Ending poor sense of human value


The shabby treatment, which hallmarked the chain of events that led to the death of two illustrious former coaches of the Super Eagles, Steven Keshi and Shuaibu Amodu, was a testament that the contraption called Nigeria, or any of its institutions, places little or no value on human beings. This is more so for the aged and the dead after serving the nation in their youthful days.
It is regrettable that those who have contributed their best in their youth to raise the banner of national glory to greater heights are derided after service, in retirement, at old age and even in death.
The litany of untowards and morale-dampening treatment meted out to Keshi, unarguably Africa’s most successful soccer coach, are ample evidences that Nigeria celebrates only the heroes of the moment, who are currently lifting high the country’s flag in the fora of comity of nations. The fate of Amodu, who took domestic coaching in Nigeria to new heights before rising to coach the Super Eagles, with the Nigeria Football Federation was not any better.
Allegations are rife that the NFF owed the late coaches a backlog of salaries, allowances, other emoluments and entitlements. These were proofs that the football federation cared less about their welfare, without which performances on the field of play as coaches would be sub-optimal. UntitledSince their demise, there had been claims that poor pocket and cash crunch challenges expedited the death of the two coaches. Relations alleged that if the men were financially buoyant to fund the necessary medical services, they would not have become victims of early and cheap death so soon.
However, the plight of the two coaches, a disgrace and pointer to the nation’s sense of human value, only attracted public attention because of their status, roles and achievements in football. What they suffered was not peculiar. It is the monster of cruelty dogging the lives of the young and most aged persons after leaving active service, either in the public or private sector. It is an inhuman, insensitive and wicked stance of the use-and-dump attitude of government, and most establishments at virtually all levels, to their workers.
Stories abound of unpaid salaries, denial of benefits, delayed payment of entitlements that had mostly led to frustrations and deaths on queues as retired workers wait endlessly to complete verification of claims and identity. The private sector employers are even worse offenders. The slavery mentality, master-servant scenarios and the contempt most have for workers is a proof of an axiom, which says, ‘if gold rust, what would be the fate of iron?’
Government’s treatment of workers as chattels, fuels the confidence of private sector employers who deny their workers their labour rights. Poor pay that is never commensurate with output or worker’s productivity level; grossly inadequate or complete absence of welfare package and security facilities in factories and other places of work, and deliberate underpayment of severance benefits, complete the grave conditions retired and aged workers face at retirement.
Private sector employers, upholding the economic principle of selfish indifference, are wont to short-change their workers in active service. They do not remit taxes and levies deducted from workers’ salaries. Such deductions are either withheld to make quick money at the money-at-shortcall market or not paid at all to government’s till. They ignore, with impunity, the law on retirement joint contribution account by employers and workers respectively. Cases of delayed remittance to service providers are the vogue.
With the untimely death of Keshi and Amodu, helped by poor treatment in the hands of the NFF, those in authority and decision makers must have a rethink and put an end to the shabby and less-than-humane treatment that had become a package for the retired and aged, especially those who have, in their youth, meritoriously served the country in their respective spheres of human endeavour.
Provision of adequate old-age care for the elders, who have run the gamut of productive life in their youthful days, would undoubtedly boost patriotism and discourage pilfering of the treasury, embezzlement, and inflation of contract costs, among others, to serve as buffer against uncertainty and penury at retirement. This is a sure way of making years of hard work pay in a country like Nigeria.