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The challenges we face on the rising insecurity and social vices, including kidnappings and ritual killings now at their epidemic levels go beyond inadequate employments for all the currently unemployed and even semi employed as the most effective solution. I don’t deny that absence of profitable engagements of those concerned is a contributory factor to the malaise. But I am of the firm opinion that empirical evidence on the grounds requires that we first and foremost undertake a well thought-out social reengineering programme.

First, incredible though it may sounds but not all those currently engaged in the offending vices of thuggery, thievery, armed robberies, kidnappings, streets begging and ritual killings will readily embrace alternative employment regardless of the lucres that such alternatives may offer. This is because most of them are already addicted to what they are doing now and besides or inspite of financial rewards of alternative resettlement will rather stick to their current mode of engagement as they primarily derive lots of psychological pleasure carrying out their nefarious acts. Consider the armed robbers that kill their victims for no other reason than bloodletting!

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Sometime ago, I was exploring with other like minds the possibility of providing little little financial assistance for the elderly beggars for them to start some small scale tradings that will take them off the streets. A senior member of my club hearing us then decided to widen our horizons by sharing his experience with us: a couple of months ago he and a group of his friends were seized by the same thoughts and accordingly accosted an elderly woman that had made the entrance to our club her regular begging point. After giving her the amount she herself asked for they heaved a sigh of relief and relished helping out an elderly woman in distress! But they sighed too soon because the woman rather than take up her new financially sponsored trade simply relocated to another area! Imagine the disillusionment of my senior member and his group to the reality of the so-called poor people on the streets.

Before dismissing the experience of my senior friend as an abberation, I equally at another location on another far away time encountered an elderly man hawking cassette and CDs on Apogbon bridge. I felt so much for him and decided to see if I could resettle him into a more comfortable albeit much more profitable engagement but I regret to report that my wish for the old man to stop the streets hustlngs came to nothing which reaffirm the reality of those engaging in crimes and anti social behaviours needing more than alternative emploments to be converted from their present anti social occupations. And lending further credence to such people being far more addicted to their unsavoury ways of lives is the scientific conclusion of the sociologists and psychologists that the prime motivation for rape isn’t sex but for the rapists to achieve the pumped up adrenalin to subjugate and inflict pains on their victims!

Psychologists canvass breaking off a negative habit before a meaningful rehabilitation can be truly attained. This is one of the reason in addition to the sad experiences cited above why I believe our govts shouldn’t just embark on creating alternative emploments without first doing the needful by subjecting all these people to psychotherapy programme to identify their inclinations to their present occupations, wean them off before embarking on creating acceptable alternative jobs for them. Failure to do this will most unlikely produce the desirable results regardless of money and other resources put into creating the alternative emploments. How many of the streets urchins reportedly removed for rehabilitation have actually stay faithful to the programme despite the huge amount of money and efforts expended on them?

On a related note, many people readily condemn the host of our people tropping overseas to engage in menial jobs that abound here. A relevant point invariably missed out of such condemnations is that unlike here in Nigeria such menial jobs overseas and even in some African countries are well structured to make those engaging in them not to be too self conscious of their socially unpopular jobs because being structured conferred some level of respectability on the people engaged in such menial jobs. And they also can like their peers in white collar jobs have access to all that will make lives meaningful and fulfilling unlike what obtains here where streets sweepers, cleaners, hospitals, mortuary attendants and the likes are looked down upon. When I observed that there usually was a provision stores owned mostly by Asians at almost every street and road in England, I wondered if I also could just open my shop as we do here but found a tightly regulated process. I also discovered that on an off licence bar one can only buy drinks to take back home for consumption unlike here when there is practically no difference in the operations of both “On” and “Off” liquor stores. I know quite a lot of those that believe in the “dignity of labour” who won’t mind taking to streets cleaning etc just for them to be earning their comfortable livings but with the process shrouded in secrecy and seemingly in the vice grips of underground godfathers who probably will cream off the bulk of earnings if at all they are agreeable to drop even a bit off, such dignity of labour people are unable to actualize their readiness to use their sweats to earn their livings. As a growing up boy, I once had to join the bricklayers on a building site as a day labourer just for a bridging spending money. With the omnipresent “Omo Onile” now on the prowl, it is doubtful if one can sidle up to a building site without a godfather or sponsor to earn a living like I had the opportunity several years ago.

In my tradition of not just “wishing” it to happen, I approached some of my powerful friends at the corridors of power on this “structuring our menial jobs into respectable employments” as a “mass poverty alleviation vehicle” and “social reengineering” to resolve our social challenges. I was advised to put my thoughts together and I did with an impressive PowerPoint presentation personally delivered at the office of a Deputy Governor of one of the 6 South West States. Briefly my proposal seeks the establishment of a STATE SOCIAL SERVICES CORPORATION to register and place for public and private one off, temporary and permanent employments all unemployed and semi unemployed of any age between 18 and 70 years. It is to serve as the old labour exchange offices, train, regulate and monitor all the so-called menial jobs to ensure absorption of all the idle hands in our society into 24-hour neighbourhood security, housekeeping, children minders, part time drivers, streets cleaning etc. The Social Services Corporation with the appropriate back up legislation will generate its own operating funds to avoid being additional financial headache of the government.

Perhaps if there had been such a Social Services Corporation regulating and monitoring the jobs of housemaids, we possibly may not have had the sad and gruesome murders of some people by their housemaids. Most certainly, the millions that Nigerians now spend importing housemaids from our neighbouring countries could be rechanneled to a more beneficial purpose because part of the services of that Corporation will be to formulate and operate a policy on mentoring and mentorship under which less priviledged youngsters could be taken up by their more fortunate older people that will put them through school to at least Grammar school while the mentees repay their benefactors with their domestic services. Consider the huge manhours lost daily by parents to their school runs both in the morning and evening. Under the proposed dispensation with official children minders, most parents will happily and confidently leave the school runs to the minders. The multiplier effects can cascade down to positively impact on our present traffic gridlock as fewer parental vehicles will be on the roads transporting children to and fro homes and their various schools.

More than 8 years after the submission of my proposal, I am still hoping to be lucky enough for a formal acknowledgement from the office of our esteemed Deputy Governor

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