Lifestyle: Why Nigeria should follow UAE, Venezuela and Imo state in appointing a ‘Minister of Happiness’

Nigerians are happy people, but current situation in the country is turning the table around.

The level of social problems in Nigeria actually called for a Minister with the responsibility of making the citizens happy.

By putting aside reactions that greeted the appointment of a Commissioner of Happiness and Purpose Fulfillment in Imo state, situations in Nigeria actually called for one.

More so, countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Venezuela and Colombia have such department or ministry to oversee the fulfillment of citizen’s goals. Hence, having one in Nigeria should not be a bad idea.

Taking a cue from the UAE, Nigeria's minister of Happiness would help align and drive government policies to create a social good and satisfaction. Also, the minister is expected to engage in more social work and welfare activities.

World Happiness Report 2017 highlighted that Nigerians are now becoming less happy. A situation partly due to low dividends of democratic rule and deteriorating social welfare. Nigeria ranked 103rd of the 157 countries across the globe, thus, putting the country among the least happy countries in the world.

“69% of Nigerian respondents stated they aspired to a better standard of living, while 60% worried that they might not achieve a decent standard of living," the report reads.

Going by this, here are reasons having a ministry of happiness in Nigeria would be a great idea.

1.    Rising cases of suicide in Nigeria

One thing that makes a call for a minister of happiness in Nigeria is the rising cases of suicide in Nigeria. The situation is worrisome that psychiatrists and other physicians have stated that there is a high index of symptoms of depression among their patients.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria has a chance of 15.1 suicides per 100,000 population per year. This made the country ranked the 30th and 10th most suicide-prone out of 183 nations in the world and Africa respectively.

With a Minister of Happiness, programmes around relieving people of perceived depression would be initiated. More so, the minister can help ensure government pays workers’ salaries as at when due.

2.    Help coordinate national orientation

One thing that a Minister of Happiness will help address is the ineffective national orientation in the country. Although, there is a National Orientation Agency (NOA) it is as ineffective as many public institutions established to serve a national purpose.

At present, there is an absence of national discussion of issues and policies of the government that affect the welfare of the people. Hence, having one public officer with this responsibility will help address high-level dis-orientation in the country.

3.    Problem of social inclusion

Having a minister of Happiness with wide public acceptance would further strengthen drive for social inclusion in the country. The minister or ministry would be saddled with responsibilities of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) among others.

Addressing issues of tribalism, state of origins and residence and other social problems.

4.    Need to promote religious tolerance in the country

Need to promote religious tolerance makes the need for a Minister of Happiness more imperative, and germane in Nigeria. With this post created, the personnel in charge is expected to coordinate all activities that would reduce ethnic or religious tension in the country.

A minister with such responsibility would have continuously pushed for definite government positions on Herdsmen problems in the Middle belt, South East and North-Central Nigeria, Militancy in Niger Delta, Kidnapping in South West & East and Boko Haram problems in the country.

5.    Need to close the gap between the government and the governed

The unclosed gap between government and citizens in Nigeria makes having a Minister whose role is to actively engage the public as the most needed thing the country needs now.

For any policy of the government, there is always a negative backlash that would have been curtail if there is an active engagement of the public. Having a government office or personnel would help address the outrage that usually greets government policy.