Wednesday 16 September 2015

Unilorin best graduating student in search of a good job 6 years after graduation

University of Ilorin's best graduating student from
the Faculty of Education in 2009, Ruth Idi Okpoto
now Mrs Ruth Omopariola-Bolarinwa, a deaf lady,
has cried out for help after searching for a good and
well paying job six years after she graduated from

In an email she sent to Education Review & obtained
by The Sun, Ruth who is now a married mother of
one, narrated her fruitless efforts in searching for a
well paying job. She shared on how tribalism,
nepotism and her deafness have militated against
her getting a job that will tally with her educational

She says she currently works at a
school in Ogun state where she coordinates the
PTA group. She called on her alma mata, Exxon
Mobil and others to help her with a job. Excerpts of the mail below

“To set the record straight I am not a deaf-mute.
Not all deaf people are dummies. I am a bilingual
deaf person with a mild hearing loss. I became deaf
in 1997 at the age of 15 while in SS 1 at Dairy Farm
Secondary School, Lagos. I have already acquired
language proficiency before the sickness that
caused my hearing loss started then.

After the
illness, I discovered I couldn’t hear very well
whenever people talk to me unless I read their lips.

Despite this hearing difficulty, I continued my
education at the school.

“At a point, I confided in the Vice Principal
(Academic) Deaconess Afolabi but she didn’t
believe me because according to her I could speak
and hear her. She decided to check my academic
records but was surprised to realize how brilliant I
was as a deaf person. From there, she showed
interest in me and adopted me. She later introduced
me to her husband – Pastor Toye Afolabi.

supported me to further my education at Kwara
State College of Education, Oro, in 1999, after the
completion of my SSCE. I lived and grew up under
their loving care for more than 15 years till I got
married in 2011.

“When I got admissions into University of Ilorin
(UNILORIN), they encouraged and supported me. I
did not even know sign language then but I excelled
at the College where I studied Agriculture. I did my
IT at the Lagos State Agriculture Development
Authority without the help of any interpreter.

I have
a good rapport with people. Some people think I am
pretending to be deaf whenever I tell them about it
because of the way I relate with them. I didn’t attend
any special school but I learnt the skill of sign
language while teaching at Christian Mission School
for the Deaf at Ibadan in 2003.
“I am physically, mentally, emotionally and morally
sound, and very assertive. I love interacting with
people but I don’t like to be taken for granted.

Intellectually, I like reading and researching. I also
love playing football. Mind you, I am still playing
football even now as a nursing mother. My friend
used to call me Tomboy in those days because I
like doing what boys do. I love tasks that challenge
my intellect.

My husband and I have similar
condition. He is deaf but he can speak English
fluently. We are both qualified graduates from
University of Ilorin. He is, at present, working with
Ogun State Teachers Service Commission.

“I scored a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA)
of 4.45. That was the score I saw on the result
sheet in the first semester of my final year. After
the completion of my study I graduated with a
second class honour (Upper Division).
“On the efforts made so far to get a good job, I had
wanted to work with the University of Ilorin.

is a lecturer at the Faculty of Education, I was so
fond of her even till today. Leaving her was, indeed,
a difficult challenge for me. The affection I have for
her made my desire to work in the university
stronger and that was what motivated me to do my
NYSC in the institution.

The lecturer is now a
professor. I was then lucky to serve at the newly
established Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies
(CPSS) headed by her (Prof. Olasehinde Williams).
Before the completion of my NYSC, I wrote a letter
requesting to be retained but got no response then.

“After the completion of my one mandatory youth
service, I continued to apply for job whenever the
university released vacancies. I think I have done
so thrice. The former Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ishaq
Oloyede, was making attempt to employ me based
on my application which was submitted to him in
2012/2013. I later learnt that he was about to do that
before his tenure expired.

I wrote a letter explaining
the situation to the new Vice Chancellor (Prof.
Ambali) in 2013 and, in fact, re-applied last year
but the vacancy was put on hold.

“Another opportunity came when ex-President
Goodluck Jonathan gave disabled people
employment opportunity in 2013. I joined others to
apply and traveled with my husband to Abuja for the
interview in November. My daughter was just seven
months old when I embarked on the journey with
her. The selection process was based on our
qualification and I had the faith that I would be
selected since I was the only applicant with second
class honour (Upper Division) among the deaf
applicants from Ondo State.

