’s head to say some things. Do they point guns at people’s heads in the open when they threaten them?

We can’t continue debating on issues we will never get all the facts on. They know what they did, and God knows. Let their conscience judge them. But before there dead conscience even have a chance of coming back to life to judge them, why don’t we use the law first? They both have committed crimes that are punishable under the law. Do we need investigations again when both parties involved admitted to giving and receiving bribe? They need to be charged to court as soon as possible, and prison is where they should end up, just like every other Nigerian who know they are culprits too in their little ways. Let the goat-thieves leave our already congested prisons and send people like Farouk Lawan and Femi Odetola in their stead.

It’s so easy to judge and condemn people, but the true test of any man’s character comes when he gets power, be it money power or political power. We all sit on our butts and judge these people everyday. Have you ever honestly asked yourself if you’d act differently in their shoes? Judge on you morons who are guilty of the same act in your little organizations. Nemesis awaits you! We would say nemesis have caught up with Femi and Farouk, but this is naija where everything goes. This may well be swept under the carpet like many other ones before it.

I fear so much for our country’s future, and you have every reason to be scared too. If you doubt me, ask your kids or younger ones if they think Nigeria has a future, Nigeria can be great again, or what they’d do were they in a high-ranking political post. You will be scared at how messy young hearts have become. We all need a heart purge!
Meanwhile, let Femi and Farouk go to jail, they deserve it.

Rio Ferdinand: My Sons Love D’banj’s Oliver Twist

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Manchester United footballer, Rio Ferdinand has disclosed on twitter how his sons love to hear Nigerian music star, D’banj’s Oliver twist. Ferdinand’s two sons, Lorenz and Tate whom he fondly calls his lil(little) men were quoted to have asked for multiple rewind of the song.

Ferdinand had earlier said months ago that Oliver Twist is one his favourite songs from Africa and it is usually on his playlist. According to Ferdinand on his twitter account, “@rioferdy5: Lil men in the car demanding a rewind of Oliver Twist by D’banj….singing along..m…”shakey bum bum”!!”

Oliver Twist is the last song done by D’banj while still with the defunct Mo’hits Records. The song has proven to be one of the best hits from an African artiste in a while with the song getting its own good share of views on Youtube.

D’banj had been reported to be in alliance with Def Jam record’s JayZ and Good music boss, Kanye West and the latter featured in the Oliver twist video. There were even reports that the Nigerian star was featured in Kanye West’s new movie. D’banj have since been made boss of JayZ’s new African brand, Def Jam Africa with his reported first signing as the talented artiste and producer, Davido.

D’banj seems to be doing nothing but better since he left Mo’hits Records, a company he co-owned with Michael Collins (Don Jazzy). A lot of people have beared their mind on the break-up, but for what it’s worth, Dapo Oyebanjo is doing great without Michael Collins and co.

The Ruth of Joy

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Who deserves an eulogy than a gem
Lowly but adorned with a diadem
Hugging peasants despite her royalty
Making hay with them on the lea

The gift I give you should be blue
A nice long gown that is sapphire blue
Why? Because your blood is blue
Don’t be scared that’s what they say
Blue blood means noble birth they claim

Happy birthday to you my love
Unequalled was the joy you brought
When mum held you first in her arms
Same is the joy in my heart you cram
I have your love my life is calm

Birthday Wish For The Queen

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It’d be crazy for anyone in this world full of strife
Not to hold on to the one who makes you smile
Give her a hug the size of a bear
And tell her in love how much you care

For your sake we bake the cake
So they say to boost their sale
I may not be close to give a cake
But with the faith of a sage I pray
That your day be full of cakes

I look up this day with faith
And hope God grants my case
Make you darling my fate
Cos in you I’ve found a mate
That’ll give me joy till heaven’s gate

I’ll raise a thousand to sing and form a band
Ten thousand soldiers only you to guard
As you sit on your royal stool
And watch your subjects pay their dues
I think of ways to steal you away from all the prying eyes

Your subjects will have to bear with me
Cos next birthday they’ll miss the meal
As we’ll be away in our world
You and I alone that’s what I’d love

We’ll celebrate your day in grand style
Stable full of horses for my queen to ride
Closet full of dresses she could wear with pride
As I hope someday to make her my bride

I’ve got gift of the gab to plead my case
But with her it’s a different tale
I need the strength of a knight to please the queen
Fight with lances battles I have to win
Worthy her heart to own and be her king

Her love sends me into spasmodic trance
But today is a day to stay awake and grab the chance
To wish her a life full of bliss
As she celebrates another year in peace

Happy Birthday my Queen
Heard running from the truth is a battle no one wins
Guess I have to tell you again
That I love you with all my being

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