- 3 commissioners suspended for improper dressing in Ebonyi
- CBN issues two new merchant bank licences
- Ekiti PDP accuses ACN of attacking members
- Daniel eulogises HID Awolowo at 97
- Jonathan hails Koroma's re-election
- Collapsed man: Edo dep gov threatens Airhiavbere
- Communal clash: Police arrest gang leader, 12 others in Nasarawa
- Corruption: There ‘ll be no sacred cow - Jonathan
- Amosun’s wife tasks students on reading culture
- Flooding: Dangote committee sets N50bn target
- Adamawa LG election conducted peacefully
- 1999 Constitution: Women group calls for amendment to gender-biased provisions
Selected speeches of Awo My aim is to raise the level of our public debate
IT is easy to understand that when a person is unemployed or underemployed, it simply means that in the case of a worker there is either no job opportunity at all, or not enough job opportunity for him. If he is a self-employed person, it means that either people don't want his goods and services at all, or do not want enough of them to keep him fully employed. In other words, unemployment or under-employment simply means non-utilisation or under- utilisation of human resources, as well as under-utilisation or misutilisation of natural resources.
In a mature economy suffering from incipient or secular stagnation, some unemployment may be excusable. There, all the natural and material resources, which are not economically redundant, are already being fully utilised, and the additional employment of a single manpower calls for technological and managerial feat of a surpassing character. But in a virile and growing economy such as ours - with super-abundant resources only the fringes of which are only so far being tapped - to talk of impracticability of full employment is a confession of our utter impotence or reprehensible unwillingness to mobilise and deploy our resources to provide, in Beveridge's words, 'more vacant jobs than unemployed men.'
In this book, I have indicated five courses of action, which must be pursued for the attainment of full employment. I will only call attention briefly to two of them, which are more crucial than the others.
The first obvious step towards full employment is to ascertain the number and geographical distribution of the unemployed and under-employed persons in Nigeria. Once this is done, the second step will be to observe, and strictly adher to the first of what Beveridge, in his famous book, FULL EMPLOYMENT IN A FREE SOCIETY, describes as 'three rules of finance', which enjoins that 'total outlay (that is investment) at all times must be sufficient for full employment'.
With regard to this first rule Beveridge declares: This is a categorical imperative taking precedence over all other rules and overriding them if they are in conflict with it'.
In other words, Beveridge regards his first rule of finance as absolute; and goes further to affirm Keynes's view that ‘in a community suffering from deficient demand' (that is from unemployment and under-employment), it is better to employ people on useless projects, like 'PYRAMID BUILDING, OR DIGGING HOLES AND FILLING THEM UP AGAIN, THAN NOT TO EMPLOY THEM AT ALL. IN DEFAULT OF A BETTER POLICY DIRECTED TO THE PRODUCTION OF USEFUL THINGS', Beveridge continues, 'ANY OF THESE MAY BE BETTER THAN DOING NOTHING AT ALL. THOSE WHO ARE TAKEN INTO USELESS EMPLOYMENT WILL, BY WHAT THEY EARN AND SPEND, GIVE USEFUL EMPLOYMENT TO OTHERS. IT IS BETTER TO EMPLOY PEOPLE, HOWEVER THE MONEY FOR PAYING THEIR WAGES IS OBTAINED, THAN NOT TO EMPLOY THEM AT ALL: ENFORCED IDLENESS IS A WASTE OF REAL RESOURCES AND WASTE OF LIVES WHICH CAN NEVER BE MADE GOOD, AND WHICH CANNOT BE DEFENDED ON ANY FINANCIAL GROUND'.
I only want to add now that it is my considered opinion that we can, mainly from our own internal resources, and partly from such external resources as we can requite with our exports, provide enough outlay or investment for the attainment of full employment in Nigeria. What we need above all things are scientific planning, efficient organization, honesty, and discipline.
I am fully aware, and it is, I think, agreed by common consent that the most controversial topic in this book is FREE EDUCATION AT ALL LEVELS. For this reason, I have devoted considerable space to an extensive and detailed discussion of the subject at page 47-57 and 102-130 of the book. At pages 47 and 48, I have said as follows:
'Only two years ago, the areas of controversy concerning this subject were social desirability, financial practicability, and priority. Today, the first has all but disappeared. But there are still many who genuinely doubt our capability to find the means to introduce and maintain free education at all levels, in the foreseeable future. I have, therefore, decided to consider only the other two aspects of the debate: priority, and financial feasibility'.
Since penning these words, and especially within the past few days, the area of controversy has been further narrowed, in responsible and respectable quarters, to financial practicability. If we could find the money, it was said, the scheme could start at once.
I agree that free education at all levels is a very expensive programme. But I most strongly disagree with those who declare that it is beyond the resources of Nigeria to embark on the programme now. Accordingly, I will try to demonstrate presently, as has been carefully done in the book, that the scheme is financially practicable NOW.
But before doing so, I would like to express my dismay at the extreme superficiality, and the utter scholastic inadequacy of some of our so-called intellectuals in their approach to this very important subject.
(To be continued)
Page 7 of 124