Outside looking in

October 1, 2017

You cannot have your cake and eat it

You cannot have your cake and eat it

By Denrele Animasaun

“Every generation must fight the same battles again and again and again. There is no final victory, and there is no final defeat, and so a little bit of history may help” -Tony Benn

A riposte- Can Kanu please stand up?

Ojukwu was interviewed some years back and he was asked: why some people want to provoke another war? He said: “I led the first one and I proudly led the first but, it would be a mistake to provoke another war and a second war is not necessary”. He added that: “we should have learnt from the first one otherwise, the deaths would have been in vain and to no avail”.

It would be wise taking this advice from the man himself. Peace does not come with a clenched fist; we all have to be open and willing to come together for the sake of the next generation. If we are harbouring bad feelings and resentment over five decades, and intend on another it will be tragic and our children’s children will not thank us. In fact, history will not be kind to us if we do not choose peace over war.

“Each person matters; no human life is redundant. Every individual must be given the opportunity to live a life in which his or her basic needs are provided for and in which, so far as it is reasonably possible, their full potential is realised”-Cardinal Basil Hume

World Mental Health Day 2017

Every year, the 10th of October is recognised as World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is mental health in the workplace. The aim is that all stakeholders facilitate and raise mental health awareness, provide opportunities for workers to talk about wellbeing at work, and what needs to be done to improve mental health wellbeing at work. Let us be clear here, mental health is different from mental illness. Sometimes, people tend to equate mental health and illness as one and the same. It is not.

The stigma of becoming mentally unwell frightens society that a mere mention of the word” mental,” makes people uncomfortable, despite the fact that one in four will have experienced some form of mental health condition at some point in their lives. Last week, a study shows that about 45 million of Nigerians have a diagnosable mental illness or conditions. I think this is a conservative estimate, the figures most be twice as much. The stigma taboo, suspicion, ignorance, daily stresses and lack of government investment in mental health care makes the figure much more higher.

The good news is working can prevent or reduce the incidence of mental illness. Productivity and a country’s wealth there depends on workers improved conditions at work. Happy workers make a nation richer!  So if workers are not happy at work, it will adversely impact on productivity.

We know for the last three years majority of public workers have had their wages reduced or not paid for months. This has a great impact on the mental health and general wellbeing of millions of workers and their dependants. Mental health issues have been shown to increase employee absenteeism, lower rates of productivity and increased costs.  Workers spend a lot of time at work and so it makes sense to improve the wellbeing of the working Nigerians. So time for employers and managers to put in place workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who may be finding difficult or experiencing stress in the workplace. Improving the wellbeing of workers will help improve productivity at work. Studies have shown that a negative working environment can lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity.

Depression and anxiety disorders are common mental disorders in the workplace and impairs the workers ability to work, and to work productively. Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability. More than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders and a  recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity.

So it is in the best interest of every employer to ensure that they improve the mental wellbeing of workers in workplace. Nigerian public and private employers are notorious for the poor standards and deplorable working conditions provision for workers. It is a scandal and a shame. It pays to treat workers well because improved working conditions will increase the overall mental wellbeing of their workforce.  This is a win-win situation. Nigeria can ill afford to continue mistreating employees and with over 170 million people and  high rate of population growth, the country will  need to create 40 to 50 million additional jobs between now and 2030.

If Nigeria is to prosper, reduce poverty, promote more inclusive growth, then the government needs to address workers welfare reform now.

This may sound alien to people, but workers have rights and the government have safeguard these rights, promote and improve the lives of every working Nigerians.

Three new World Bank reports on the challenges facing the country.  The report: “More and More Productive, Jobs for Nigeria” provides a detailed overview of jobs, workers, and employment opportunities, while “Understanding and Driving Private Sector Growth in Nigeria” studies constraints and drivers of firm-level growth and implications for employment.” And the third report “Skills for Competitiveness and Employability” examines the demand in priority economic and job growth sectors and how to ensure that Nigerians have the right skills and conditions to improve working lives of Nigerian workers.

Nigeria has an uphill climb to make, prepare and provide the country’s workers for the future.  Rachid Benmessaoud of World Bank Country Director for Nigeria said: “Understanding where people work, constraints to firm growth, and the skills needed is fundamental for formulating appropriate policies,” says “The solid, detailed diagnostics in these reports are critical inputs to developing education and jobs strategies for Nigeria.” So the successive government better have a blueprint to deliver a better, more competent and a happier workforce the future of Nigeria.

