Some years ago, Gbenga Ikoyi’s G.B.I Clothing line, a fashion designing outfit in Garki a middle class area of Abuja, was a hub of activities. Aside many customers coming and going, he had a retinue of apprentices who had enlisted to learn the art and craft of fashion designing trade from him.
Currently, Today, Gbenga’s outfit is a shadow of what it used to be. Like a bird shedding its feathers, his apprentices are reducing by the day. Although most of his customers still patronize him, he has challenges meeting deadlines due to the shortage of workers.
While accosting him on a very sunny and bright Monday afternoon, ipledge2nigeria asked him the reason for the not-so-good look of his shop.
According to Gbenga, many young Nigerians are no longer interested in learning any trade because they want quick cash. “I can’t explain what is happening to this generation. Young people want money but they don’t want to learn any trade that will bring that money. They prefer to steal, dupe people and engage in other types of crime that will bring fast money than learning a trade like this,” he lamented.
And just like Gbenga, Ronald Akpevwe an Edo indigene who has lived most of his life in Abuja is another entrepreneur who has lost some of his apprentices in recent times. Ronald, who runs a barbing salon in the high brow Maitama district of Abuja and had about five apprentices around 2015, has just two of them now. To make matters worse, one of them has been absent from work for over a week as at the time of meeting with him.
The development forced him to put up a notice of ‘Apprentice wanted’ in front of his barbers shop.
Corroborating Gbenga’s position, Ronald who holds a diploma in business administration, said there are fewer artisans in the country because young people want quick money and consider jobs like tailoring and barbing odd. He added that many of those who are supposed to be busy learning barbing and other trades have taken to riding commercial motorcycles popularly known as okada or riding tricycles popularly called keke napep and other such ventures that will bring quick money.
“Young Nigerians unfortunately are no longer interested in learning businesses like barbing and tailoring. Everybody now wants to work in NNPC, National Assembly and the likes. Nigerian youths now prefer something that will bring ‘sharp-sharp’ money so the youths consider learning a trade odd. Many of the less educated ones prefer to ride bikes, sports betting and do other businesses that will bring fast money,” he said.
While the likes of Ronald and Gbenga hinged the decline in the number of artisans on the quest for quick money, there are those who believe that the epileptic power supply and the attitudes of people towards artisans are the major reasons why young people are no longer interested in such trades, whether educated or not.
A fashion designer in Utako, Jamilu Bashar from Katsina state said the epileptic power situation in the country has forced many artisans to abandon their trade to embrace other ventures. According to Jamilu; “It is not as if people are no longer interested in being artisans but the power situation in this country makes it difficult for them to operate profitably. Many artisans are frustrated because of the poor state of power supply. If you are an artisan and you have a shop, you can’t make much when you have to fuel your own generator and do other things for yourself. When young people see how we complain, they lose interest in the trade”.
A cross section of young Nigerians in and around the nation’s capital also agree that the only reason why people are no longer interested in becoming artisans is because of the way they are treated by other members of the society, especially the educated ones. According to them, the Nigerian society values academic qualifications and white collar jobs more than handcraft, and people tend to look down on artisans and subtly discourage young people who are interested.
“Nigerians value certificates and professional jobs. The moment people discover that you are not as educated as they are, they tend to look down on you. People treat artisans as if they are not human beings just because they are mechanics, tailors, vulcanizers, carpenters etc.. That is one of the reasons why people are no longer learning the trade. Everybody wants to go to school and live like a big man,” were their comments and reactions.