Indeed, I am of the opinion that a teacher, lecturer, or judge, should be allowed to go on until he is 75, with provision for extension, in appropriate cases. If a teacher, or lecturer, or judge, for instance, is good, and keeps abreast of his particular field of speciality, the longer he remains in his post the better for all concerned.
It is within the experience of most of us that self-employed farmers or manual workers, using existing primitive tools, do not dream of retiring until they are 65 or more. No less should be expected from their counterparts in the public service. With the introduction of modern farming, and the increased mechanization of manual labour, it should impose no undue discomfort on any person to continue in farming or manual labour until he is 65 or over. More so, if the various processes or stages in farming and manual work are graded in descending order of physical exertions, and are allocated among the workers concerned in accordance with age distribution.
In the light of the points which have been made on this matter, an expert or team of experts should be appointed to consider and classify various categories of employment, with special reference to their peculiar nature, their relative pleasantness and unpleasantness, comparative conditions of work, and the physical and mental exertions demanded by them, and to determine at what age between 65 and 75 people should be required to retire compulsorily from each of the categories. Under the socialist system which we envisage for the people’s republic of Nigeria, voluntary retirement should not be permissible, save at the risk of the person opting for it. That is to say, if a person retires voluntarily at any age, he will not be entitled to any retiring benefit or pension, until he attains the prescribed age which automatically attracts old age pension. Between his voluntary retirement and this age, he will be expected to fend for himself.
- Modernization of Agriculture
In its report already referred to, the FAO correctly states that the tasks facing the agricultural sector in Nigeria are to provide:
(a) the food requirements of a rapidly growing population;
(b) the agricultural raw materials for Nigeria’s developing industries;
(c) the volume of exports needed to pay for the imports of capital goods;
(d) employment for the additional agricultural working population; and
(e) a substantial share of the capital to finance the development of the whole economy.
These tasks are inescapable, and speak for themselves. They proclaim, eloquently, the urgent need in Nigeria for the modernization of agriculture as well as of the storage, transportation, and marketing of farm products. Nevertheless, I would like, for the sake of emphasis, to make a few comments.
In the first place, our population is not only growing rapidly, but also it is fast becoming more and more enlightened and sophisticated.
The choice open to us is clear: to modernize our farming techniques and thereby give sufficient attraction and incentive to people to stay on the farm; or not to modernize, and leave people in rural areas to continue, as at present, to migrate to urban areas, out of sheer revulsion against the present primitive methods of tilling the ground.
In the second place, rapid increase in our population is not the only factor which demands greater agricultural output: the growing standard of living of our people is also a factor of considerable importance. In the third place, our efforts and drive towards self-reliance in consumer goods call for the production locally not only of all our foods, clothing and building materials, but also of the bulk, if not all, of the raw materials needed for the use of our growing and ever-expanding factories. For instance, in order to be self-sufficient in textiles and in the raw cotton required for their production, we need to quintuple our present output of raw cotton. In the fourth place, since 70 per cent of our present population engage in farming, any policy, which is designed to raise the people’s standard of living at all levels, must of necessity have a special and strong bias for great increase in the productivity of the Nigerian farmers. It must, that is to say, have a bias for mechanization of farming, and the education of farmers in modern farming techniques. In the fifth place, enormous waste and artificial scarcity of food products occur, from time to time, simply because we have no modern storage, processing, transport, and marketing facilities to deal with them in and out of season. This ill must be corrected. In the sixth place, if we are to increase the output of our farm products generally, especially of our export crops, the present yield per acre must be considerably increased. This involves the introduction of higher yielding grains and seeds; more effective control of pests, insects, and plant diseases; the use of fertilizers where necessary; extensive irrigation in certain parts of the country; intensification of extension work; the education of the farmers themselves, practically all of whom are illiterate, to enable them to appreciate, employ, and benefit from modern techniques of farming; and the attraction of educated persons to farming occupation. It must be emphasized that it is idle and unrealistic in the extreme to expect educated persons to embark on a farming career under the present primitive system of cultivation.
In the seventh place, it is now well-known that the chief obstacle to the rapid rate of growth of our economy is agriculture. It constitutes 55 per cent of our gross domestic product, or COP, and over the period of 1958/59 to 1965/66, it has crawled forward at the average annual rate of 3.3 per cent. This is to be compared and contrasted with manufacture which, over the same period, has been making a leap forward at the annual rate of 9.4 per cent. It is imperative, therefore, that this obstacle to our economic progress must be removed, if we are to achieve the urgently desirable annual growth rate of 10 per cent, which I most seriously advocate. There is nothing extraordinary or unattainable about this rate. Indeed, according to a publication by the Federal Office of Statistics, Lagos, entitled Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria 1958/59-1966/67 not only did we achieve an impressive average annual growth rate of 6.6 per cent in our COP (excluding oil) over the period covered by this publication, but also in 1960/61 and 1962/63 we scored the high growth rates of 14.0 per cent and 10.5 per cent, respectively. The FAO Report is an excellent document. But the targets which are set for Nigeria to achieve by 1980 are Lilliputian and uninspiring.
CONTINUES NEXT WEEK.