I was disappointed
when my name did not appear on the list of those
shortlisted due to what I will call “connection,
godfatherism and tribalism syndrome” which has
become a social norm in Nigeria as far as
employment is concerned. If the Ondo
Commissioner had selected us based on merit,
there is no way I would not be qualified since there
was no written test or oral interview.

“My surname, Okpoto, must have affected me
because that was the name on my credentials but
having married a man from that state the
Commissioner should have considered me qualified.

I regretted not applying through the Delta State
Commission as I would have been given the job

The most painful aspect of this experience
was the refusal by the Commissioner to give my
husband, an indigene of the state, his posting/
appointment letter. Initially, his name was on the list
but was later short-changed with someone else
known to the Commissioner.

“Another instance where tribalism and connection
really affected me was at the Lagos State
Scholarship Board exam in 2004/2005. The then
governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had forwarded my
application for oversea scholarship to the board for
immediate action. The Director of the board (Mr.
Badmus) told me that I was not born in Lagos
because of my surname (Okpoto). I told him I was
born and bred in Lagos but he refused to treat the

The institution abroad (Rochester Institute of
Technology), had awarded me scholarship for only
tuition fee but I could not raise funds to cover other
expenses. Life is indeed full of experiences but I will
never give up.

“As noted above, a situation where political
connection, godfatherism and tribalism are used as
yardsticks for recruitment is psychologically and
emotionally disturbing. Imagine the stress I passed
through traveling to Abuja from Ibadan with a
seven-month old baby for the civil service
interview. This is too bad! But I believe that life
goes on!

Things will change for the better now that
President Muhammad Buhari is making effort to
sanitize the system. The Disability Rights Bill is long
overdue. The President should, please, assent to the
bill to protect the employment and fundamental
rights of persons with disabilities.

“At the moment I am living with my husband and
managing to work as employee of Parent Teachers
Association in a school in Ogun State. The monthly
take-home pay is meagre. But what more can I do?
I have tried so many places without any result.

Everywhere I go, some people would ask some
funny questions like “you are from where?” “You do
not look like a Yoruba”, “Your father’s name is an
Igbo name.” Deafness is another barrier as the
society does not want to employ deaf and disabled
people. They usually experience employment
discriminations due to their disability. But disability
is not inability! There is nothing the deaf cannot do.
The only difference between us and our hearing
counterparts is our inability to hear which in my
own case is partial. The society especially
employers of labour should know that deafness is
not an insurmountable barrier to success.

I can
teach. I can lead. I can do mathematical
calculations etc. What is more? Let the society try
us first and see what we can do.
“I can work in government ministries, agencies and
parastatals as well as private companies in
administrative capacity. My computer skill is also
an added advantage. As a holder of first degree in
Educational Guidance and Counseling, I can provide
counseling service for young people. Apart from the
university job, I can work in oil companies like
ExxonMobil or in telecommunication companies like
GLO, MTN, Etisalat or Airtel, in the area of computer
operation, data processing and network or in any
other administrative duty that may be assigned to

“I am still searching for a good job and I am
pleading with the University of Ilorin management to
help me. I don’t think the University has abandoned
me. I guess the new Vice Chancellor is not aware of
the fact that I served at the university and I am not
sure if he received my appeal letter.

The former
Vice Chancellor was working on my application
before his tenure ended in 2013, so I think the new
Vice Chancellor in the person of Prof. AbdulGaniyu
Ambali should reopen my case as regarding
employment. I appreciate my parent/pastor Deacon
Toye Afolabi, Prof Alasehinde Williams, Prof.
Omotosho, Prof Adegoke, Dr. Esere etc for their
efforts in assisting me.
“To be honest with you, having good job will make it
possible for me to achieve my goals and give back
to society. It is my dream to become a lecturer so
with good job I will be able to save money to further
my education. I need to go back to school for my
masters and PHD.

I also want to set up an NGO that
will empower disabled people especially young ones
that are not educable to acquire vocational skills
that will make them self-reliant and to contribute
meaningfully to the growth of their fatherland rather
than roaming the streets and begging for money. An
adage says: “if you give a child a fish, you feed him
for a day. But if you teach him how to fish, you feed
him for a lifetime. I want to assist young people to
have the financial muscles to feed themselves for a
lifetime. I also have a business plan in mind but
there is no money to get started. I believe with good
job I can achieve all these.”

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