Much ado about Dangote’s truck drivers

A friend of my dad’s, a Ph.D holder who used to lecture in Unilag, went to the United States a number of years ago for ‘greener pastures’. My dad met up with him some time after he left, and he revealed he was working as a security guard to get by. This was before the recession hit, by the way. I am sure much of Nigeria’s – and even Africa’s – aspiring middle class can relate to this story. We all know someone who knows someone who has left Nigeria to the West, and has had to do one odd job or the other to get by in the meantime. That ‘meantime’ may be a few months or several years, and the jobs are of all sorts: washing toilets, dead bodies, and the like.

This reality makes the fuss over the offer of employment to 2,000 graduates by Dangote Industries, as truck drivers, hard to fathom, on so many levels.

First of all, the sheer number of graduates that are churned out by Nigerian universities on a yearly basis, will be difficult for any economy to quickly absorb, least of all a country that has jobless growth like Nigeria. Going forward, in fact, the numbers are even scarier. High unemployment is seen as a major reason why Nigerian youths in all sorts of things, from armed robbery, to Internet fraud, to being used as election thugs and crude oil thieves. If they were busy, they would have no time for such things.

More fundamentally, there is a skills issue. Those who might think that being a truck driver is a waste of a graduate’s mind, may not be taking what graduates actually learn in school into account. Most graduates here are not fit to go into middle management straight out of school. At least, not immediately. Even if they were, the sheer numbers mean not everyone will get in. What happens to the rest?

Dangote’s operations by now are highly sophisticated, and complex operations need sophisticated people to handle them. This is not about setting a low bar. If major improvements in the supply chain are to be implemented, it may mean that first degree holders are the best people to adapt to these changes, as against the more experienced drivers who are used to a particular style. This is even more important as Africa’s richest man takes his business international.

Then of course, there is the issue of remuneration. The number being bandied around is that Dangote’s truck drivers could earn up N500,000 a month. I’m not one to speculate, but it is a figure that seems plausible, given his profits and the importance of the drivers to the success of the business. If that figure is true, then it is right up there with the best salaries in the country, and very good compensation for the long hours. So many, many workers here work equal hours for a lot less. Some will never that kind of money as basic salary. Ever.

Another objection might come: is it just about the money? Yes, it is. The simple truth is, if we didn’t feel we needed degrees to get ahead, to earn more and provide for our families, we wouldn’t bother. We would read novels, and play video games and such all day and night. The first duty of a certificate is to serve as a platform for material advancement. Further to this, working as a truck driver need not be a permanent thing. It can serve as a stepping stone to a better job, either within the company or outside it. He that is faithful in little…

…will be faithful in much. Which brings me to my next point. A troubling tendency exists in these parts, where some feel certain jobs are beneath them and there is something gravely wrong with this mentality. A lot of successful people have had to pick up menial jobs on their way to the top, jobs that were ‘beneath’ them. Any journey has a number of ‘bus stops’ on the way, some less glamorous than others, but it all comes with the territory, as they say. So many of our roles models used to be waiters, waitresses, mechanics, bus drivers, and so on.

In which we come back to the issue raised in the first paragraph. If many of us have friends, family members and acquaintances who have left Nigeria to do all those odd jobs ‘in the abroad’, where we are second class citizens, is it not a tad hypocritical to raise such dust about these vacancies?

On a final note, I just wonder how much of the fuss is because the offer is from Dangote. His growing power means that he is viewed more and more suspiciously, but this doesn’t mean every move of his is immediately wrong. He will be getting even more youths off the streets, and this is the issue here.

On a final final note, trucking is actually a cool job. Discovery Channel has a whole programme for them called ‘Ice Road Truckers’. Many of us drive our parents and girlfriends for free. Being paid well for it is not a bad idea.

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8 thoughts on “Much ado about Dangote’s truck drivers”

  1. Hahahaha. I like how you have bought into the idea hook, line and sinker and you’re not afraid to say so. Personally, if the remuneration of N500k monthly (or close) can be confirmed, I’d definitely apply for the job. I have always wanted to drive a big truck. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    1. Well written, well said. I had to work as a security person (read gate woman if you like) to put myself through school. It was A job and it paid enough. I put in my best and even got a promotion on the job. Lol. *I hope ppl don’t comment here often* Anyway, I think deciding on that job or no is the individuals business nd Dangote has a right to ask for Msc if that suits him.

  2. This says it all. Anyone who thinks it is debasing needs to sit all the way down and have a rethink. Even if you won’t do it forever, 500k a month is good capital to start a business. Besides, depending on how committed you are, you can work your way into the very company. It’s not as if majority of the graduates we’re pushing out know what they are doing behind the desks.

    Erm.., I hope it isn’t gender based. This sister won’t mind a 500k a month job as a fresh graduate. I need the money and skill.

  3. Hahaha,when put dat way,sounds cool n rather sensible.the yet-to-be employed youths should be grateful for ds entrepreneur

  4. ra·tio·nal·iza·tion noun
    : the act, process, or result of rationalizing; especially : the provision of plausible reasons to explain to oneself or others behavior for which one’s real motives are different and unknown or unconscious

    This definition is from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

    It appears Dangote’s ‘gesture’ makes sense because our universities churn out half baked graduates, who are have no jobs,etc.

    Of course, it makes sense to be a truck driver earning N500,000 a month when you’re half baked from a Nigerian university and currently jobless or in a job paying you far less than half a million.
    So please go on and accept it Dangote’s offer but remember that those amongst you who tell themselves that they deserve better and will not mind earning only N100k a month will grow in their careers much faster then y’all.

    And of course, while Dangote is offering you N500K to be a driver, he is importing expatriates, housing them in Ikoyi serviced apartments and paying them way above 500k a month.

    1. I’ll admonish anyone with a 100K career job to stick to it as it’ll pay in the long run, however, if you don’t have one, just go grab the Dangote Drivers’ Application form and as we know, most Nigerian Grads don’t, hence the need to welcome positively, this Dangote’s Initiative.
      By and by, If Dangote is profiling the “real” professional jobs to expatriates and they are Nigerians with requisite skills to do them, then that’s a different matter entirely. Each organization should have a maximum limit of Expats and should establish beyond doubt that Nigerians don’t have the skills to pick up such jobs. I believe a Government agency is saddled with ensuring businesses live up to this billing, they should act ASAP.

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