Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ayah The Official Anathema

Before the Yives declared war on the Olitis, (Hon Ayah's tribe), the Yives had destroyed at least nine Oliti houses. They had also killed over five Olitis and cut off and carried away some of the heads. All reports to the Cameroonian authorities were either simply ignored, or the Oliti complainants were instead arrested, detained and only released upon ransoms being paid to the authorities. Assured of support and encouraged by the Cameroonian administrative authorities, the Yives went on to declare war. The Olitis have today paid dearly for only exercising their right of self-defence.

By Hon. Ayah Paul Abine

Not only did the Government of Cameroon put in place all dirty plans to avail itself of the war it had encouraged and sponsored to implicate Ayah; but today, the Olitis have gone for close to two years as refugees without any single item of relief supplies from the Government.
Many are innocent Oliti children who have died from famine; many innocent women, and men.

As the name Ayah is an official anathema in Cameroon today, the same scenario has been going on at Munyenge for over a year now.
The matter is the estate of Ayah Bernard who died intestate in 2004. Upon his demise, the family designated Echin Augustin as the next-of-kin. He followed due process and obtained letters of administration which enabled him to administer the estate uninterrupted until 2008. One Akawish

(Akawish?) Mary Isheli recently teamed up with the chief of Munyenge and his traditional council, Akawish (Akawish?) Linus (her son), Forcha Stephen, Che Johnson (Martin) alias Army-man, and the head of the chief's militia (styled peacekeeping force), and they are repeatedly intermeddling with the administration of the said estate.

For over a year today, the administrator has been prevented from administering the estate. For that long, the gangsters have invaded the estate and carried away cocoa beans worth millions of francs. For that long, the administrator and his workers have been attacked, maimed, stabbed, shot at and tortured without any authority being bothered to restrain the gangsters. We cite here just some of the attacks of the last three months to illustrate the point?

24 July: Workers of the estate are attacked and wounded in their effort to resist an invasion by some thirty thugs organised by the chief and Akawish Mary Isheli, and commanded by Stephen Forche, Che Martin and the head of the chief's militia. Etonong George is wounded in the head by Stephen Forcha and stabbed in the leg by Akawish Linus. Action awaited.

31 August: Echin Augustine, the administrator of the estate, is attacked in his house with sticks by Stephen Forcha, Akawish Linus, Che Johnson and severely wounded in the head. In pursuance of the order of the chief of Munyenge, he is expelled from Munyenge, and he takes refuge at Muyuka.
1 September: In the furtherance of the chief's order, Etonong George is attacked in his house at night with weapons including a firearm which is shot at him. In attempt to cover up, Akawish Mary is dispatched to Muyuka to allege that Echin Augustin had shot at her son. Gendarmes immediately make an ingress into the court to arrest Echin.

The Muyuka State Counsel intervenes on the ground that Echin had been at Muyuka the previous two days and could not have shot at anyone at Munyenge. Action awaited.

5 October: Etela Pascal is severely beaten by Akawish Linus, Stephen Forcha, Che Johnson and a mob. He loses two teeth from the attack. He is presented to the Muyuka Court of First Instance per sedente curiam still covered with blood. Action awaited.
9 October: Akaya Linus Ondafi is beaten unconscious by Akawish Mary Isheli, Akawish Linus, Stephen Forcha, Che Johnson and four others. His entire body, including the face, is riddled with dozens of traumas. Tyres are put round his neck and petrol and matches are sent for in order to burn him alive. This was upon the return of the chief of Munyenge from the Muyuka Gendarmerie Brigade where, on the orders of the Buea Legion Commander, a statement had been recorded from the chief after one year of his banditry.

The Ayahs had to pay such life-threatening price for the simple recording of a statement from an officially protected gangster. Action awaited.
For the past year, we and our counsel have written a dozen petitions or so to the authorities for action and our protection. Those authorities include the Muyuka Divisional Officer, the Muyuka State Counsel, the Procureur General, the Anti-gang Police, the Special Branch Police, the Human Rights Commission etc, with copies sent to human rights bodies, the South West governor, the Minister of Justice, the Presidency of the Republic etc.
We are still waiting for the first concrete action restraining the gangsters even as we remain under sustained attack.

