Finally, please permit me to briefly talk about my book, which was officially presented two weeks ago in Owerri. The reviewer of the book, Chief Johnbosco Ozigbu spoke eloquently about the wide audience the book would attract based on its germane content. Unveiling the book, Hon. Amarachi Iwuanyanwu, Hon. Eugene Dibiagwu, Chief Cosmos Maduba, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, Dr. Magnus Onuoha, Nze Elvis Agugwe and others, each echoed Chief Ozigbu scintillating review.
Yes, in the early 80s, some decades ago, I left Nigeria hoping to return to my home country immediately after my studies, but I didn’t. Little did I know that I would be in America till this day. My only consolation was throughout the period, my spirit never left my village in particular and Nigeria in general. As a matter of fact, whenever I dream about Nigeria, the setting has always focused on the old scene—my father’s house in its original form. Though my father’s house has gone through some transformations since I left the country, but the scene has always been the original structure. So, despite my stay in America, I have always tried to maintain my presence in Nigeria, as well as keep abreast with issues at both local and national levels.
Therefore, writing became a conduit through which I maintain a consistent presence in my home country. I tried to use my writings to make a connection to Nigeria. With the issues that I have been writing about in my weekly column, I am compelled to familiarize myself with pertinent activities in Nigeria.
Consequently, writing on issues about Nigeria not only enlightened me, but it made me to deepen my knowledge of what Nigerian masses are facing, as well as the impact on the entire society. Due to the fact that technology has bridged the distance (we now live in a global community), I have been able to communicate constantly with people on the ground, read more, and ask relevant questions. In fact, some of my friends have railed me for asking too many questions and demanding immediate answers.
Based on my writings, the idea of the compendium of my relevant articles was born. In general, my book, Views from America: A Sojourner’s Memoirs- A Repertoire of Action for Nigeria’s Development has so far attracted a diverse cast of reviewers. It’s safe to say that it’s a riveting compendium of the most poignant, absorbing, and informative stories that deal with the recurring issues facing the nation. The captivating book illuminates the national problems such as, ethnic and religious politics, insecurity, corruption, and unemployment, and offers some pragmatic solutions. Views from America: A Sojourner’s Memoirs’ undercurrent is that the promise of Nigeria can still be realized if proper and deliberate actions are taken. The book is a perfect read for public officials and policymakers, as well as those in the academics.
Let me at this juncture talk briefly about some specific elements contained in the book, Views from America: A Sojourner’s Memoirs- A Repertoire of Action for Nigeria’s Development. It covers a plethora of burning issues that permeate the Nigerian society. The book looks at ethnic and religious politics as an impediment to arrays of growth and development in Nigeria. No country will be able to make giant strides with the heavy drag of ethnic and religious conflicts. Such conflicts create a destabilizing environment for development. No matter how clever the leaders may be in masking the reality or obscuring the true status of Nigerian socio-political and economic environment, the heavy load of tribalism and religious animosity will never be lifted. Thus, Nigeria needs a new paradigm, a new reformation to address some of these handicapping issues.
If you have a copy of the book, look at the dedication page. I dedicated the book to the Nigerian youth and the pensioners.
Unemployment has plagued Nigerian youth for quite too long that the consequent idleness may be counterproductive to the security of the nation.
In the same token, pensioners are dying without receiving their benefits. The pension issue touches virtually every family in Nigeria. As a result, it is a national issue.
Indeed, while workers in the U.S. eagerly look forward to retirement with the assurance that their monthly retirement income will always be there throughout their life, the same may not be in some countries, particularly in the less developed countries where the culture of corruption has permeated the fabrics of the society. Here are some excerpts from the book:
“In such corrupt countries, pension funds have become easy fodder for embezzlement but the fear of retiring with the accompanying uncertainties of income and perhaps life is real.
“The abject poverty associated with retirement is strongly reverberating among the retirees in Nigeria.
“Yes, it is deeply unnerving that retirement after working in Nigeria is like throwing someone overboard to swim or sink. And for the most part, the retirees sink in poverty and death.
“It is rather a national disgrace that retirement is like sentencing retirees to life imprisonment in abject poverty for their eventual death without dignity’’.
“So, while payment of pension benefits to the retirees in the U.S. is generally certain, Nigerian pensioners at all levels are literally left in the wilderness to fend for themselves.
“In other words, retirement in Nigeria is like being sentenced to slowly die in a scourging shallow lagoon of abject poverty. Fascinatingly, the Nigerian pension schemes are similar to American programs in some aspects.
“While Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) is similar to what is generally obtainable with the pension plan in American businesses, Nigeria’s Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) lurks perfectly behind the retirement system in various governments and other public agencies.
The much talk of delays in retirement benefits for pensioners is a serious concern for the working class and needs urgent attention to forestall such devastating occurrence.
It is therefore for the government to install a system of pensions payment such that the retiree begins to enjoy the benefits of his many years of labour immediately he retires and not to be left to die in penury.