opinionBy Arc Bons Obiadi
Lagos — WE recycle human beings in developing countries......We are too old to connect with the rest of the world.
Too old not in the sense of older communities, but, that the smallest percentage of us, who are either too old or too old in their respective jobs are ruling and making decisions for us and that is one of the major problems in the developing countries.
Developing countries in most part have young and energetic population willing to exploit the changing world, but because they are under the same people who have either been in power for over 10 years or have been in government services for over 35 years, the young and energetic population is often sidelined.
Instead of injecting the young and energetic ones into the system to grow the countries to a flourishing level, the older segment would recycle themselves, change positions and remain in active duty in perpetuity. We have often ignored or are afraid to confront this recycling habit of our older working people and that is making developing countries recycling depot for older politicians and decision makers.
Almost all the countries of the world have laws guiding their active work age limits and retirement ages; however, our studies indicate that most people in the developing countries falsify their ages at the time of employment either because they were older than the required age limits for the employment or not old enough.
As a result of this falsifications, these countries have people in active duty who are obviously too old to be actively engaged in civil service and decision-making positions, while the younger generations are loafing around jobless.
Not only that the younger generations are jobless, the older workers are no longer productive and because of their age declarations, the laws will keep them on our payrolls to the detriment of the growth of the countries. Because these individuals assigned or charged with our decision making are too old to exploit beyond their environments, they would challenge any new ideas and would rather maintain the status quo.
All the developing countries have brilliant and savvy young graduates in their twenties, thirties, forties and fifties who have reviewed and have excellent knowledge of our past policy failures.
They have good ideas of new polices that would turn our societies around, but would not have the opportunity because those who were responsible or championed our failed policies would not retire or allow them to come-in with new ideas and decisions that would positively impact us.
We pride ourselves crying poverty, denial, rejection, farming for subsistence, leaving developing countries for the developed countries, where sacrifices have been made to improve the standards of living of their people. We have not sat back to constructively find ways of crossing that threshold.
We have not cashed in on globalization sweeping through the world within the past 20 years. Globalization lifted a lot of countries, China, India and a list of others out of poverty line into leading economies.
Globalisation lifted a lot of countries- China, India and a host of others- out of poverty line into leading economies. We have not bothered to touch one another and change ourselves and our countries; instead we seek pity from world agencies and continue living in abject poverty and denials.
We have continually embraced competence over ideology; competence executing bad and out-dated policies without ideological objectives. We must open up and welcome progressive innovation and transformations that will lead the developing countries out of the bottom of the pyramid and atop the plateau so that they can start appreciating what they have and who they are.
Only through those can they start solving their problems, especially in the energy sector, exploring energy saving services without affecting lives and properties, rather improving them. Look into alternative energy sources to improve their power supply, create jobs, sustain jobs, retain small businesses and industries that create jobs in their communities.
Through the innovative schemes, and joining the economic paradigm shift brand named globalization, efforts must be made by our old and exhausted policy makers to prepare the environment for investments to come.
By environment, I mean, policies that would encourage and enable investors to safely come and invest in the countries. Surprisingly, almost every company, country, person with strong financial resources outside the developing countries, sees Africa as the land of opportunities, covered with diamonds and gold.
Realistically, most of them, when they talk about Africa, were actually talking about the sub-Sahara Africa. Sub-Sahara Africa must find ways to stop being the water at the bottom of the well and rather be on ground, drawing water at the bottom of the well. They must start seeing what investors are seeing in Africa.
By so doing, the younger workers will be willing to take the risk and find ways of exploring and restoring our past glories, if ever given the chance. However, their problems are the concerns of the older segments that are not willing to retire because of their government retirement ages that protected their jobs.
In the eyes of the older segments, the young shall never grow. They believe that the younger workers are inexperienced. While that may not be completely true, there may be some validity to it. However, who has monopoly of knowledge and experience in this world?
They could learn on the job while attached to the older group (protégée programme). We must not forget that some of the younger generation workers are CEOs of successful companies and as literature has it, "he who is on the ground fears no fall". People are already suffering and disconnected with the rest of the world and willing to take any risk that will lead them to greener pastures.
Risking and taking chances with the younger generation for a better life would not be of concern to anyone. As it is, some of the policies put in place by the older generation workers are deeply divided, depending on how rich one is, who his godfather is, where he works and of what race he is?
Undeniably, some of those failed policies put in place by the older generation workers protected their jobs, especially those that falsified their ages at the time of hiring. The issue of who the policies were meant for, negatively impacts our already existing policies that are hardly implemented.
High level politicians and financially strong segments of the population do whatever they like and get away without prosecution. Those older workers, when forced to retire from active service, a good number of them would lobby their ways into being retained as consultants and the same failed practices would continue.
The falsification of age has also affected and diminished sports in most of the developing countries. The same syndrome affecting our work force is also affecting the sports communities where the countries believe that they must cheat on the ages of their athletes to gain advantage.
Unfortunately, some of those countries' athletes have either been shamefully embarrassed by disqualifications or they could not perform to the standards of the opposing teams.
One of the dangerous consequences of staying in the office too long is that the powerful office holder believes that the position is hereditary and must be kept by family members.
