Nepotism, epidemic ruining the society…Urgently needed to be weeded out for good [Archives:2003/677/Opinion]

October 16 2003

By A'amal al-Henhena
For Yemen Times

Among the most lethal social problems or rather killing and destructive diseases is that of nepotism. It is a social ill usually and most apparently seen at government and in a less degree in private sector institutions and that is in terms of employment or giving licenses for implementation of projects and now it has crept even into the education sector at its various stages. Before going further in enumeration of the devastative results of nepotism, or favouritism, on the society and the state it would be useful to explain in brief what is nepotism. It is in a nutshell favoritism by those in power extended towards relatives, especially by appointing them to desirable positions. Those in power dispose favour to others unfairly or unreasonably. It is in fact a phenomenon to be found mostly in backward communities and countries where criteria of efficiency and qualification are not observed in appointments to positions at various public institutions offering public services to the society of a certain state. Those in power in so doing do not put into consideration the country's and the people's interests but rather guided by their personal relations or loyalty to their families and tribes, a way of preference of narrow interests to public ones. Another explanation to the spread of this phenomenon is the presumption that executive managers accepting to pursue the policy of favouritism are themselves unqualified officials and heedless of the drastic negative effects of it on the development and progress of the state and the society.
As mentioned above this social phenomenon is detrimental to the development and advance of any country and could be an indication of its backwardness among developed and civilized countries in the world. In developing and underdeveloped countries laws and regulations regarding employment and appointments to government positions are, however, prohibiting the practice of favouritism but senior officials and managers do not abide by partly because of weakness of supervision and monitoring by higher authorities of the state and partly because those officials are lacking of the sense of good citizenship and public interest. It is really a cancerous epidemic and without ending it the outcome would be tragic and disastrous to the society and the state. There is another reason why some people resort to using nepotism and that is, an insufficiency of employment degrees at government institutions against the larger number of applicants for them as well as an inactive private sector able to accommodate the number of labour the government cannot accommodate. Powerful and active private sector would rid the state of the problems of employing graduates in its institutions in large and unnecessary numbers. Another no less significant cause of the spread of this illegal method of acquiring positions is the absence of coordination between education and requirements of development in all its administrative, industrial and economic aspects.
What concerns me most here is the dissemination of the detriment phenomenon of nepotism inside the educational sector, particularly the university education. University education covers all facets and aspects of life and universities form the sources for supplying government and private sector institutions with specialized cadre. Thus the extension of this ill phenomenon to this vital institution means dissemination of this disease in all walks of the society's life. The university provides engineers, physicians, economists, pharmacists, teachers, administrative managers and many other specialties. The university is the most suitable medium for the progress and backwardness of the society. It needs to be protected against any social disease otherwise there would not be any progress to realize.
Many cases of patients' death in hospitals are attributed to ill diagnosis or wrong medication treatment. Buildings collapsing and, may be killing innocent people, could be ascribed to inefficiency of engineers or cheating in the use of construction materials and failure in economic plans and policies is also the product of inefficiency of those in charge because they were not well-trained and qualified at the university, as they have graduated and obtained their specialty degrees by virtue of favouritism. Teachers who are the most significant segment in the society can destroy many generations of the society if they are not well-qualified and their degrees have been obtained by way of the illegal practice of nepotism.
Here in Yemen this phenomenon of nepotism is affecting all aspects of our life in a very eye-catching way. Nepotism is there everywhere. The society and the country as a whole are suffering greatly from this phenomenon and therefore it needs to be uprooted completely if we aspire to build an advanced society capable of keeping in pace with advancement and development of the world. Laws and regulations banning the practice of this illegal phenomenon must be activated. Strict measures and punishments must be given to those practicing it. There must be an imposition of very strong observation on senior officials' performance and make them accountable for bad management. There must be an activation and strict commitment of proficiency criteria in selecting people for government positions and dependence on the level of marks gained by students for admitting them to various faculties at the university and they should pass proficiency tests in the specialties they would be accepted in. Education should be meeting requirements of development in all of its aspects and this could be in coordination between government ministries and establishments and educational institutions. A high-ranking commission should be set up to practice monitoring and supervision on government institutions' performance to be directly affiliate and responsible to the cabinet or the presidency of the republic office.
Above all and foremost of all there must be a continuous national awareness campaigns against nepotism and its damage caused to the society. It should involve the family in the first place as the basic and most influential unit in the society. This campaign must be carried out by the government, all instruments of mass media, civil society organisations, political parties, religious leaders, especially mosque preachers who can educate people during prayers everyday, particularly in their Friday prayers sermons. All these efforts jointly would surely produce the aspired for results and lead us to build the model of the good and advanced society we hope to build in favour of our present generation and generations to follow.