After a very agonizing multifaceted intellectual session with senior members of our Non-Governmental Group- Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria on some of our forthcoming events, I walked into my office in the morning of Thursday May 3rd 2012 with the determination to run through some new books we have just purchased but decided to carry out my daily morning rituals of reading through copies of some of the national newspapers beginning with The Guardian. Flipping through the paper I was confronted by a full page black and white advertisement piece from the National Directorate of Employment, a department under the Federal Ministry of Labour and productivity. What actually attracted my attention was the bold photographs of the minister of Labour Mr. Emeka Wogu and that of the wife of President Good Luck Jonathan, Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
Specifically, the advertisement piece was an invitation to the inauguration of what was called the lady chaffeur trainng scheme [LCTS] even as the notice disclosed that it was a joint innitiative of the Government funded National Directorate of Employment and the privately run but lavishly funded Non- Governmental organization promoted by the wife of the President- Women for Change Developemnt Initiative. According to the authors of this public notice which incidentally appeared simultaneously in over four other national dailes, the scheme is aimed at producing 200 ladies into gainful employment as commercial drivers under what it calls the pilot phase in the Federal Capital Territory. Further buttressing the underlying objectives of the scheme, the authors stated that the scheme when operational after the inaugural ceremony billed for May 4th 2012 [though the advert in Guardian carried on Thursday May 3rd 2012 said the event is billed to take place on April 4th 2012] will among others create and empower a pool of female drivers that will meet the needs of labour market in Abuja and the immediate environment; create wealth and job satisfaction as a result of choosing driving as a trade and impart the spirit of professionalism and commitment in driving as a profession.
The first thing that came to my mind after deep reflection over the public notice was why some influential persons holding public offices and a prominent woman in the person of the wife of the first Nigerian President with an academic doctorate degree would want to give Nigeria hundreds of lady commercial drivers [or agberos as they are known in popular pallance because of their nuisance value to decent passengers] rather than design a more scientific approach towards producing better eqipped, twenty first century compliant female technicians to work in the railway industry that has gone moribund as one way of resuscitating and rejuvenating that service sector and also train female pilots who would be gainfully employed both in Nigeria and outside of of our shores with better and further enanced renumeration and internaional prestige.
Even as I write, Iam completely shocked that Government officials always engage in churning out half baked policies that are not scientifically tested and are not meant to last for a long period of time. Government officials in the Executive and legislative arms are happy to embark on the free distribution of tricycles and motorcycles to their constitutuents and other less fortunate citizens to turn them into commercial bike riders rather than commit the resources into providing better technology-driven training of the thousands of unemployed young Nigerians to be gainfully employed in ventures that can contribute tremendously to the actual growth and advancement of the nation's economy and bring about real job satisfaction for the participants and reduce the high crime rate in the society. Why are Nigerian politicians buying motorcycles for the young Nigerian graduates to use as commercial bikers even when it is known that because of paucity of turn over fund most of these cmmercial bike riders have converted these bikes as weapons and tools of perpetrating the sophisticated crimes of kidnapping for ransoms, bag snatching, gun running and targeted assasinations?
At best, the Federal Government's newly inaugurated lady Chauffeur training scheme (LCTS) is worthy of being dismissed as substantially lacking in creativity,innovation and sustainability.
Rather than spend the scarce public fund in this good -for- nothing venture, it is therefore canvassed that the Federa Government should consider the introduction of specialized technology skills' acquisition scheme specifically targeted at training younger Nigerian ladies to become middle level technicians in the petroleum and Environmental sectors and other technology related skills that will make them job creators rather than job seekers.
Like most other schemes introduced by some Government institutions and political office holders that never last, the new ladies' drivers' training scheme is absolutely bereft of creativity, innovation and therefore is not a sustainable Job creation effort in the twenty first century.
Come to think of it, is the pressing service need of most Nigerians that of commercial drivers? Assuming without conceding that Nigeria is in short supply of commecial drivers making it imperative that female citizens be encouraged to embrace commercial driving as a profession, what is the quantum of contribution to the overall national wealth and economy will the commercial drivers make towards bringing our country back from the brinks and pricipice of economic collapse which it has reached because of the monumental corruption, bribery, inefficiency of past and current political ffice holders and the civil servants? Another question to be asked is how many unemployed persons would be taken out of the streets if commercial driving is now the way out when in actual fact making someone a commercial driver will rather than take the person out of the streets will deepen the invlvement of such persons in the vices associated wth motorpark touts? This is not to say that all commercial drivers are touts and the objective of this piece is not to belittle the commercial drivers. But I ask, ow many of the female children of these political office holders would be encouraged to paticipate in the lady chaffeur training scheme being speaheaded by the wife of the President?