The Muyuka Divisional Officer, on his part, instead got into negotiation with the gangsters to his personal benefit. Barrister Epie can testify that this was apparent when the two of us met the said Divisional Officer in his office on 17 September 2009. Others are waiting for incentives that we do not have.
As of the time of writing these words, none of the attackers has been arrested; much less detained.
We are not in a position to contradict those who reminded the world only recently that Cameroon is in a state of law. But if so Cameroon is, how else can one describe the repeated attacks on the Ayahs with absolute impunity than that the name Ayah is an official anathema.

Can it be said that Munyenge is a state within the State of Cameroon? If the answer is in the negative, how can any other inference be made, in the face of such official blood-curdling indifference to human suffering, than that the Government of Cameroon has some hidden agenda? Whatever the answer, we the victims feel right to be suspicious that there are official schemes and machinations. And that explains why we cannot even avail ourselves of the right of self-defence.

The unanswered questions now are whether a country in a state of law can connive at, let alone, officially encourage the kind of anarchy reigning at Munyenge, and reigning for so long; and then, what next?

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

10 things I’ve confirmed about life based on events in the last few years

Just reached into my vault and pulled up 10 of the most important things I’ve learned in the last few years based on many facts I gathered along the way.

By Hinsley Njila


I have seen so much corruption around the world to now confirm that corruption is neither African nor a precursor to poverty. Corruption is as human as breathing, and discrimination.

- History really does repeat itself.

- The mind is by far the most powerful and valued part of your body.

- Middle class means you are educated enough to know what you want, but not rich enough to be able to afford it.

- You really can fool most of the people most of the time.

- I would never understand why humans lack the will and ability to stamp out poverty, hunger, domestic abuse, provide drinking water for each other etc, which collectively probably cost less than building nuclear bombs and fighting wars.

- Poverty is the worst disease humans have ever known, it probably kills more people a day than all diseases combined kill in a year– every bad thing is worse among poor people.

- Some degree of stupidity cannot be cured by education alone.

- Money and religion are the root of most of the evil or excuses to be evil in many parts of the world. Ironic in my view.

- Consistent and prolonged bad leadership is the central and most significant variable in the equation to determine why some countries are poorer than others.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Obama’s healthcare reforms spark debate in UK

Though the highly “controversial” and much needed health care plan of President Barack Obama, seems to be enjoying committee endorsement at the US senate after a series of tough town hall meetings around the country, critics seems not. Opponents of the Presidents healthcare reforms in the US are directing criticism at other health plans around the world chiefly those in Canada and UK, all in their effort to discredit Obama’s scheme which turn out to be one of his major campaign promises and top domestic policies.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

“US Critics of the National Health Service (NHS) in UK see it as an overly-bureaucratic "socialised" system which rations care”, The BBC reported. Meanwhile in showing his support to the NHS, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, recently joined thousands of people in a Twitter campaign to defend the health service from US attacks. His wife Sarah, who sent a message of support to the campaign, is also behind the NHS.

Brown’s action came on the hills of increasing debate on the NHS following critic by opponents of President Barack Obama’s health plan in the US. Those in UK claim the NHS is outdated, unfair and should be scrapped. Others believe the UK government had not done enough to defend the NHS from attacks in the US.

Interestingly, a Tory MEP who openly waded into the debate over Barack Obama's health bill after telling a US TV he “wouldn’t wish” the NHS “on anyone”, was highly criticized by those who have great respect for the NHS including Andy Burnham, the country’s Health Secretary, who accused the Tory MEP of being “unpatriotic”. Unpatriotic because the MEP, a British representative actually gave an unfair impression of the National Health Service in a foreign media without representing the views of the vast majority of British people.

Mr. Hannan, made a series of appearances on American television describing the NHS as "60 year mistake" and saying that he "wouldn't wish it on anyone". A statement viewed by many as "insult" to the 1.4m NHS workers.

"We will stand up for the NHS and we will make sure that it is properly represented in the international media. And that is why what Mr Hannan has done disappoints me so much” Andy Burnham told the BBC

Though others ague that Hannan spoke in his personal capacity, his views were backed by fellow Tory MEP Roger Helmer, who told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "I think Dan has done us a service by raising these issues which need to be looked at. "If 80% of Americans are getting better health care than we are in the UK then we ought to ask why, and we ought to ask how we are going to deliver equally good results."

