I had just landed in Brampton and was trying to adjust to the weather but it suddenly dawned on me that my first assignment was in a few days which was to travel to Winnipeg in the Manitoba province of Canada to go volunteer to train a group of children teachers on the latest templates that can make their work more effective.
A few days to my departure I decided to do my research about the province as I always do when I have to assist in a new terrain and what struck me was the minister for family affairs which was something that got me excited because it was a concept I had been pushing for over 8years in Lagos.
Somewhere deep down I sensed some work must have been done on family and children from a research point of view so as I dug online I stumbled on a comprehensive report on the children and youth policy for Manitoba province. It was over a 100 page document that took me 2 nights of sleeplessness to devour. I was totally blown away at the depth of research and the report. But no sooner had I finished than my mind sank as it dawned on me what could have been in Nigeria my country.
Winnipeg was an interesting time out because apart from being the coldest place I had been all my life I was able to work with over 70 amazing people but I discovered most of them had never seen the document I had read online and the few who had seen it hadn’t bothered to study it.
My last meeting before I left Canada was in Waterloo with the Minister of youth, inclusion and diversity. Sitting to listen to her for 90mins and making inputs showed someone who had prepared for that role as she shared her concerns and her plans. I asked questions and shared my concerns based on my observation in my 2 months of stay in Canada and how I noticed the several lines of various cultures springing up and the need for a convergence that should be the Canadian dream and the portrait of who a Canadian is irrespective of where they came from. As she listened to me na took notes all through my mind raced back to Nigeria and how it has been impossible to see some commissioners let alone ministers.
One of the key complaints of Nigerians is the untold hardship the policies from various governments inflict on the people. Sometimes you wonder if there was a family champion on the table when those policies were made because if government is about the people then people should be at the center of policies.
But the real problem as I have observed over time is the absence of family champions in governance across Nigeria.
As it stands today I have not seen any state with the Ministry of Family Affairs in Nigeria and I wonder if there is no space for it in our constitution especially in a family centered nation like Nigeria.
I will try to break this down as much as I can so that you don’t get confused.
Let me narrow this down to Lagos which is the center of excellence and the model state in Nigeria.
Once there is a family life crisis there are 3 different ministries that comes to your mind in Lagos and each has different agencies also saddled with the responsibility of resolving different issues. So the question is how do we have accurate family life data in Lagos that can be used for policy making?
The ministry of women affairs and poverty alleviation for example is saddled with matters that concerns men but who is saddled with matters that concern men? So imagine a scenario where there is domestic violence and the man is summoned how easy would it be for him knowing he is going to the Ministry of women affairs and poverty alleviation. And let’s throw the children into the mix because they are also involved unfortunately the child department has been moved from women affairs to ministry of youths and sports and social development.
So it means on one matter that involves the family 2 different ministries with different commissioners are already involved yet there is a third ministry which is the Ministry of Justice with various family related agencies who handle domestic violence and sexual offence, family court, citizen’s rights and even office of the public defender. These are mostly manned by lawyers and maybe a few psychologists.
Let’s now get back to policy table. Let’s assume the government is about to make a policy for example on the recent Okada ban and the various ministries are supposed to be on the table. You can be sure Ministry of women affairs will sit to represent women not necessarily family. The ministry of youths and sports will sit to represent youths and not family while the ministry of justice will process every discussion through the prism of justice.
Who then is the champion of family life affairs in our various states?
I can state 10 critical benefits of having a ministry of family affairs across Nigeria but lack of it has hurt our nation badly without knowing. As a matter of fact I make bold to say most of the crisis across our country can be resolved by the ministry of family affairs manned by professionals who are specialists on family life affairs because the field of family science gives you a template that if well run can deliver a type of people and a type of pre-determined society. But are we ready?
There is no way we can maximize the potentials of our various families and create a society we all truly desire with the present composition of things. I have attached a typical org structure of a typical ministry of family affairs because it must be at the base of every government and government policy.
There is no people to govern without families and if the family is sick society is equally going to be sick. But to fix family and ultimately fix the society we can’t have ministries who have different mission even though part of family but not fully about family trying to solve a problem that a family life affairs ministry can solve.
At the Institute of family engineering and development we have devoted a lot of time and resources into understanding the family angle to most of the critical problems across Africa from terrorism to tribal wars and other issues as rape and domestic violence and our conclusion is a well-executed family systems powered by a highly professional ministry of family affairs can solve these problems
Every time we try to make policies for the people without thinking of it affects various families we will end up becoming the enemies of the same people we think our policy is out to protect.
The most important nation on earth is the family because the family is the production factory of the society – Praise Fowowe
I am a SAVIOUR