After 8 years in Diaspora, Demola arrived Nigeria with a BSc and Msc in Aircraft Design from a reputable school in Europe. Demola had quit a decent paying job based on promises made by family members of an ‘awesome’ life awaiting her back home.
On her arrival back home, she was in disbelief, she had to undergo a programme everybody candidly called ‘Now Your Suffering Continues’, the compulsory 1 year National Youth Service Corp (NYSC). This was clearly not part of the plan. Most of her friends from secondary school already earned big salaries, had nice cars, nice apartments, and nice jobs. The promised N18,500 stipend wasn’t going to pay for her flat nor buy that comfortable car she dreamt about, but she persisted and undertook the programme. The year was tough; she was posted to the office of the Director in a government agency regulating the aviation industry and she constantly toiled with the idea of returning to Europe.
Demola thought to herself, ‘this is fantastic. I am going to learn a lot’. Alas, every day was an endless cycle of making thousands of photocopies and walking to the local ‘buka’ to buy what could only be described as food to feed 5000 people. Was it a big mistake coming back home? Despite her inner despair, she always did what she was asked to do, determined to be the best ‘food purchaser’ and ‘photocopy administrator’ she could be. She would find time in between running errands to read the National policies, regulations and laws governing the industry.
On the last day of her NYSC year, she called the uncles, aunties and friends once again. The response was shocking; they all advised that she did all possible to get retained by the government agency. Demola could not believe it, ‘this was not the plan’. She returned to the Director and asked for a job, based on her hard work during the past year, he offered her a job as his Personal Assistant for N25,000. Demola reluctantly accepted. Every day she would arrive earliest and leave last but she always put in her best.
One day, at a meeting with an international company who had operations in Nigeria, one of the officers of the agency was late and the Director asked Demola to sit in for him. The international company wanted approvals for something that hadn’t been done before and it required guidance. The Director looked to his officers for comments, they all looked lost. Demola jumped in and quoted out of those regulations she had read over a year ago. She explained the process for approval as detailed in one of the old national gazettes she read in the Director’s office.
After her surprise performance, Demola was asked to attend all future meetings with the company. A couple of months later, after one of such meetings, the CEO of the company pulled Demola aside and commented on how smart he thought she was. He asked her about her education and her values. He had a job opening for a contract manager; it came with a salary none of her friends dreamed of ever making, an SUV, a flat in Lekki and the free hand to build her own team.
Hard-work does pay indeed. It should be part of our attitude to work regardless of what role we play or how much we are paid. Eventually, someone will notice and the reward will come.