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Why Skills Matter



By Adamu Tilde

While, in a way, we can still hold both the federal and state governments responsible for their failure to create jobs and enabling environment for people to thrive, I believe we can do more by asking questions like why a trained PhD holder cannot ‘create’ a job for himself if he fails to secure one. Perhaps, by asking such type of questions, we may discover what really matters: certificates or skills?

Today, certificates are no longer the ‘in-thing’. While I will always encourage people to acquire higher degrees and certificates, folks should be mindful that certificates alone — in an era where distance and space have been eliminated, in an era where artificial intelligence is breaking all barriers, in an era where outsourcing is an industry in itself, in an era where computing is getting cheap, more precise and accurate — is not enough. Unless you want a career in the academic environment (which, by the way, is not easy to come by nowadays), I would suggest that you should acquire hands-on experience, relevant pieces of training, and certifications than having additional degrees. [This position is open for debate!]

As an accountant, you are better off becoming a chartered accountant — having relevant certifications like CFE, CFA, ACCA than having a master’s degree. As a mass communication graduate, employers would rather read your report-writing samples, feature articles you have written, interviews you have conducted than seeing an MA certificate. As a computer scientist or engineer, trust me, if you have no basic skills like programming, your MSc or MEng has a little chance of landing you a decent job. It is all about what difference are you bringing to the organization. Organizations want to increase efficiency, minimize cost, and maximize profit. Do you have what it takes to achieve that? That is the question you should ask yourself.

On the fact that this world is a world of skills, no degree of doubt can be any effective. It is all about the questions: what can you do? What are you bringing to the table? In what way do you think it can be done cheaply and better? How quick are you in spotting opportunities? How good are you at predicting the future? How perceptible are you in understanding trend(s)? How imaginative are you? How disruptive can you be? How critical about the status quo are you?

These are the questions employers want you to answer, not merely having a chain of certificates. By the way, for example, Google is no longer hiring based on attending which college but on what skills you possess. While I still maintain that certificates are good (and if you have the opportunity of acquiring more why not?), but it should not be at the expense of acquiring the needed and relevant skills.

There are three platforms one can acquire the needed and relevant skills, viz:

1. Internship (paying or non-paying): One of the quickest ways to penetrate any organization is via internship. You will learn everything they are doing. The advantages of internship are that once there is a vacancy, you will be the first person to know. You will be knowledgeable about the probable questions. You will also have the opportunity of knowing the panel. And even if there is no vacancy, the network developed will throw around words for you to sister organizations. One secret you should know is that: for every five jobs secured in private sector, three are through referrals. So never underestimate the power of network. We have a WhatsApp platform where, I think, virtually, fortnightly there will be a success story of one getting one job or the other. The power of network cannot be overemphasized! The interesting part of the group is that there is no organization without its representative in the group.

So, while growing up, especially at the beginning of your career, money should never be your only yardstick of accepting or rejecting a job offer or a chance to acquire skills. Gather the needed experience, and you will be in the position to say no to job offers.

2. Volunteerism: Another method of acquiring skills employers need is through volunteering. Write to any organization and state that you want to volunteer. While volunteering, you will know all that they are doing, and learn the skills needed. In the event there is a vacant position, you will be the first one to be contacted and, probably, if you are lucky, you will get the job without even an interview. So much for a volunteer, if you ask me.

3. Online courses: Today, there are hundreds of learning platforms where you can learn basically everything, most importantly, things that the industry needs. Coding. Analytics. Programming. Data science. Problem-solving. Critical thinking. Digital marketing, etc. Virtually all the relevant skills can be learned on Coursera, Udemy, edX, Udacity, HBx, Khan Academy, Lynda, etc. And it is so cheap that once you have an Android phone, you are good to go. Most of them are free; but if you want certifications, which I believe you should have, you will pay a token amount like 50 dollars or so.

In conclusion, let me reiterate that it’s very good to have a certificate; it’s always a plus for you. But, as I said, this world is a world of skills where a sort of survival of the fittest takes place — if you have skills, you have better chances of landing a job, and if you don’t have any, your certificate cannot help you. A large chunk of the things they taught you in school is irrelevant the minute you step into the ‘real world’. That being said, concentrate on your studies while in school, but, I repeat, don’t graduate (or, at best, don’t meet employers) without acquiring any skill. Use your time and resources wisely. Plan. Plan. And plan. The future is still bright!

In addition to having all the certificates and relevant skills needed to thrive in the 21st century, an interesting habit that will keep you relevant, important, and above your peers is the habit of Lifelong Learning. You have to keep reading and keep reinventing yourself. President Obama, despite his schedules and position, was reading for two hours every day. Bill Gate is doing even more, as does Mark Zuckerberg. So keep reading — that is how ideas are fertilized, developed, and refined. The fact is: we have to do twice what our fathers did to get half of what they had. This should ring well in your brain! Good luck!


Adamu Tilde is From Tilden Fulani Bauchi State


Muslim-Muslim Ticket: idea fixation pathetic, religion be excluded in politics and governance, says El-Rufai



The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has described the possibility that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, would run a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 2023 presidential election as mere speculation.

