Can Nigeria ever get it right?
By Princewill Odidi
An old class mate during post graduate school stoped earlier today to see me. He currently owns a private practice in Behavourial Management here in Atlanta and he has about 20 Staff working for him. It was good seeing him after so many years.
Ask me what he studied? He studied psychology the same course that young people study in Nigeria and are jobless because our system cannot absorb them.
But how does systems that work absorb their psychologist? Let me walk you through.
In the developed world, most psychologist own private practices just like medical doctors and it is a highly lucrative profession. So, what is the difference?
The difference is developed nations have system that make the profession lucrative, that is the difference.
How do they do it? Sometimes for most jobs, they will require a psychological evaluation before they allow you function in certain administrative and supervisory capacities, so you are forced to consult a psychologist to get a report and you pay for the service.
Second, There are certain exams you write, like drivers license test in some advanced countries, after you fail three times, before they administer the fourth exams you will be asked to bring a psychologist report, so you are forced by law to consult and pay a Physchologist. The point I am making here is that it is the government through enforcement of laws that make professions lucrative.
Sometimes your child may be too active and destructive in school, the School will ask you to see a Doctor, before the Doctor makes a prescription he will ask you to get a psychologist report.
There are cases where a doctor refers you to get a psychologist to get a report, you may have to wait for six months before the psychologist can see you for a service you are going to pay him because they are fully booked, no openings. Because so many people need psychology reports it makes the profession highly lucrative. The need drives the demand for Pychologist. But in Nigeria our psychologist are cap and file in hand looking for work. Our lawmakers lack the skills to translate policies to workable systems.
So you can now understand why in most developed countries they hardly talk about job creation, the answer is simple, they operate a system that works, a system designed to create jobs.
Now, This analysis I just made with Psychology, I can make it with Sociology, Social work, Education, and even religious studies. In advanced societies laws and regulations are designed to absorb young people immediately they graduate from universities.
Our own country has a similar system but it is not working. How can we make our country to work like these, what exactly is the problem, why do we go to school and cannot apply what we study to fix our country? Why are our best brains underutilized?
Our Legislatures that should enact these laws and uphold these administrative processes are busy climbing trees and jumping from police vans, some are busy decamping and climbing fences to enter parliament and enacting laws that cannot be applied to our society.
I had wanted to stop here, but let me just do one more example of how the system creates jobs in developed countries.
Let me explain the chain effect in medical sciences and how it creates multiple jobs.
Now, If you are sick, you will need to see a doctor. To see a doctor you need health insurance or you pay out of pocket. Because you need health insurance, every employer will attempt to sign up their employees to insurance companies. The law mandates insurance companies to pay, but in our countries insurance companies hardly pays for anything and nobody does anything. For Nigeria to work, the law has to be enforced.
If insurance companies play their part efficiently, the people will trust the system and pay premiums without hesitation. So what happens, so many insurance companies will spring up everywhere and absorb the unemployed. These are how jobs are created, by enforcing the laws sector by sector. Can you imagine the hundreds of thousands of Nigerians that would have been employed in the insurance industry if it were working?
Those without insurance and who have no jobs the government will pay for them through Medicaid or other programs. Nigeria can work if we decide to make it work.
Now, if you visit a doctor he may request blood test, by so doing lab scientist make a lot of money, at that point the doctor makes prescription. Now, you cannot walk up to any pharmacy in the developed world to buy a prescription medication without a prescription from the Doctor.
You cannot even fake a prescription because the doctor will send your prescription electronically directly to the pharmacist, so, before you get to the store your medication is packed and ready for pick up.
In developed climes, Pharmacist are well trained, they are masters in what they do. They take their time to explain the medication to the patient, explain its side effects, explain the dosage and so much more.
Let’s get back to our own system. what have we done with pharmacist in our country?
We have converted them to drugs sales boys and girls. Apart from selling drugs, some trained pharmacists are also made to sell bournvita bread and groundnut all in a pharmacy store. You find uneducated pharmacy owners shouting and abusing trained pharmacist who work for them.
Few months ago, I had visited a pharmacy shop once in Abuja, I insisted on talking directly with the pharmacist, the owner said the pharmacist was not around, I decided to leave. He called me back and said he can help me. I asked him his training, he said he did not go to school but that what he learnt under his master, he thinks he is more knowlagable than the pharmacist. I laughed and walked away.
Let me explain this, and I hope you get it. Know that It is only the system that makes the profession get the kind of respect it deserves. You go to our villages, you find small chemist trainees with little or no education giving villagers drips and prescribing medication and no one is there to stop them.
Sometimes when I see first hand these anomalies, I ask myself, can this country ever get it right? Listen to me my brothers and sisters, the answer is yes. All we need are leaders who understand how systems are designed to work. Our current crop of leaders are too busy making money and have lost touch with the common mans reality.
We need a legislature that can make laws that work, we need laws that will make and create use for different disciplines like psychology, laws that can make social workers wanted within the social service industry, laws that can create respect for the pharmacy profession, we need a school system that teachers will do the right thing, students will read to get knowledge not reading just to pass exams, we need a system that works if nigeria must move forward.
Development is no magic, it is common sense! Africans are not born stupid, we can do it if we choose. Development is actually a choice, we can choose to move forward or continue in darkness. We have seen systems work, why reinvent the wheel when you can just copy and still get it right.
Princewill Odidi is a social and political commentator writing from Atlanta USA.