By Ray Morphy
Chapter two, section 14 (b) of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria (as amended) states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
Welfare of Nigerians should therefore be, the first priority of all three tiers of government. But sadly, this does not seem to be the case for now. And to this we can ascribe the major blame for the insecurity ravaging our nation at this time!
In civics, we are taught the duties of citizenship. But there is also the privileges and rights that accrue to the citizen. These rights include a peaceful environment which enables the citizen to thrive, to grow and in return the citizen patriotically serves his fatherland.
In other words, love of fatherland is sustained by a state that clearly discharges its duties to the citizen. The world over, wherever and whenever a state is derelict in its duties to its own citizens, there follows insecurity and rampart breakdown of the authority of state. This can clearly be seen to be the case in our country now!
Indeed citizen welfare is the very essence of the state. In the evolution of humanity, society developed as a way of enhancing the further development of individuals!
Paradoxically, a state cannot exist without citizens but citizens can exist without the state. Many developed countries know this, so the citizen remains the centerpiece of all
policies, be it foreign or local!
Citizen Welfare is synonymous to a nation’s wellbeing. Without citizen welfare at the apex of its goals, no country can be said to be progressive!
After all, all national progress is the sum total of individual citizens progress. Where citizen progress is stunted, national progress is stunted too!
Any country in which citizens are ignored, the security of that country is imperiled. Where citizens find no benefit from the state, they engage in acts of civil disobedience such as refusal to pay tax.
At the other extreme are actions that are targeted at dissolution of a non-beneficial state or country. But when citizens obtain benefits of citizenhood, then terrorism and other acts of insubordination are minimal. It is actually cheaper to have a welfare state than to have a police state.
In a welfare state, obedience and good citizenship is voluntary, but in a police state, obedience must be brutally enforced on a recalcitrant populace who undermine and sabotage the
state at every opportunity they get! Welfare refers to any activity that builds up the citizen, that improves the citizen and ensures his optimal circumstance!
A welfare state is a system whereby the state undertakes to protect the health and well-being of its citizens, such a state pays attention to especially those in financial or social need, by means of grants, pensions, and other benefits. Welfare programmes are typically funded by taxpayers, the programmes enable people cope with financial stress during rough periods and patches
thus removing touch of the reason for crime.
The foundations for the modern welfare was laid in the UK by the Beveridge Report of 1942 and includes proposals such as the establishment of a National Health Service and the National Insurance Scheme which was implemented by the Labour administration in 1948.
A country that has a state funded welfare system, is known as a welfare state. In the America, setting aside the private sector, the country still has a very large social welfare system. In fact, among affluent nations, the U.S. has the third highest level of per capita government social welfare spending.
China also has a social welfare system. Examples of other countries that could be classified as welfare states are Germany, all of the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, France, Uruguay and New Zealand among others.
A welfare state takes care of the unemployed. The countries that pay the most unemployment benefit include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. But, currently In Nigeria, not even the most vulnerable Nigerians, the persons living with disabilities enjoy any well-structured welfare. They are left to their own devices which accounts for the large number of such Nigerians on the streets begging while government at all levels resort to arresting them and evacuating them.
In South Africa the disabled are catered for by the state. Such South Africans receive R1 860 per month. The time has come for Nigerians living with disabilities to be taken care of like their counterpart in South Africa at least!
Over the years Nigeria’s efforts to empower the most vulnerable in the society has not been successful. Several strategies that have been adopted by the various governments to alleviate poverty in Nigeria include, Operation Feed the Nation, Green Revolution, Better Life for
Rural Women, Family Economic Advancement Programme among others. However kudos should be given to the All Progressives Congress (APC) federal government for the many welfare programmes it has initiated to alleviate poverty in the country. Such programmes include, N-power programme, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), Home Grown School Feeding
Programme (HGSF), Tradermoni, Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS), Youth Initiative For Sustainable Agriculture In Nigeria (YISA), the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES), aimed at creating 774,000 jobs across the Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country.
Unfortunately, operators of the system hijack most of these programmes with very little getting to the poor. Even if it got to them, a lot more needs to be done, especially now that the country is in another recession and the temptation to cut the size of funds for these programmes is high.
Anything that could contribute to the welfare of Nigerians should be prioritized while the indulgences of the rich should be the target of government for taxation to fund its budget. The National Assembly should speedily pass laws that ensure that no Nigerian is tempted by
poverty or anger to wage war against the Nigerian state. We should have a country where no one would go to bed with empty stomach and thus help to stem the tides of insurgency, banditry, armed robbery and other criminal activities.