Tory leader David Cameron, who has vowed to protect health from spending cuts if he comes to power, has been at pains to stress his commitment to the NHS and distance himself from his compatriot - Mr Hannan. Hear him, "The Conservative Party stands four squares behind the NHS,” Adding, "We are the party of the NHS, we back it, we are going to expand it, we have ring-fenced it and said that it will get more money under a Conservative government, and it is our number one mission to improve it."

Whilst scolding Hannan for his damaging statement on NHS, Cameron, noted, "He does have some quite eccentric views about some things, and political parties always include some people who don't toe the party line on one issue or another issue."

On his part Timothy Kirkhope, Leader of the Conservative group in the European Parliament, told the BBC he believes Mr Hannan should be disciplined for his comments about the NHS and that he would be given a "stern talking to" by the party's chief whip Brussels.

Former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott on his part recorded a video message to the American people accusing Mr Hannan of "misrepresentation of the NHS here in Britain".

It should be noted here that US critics of the NHS claim it is an example of an overly-bureaucratic system which rations care and denies treatment to the elderly. But campaign groups and right wing pundits have also attacked it as "socialist", with one TV debate even discussing whether it was a breeding ground for terrorism.

But one British woman said she felt "duped" after becoming the unwitting star of an anti-Obama health campaign. Kate Spall, who appeared in a US free market group's TV commercial opposing Mr Obama's health bill, said her views were misrepresented.

She told BBC Radio 4's The World at one: "Absolutely I was deceived yes because when I then found out the link to the website and it was a huge political machine I was horrified because it was the polar opposite of what I believe in. I absolutely believe in universal health care."

Here are some other facts and figures to carry you through your day

Real median household income remained unchanged in the US between 2003 and 2004 at $44,389, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, the nation’s official poverty rate rose from 12.5 percent in 2003 to 12.7 percent in 2004 and very little changes had been made of recent.

The percentage of the nation’s population without health insurance coverage remained stable, at 15.7 percent in 2004. Meanwhile the number of people with health insurance increased by 2.0 million to 245.3 million between 2003 and 2004, and the number without such coverage rose by 800,000 to 45.8 million.

Recent statistics by OECD and WHO hold that about 47.5m Americans are living today without health insurance. The number represents 10.4 % Non-Hispanic whites, 19.5 % Blacks, and 14.8 % Hispanics.

Life expectancy at birth in the US 78.1 years compared to; 81 in France, 79.7 in Singapore, and 79.1 in UK. Meanwhile the US has 6.7 infant mortality per 1000 live births against 4.8 in UK, 3.8 in France, and 2.1 in Singapore. On the contrary the US has one of the highest expenditure on health per capita in the world. The US spends $7.290 against $3.601 in France, $2.992 in UK and $1.228 in Singapore.

Some different Health programmes around the world include the following:

United States - Private system

Private sector funded, with more than half from private sources. Private health insurance available through employer, government or private schemes.

15.3% of population (45.7 million people) do not have health insurance.

Federal government is largest health care insurer - involved in two main schemes, Medicaid and Medicare, each covering about 13% of population.

Medicaid - joint funded federal-state programme for certain low income and needy groups - eg children, disabled.

Medicare - for people 65 years old and above and some younger disabled people and those with permanent kidney failure undergoing dialysis or transplant.

Most doctors are in private practice and paid through combination of charges, discounted fees paid by private health plans, public programmes, and direct patient fees.

In-patient care is provided in public and private hospitals. Hospitals are paid through a combination of charges, per admission, and capitation.

United Kingdom - Universal, tax-funded system

Public sector funded by taxation and some national insurance contributions.

About 11% have private health insurance. Private GP services very small.

Health care free at point of delivery but charges for prescription drugs, ophthalmic services and dental services unless exempt.

Exemptions include children, elderly, and unemployed. About 85% of prescriptions are exempt.

Most walk-in care provided by GP practices but also some walk-in clinics and 24-hour NHS telephone helpline. Free ambulance service and access to accident and emergency. In patient care through GP referral and followcontractual arrangements between health authorities, Primary Care Trusts and the hospital.

Hospitals are semi-autonomous self-governing public trusts.

France - Social insurance system

All legal residents covered by public health insurance funded by compulsory social health insurance contributions from employers and employees with no option to opt out.

