This thesis springs from a genuine sense of patriotism to fashion a way forward for my beloved country. It is rather remarkable at this time there seem to be little incentive for patriotic concerns since the state had neglected to play its part on the unwritten social contract with its citizens. Achebe captures the scene very aptly, “when two Nigerians meet, their conversation will sooner or later slide into a litany of our national deficiencies”.
These national woes range from the alarming state of governmental maladministration to the executive mismanagement of the supreme powers of the state. Its effects include incessant nation-wide confusion, political instability, and social unrests seriously endangering life and property. The irony however is that these social evils that are man-made are perceived by some people to be Divine ordinances or as an aspect of man’s essence which cannot be ameliorated.
The root cause of this general prevailing decadence in our society is the poverty of ideology. The prevalent ideology is reflected in the untoward practices of the leadership, which has filtered into the entire sphere of society’s life. Thus, our moral sensibilities have been inverted.
The tall order facing us if we mean to regenerate our fatherland is “to evolve a new political culture,” through re-examining the alien ideology “imposed on us as a super structure by the colonial whites” with our indigenous ideology to form a social matrix, what Zik calls Neo-welfarism. I see this event as a historical necessity. So that we recover from our state of complete inertia, when confronted with issues threatening our corporate existence and destiny.
THE BACKGROUND TO ZIK’S THEORY OF NEO-WELFARISM
AMERICAN INFLUENCE ON ZIK
Zik’s burning desire to quench the thirst of his intellectual passion in America was “To be educated from my mis-education”. His rigorous intellectual activism which saw him pass through various citadels of higher learning in the States exposed him to diverse socio-economic and political systems of the New World. These influences molded his intellectual attachment to individual freedom and fundamental human rights, representative democracy, the rule of law and the “Magna Carta.
The Universities he passed through made very lasting impressions on him. His first encounter with Dr. Mc-Donald, who is the president of the Storer College, taught him to begin to appreciate the dignity of labour through the system of American education that emphasizes the use of the head, the heart and the hands coordinately. He eulogized courses offered in the Howard University as responsible for the development of his personality and mental alertness, in these words;
In political science, to seek for the good life by fighting for individual freedom under the rule of law. In economics, to safeguard private property and at the same time live and let live. In philosophy to be pragmatic and allow reason and experience to influence my thinking and way of life
While at Lincoln University he became well grounded in Christian principles and ideals which armed him for the battle of life.He gratefully acknowledges this “if I learnt anything at Lincoln, it was to admire the truth and to stick to it, irrespective of the consequence.
Also, Zik came to realize the role of journalism as effective tool for self expression and mobilization of the masses. It is this ‘eye opener’ that he employed on returning to Africa. Essien is not far from the truth when he rightly asserts “it was as a journalist that Zik attracted political attention in West Africa.”
Moreover, the wave of the French Revolution which emphasized liberty, equality and fraternity also contributed to shaping Zik’s resolve. Added to this were the Fabian socialist and the American New Deal theorists who helped in moulding Zik’s ideas of Man, the state and politics, reinforcing his basic commitments to democracy and constitutionalism. Zik’s exposure to the radical and revolutionary activities of the two greatest Afro-American Pan-Africanists, Marcus Garvey and William Du Bois left indelible impressions on Zik in his fight to liberate the African continent from the chains of colonialism.
Finally, Zik’s perception and integration into the American social life is rather healthy. In ‘My Odyssey’, Zik gives his frank impression of American social life:.
NEO-WELFARISM AS A VERITABLE NIGERIAN IDEOLOGY THE NIGERIA QUESTION.
Opinions are divided as regards whether Nigeria is a nation or conglomerate of nations. The question is an off shoot of the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates by Britain in 1914. These nation states include the dominant Igbos, Hausas and the Yorubas as well as the minority tribes: Edos, Urhobos, Ijaws, Jukuns and Tivs. These nations had sporadic commercial and social contacts for centuries, though politically each group had remained independent. So they are not strange bed fellows. Some of these nations like the Edos-of Mid West, the Jukuns of Middle Belt and the Kanuris of the North East even developed sophisticated cultures of high repute many years before the birth of Nigeria. The recurring question is, whether these states can co-habit peacefully especially in the face of national crisis, where all sections agitate for one thing or the other. Hence, can there be unity in diversity. To come to this we shall clarify what is meant by nation and unity.
