AERC-CPPA Outreach & Policy Stakeholder Engagement Series 2
Health and Education are the Peace Makers, says CPPA Research on Aggregate Wealth and Income Inequality
CPPA Visiting Senior Fellow-in-residence, Professor Melvin Ayogu explains the role of health and education (HaE and mnemonically pronounced hi) in bridging the poverty and inequality gap. Through its composite role in promoting intergenerational mobility (IM), social investment in health and education raises the prospects of IM. Thus, as transducers, improvements in health and education convert potential social flashpoints into a changing landscape of inclusive opportunities. Instead of the tune, “burn, baby burn,” the mantra then becomes “sooner or later it will be my turn or that of my offspring to enjoy a good life. So, let’s not burn down the house yet.” These insightful comments were delivered Wednesday 30 October 2019 at a workshop in Abuja, organized by the Center for Public Policy Alternatives (CPPA) and moderated by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Primary Healthcare and Communicable Diseases, Distinguished Senator Chukwuka Utazi.
With a professional grant from the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) Nairobi Kenya, a donor consortium supporting the largest network of African economists in the world, CPPA organized a colloquium to search for more effective ways of engaging the public and government on HaE imperatives. Says the presenter and keynote speaker Professor Ayogu, “we talk the talk, but do we walk the talk? Clearly not, based on the abundant evidence on the state of numeracy and literacy as well as basic healthcare, reproductive health and maternal care; the deplorable state of higher education, research and development funding, even with the benefit of TET Fund and so forth.”
He warns that our current condition of living together but growing apart in prosperity and diminished hopes of better life for future generations is bad for everyone. No one is safe when the future is bleak. Widespread poverty and extreme inequality weaken the social fabric and make it difficult to hold governments accountable.
Another aspect of the social problem, Professor Ayogu notes is the widespread tendency to externalize social issues by always blaming the government while shirking our civic responsibilities. Such self-delusion needs to be acknowledged and corrected. Barring a few human rights activists and journalists who risk their lives and freedom daily to push the citizen agenda and argument, the nation has remained largely either complicit or delusional about holding themselves and the government to account. On this score, Professor Ayogu alludes to another development economist, Professor Osita Ogbu who in a recent op-ed posed pretty much the same question differently by asking, “where are the citizens?”
Ayogu reminds us that good governance is not self-implementing or on autopilot. It is co-created through shared responsibilities. We get what we deserve and unfortunately, mostly the undesirables, if things are left to chance. So, he concludes by asking, “Which is it going to be, trick or treat, prosperity or catastrophe?” The nature of our investment, i.e. the type of seeds we sow in health and education provide those answers loudly and clearly.