Most people have extra private insurance to cover areas that are not eligible for reimbursement by the public health insurance system and many make out of pocket payments to see a doctor.

Patients pay doctor's bills and are reimbursed by sickness insurance funds.

Government regulates contribution rates paid to sickness funds, sets global budgets and salaries for public hospitals.

In-patient care is provided in public and private hospitals (not-for-profit and for-profit). Doctors in public hospitals are salaried whilst those in private hospitals are paid on a fee-for-service basis. Some public hospital doctors are allowed to treat private patients in the hospital. A percentage of the private fee is payable to the hospital.

Most out-patient care is delivered by doctors, dentists and medical auxiliaries working in their own practices.

Singapore - Dual system

Dual system funded by private and public sectors. Public sector provides 80% of hospital care 20% primary care.

Financed by combination of taxes, employee medical benefits, compulsory savings in the form of Medisave, insurance and out-of-pocket payments.

Patients expected to pay part of their medical expenses and to pay more for higher level of service. Government subsidises basic healthcare.

Public sector health services cater for lower income groups who cannot afford private sector charges. In private hospitals and outpatient clinics, patients pay the amount charged by the hospitals and doctors on a fee-for-service basis.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cameroon’s Executive, Legislative and Confusion of Powers

When a group of concerned catholic Christians set up the Justice and Peace Commission in the Diocese of Buea in the early nineties, the foundation of the scheme was their firm conviction that justice and peace are inextricably glued together. And truly, the interdependence of Justice and peace makes no allowance for the existence of one without the other.

By Hon. Ayah Paul Abine

That statement is beyond disproof today and tomorrow. Justice automatically anticipates peace, and peace is the inevitable consequence of justice. The collateral dimension is that whoever talks about justice talks about the law.

It can only be so because justice is compelling conformity with the law, and/or sanctioning lawbreakers. Wisdom then is the recognition or, at least, the acceptance that the law is supreme. No-one, for instance, can hold an office without complying, a priori, with the law laying down the conditions for holding that office.

If a member of the security wears a uniform and bears a gun, it is because the law so provides. Conducting oneself to the contrary breaks the law, and is necessarily a breach of peace. It is akin to self-destruction because destroying what makes one what one is destroys what one is.
As self is more often than not the fatal end of impartiality, civilised societies regard the law as almost sacred.

They have used it to organise themselves in three complementary arms of governance that interact with and restrain one another, namely the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.
The main function of the Legislature is the enactment of laws. The laws so enacted guide the Executive in its conduct of State affairs. And the Judiciary interprets and applies the said laws to ensure observance.

As it is, no one arm does everything: there is division of labour as the economist would describe it. Democratic societies that have stood the test of time are those that have adopted and maintained that neat separation of powers, assuring that each of those three arms of governance has reasonable autonomy.

As a lawmaker and a crusader for peace, one should naturally wish that our system of governance was modeled on that time-tested system of governance. This is essential in that genuine peace means conducting oneself in a manner that leads to and promotes peace; and refraining from perpetrating conduct that disrupts the peace. That can be summarised as being amenable to the law. Such preventive conduct is most salutary as no-one doubts that a taste of the forbidden is a second transgression. Negation is resultant instability and insecurity for all.
Therefore we have stated more than once before that making the President of the Republic head of the Judicial Council and the guarantor of the independence of the Judiciary inevitably undermines the independence of that arm of governance. That is not our concern here though. Our present objective is to opine that saddling lawmakers with executive duties outside their traditional realm of legislating is bringing the Legislature under the authority of the Executive, and thereby weakening it.

Over the years, Cameroonians have heard and read about the President of the Republic being represented at some summit of Heads of State by the President of the National Assembly; and about some new ambassador to Cameroon or some foreign envoy being received by the President of the National Assembly on behalf of the President of the Republic.
The media have similarly informed us several times that the President of the National Assembly was "the personal representative of the President of the Republic" at some funeral or another.
Much as those statements may have sounded normal to the ordinary Cameroonian, someone with legal knowledge should be courageous enough to state that such practices are typically Cameroonian and outside the law.

In our thirst for finding what has favoured the thriving of major democracies in the world, we have searched unsuccessfully for any similar confusion of roles in those democracies. Neither have we chanced upon any enabling local legal instrument that justifies this departure by our system from what is usual in those democracies?