Making a remark on Channels TV’s political show, Politics Today, he said, Nigerians’ obsession with religion – when it comes to voting – rather than competence is sad. “This fixation of Nigerians on religion instead of competence, capacity, and capability is quite sad and pathetic.”

El-Rufai said that anyone asking him questions about the controversial Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket is asking the wrong person, because, in the 2019 general election he settled for a qualified Muslim woman as a running mate and won the election in Kaduna State.

He said, “I don’t look at people from Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian angle. Most of my closest friends are Christians. It was Pastor Tunde Bakare, a Pentecostal pastor, that took me to the CPC, not President Buhari. I’m very close to Bakare. I’m very close to many Christians. I don’t think the business of governance has anything to do with religion. I think we should look for the best person for the job. A person that will get the job done and let him do that.”

He advised Nigerian journalists to keep religion out of politics and government. He said, “I don’t think we should be looking at religion. We want to develop this country. When I get into a plane, I don’t ask about the religion of the pilot. When I go to the hospital, I don’t ask for the doctor’s religion of the doctor, I just want to get well. I just want to get to my destination when in an aircraft.

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Nigerian Universities, the interference of Professional bodies, and the time bomb



Having worked with multidisciplinary teams during my PhD at the Department of Engineering of the University of Leicester and postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Electric Power Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), I decided to experiment the acceptability of a multidisciplinary team in Engineering departments in Nigerian universities in 21st century on my return in 2015. Then, I was already due to be a Senior Lecturer in ABU since 2014. So I sent my CV and an application letter for the position of Associate Professor to the VC through the Head of Electrical Engineering Department of one of our public universities in November 2015. And I received the following not very surprising reply.
“Having perused your application documents, I found them interesting and relevant to the need of the department. However, I cannot pass your application for further processing because of the post applied for. For your information, the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nig. (COREN) has fixed the bar of an Engineering lecturer who is not registered with COREN at Lecturer I regardless of the number of his/her publications.”
The question that came to my mind was that is the regulation of engineering lecturers in universities part of the mandates of COREN? I read the reply again and he was very emphatic on my PhD and postdoctoral research experience and the relevance to his department. I was made to understand that the University has no academic staff in the area of high voltage engineering, but for them to utilize my experience in high voltage engineering, if I was actually ready to move there, I have to accept to be demoted for 4 years because COREN said so. And I can’t grow no matter my research output till I am registered with COREN. Amazing offer! It will take a complete idiot to accept such an offer. That is the reality of the compartmentalization of our university system and the destruction of the Nigerian university system and the structure by supposed professionals.
This was completely different from my experience in my two universities in Europe. Prof. Len Dissado had a first degree in chemistry and a PhD in chemistry but was a Professor of Engineering at Leicester because his research area was in Dielectrics, a topic very relevant to High Voltage Engineering. He was retained as Emeritus when I left in 2012. Dr. Steve S. Dodd had his first degree in Physics and PhD in Physics but was employed as a Senior Lecturer in Engineering (High Voltage Engineering group) because his research area was in Electrical insulation materials. He retired as a Reader in High Voltage Engineering. The HoD of the Electric Power Engineering as at the time I left the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in 2015 had a PhD in Physics and was a Professor of Electric Power Engineering. Universities in the rest of the world are closing gaps, while we are widening the gap. Since I could not close the gap, so we decided to have a High Voltage Laboratory in the Physics department.
In universities, we are academics and research workers. Irrespective of the field, we are employed to teach and do research. The yardstick for evaluating your performance is research output. Engineering graduates in academia are not left out. They are not employed as Engineers. Universities have their Engineers to do the engineering work. As an academic, you can be COREN registered to enable you to practice outside the university but not for the classroom and research labs in the university. I once asked a colleague some years back if as a university worker, he is an Engineer for real or a teacher and he was silent. I asked about the value of COREN registration in his teaching of Engineering courses, research output, and student project supervision and he could not give me a straight answer.
I still find it weird that COREN, a body regulating practicing engineers on the field is now setting standards for promotion in the Engineering departments of Nigerian universities. They will soon be telling Nigerian universities what to teach and what not to teach. The other councils of professionals will soon follow to set what they perceived as standards for the respective faculties or departments.
The interference of the Councils of professionals in the affairs of Nigerian universities has grown beyond setting promotion guidelines. They are now deciding the establishment of faculties and the duplication of academic departments. It does not matter the burden of running such faculties and departments on the universities. I am still wondering how they are able to twist the hands of NUC and the universities’ Senate and Governing Council to achieve all that. Not long ago, the Faculty of medicine in Nigerian public universities were converted to Colleges of Medical Sciences with 4 faculties and several departments, thanks to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
What baffled me was the fact that the Department of Biochemistry, for example, that has taught medical students the biochemistry they know since the inception of the study of medicine in Nigerian universities is suddenly no more qualified to teach medical students because the Lecturers do not have a degree in medicine. Very amazing! We now have duplicated Biochemistry departments across Nigerian universities that they called “Medical Biochemistry” in the college of medicine. The “medical biochemistry” will possibly be taught by the Medical Doctors based on what they learned from the Biochemists in life science while in medical school. Could this be a case of trading quality for ego?
We also, for example, have a medical microbiology department in the college of medicine, a microbiology
department in the faculty of life science, and a vet microbiology department in the faculty of Veterinary medicine.
The microbiologists will be able to explain to us the difference between the different versions of the microbiology.
I was in Norway in 2014 when the Norwegian couple at NTNU shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine with a Professor at the University College London (UCL). I tried to check the structure of these 2 universities. The faculty of medicine at NTNU has no biochemistry department. The Department of Biotechnology and Food Sciences, a replica of the Biochemistry department, is in the faculty of natural science and they provide service to the faculty of Medicine as we had before the coming of the colleges of medicine in Nigerian universities.
How the increased number of departments helping to improve the quality of our academic output is what I can’t figure out. Rather than the duplication of service departments that will only increase the number of academic departments and won’t really add much value to the system but increased running cost, we should have created a college of life sciences and pulled the relevant faculties and departments into it.
Individualistic research is going extinct and most of the novelties of the 21st century are from interdisciplinary researches. One of the winners of the 2014 Nobel prize in medicine John O’Keefe is a neuroscientist in the Faculty of life sciences at the UCL with his degrees in Psychology. But the others, May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser are both neuroscientists from the Faculty of Medicine at NTNU and received their first degree from the Department of Psychology and PhD in neurophysiology at the Faculty of Medicine in Oslo.
There is nothing more fascinating than the fusing of different ideas together to produce a unique product. That is the exploration in the 21st century. The world has left us behind in individualistic ideology and moved into multidisciplinary academics. If we must make progress in our universities, we must break our erected artificial barriers that are keeping us apart. The academics in physical sciences and engineering must come together with possibly a research centre that is into cutting-edge research that will involve research groups from all the relevant departments. Same way to bring life science and medical complex together.
I have seen graduates of mathematics that became Professors of Econometrics in Economics departments in universities in Europe, but not in Nigerian universities. I have seen a graduate of Chemistry that became a Professor of Engineering in Europe, but not in Nigerian universities. I have seen a graduate of Physics that became a Professor of Electric Power Engineering in Europe, but not in Nigerian universities. In Nigeria, I have seen Engr (Prof) XXX boldly written on our doors in the department but not in the universities in Europe. Are we having an identity crisis?
Professional bodies that are supposed to focus on the regulation of Professionals in the field should focus on their mandate and not be given free hands to change University policies as it pleases them. If we don’t end their interference, just like the medical council, COREN could wake up one day to tell our universities that there is a need for colleges of Engineering with departments of mathematics and physics to service the college because those in Mathematics and Physics departments are not qualified to teach engineering students because they don’t have engineering degrees. Vet council, Pharmaceuticals council, builders council, architects council, Quantity surveyors council, etc, may follow. So, how are we going to handle that?
Let’s stick to the founding principles of the university. Universities have world standards. We can stick to our British standard or borrow a leaf from the world’s top universities to improve our system, instead of allowing professional bodies to manipulate us and create barriers within the university system that will further slow down the progress we are to make.
Our universities are not in it’s best form and we have to do what we have to do to improve them. We should be more preoccupied with that. We should be discussing how to reposition Nigerian universities to be able to stand up to our various challenges and not duplicate departments without facilities because some Councils of professionals said so.
Finally, to my colleagues in Electric power engineering or high voltage engineering in Nigerian universities, you are welcome to experience our High Voltage Materials Laboratory in the Department of Physics, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. We have a 400 kV DC generator and 100 kV AC source with a partial discharge measurement system to serve you. Join us to learn the physics of electric power equipment. We do not have barriers!

