•Asked to pay N500,000 for employment
By Sam Otti
Ibubeleye McDonald has the face of an angel but her beauty had since turned to ashes. Six years of unemployment after graduating from the University of Port Harcourt had left a cloud on her pretty face. Few weeks ago, the pains of joblessness weighed her down like an incubus and she brazenly took to the street in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, with a placard begging for job.
Ibubeleye, who is running a doctorate programme at the University of Port Harcourt, said many years of job-hunting only ended in despair. She recalled a particular experience where she lost an enviable job to someone less qualified because she was unable to pay N500,000 bribe. Unable to find her dream job, she had to pick crumbs in a security firm with N30,000 monthly salary. At one time, she gladly accepted N15,000 wage as a teacher in a private school.
The 26-year-old lady told Campus Sun that her travails started at the University of Port-Harcourt, where she graduated from Education Psychology in 2010. She missed First Class division by a very narrow margin, with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.49 out of the 4.5 needed. She confessed that missing her choicest grade seemed like letting the gold fish slip from her feeble fingers.
“I remembered how I struggled in school to make First Class so that the university would retain me but unfortunately, instead of 4.5, my CGPA was 4.49 and that was the first time I felt my dream drifting away. My late supervisor advised me to come back for my Masters, that the department needed people like me. I told him I didn’t have money, but he encouraged me to apply. He said God was going to make a way. I had to apply. He gave me his books for free and supervised my project”, she recalled.
Ibubeleye walked on waters to obtain distinction in her Masters programme at the University of Port Harcourt but her joy was short-lived. Her supervisor, who had encouraged her throughout the programme, didn’t live to hear her success story. His death pierced her heart like a jagged spear. Aside losing a mentor, her hope of getting a teaching job was also punctured.
“I will not mention my supervisor’s name because his family might not approve. That fateful day, I wanted to call him that I’ve made it. I wanted to inform him that I finally got a distinction but I was told that he had died. In a country where it’s whom you know that will fight for you, who will help me now? I applied severally for a teaching job in my department; even my HOD recommended me while I was doing my Masters, but they told me there was an embargo on employment. God knows that I have tried,” she said.
The distraught lady told Campus Sun that she floated on little resources during her Masters programme. Her husband had been her lifeline.
She said people that saw her picture where she bore job placard online called and advised her to acquire a skill and start something, no matter how small.
She replied, “I know they meant well but I have a dream and I still believe my dream is not dead. I decided to get Masters degree not because I have money, but because I wanted to acquire knowledge and necessary qualifications to pursue my dream. Everyone has a dream. My drive, my passion, my love is lecturing. I can decide to do something else and fail woefully because that is not where I belong,” she explained.
Rather than seek popularity on social media, she said her motive for standing on the busy street with a placard, was not to attract political appointment or money, as speculated in some quarters.
“I am not looking for money. Some people said I am calling on President Buhari to give me NNPC job. If I am offered that, I will turn it down because I am not after money. I know what I want. I mentioned Governor Nyesom Wike and Buhari on my placard because I believed that they can get me a teaching appointment in state or federal universities in Rivers”, she added.
She admitted that the force that pushed her to the street was fueled by depression.
“The day I decided to go on the streets was a very sad day for me. I sat down and remembered all my teachers who prophesied greatness upon me. I thought of my late grandma who said that that I will wipe her tears. I thought of my dad who borrowed money and did all he could to make sure I got the best education.
“All these thoughts made me so depressed. I thought to myself, my neighbours used to tell their daughters to be like me. Would they still say that knowing that I am still jobless after many years? How will I encourage youngsters to follow their dreams and face their studies? What’s the need of it all if you’ll have to go and pick a skill after all the academic struggles?”