We are making but a statement of fact that appointing the head of one arm of government as "the personal representative" of the head of another arm reduces the appointee to the position of an errand boy. The autonomy of such errand boy of course is eroded, and the doctrine of the separation of powers becomes a mere illusion. It makes no difference that ours is a presidential system. Equally immaterial would be the argument that the one is the head of a party, and the other owes him allegiance as a member. The constitution of a party cannot prevail over the constitution of the nation. Nor can Parliament ever be on the same plane as an organ of a political party, whatever its epithet.

Nobody denies that the Constitution of Cameroon provides for relations between the Executive and the Legislature. But those relations are limited to co-operation in the realm of legislation. It would be important to take note that co-operation and collaboration are not synonymous. The latter connotes subordination; and that is the essential characteristic of an errand boy. Nowhere in the constitutional provisions on relations between the Legislature and the Executive does one find, even by inference, any allowance for collaboration between the two arms of governance.
The head of the Legislature cannot therefore substitute for the head of the Executive in the performance of the latter's executive functions. As a matter of fact, the law prohibits a Member of Parliament from even being on the Board of Directors of a semi-public corporation. This is in contrast with the members of Government who very often add those positions to their ministerial functions. Much less therefore can the head of the Legislature assume executive functions, even of only temporarily.

The Constitution of course provides that the President of the Republic can expressly "delegate some of his powers to the Prime Minister, other members of Government and any other senior administrative officials of the State, within the framework of their respective duties".
Let us hasten to state that the translation is grossly wrong as the version in French does not contain the equivalence of the phrase "and any senior...duties". Even if the translation were accurate, few would argue that the President of the National Assembly in his official capacity is a "senior administrative (official)".

Granted hypothetically that he even was, he would still not receive new ambassadors as that is not "within the framework of (his) duties".
As the President of the National Assembly is neither "the Prime Minister" nor one of the "other members of Government", the President of the Republic is definitely not within the Constitution when he procures him to deputise as the President of the Republic at those summits, conferences and funerals.

The contrary can only be true if some instrument higher than the Constitution of Cameroon has provided to the contrary. But no such instrument have we found.
It is only reasonable and logical then to conclude from the foregoing that the practice of effacing the line of demarcation between the two arms of governance as per those "appointments" is inconsistent with our Constitution. It would therefore not be audacious for one to opine that it was high time the practice was discarded.

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Corruption Thrives Where Poverty Persists

When ever I hear or read about the hue and cry on the fight against corruption, I laugh out my lungs because such song and dance slogan is not only like playing to the gallery but is more like an idle walk in a rowdy park.

By Paddy Awanfor

It is no longer news that our country is among highly rated corrupt Countries in the World as well as being a heavily indebted poor country. Somebody once said that one of his many solutions to end corruption in this country is for Government to put all known billionaires on the stakes and execute them mercilessly and without exception. Fine and good with a 'but'.

I take exception to the generalized clause of 'all billionaires without exception' because such generalisation in my opinion is sweepingly inappropriate since we cannot vouch with any degree of certainty that all billionaires in Cameroon are corrupt and as such, culpable for the stakes.
The fact that we, the majority, are helplessly, hopelessly and wretchedly poor to extremes, should not give rise to hate or envy or jealous for those few that are genuinely rich because to say that all billionaires in Cameroon without exception are corrupt is not only a biased statement overstated but a senseless presumption as well.

What is generally accepted is the fact that all morally minded persons hate riches that are not earned but acquired. Riches that are gotten outside the norms of virtues like honesty and prudence with the fear of God as the guide .In fact, riches that are not earned by dint of hard work but are simply, easily and leisurely acquired through astuteness and "mago mago" tactics like fraught, deceit, stealing, manipulation, 419, internet scams, bribery, etc, etc although the definition of corruption appears to centre mainly on official corruption which entails bribe taking.

An opinion may be probable if it suggests that billionaires who have been investigated on the basis of suspicion, tried and found guilty by the law courts to have acquired their billions corruptly should be made to put their backs on the stakes for execution. Yet, that probability is still debatable as to whether or not the government of this country is ready to reintroduce "firing squads" as methods of combating crimes like official corruption (bribe taking) which is undeniably on the upsurge.

