…Pragmatic Welfare vs Today’s Seemingly Ideology-less Politics

2019 Presidential aspirant, Dr Femi Meyungbe Olufunmilade, in his newest publication For The Good Of Our People: A Nigerian Manifesto, highlights the core foreign and local issues bedeviling Nigeria as a people and a nation.

In present times of increasing preference for political publication by incumbents, such publication is not unusual. What is unusual about For The Good Of The People, is the fact that it is the manifesto of a political candidate indicating he has given a lot of thought, research and strategies to the nation’s core challenges despite never holding a state or local government office.

A greater wealth of his political experience comes from his stints in working with his political mentor, the late Chief Bola Ige, of the now defunct, Action Group (AG). The rest, he vicariously experienced and drew, his political ideology included, from history and biographies of Nigerian nationalist leaders and exceptional global leaders, who wrought economic and social changes to their countries.

A great admirer of late Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Mallam Aminu Kano, the author dissects and sieves his Pragmatic Welfarism ideology, a sense of the communal approach of a state, in the support of the weaker members of its society; from the influence of China’s ex-leader, Deng Xiaoping, he draws his pragmatic take on welfarism, to adopt whatever works for the growth of a nation; and from Mahatma Gandhi, his ideals of national unity.

But how well are these issues addressed?

For what it’s worth, Olufunmilade proposed economic approach to Nigeria’s foreign policy to address the impractical and non-beneficial nature of her 50 years political relations to Africa. It is a known fact that despite her ‘big brother’ role to other African nations, standards of living in Nigeria are low, beyond some of the nations it supposedly aids. Likewise, the treatment of her citizens in other Africans nations and abroad, and their lack of protection by the state, leaves much to be desired.

Olufunmilade insists on an economic approach to the nation’s foreign policy, which weighs in opportunities it could harness from global economies. He speaks of appointment and dismissal of Ambassadors based on their abilities to attract foreign investment, promote cultures and cultural activities of Nigeria abroad, via government’s establishment of Centres for Nigerian Cultures in the format of France’s Institut Francais, Germany’s Goethe Institute and China’s Culture Centres. The centres will function as tourist centres, where Nigerians in diaspora and foreigners can learn indigenous languages and cuisines of Nigeria.

While on the subject of teaching indigenous languages, the aspirant perceives the lack of education instruction in the language the people are conversant and fluent in, contributive to the fall in Nigeria’s education system. He proposes the “Indigenous Language Vocational Schools to cater to the artisans and skills driven population. At the ILVOS, lessons and texts will be constructed in the variant dominant languages of the six geopolitical zones of the country.” Meantime, he suggests a relegation of the English Language as a second language. In his reasoning, since Nigerians can barely express themselves accurately and properly in English, more attention should be paid to local languages to enable our people study in the language they understand and are fluent in, as found globally. Making an important observation, that among the handful of countries with successful and growing economies, none has kept as its official language, the language of their colonial masters, even Europe.

On local issues of insecurity that has bred unemployment, Olufunmilade states it can be tackled with creation of employment opportunities via revival of agriculture. He believes by addressing food security challenges via the revival of IBB’s Directorate of Food Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) two-pronged approach to farm settlement; first, to provide employment for youths, and the other, to create ranches for nomadic herdsmen, it would address all her security issues.

Recognisant that while provision of employment and address of insecurity may work, the lack of National unity, could lead to systemic breakdowns. National Unity he writes, “is predicated on diversity and that feelings in groups of people of love for the country and taking pride in her diversity. National Unity is important in a heterogenous country as it is the fulcrum of national development.” He proffers even distribution of ministerial positions and projects across the country, as a means of devolving marginalisation. In addition, he tackles the inclusion of the Gwaris, through the establishment of a ministerial position for the indigenes of the FCT, and the appointment of strictly indigenes as FCT ministers.

Paramount to national unity, the author emphasises the importance of restructuring in Nigeria. However, he subscribes to the adoption and implementation of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2014 CONFAB Report.

With the additional opportunity for memoranda submission by groups and individuals’ post-implementation of CONFAB Report.