Ever since Africa became a continent, most of her problems have been policy and policy management. First, it was the colonial policy makers who introduced the Indirect Rule system (as was the case of British colonial Administration) and the assimilation policy system (as was the case of the French colonial Administration).The Colonial masters adopted these policies largely because of administrative convenience and nothing more. They did not consider the social structure, the culture or the social thought of the African people. And it was little wonder that these policies left the continents in utter disarray. The people are still living under the burden of their consequences. The next anathema was the post-colonial imperialist policies that we term ‘Divide and Rule’. Many of the foreign policies relating to Africa in the past five decades fall within this spectrum.
Today most policy makers, Governments and government apparatus in Africa seem to follow the trend of the colonial masters when formulating their policies .a case in point is the last fuel increment or subsidy removal in Nigeria. The people vehemently resisted the policy even if it were to their benefit. They would not want to know any long term or short term benefits or whatsoever. As long as the governments would not want to be people-centric, their policies will always meet with ardent resistance.
Most policy finds their way through to the people who have little or no knowledge of the social thought or social systems as do the social scientists. Many politicians rely on armchair theorizing about what and what would or would not work. A policy made by a trial and error methodology does much harm, its makes the people as it were, a laboratory rat. Men are not rats and no one government or Authority should ever treat its people like one. That a particular ideas worked somewhere in the world, do not mean it can work else where.
Man is enigmatic and so complex. Culture varies from place to place and globalization will not stop that. The differences among people may create the conflicts of interest, ethnic differences, xenophobia,’ we and they’ factors etc. However when properly perceived these seeming difference is a grand design of what forms the social systems, social thoughts, and the social structure of a people. If culture is a way of life of a people, which involves foods, clothing, Knowledge, idea etc why should someone force an Amala, or Tuwo (Local foods in Nigeria) into the throat of an Asian man? Who don’t know how they are made or how they are eaten? Meanwhile this is exactly what the colonial masters did.
The indirect rule system and the system of Assimilation were forced through to the people, regardless they accepted it or not. And most Government in Africa inherited this ‘force it through attitude’. Their policies are tested on the people who they see as lab rats. And they are forced to accept it, whether they like it or not, whether it is compactable with their social systems or not. And because muscle and whips are exacted, the people accept it with malicious obedience. They accept the policy but break the rules. And as those who make these policies do all they can to make it work, those whom it is supposedly made for live how they have ever lived, and is making it not work. We now have is a cycle that has left the continent undeveloped for decades.
The ways we proffer here are not exhaustive, as there are all other ways to solve the problem of underdevelopment in Africa. Meanwhile we present hereunder these measures that may revolutionize governance in Africa. The concept of research is almost alien to most African politicians. They wonder why their counterpart in the occidental and oriental worlds succeeds, and yet never know that research is the key to development. Social research in Africa is mostly either not founded or they are not encouraged. Worst still is the fact that most studies are being piloted by international donor/organizations who found these researches for their own sake. And their findings, whether real or doctored, becomes the only available data for all to peruse. If we most move ahead in Africa, governments and other agencies most begin to fund and pioneer research not just for its own sake, but for the sake of national or continental development .
Social scientists are not just a group of academic puppets or parakeets as most politicians think. They have a good role to play in societal engineering, especially in developing societies of Africa. Instead of using the people as lab rats, the politician could use the knowledge and research ability of the social scientist, to orchestrate a pilot study or even a laboratory experiment for intended policies before they can be tagged a public policy. However the social scientist must avoid the temptation of using research as a propaganda tool. Rather He/she must hold sacrosanct the ethical value of the profession, and the confidence the people lay on him/her as a custodian of the social systems.
Courtney from Study Moose
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