I alluded to the interest I have in understanding the economic decisions and the abundance of wealth in the 70's and 80's in Nigeria in the post Before Naira. As the discovery of oil led to vast amount of wealth for the country, the country made certain decisions that in hindsight was not viable in the long term but provides context to the current situation in the country. One such decision was the free cars that were given out to graduate students. When I visited Nigeria in 2009, I spoke to some of the recent graduates and many of them complained about the lack of jobs. How did a country that handed out free cars for just graduating from post secondary now struggle to create employment opportunities? There are many reasons that I don't plan on speaking on at this time, however it is interesting to find out about the time period and get some insight about the program initiated by the federal government.
When I was in post secondary, the largest employer for the country was the federal government and during my schooling you were given a car when you graduated from University. I remember that the first car that were handed out by the government was Volkswagen and you were paid a salary of about 100 Naira/month. I believe the cost of the car was around N900 to N1000 at the time. Later on I remember the government started giving out the Peugot 504, which cost around N4,000 and if you wanted air conditioning it would cost N4,500. The government was able to do all these things because higher education was a new thing for majority of the country. Fresh graduates were very few as were universities in the country. Also, the government has the primary employer also made for a buoyant labor market. I still remember when a School Sat or high school graduate was able to get a job in civil service as an Executive Officer, while anyone graduating now go unemployed for years.
As remembered by a Nigerian living in Toronto, Canada.