By Sunday Ogidigbo
President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) came into office riding on the goodwill of the majority of the electorate. His supporters joined the train of change, believing that the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket would take Nigeria to the land of goodness, and prosperity. The promise of change in the mind of the electorate summed in the happily-ever-after mantra is not a thing for fairytale.
The ruling party cashed in on this and also capitalised on the failure of the previous administration by making a lot of promises; from making the naira equivalent to the dollar to paying unemployment allowances of N5,000.00 and commencing a nationwide primary schools feeding programme. The cumulative promises made to Nigerians, if fulfilled, will make Nigeria an Eldorado and Nigerians the happiest people on earth. Indeed it is the duty of the government to translate promises into policies that will result in projects, programmes and institutions that will help improve the quality of life of the citizenry. This agrees with the words of Simon Bolivar who said that “The ideal government would create the greatest amount of human happiness.” I want to believe that this thinking was what made President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela in 2013, to create the “Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness.” In the same year, their neighbour nation, Equador, named the State Secretary of “buen vivir” meaning good living or well-being.
This past February, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, announced on twitter the creation of a Ministry of Happiness and the appointment of a young Emiratee as the Minister. This got me thinking about my dear country, Nigeria. The news brought mixed feelings to my mind because I was able to conclude that how Nigerians feel is the last thing on the mind of my government. When PMB visited Dubai recently, I was praying and hoping that he would return with a lot on his note. I know the top of his agenda was the repatriation of our stolen commonwealth allegedly stacked away in Dubai. I was hoping the good Sheikh will mention to our President about their new Ministry of Happiness and encourage him to appoint young Nigerians into cabinet positions.
The wisdom and need to put the happiness of Nigerians at the core of our national policy and programmes is something that all Nigerians should clamour for. The president should lead the way, ensuring that policies at all levels of government going forward should be formulated around happiness. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan was the one that first suggested in 1972 that a country should measure the “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) index rather than the traditional “Gross National Product” (GNP). The GNH index surveys the quality of life of the people while the latter measures economic activities. It is common knowledge that an increase in GNP or GDP does not mean that the quality of life of the people is improving. The king of Bhutan set up the “Gross National Happiness Commission” with the responsibility of surveying the happiness index of the Himalayan nation. They were to measure five things that he believed makes up happiness which are: psychological wellbeing, ecology, time use, community vitality and good governance.
This should not be mistaken as a call to appoint a Minister of Happiness in Nigeria or set up a “Happiness Commission of Nigeria.” What I am saying is that Nigerians voted massively for this government to change things for the better. When our systems of governance improve, the quality of life of Nigerians will also improve, and most people will be happy. Therefore, this should shape all policy pronouncements, actions and body language of government. The truth is that in Nigeria now, people are not smiling. The state of the economy and the level of heat wave, the poor power supply coupled with the increase in electricity tariff are all complicating things. Nigerians saw President Buhari in the light of his campaign promises as a Messiah that can turn darkness to light, water to wine and multiply bread and fish. His campaign promised the hope to give Nigerians rest. The president, his men and his party must go all out to use the available to deliver what the people desire. Nigerians want genuine happiness and this happiness can only come when power becomes stable, the schools get back to their glorious past, public hospitals function effectively and there is the security of lives and properties across the length and breadth of our land.
To this, the Bible agrees that it is the duty of kings and all who are in authority to deliver the atmosphere and conditions that will guarantee a quiet and peaceable life for the people, and the Bible also charges the people to support and pray for the government. The economic atmosphere is one that even the rich and powerful among us are not finding comfortable. The cost and lack of power, the never ending fuel queues, the uncertainty about the government’s economic direction and the many confusing moves like the unbundling or restructuring of NNPC are enough to cause a wave that can impact negatively on the Happiness Index of Nigerians. I sincerely wish President Buhari all the best, for his success is our happiness.
Inspired by Steve Biko’s ‘I Write What I Like‘, OP-UNEDITED is the citizen opinion segment of SIGNAL. All opinions posted on the OP-UNEDITED page are unedited and the raw opinions of the writers.
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