Nation can mean a race of people having a common descent, language and culture; living under one government. Unity in a political unit is a state of affairs where the entire polity is completely reconciled with itself. Unity is not uniformity, neither is it a mere habit of togetherness. It rather means that differences are recognized and accommodated. Ojukwu advocates for the unity of marriage, instead of that of Jonah in the belly of the whale, because in the former, differences are combined to give rise to increase.
Tribe is an issue in Nigeria, for the accidents of birth, language and tribal marks are sacrosanct. Politicians even exploit it to achieve cheap gains. To employ it as an instrument for national unity, government ought to de-emphasize ethnicity in our polity, or at least restrict it to the realms of ceremony, cultural displays and sports. Since tribe is an anthropological fact capable of enhancing or disrupting our unity, there is an urgent need for a higher incentive. Loyalty to tribe must be transferred to Nigeria. This most cherished but lofty dream may only be attained when each tribe is assured of protection and freedom through a rigid constitution to be observed strictly by all parties. It has been achieved in the United States, Switzerland, Russia, Cameroon, Kenya and the Republic of China. We can translate same to Nigeria.
NIGERIAN INDIGENOUS IDEOLOGY
Nigeria as a nation has her own ideology which is rooted in her past and culture. For “it is an elementary fact of anthropology that no human society, primitive or sophisticated is culturally naked” What Nigeria yearns for is not an imposition of a new ideology. But rather, an ideological re-orientation.
- Ideology is simply a body of pragmatic ideas, which form the basis of the economic and political structure of a class of people. It could also be defined as “a manner or content of thinking, characteristics of an individual or a group.” Hence it “constitutes a guiding principle which regulates the economic, social, political and at times the religious life of a people by drawing up economic proprieties relative to viable social growth.” Houtart defines ideology as “a fundamental element in the culture of every human, ethnic, social or even religious group, a synthesis which is necessarily provisionally linked to a specific historical situation.” A ship without compass is liable to circumnavigate. Also a people without an ideal ideology rooted in its history remain stagnant or at best directionless economically and politically.
WELFARISM AS A SYSTEM.
Welfarism otherwise called public assistance refers to “government programmes that provide medical care, food, housing and other necessities for the needy people.” A state is welfarist when it aids individual and other philanthropic efforts in these afore-mentioned minimum standards for its citizenry.
Prince Otto Von Birmarch of Prussia is noted as a pioneer leader to initiate the concept as an aspect of state responsibility. For before now, charity to the needy was within the ambit of relatives and religious groups. He is credited with the statement that the state should adopt policy which would make the property-less class realize that “the state is not just an institution of necessity, but also one of welfare, bringing recognizable and direct advantages.”
This concept of welfare state came alive in Europe during the 1800’s as a better option to the Laissez faire capitalism economic policies, which prevented government from interfering in economic matters. The incompetence of capitalism in tackling economic and social problems like unemployment and poverty as a fall out of the world wars and other natural disasters compelled the state to wade in, so as to balance the “unnatural man-made co-existence of poverty for the many and prosperity for the few.” The contemporary interpretation made of this ideology especially in the United Kingdom is based on the Beveridge Report, published in 1944. The Keynesian revolution in economic thought also helped to revive the gloomy economy of the western hemisphere, which occurred as a result of the ‘Great Depression’.
Its gains not withstanding, it is usually argued that providing a steady income to needy people encourages idleness by discouraging some recipients of the welfare package from seeking employments, especially if they get more money from the benefits than from a job. It is also suggested that welfare system is too complex and costly to administer. In some civilized nations, each programme has its own eligibility requirements and ways of calculating benefits. Again, to make a distinction between those who can tend for themselves and the needy is not so easily feasible. The tendency for a mad rush for any such social services like free education for everyone is non economical to the state and may undermine the scheme.
NEO-WELFARISM AND ECONOMIC SECURITY FOR NIGERIA.
Under neo-welfarism, it remains the right of the citizen to work and earn an honest living. The state must necessarily tackle the problem of unemployment in eradicating poverty “by providing avenues of employments for its nationals.” The channels open to the state remains the Armed and Security Forces, the public services and parastatals in collaboration with the private sector. The right to work and the right to education shall be harmonized, so as to provide all eligible citizens with gainful employment depending on the skills acquired.