I say so because it is not long that I discussed this issue of "Firing squad" in an article I wrote in The Sunday Eden Vol. 1 No 10 of Sunday 22 February -Sunday 1 March 2009 on page 8 captioned "Rising Crime Wave: The Pros And Cons On Facing The Firing squad".

I hear that social scientists believe that a problem can only be said to have been properly solved if its roots cause(s) has /have been eliminated. This problem of corruption cannot be different from other problems whose root cause (s) must first of all be traced and tackled. Just as one of the main root causes of rising crime wave has been identified to be unemployment, so too, one of the main root causes of corruption, in my opinion, is the excruciating poverty that is tearing our people apart like an affliction if not like a curse.

I know that just as moral purists and sociologists hold that stealing may not necessarily be a function of poverty considering that the very rich still find pleasure in stealing from the public till, one may want to argue also that bribe taking may not necessarily be a function of poverty given that very highly placed public service employees with heavy pay pockets of tax payers money still find pleasure in taking bribes even from the poor.

That logic not withstanding, Cameroonians of today virtually find themselves living in a perpetually poverty -stricken country in the midst of plenty but with little or nothing for the gander. Cameroon is luckily blessed with enormous resources, talented and hard working people but for its serious ailment of a cancerous nature like the siphoning of public funds into private pockets through misappropriation and embezzlement, mismanagement of both human and material resources and above all the stacking of the country's much needed money into foreign banks

The government of this country needs urgent and drastic measures to bail its citizens out of poverty and corruption rather than shamelessly lifting up its head high in pride with little or nothing on the ground to show. Cameroon at 49, has moved from bad to worse degenerating into one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world with increase in societal ills.

By the way, from the look of things, it appears as if the Prime Minister, like his predecessors, does not have the necessary statutory state authority to pursue the fight against corruption to its logical end following the removal of the National Anti-Corruption Commission from the Prime Minister's Office to the Presidency of the Republic. Also, it is common knowledge that most of those in government whose duties it is to implement policy directives culpably stand guilty of dirty cupboards full of skeletons.

However, President Biya's courage to sanction the arrest, detention, trial and imprisonment of some of his cronies hitherto considered as "untouchables" has not gone unnoticed. That is, in his vow to personally oversee the effectiveness of the campaign against corruption that has become a dangerous canker on the path of his greater ambitions programme. But, Mr. President could earn more "thumbs up" if he granted his Prime Minister some amount of additional power of state authority that can enable him to discreetly put in place certain state mechanisms that can speed up the retrieval of the country's stolen billions (not by all billionaires) now lying idle in foreign banks because the imprisonment of looters without a corresponding recovery of their booty is a sheer exercise in futility tantamount to an expensive joke.

Paradoxically, even though 80% of our population is believed to be poverty - stricken, Cameroonians have slowly but steadily cultivated a culture of living happily in a decayed environment where poverty appears to be a way of life, where corruption seems to be the purpose of governance, where merit is shun for mediocrity, where morals have been brazenly thrown to the dogs, where those without the guts to steal are looked upon as misfits, where capable and competent people are pushed from pillar to post, where tribalism is the order of the day, where justice is hard to come by, where duty consciousness is no longer any body's business, where the code of life has changed from the survival of the "fittest" to the survival of the fastest, etc, etc.

My last word here is that for government to manifest the seriousness of its intentions and commitment to effectively drive home its policies of good governance, anti-corruption campaign, etc, etc, it must first of all be seen to have strenuously eliminated all facets of poverty before anything else because as I have averred above, corruption thrives only where poverty persists. That is in most cases.

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Brain Seek and Brain Chase: an attempt to complete the story of why highly skilled migrants leave their countries and what can be done about it.

Like many of you reading this article, over the years I’ve read a lot of literature and seen a lot being discussed about ‘Brain Drain’ and ‘Brain Gain’ with regards to the movement of highly skilled migrants around the world. Who gains from whom when highly skilled migrants move from one country to another has been well documented and is not the focus of this article.

By Hinsley Njila

However, I think it’s important to focus on why highly skilled workers move in the first place as a critical piece of this migration debate. Brain Drain and Brain Gain although very smart and descriptive concepts devised by highly paid consultants to define the situation, in my humble opinion do not tell the complete story.