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Galadima Knocks Nigeria Sports Handlers Over Laziness in Talent Development,




By Abdulgafar Oladimeji.

Former chairman, Nigeria Football Association , NFA Ibrahim Galadima(MFR) has faulted the administration, promotion and development of sports in Nigeria, noting that  the continuous  degenerating  global  status of Nigeria on the  sporting  arena could be attributed to laziness.

The outspoken sports administrator   stated that the absence of  clear  cut policies  on how  sports should be driven in Nigeria  constitutes parts of the factors that  has enrolled Nigeria on the path of total  failure.

Galadima in his remarks  on ( Thursday)at a one day workshop organized by Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN  Kano state chapter held at the conference hall of the Kano state Sports Commission with the theme “Early Warnings and Security Vigilance At Sports Events, he said “we re yet to clearly structure and drive the message clearly to say whether we   are in sports for business or  for leisure purposes.”

“our sports is going through difficult times, certainly, the Kenyans have  a clear concentration, they  have  shown clearly where they belong by dominating marathon races, recently they came to Kaduna and stamped their dominance.

“The abundant talent in Nigeria remained untapped, no age group graduation, even if you are in Chad, you are considered as a foreign based athlete, we are now so lazy in identifying talents.” Galadima lamented.

He alleged that lack of trust and confidence has  sent sponsors out of the industry, adding that potential brand sponsors are shying away from injecting their monies into  the industry for the fear of unaccountability.


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