Neo –welfarism as a socio-economic system promises the citizens the right to public utilities. These include radio and TV broadcasting, postal services, telecommunications, transports, electricity, federal and state secretariats among others. These and many others shall be provided by the government in each state capital and rural areas where practicable. These utilities shall be at the beck and call of the citizens as one of the many dividends of neo-welfarism.
Each citizen also has the right to leisure, with leisure implying a time for relaxation, a period off-duty, vacation or sabbatical leave. This is paramount because experts advise that leisure helps to prolong life by easing stress. Since this is the case, with right to life being the first fundamental right in the Nigerian constitution, leisure is an imperative for the state. In line with this, every worker should be entitled to vacation of at least two weeks annually in addition to the public holidays. The state shall also provide low cost public hotels, amusement and entertainment parks for this purpose.
There is an urgent need for the nationalization of trade. This involves creating more rooms for indigenous firms and individuals in the “management of the different facets of our economy and ascend to their commanding height.” Caution however must be our guiding principle, as our people do not seem to have learnt all the tricks of the trade. This is evident how we mess ourselves up in specialized fields which require competent executives and personnel with the expertise to administer them efficiently.
The rationale of nationalization should take six factors into consideration. The enterprise should:
>Be of profitable concern to the investors
>Provide many Nigerians with gainful employment
>Yield appreciable income to the government
>Introduce an element of happiness and prosperity to Nigerians
A. MAIN SOURCES
AZIKIWE, N. Ideology for Nigeria: Capitalism, Socialism or Welfarism? Lagos: Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 1980.
My Odyssey, London: C. Huest Company, 1970
Tribalism: A Pragmatic Instrument for National Unity, Enugu: Eastern Publishing Co., 1964
B. SECONDARY SOURCES
ACHEBE, C., The Trouble with Nigeria, Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishing Co. Ltd., 1983.
ANYANAELE, J., Comprehensive Government for Senior Learning, Lagos: A Johnson Publishers, 2003.
BLACKSTONE, W., Political Philosophy: An Introduction, New York: Thomas Crowell Com., 1973.
CHUKWU, D., An Introduction to Nigerian Political History, Enugu: Rhema, Publications, 2000.
CHUKWUDUM, A., Nigeria: The Country in a Hurry, Lagos: John West Publications Ltd, 1981.
COPLESTON, F., A History of Philosophy, vol 9 New York:continuum Publishers, 1975.
ENAHORO, P., How to be a Nigerian, Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd., 1998.
EZEANI, G., Rdeeming Nigeria Through Massist Ideology, Yola: Juddy Best Publishers, 1987.
GIDDON, A., Capitalism and Modern Social Theory, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1971.
NWALA, T., Nigeria: Path to Unity and Stability, Nsukka: Niger Books and Publishing Co. Ltd., 1997.
NWOKO, M., Basic World Political Theories, Owerri: Claretian Institute of Philosophy, 1988.
OJUKWU, E., Because I am Involved, Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd, 1989.
OKOLO. C., Squandermania Mentality: Reflections on Nigerian Culture, Nsukka: University Trust Publishers, 1994.
OMOREGBE, J., Knowing Philosophy, Lagos: Joja Educational Research and Publishers Ltd., 1990.
PADMORE, G., Pan-Africanism or Communism, New York: Anchor Books Doubleday and Com. Inc., 1972.
RUSSELL, B., History of Western Philosophy, London: Unwin Paper Backs, 1979.
STUMPH, E., Philosophy: History and Problems, 5th edition, New York: McGraw- Hill, Inc., 1994.
AGBESE, D., ‘The beautiful bride’ in Newswatch, Nov. 23, Lagos: Newswatch Inc., 1981.
AKANWA, T. C. ‘The search for a National Ideology’ in Daily Times, Jan.10, Lagos: Daily Times Inc., 1977.
AZIKIWE, N., ‘Who says Nigeria has no Ideology” in Sunday Observer, Dec. 19, Benin City: Sunday Observer Inc, 1976.
JUKWEY, J., ‘Nigeria needs an Ideology’ in New Nigerian, Jan 29, Kaduna: New Nigerian Inc., 1977.
About the author
UDEOBA DONALD C. Is a 400 level public administration student of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra state.
For knowledge and Justice
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