Right now, the country is ill prepared and the report indicates that “two Nigerians” seem to be emerging: one in which high and diversified growth provides more job and income opportunities, and one in which workers are trapped in traditional subsistence activities. The reports also show a geographic divide, with northern Nigeria having low levels of education access and high youth underemployment than the South. Although skills required in Nigeria remain mostly manual, the South is experiencing more demand for the cognitive skills required by the new knowledge economy.

Right now, majority of Nigerian workers employed are locked into low-productivity and low-income work, with no job or income security. This is what is wrong with the country; our working citizens have been denied adequate working conditions and it impacts greatly on their wellbeing.   Many cannot exist on one salary and many have side hustle to keep mind and body together. Even with this, it is not enough to prevent or escape poverty, or attain middle class status for their households.

There is mentality that dates back to colonial times that workers should be grateful that they have a job! Time we changed the mindset; workers deserve to be paid for their work and they should be shown some respect and appreciation. Nigerians workers have to compete with rest of the world and they should be equipped with the tools to improve their productivity. Roughly 30 percent of young Nigerians are not in training or education. The government has to improve access to up to date skills and they should provide better and robust policies and programs to improve the quality of workers and prepare them for future working lives.

From my archive:

I received a post in my mail box, sometime last week that tweaked my interest. This is a desperate state of affairs. When do older Nigerians pass on the baton over to younger people or maybe the old saying that “old soldier never dies”? So we assume like old soldiers, our politicians will fade away? I don’t think there is a chance of that happening anytime soon.

They seem to be fixated to the allure of power and they have dug themselves so like the old despot, Idi Amin, they want to remain President for life! Have they ever considered that the younger people are looking at them and learning their ways? So what happens when they are no longer physically able to “govern?” Then we will have a vacuum so dangerously wide that there would be no one capable to fill it. They, the politicians are squandering the young peoples’ future through their neglect and dereliction of duty.

So what have they done to include our young in nation building, have they invested in their well being or citizenship? So where would the next up and coming citizens be coming from, who will be worthy of holding public office?

As promised here is the post I received: So have a good read:

“In 1979, Bamanga Tukur was the Governor of the defunct Gongola State (now Adamawa & Taraba) and 33 years after, he is still the Chairman of the ruling Party. Dr. Bello Halliru was commissioner in the Old Sokoto State (now Sokoto, Kebbi & Zamfara) and 33 years after, he remains  the Minister of Defence(until recently); Major General David Mark (rtd) was the military governor of Niger State in 1984 and 28 years after he is still the Senate President; Governor Murtala Nyako was the governor of Niger State in 1976 and 36 years after he is still the Governor of Adamawa state; Ogbonnaya Onu was governor of Abia State in 1992 and 20 years after he is still the National Chairman of ANPP “ and the list goes on. I will not bore you, but you get the gist and then it concluded that “in 1985, IBB was the president of Nigeria and he wants become the president again.

These political musical chairs has gone on long enough; for far too long our politicians have seen the post as their political birth right. They even divvied up our country and grab pieces of states like a gold rush .Well when, IBB did abdicate in 1993, but then had a change of mind and he joined the power rush in 2011.

No wonder that young people are hesitant to participate in the political machinery that does not include them; in fact it actively isolates them to the fringes of mainstream politics.

About time these politicians stopped playing political musical chairs with our nation’s younger generation. They do not care that many of our younger people are not in employment, training or in education so they wonder why our society is  so morally vacuous? Our young people are starved of any meaningful future, instead they are more likely to be involved in crime, worsening ill health, poverty, abuse of all sorts, high mortality rate, increasing poverty circle and there is no life line or opportunity given to get them out of the perpetual insecurity and economic servitude. So how have they prepared them to take over or even still compete with the rest of the world? So when is enough? There has to be a limit. It is high time the old guard quietly let go and retire gracefully to pasture.

I mean they have feathered their nest enough haven’t they? No matter how much they repackage the politics or political parties, the mixture remains the same; old wine in new bottles, still the same old plunk not worthy of its vintage. And yes, we know about the old trick where they secure their own political successors. There is so much pride in knowing when to bow out gracefully”-2015.