By Aminu Mohammed
In the last few weeks, I have keenly observed discussions about bestie, comrade and recently altercation over interfaith dialogue by our youths on various Social media platforms, particularly Facebook. The debates seem amusing, even though the one on interfaith has generated more altercation between some Islamic scholars and their followers, leading to personal abuse. I am not against people using social media to crack jokes and have fun, but it will show a lack of seriousness when people waste time on meaningless arguments.
I shudder in disbelief, wondering if something is wrong with our youth. I still recall that just a few weeks ago, a Kaduna-bound train was attacked, with many people killed while scores are still in captivity. Yet, we have seemingly forgotten about them. Instead, we dissipate energy on trivial issues. Have we done enough by putting pressure on the government to rescue our brothers and sisters in captivity?
What about using social media to pressure our governments in the region to evacuate Almajiris off the streets and end such child abuse. What about encouraging our brothers to exhibit tolerance towards other sects rather than altercations?
We have many issues at hand, and we can use social media to compel the government to do our bidding. Still, we are more comfortable arguing over trivial matters and abusing those who do not believe in our ideology. Our Islamic scholars seem not to see the urgent need through their sermons to pressure the government to tackle poverty and Almajiri syndrome in the North.
Social media is a gold mine that has provided many opportunities for personal development and skill acquisition for career advancement. But are we utilising the massive opportunities in social media to improve our lives? Are we learning new skills every day to change our narrative and move to the next level? These are questions that we should be asking ourselves.
Many people worldwide are utilising the vast opportunities made available by social media to enhance their lives, acquire new knowledge and boost their income. I still recall a post made by Dr Muhsin Ibrahim on his Facebook page, lamenting how many graduates cannot use basic email to send letters or apply for jobs. One can acquire this knowledge by spending a few hours on YouTube, but our youth will rather spend hours on Facebook attacking one another over frivolities. Frankly, obtaining mere certificates is not enough in the current era. Practical skill is what differentiates between graduate A and graduate B.
Living in Germany in the last few years has exposed me to the notion that a certificate is not enough but practical skills that can help one deliver on the job. I have seen people finish graduate programmes here and struggle to get a job until they learn practical digital skills online.
In the last few months, I have observed that some people got jobs after learning digital skills for six months or more such as web development, app development, digital marking, and programming, among others. This is despite the fact that they completed their degree at the university here – in Germany. The reality is that companies are only interested in knowing if you have the practical skills to deliver on the job and not a simple certificate.
It is pertinent to note that some forward-thinking youths in the Southern part of Nigeria work remotely for international companies due to the acquisition of digital skills. Thanks to their skill, they live in Nigeria and still earn money in foreign currency.
I have decided to devote much time this year to acquiring digital skills for personal development and suggest that to whoever is interested. I will not hesitate to reiterate that our youth in Arewa should embrace digital skills to escape poverty. With your mobile phone, you can learn practical skills free online. There are various mediums to learn digital skills for free such as Google garage, Udacity, Udemy, Coursera, among others. In fact, I am currently learning a digital skill on Coursera.
Please, my brothers and sisters, I believe we can change the narrative. Our region is bedevilled by mass poverty because of the attitude and mindset of our people. An untrained mind will create and recreate poverty irrespective of the available opportunities. So, stop wasting your data on frivolities. Instead, use it judiciously for something meaningful.
Of course, not everyone will be interested in digital skills, but there are other vocational skills you can still learn by watching YouTube videos. For example, people learn how to bake cakes, cook, and do many things by watching videos on YouTube.
Likewise, you can improve your Islamic knowledge by reading good articles and books on various Islamic websites online rather than using social media negatively. The time is now for us to do the right thing and find a way to improve our lives and that of our families. May Almighty Allah accept our supplication in this month of Ramadan.
Aminu Mohammed is at the school of Sustainability, Christian- Albrechts- Universität zu Kiel, Schleswig Holstein, Germany. He can be reached via email@example.com.