There are very complex reasons why highly skilled migrants would move from one country to another, and while words or catch phrases like those described in this article are an attempt to describe or explain the treatment of migrants, they should not be read as completely describing the problem. Brain Seek and Brain Chase, both phrases that I coined, are attempts to add elements that seek a better understanding of this complex phenomenon at what in my view has been an incomplete debate thus far.

Brain Seekä

For the better part of the last decade, I’ve informally surveyed the so-called highly skilled migrant group in many parts of the world where I’ve been. It occurred to me at some point during this informal experiment as I talked to so many people around the world that all things being equal, most migrants would prefer to practice their trade in their country of birth because of a number of reasons top of which are cultural and political familiarity. So if this is true, although people are leaving their countries in what has been record numbers in recent times, they’d much prefer to be in their countries where they have an emotional connection to the language, people, culture etc. If governments were truly serious about limiting the movements of migrants, this argument offers a clue on what needs to be done.

Developing countries like China, India, now Botswana, Tanzania, Ghana and others have done their research and in more ways that are evident are ‘seeking’ out migrants from their respective countries or other countries who can contribute skills to their development goals. It’s been well documented for instance that in the United States, Chinese embassies maintain lists of Chinese students in highly sought after doctoral fields, and is in constant contact with them to present them with opportunities to go back to China upon graduation by taking advantage of this emotional connection.

Countries with a clear path for the future have begun recruiting talent to help them devise strategies and implement steps on the road map to that goal. Developing countries should be falling over each other for talent around the world. Governments of developing countries should be sending representatives to top Western Universities and paying premium money to recruit top professors that can travel to their countries to teach critical subjects in business, economics, engineering, law, mathematics, and others. This should be in addition to helping their top talent get into these Universities and giving them the opportunity to practice their trade free of government cohesion in their respective countries upon graduation.

It should be worth noting here that private industry in Botswana, China, India, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa among a few smart developing economies have already begun ‘seeking’ talent from among migrants who graduate from western Universities.

Human capital development in my view should be the primary focus for all international aid to developing countries. Experts like Garry Becker of the University of Chicago and Robert Barro of Harvard among others have spent their carriers showing how developing human capital helps lift countries out of poverty.

Brain Chaseä

History books are filled with stories of highly skilled migrants ‘chased’ from their countries by insecure dictators who live in a state of constant paranoia. Who hasn’t read stories of Jews that were chased from Germany by Hitler and the Nazis, and I might add some of who went on to be Nobel Laureates by contributing important scientific discoveries that changed humankind. Had Hitler not ‘chased’ away the Jews, it is possible most of their discoveries would be credited to the Germans. How about Wole Soyinka exiled from Nigeria because of his views; and millions of others for whom dictators have made earning a living in their countries and contributing to social and economic development with their skills nearly impossible.

How is this not a central part of the migration debate, in my opinion truly defies logic., an annual publication by the UN describes in great detail how difficult it is to start a business, pay taxes among other things in some developing countries. When compared with others, it’s no coincidence that some of the countries at the bottom of the ranking are those losing the bulk of their skilled workers to those at the top. I truly believe that as countries carry out reforms that permit highly skilled migrants to easily open businesses, pay taxes, employ workers and achieve their life’s dream, there’ll be less of a need for them to leave their countries for long periods of time.

Travel to countries like Cameroon, Sudan, Chad and others; I recon most of the physicians, accountants, lawyers, and others you talk to would be asking you for the easiest way for them to leave their countries to practice somewhere where it was easier for them to do so. At a time when because of severe economic hardships and millions of people losing their jobs in western countries, sentiments against highly skilled migrants is at an all-time high, to see that people are still willing to come to western countries despite these sentiments to me sends a powerful message about management in their countries.

Anyone who cares about issues of poverty and economic development in developing countries understands that human capital development cannot be ignored as one of the solutions to these very complex problems. To me, educating people who cannot return to their countries of birth and practice their trade because of inept dictators who fail to implement reforms is of very little economic value, just as is not having a future development plan and seeking out talent capable of executing such a plan. I do not claim to completely define the problems with these words that I’ve coined, but I have peeled off another layer to help us understand the complex reasons that explain by people are willing to drop everything they are familiar with and move to sometimes hostile environments to practice the skills they’ve spent a lifetime developing. We should not only focus on ‘Brain Drain ‘and ‘Brain Gain’ which are important, although they focus mainly on the roles played by western countries in the migration debate.

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