To assume leadership position comes with a big demand and those who aspire to become leaders must have real vision on how to transform their societies and must not engage in activities that would not bear good fruits that would last. I am of the strong belief that in these days and age, what my government should be thinking of is not to dwell in the past primitive practice but should introduce modern, technology-inclined job creation schemes for Nigerian women rather than waste scarce public fund to produce mere artisans and commercial drivers which are not the pressing needs of most Nigerian consumers. Is Government unaware that the local content law which prescribes mainstreaming of indigenous technicians and middle level experts in the foreign dominated Nigeria's crude oil industry is observed in the breach by the multi-national crude oil companies operating in Nigeria because of claims by them that local experts are in short supply? Why can we not for once be forward looking as a nation by training a pool of twenty first century compliant technicians from among our thousands of unemployed female graduates to be deployed to work in the Railway sector whenever the huge resources committed into rebuilding the moribund venture by Government begin to bear fruits that would last?
I sincerely think that every right thinking and forward looking Nigerian should be very worried that at a time that India has successfully launched a long range surface to air nuclear missile anchored by an Indian young lady Miss. Tessy Thomas, and in an era that developing countries like South Africa, Botswana, Bangladesh among others, are investing heavily in the training of their women in the technology and Aviation Industries, Nigeria is still behaving as if we are in the eighteenth century by training female commercial drivers as if that is the most pressing service need of Nigeria and Nigerians. This downward thinking of officials of government is a clear manifestation of the dearth of quality vision among those who are privileged to assume political offices or be married to powerful persons in Government.
If anything, what is expected of political leadership with vision is the formulation and implementation of projects and schemes to create sustainable employment opportunities because unemployment among younger citizens is the root of the unprecedented crime rate in the country which demands a lot more from Government to address it pragmatically rather than engage in the bonanza of sharing tricycles and second automobiles to just a few selected female citizens in the name of the so-caled lady chaffeur training scheme.
If truth be told, Nigerian Government and other leading stakeholders in the private sector should concentrate energy and resources towards training young Nigerian ladies to become competent pilots, and scientists who can build the much needed security architecture that Nigeria needs to check the unprecedented rise in terror-related violence. Government should not behave as if we live in stone age by mass producing commercial drivers whose services are not needed. To even hear the wife of the President say that Nigerias will soon begin to experience the joy of being driven by lady commercial drivers shows that those who hurriedly packaged the scheme for this gentle lady did not reflect deeply so as to evolve a better job creation scheme for the Nigerian women. The lady chaffeur training scheme is pedestrian and cheap thinking at best and must be discarded.
Although I was happy when recently Miss. Blessing Liman was celebrated as the first female fighter pilot but at the same time I felt ashame that Nigeria with all the big name that we gave to ourselves as the giant of Africa has only just produced the first female fighter pilot nearly fifty two years after gaining independence and even with the unfortunate but historic fact that Nigeria has had three years of civil war and yet Nigeria has only in 2012 produced our first female fighter pilot. I expected that the Nigerian women political leaders including the wife of the President should have brainstormed aong themselves on how to consolidate this little gain to ensure that a lot more female citizens become fighter pilots, civilian pilots and middle level technicians, engineers and sundry experts to revamp our dwindling local economy. Bill Newman in his book "10 laws of Leadership" pointed out vividly that; "Vision is the key to understanding leadership. Without vision you are just playing games with your life. Men and Women with vision see more and further than others. Leaders have empires in their brains".
Mr. Newman built his theory from what Winston Churchill wrote that; "The empires of the future are the empires of the mind". Only by development human capacity of younger Nigerians to acquire the right kinds of skills in high demands around the World will Nigeria become a better society.
+Emmanuel Onwubiko, head, Human Rights Wrietrs' Association of Nigeria writes from www.huriwa.blogspot.com.