Lest we forget, public well-being is the purpose of government – By Ray Morphy

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Govt. policies should impact positively on the citizens

The Nigerian citizen’s welfare is the sole purpose and objective of government! It appears that office holders at all levels have forgotten this, hence the need to remind leaders, office holders and citizens alike! Everyone, ought to be aware of the constitutional expectation and obligation to the people.

Public office is always in trust for the people. Democracy abhors both dictatorship and aristocracy because of their disdain for the citizen. In democracy, the citizen is the owner of government, as such; he is the employer of all occupiers of public office!

The 1999 constitution as amended, states it clearly and succinctly in Chapter II, aptly titled the ”Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy”.

It states thus: “13. It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution.

“14. (1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.

(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that: (a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority; (b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government:

and (c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. (3)

The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.

“(4) The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation. 15. (1) The motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.

(2) Accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.

(3) For the purpose of promoting national integration, it shall be the duty of the State to:

(a) provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the Federation;

(b) secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation; (c) encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties; and;

(d) promote or encourage the formation of associations that cut across ethnic, linguistic, religious and or other sectional barriers;

(4) The State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties;

(5) The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power; 16. (1) The State shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution; (a) harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy; (b) control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity;

 (c) without prejudice to its right to operate or participate in areas of the economy, other than the major sectors of the economy, manage and operate the major sectors of the economy;

(d) without prejudice to the right of any person to participate in areas of the economy within the major sector of the economy, protect the right of every citizen to engage in any economic activities outside the major sectors of the economy;

 (2) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring;

 (a) the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development;

(b) that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good;

 (c) that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group; and

 (d) that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled.”

The question today is this: ”To what extent are government at various levels living up to this chapter of the constitution?

How many office holders are even aware that the entire purpose of their office is the welfare and well-being of the citizen?

Despite many vaunted programmes of government, past and present, the well-being of the citizen is getting worse by the day. It is as if government is doing nothing at all with this schedule of the constitution in view.

There is no sector of the nation that can be said to have met any of the vaunted objectives of either vision 2010 or Vision 2020!

In other words, the evidence on ground is that governments at all levels are working for purposes not in consonance with Schedule 2 of our constitution. If they are, then their efforts are not good enough and they should do more to make the citizen the centerpiece of all policies and activities of government.

If that is done, the indices will change and our country will once again become a country to be proud of. For now if given a choice, most Nigerians will prefer to emigrate rather than stay in the miasma that our country has now become.

Aluta Continua!

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