Nigeria’s economic fortune has remained in the doldrums for quite some time. Successive administrations and governments have applied so many theories at different times and periods without much been achieved. Many economic experts believe that the monolithic nature of the economy, which depends mostly on an internationally volatile commodity –petroleum, will remain the bane of our economic emancipation and development until the economic-system is diversified.
Many of the nations eggheads in economic matters are of the opinion that massive investment in Agriculture will turn the fortunes of the nation for the better. Quite a number of them believed that investment in agriculture, without creating conducive environment for such investment to be sustained will eventually lead to nowhere, if the value chains in agriculture are not developed. The agricultural value chain will be the driving engine of the system. At present, there seems to be a lacuna in which the entrepreneurial skills are largely lacking. The school systems have failed in this regard and Nigeria need to jumpstart her economy.
Years ago as a fresh veterinarian, we needed a second shop at Ibusa after the first in Asaba. A friend took me to a shop owner along Umejie Road. The shop owner in his seventies with his walking stick walked us to the large warehouse. He said “I built this for myself while in service hoping to retire to it, to establish the biggest supermarket in this town. But when I retired, I found out that I was tired”. However, we couldn’t pay for the shop but the encounter made an impression on me. I reflected on this a number of times later and believed that the old man could have given others jobs had he retired earlier than he did.
Retirement age in different countries ranges from 45 years in Turkey to 70 years in Australia. In Nigeria, the retirement age has been pegged at 60. But organized labour has been asking for up grading to 65 years. Judges have up to 70 years before they will retire and that is also applicable to professors in the Universities. Generally, retirement age is determined by many factors according to different countries’ peculiarities. The factors include – demographic, unemployment rate, age distribution, economic system, level of economic development, Social factors, etc.
Countries with high population like Nigeria should develop a retirement system where civil and public servants retire early. Their wealth of experience will be plunged into developing entrepreneurial skills for the diversification of the nation’s economy. In Nigeria with over 170million people, labour will be relatively cheap and there is a large ready market for goods and services for the entrepreneur who may have been exposed and experienced in the workings of the service and still have the strength or energy to work.
In climes where birth rate is low, people tend to work for a higher number of years in service, because they do not have young people that will replace them. This probably explains the green card visa that the Americans flash to us and poach on our young men and women to replace their ageing population. Before Lee Kwan Yaw of Singapore died, he regretted the policy of low birth rate he introduced in his country then, as the factories do not have people to work in them later. In Nigeria, unemployed youths are everywhere but no factories to work in. Civil and public servants that have put in a reasonable number of years in service should be pulled out for younger ones to enter and be allowed to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSA) that will shape them into the required entrepreneurs that Nigeria so much desired, at this point in National development.
If we as a nation earnestly desire to move from this our level of underdevelopment to a developed economy, the need for more entrepreneurs cannot be overemphasized. The civil and public services can be restructured to be the breeding ground for future entrepreneurs. In the new system, every graduate who does not get employed in private or corporate enterprises after one year of National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) scheme, will be automatically employed in the civil or public service. They will be expected to go through the ranks within a maximum of 20 years. On retirement at about 40-45 years with the training and experience so acquired, they will be better placed to start their own businesses. They will also still have age on their side for greater exploits in the business world. They will create jobs for others.
Socially, the present system is awkward. A situation where parents are working in the civil and public services and their graduate wards are roaming the streets unemployed. It is debasing, and we want a crime free society. Leaving the civil or public service early will create the urgency needed in our national life to develop this economy. Presently, employment into the service tends to foreclose life’s horizon for the servant, making them redundant and ineffective.
Banks and other financial institutions will be more at home to lend money to retiring senior servants who they have had relationship with over the years than young school leavers who may want such services. With the contributory pensions that the country is running now, collaterals for loans may be easier. This at the long run will provide the much-needed funds, which seem to be the most reoccurring decimal in the business calculations of most entrepreneurs in the country. The multiplier effect of all these will be greater employment opportunities for the teaming unemployed youths of Nigeria.
Automatic employment of young graduates into the civil or public services will also enhance the redistribution of economic power to most poor people of the country. Presently, it is only those who know or are connected to the rich and powerful that get employment into the services. The system has made it possible for them to remain there until they are close to the grave and they make way for their children to enter and remain. For peace and enduring prosperity to thrive in any society there must be equal opportunity for all.
Early retirement of civil and public servants will in the long term save a lot of money spent on wages. Reduction in the recurrent expenditure is one of the means of developing infrastructure for the general wellbeing of all citizens. This will also impact on the social and capital projects of the governments.
Dr. Adimorah, writes from Asaba

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