There have been incidences where older workers and politicians planted family members as their replacements whether or not they have the qualifications to keep that position. Fathers would forcefully place their sons, daughters and wives in any benefiting positions to keep the family legacy. In a simple term, we reward illegality.
Most of the older workers and politicians are not concerned about their working ages; they only preoccupy themselves with their myopic views, jobs and prosperity for their nucleus families.
During his active days, Einstein said, "Only a life lived for others is worth living" and our people never thought of that. It should be proper to say that at that age and having accumulated wealth for themselves and their generations to come, that they should concern themselves with how many people are receiving meaningful education in their communities. Not only education, but how many scholarships are they giving out every year in their communities to encourage and support upward growth?
Employment, they should be asking whether at that age, whether they have created enough employment opportunities for millions of people their old age decisions are affecting. Are they crossing international boarders and attracting lucrative businesses and industries that would create enough jobs to occupy the youths and young school leavers in their communities other than crossing international boarders for their public paid medical treatments?
Richard Nixon, in his own words took it a bit further by saying that, throughout his public life, that he dedicated himself to furthering the causes of peace, freedom, opportunity, and justice, not only for the people of the United States but also for the people in the world. That was how Nixon looked at his duties, giving back to communities.
In the third world countries, policy makers epitomized monopoly. Monopoly of office, monopoly of using and abusing public resources and all those fueled their ego and arrogance. That monopoly gave them unwarranted impetus to impose or express superiority over others just for psychological comforts.
As unfortunate as it may sound, we have diversity of views, interpretations and everyone is an expert in our communities yet, we cannot come together to formulate an agenda that would lead us to a saving ground.
The question is, how do we harmonize all our views and interpretations and move forward for the growth and development of the developing countries? To that I have no answer, but the intent of this article is not to generate speculative arguments over our problems, but to list them so that we can constructively start addressing them instead of holding parochial views and policies that have failed us in the past.
Looking for the solutions to our problems, we must start talking about our principals and collective growth and not our emotional accumulations, wealth, belongings most of which were illegally accumulated.
Our accumulated wealth is only self gratifying and rhetoric to the poor, illiterates and some intellectuals impressed by it. I do not have problems with riches, conservatives and literates, but we must draw a line, reach a compromise and find a way to come to the center and move forward.
We have our opinions that must be respected by opposing fronts, but are our opinions oppressive, subjective and in most part, discriminatory? We should keep oppressive opinions and policies aside and work towards free-market policies to cross the poverty threshold and alleviate sufferings in our people.
The discontentment in our people is beyond reproach yet; we come from countries with vast mineral resources and rich enough to compete with the western and Asian economic giants.
To get Nigeria and other developing countries growing and in positive ways, we must defy economic theories, text book policies and shabby ideological principals. None of these can tell or direct us on how well, to develop these countries. We have either passed the text book era or yet to arrive there. These countries must be developed or grow through practical approaches and what we see on our streets and communities and that will be the solutions.
We are not hiring the best and our people are staying in one position too long and unproductive. Not only that they stay in positions too long, some of them arrogate too much powers to themselves, creating high and tough buffers that opposing fronts are so afraid to cross or challenge. No economy grows without challenges and especially, from opposing fronts.
Quite frankly, we don't see the gradual, but extreme effects of our weak policies especially, in poor communities where most of our policy makers and politicians never visit.
Developing countries have communities of experts most of whom have zero credibility. As long as one can manipulate him or herself into affluence, gets in front of the television cameras or access to a radio station, the individual has an opinion and automatically becomes an expert.
As long as an individual can manipulate his or her way in front of the individual's political party's hierarchy and gets elected, the individual automatically becomes an expert, an adviser to the president. Some of them are even appointed ambassadors to foreign countries irrespective of their pedigree and exposure.
Some, when elevated, do not concern themselves with our food prizes, the level of poverty in our communities which incidentally, were the same communities they grew up in. We, the populace have failed.
We are not challenging our policy makers and making it clear to them that our problems should be their concerns. We have failed because we are not insisting on talents and qualities in our policy makers.
We have failed because we do not even understand the complexities of the problems we are dealing with. In the developed and western world, their leadership comes mostly from successful and influential educated, business, academic communities and seasoned government technocrats with proven records and mostly too young to get attention in the developing countries.
In developing countries, the reverse is the case and it is affecting us. A George-town professor, Carroll Quigley, analyzed America's greatness in a very simple way, that America was the greatest nation in history because our people had always believed in two great ideas: that tomorrow can be better than today, and that every one of us has a personal, moral responsibility to make it so.
Yes, the people in America have the moral responsibility to work and grow their economy in a positive direction, but their counterparts in developing countries focus mostly, in faith and religious devotions for salvation.
In developing countries, we devote too much time and attention to religious activities without adequate dedication and sincere efforts to progressive research work towards self improvements. We trust so much in providence and even the bible said that "heaven helps those who help themselves." We have always believed that manner will fall from heaven, but forgetting that the days manner fell from heaven are behind us.
Arc Bons Obiadi, a member of the Nigerian Institute of Architects writes from Lagos