There are firm believers in the ideal that the citizenry of a nation is the life of that nation. I am one of those people. A nation is only as great as its people. This includes the rulers and the ruled, really. No one is left out. Imagine if everyone were to live up to their potential. The society will be positively changed. I recently discovered that there are actual laws put in place to create an enabling society where everyone can live up to their full potential. Nigerian laws span practically all facets of life.
Social development is prioritizing human needs in the growth and development of society. The primary aim of social development is to improve the lives of regular citizens in order to make the society a better place for everyone. Social development is an investment in people because everyone is important and has a role to play in society. It becomes necessary to remove all barriers that may hinder the progress of each individual. Barriers like poverty, lack of access to education, no access to employment opportunities, poor living conditions, vulnerability of different groups, exposure to violence, unaccountable institutions among others, need to be pulled down. In light of recent economic and social realities in the Nigerian society, there is an urgent need for these aspects to be addressed, not as a one-time activity but consistently as society evolves. Social development is usually seen in the level of civic activism in a society, voluntary associations, gender equality, and inclusion of the marginalized (minorities) in the development plan of the nation.
What does it encompass and involve?
In Nigeria, we have the Social Development Act. The social development division of the Federal Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity is at the helm of social development in Nigeria. Everything related to the social welfare and development in the federation is addressed by the social development division. The Social Development Act specifically delineates the functions of the social development division. It is charged with the following functions:
- It is to coordinate intergovernmental and interstate social development activities.
- It also conducts research and surveys in various aspects of social development.
- It trains professional workers and organizes/coordinates training facilities for governmental and non-governmental social agencies.
- It handles international casework and adoption enquiries
- It promotes legislation at the national level on matters affecting social development.
- It relates with voluntary organisations at national and international levels
- It engages in the development of sports in Nigeria
- It organizes national youth activities
- It conducts overseas and national repatriations
- It provides national relief and rehabilitation
- It also forms the national advisory committee for social development.
The national advisory committee for social development meets to deliberate on matters relating to social development and tenders same to the Minister of Employment, Labour and productivity (now called Federal Minister of Labour and Employment).
Social development is not a theoretical concept. It should not merely exist in utopia. It is so practical that the economic growth of any nation is hinged on it. Here is a practical example of how social development promotes economic growth and a higher quality of life: X works in an environment that recognizes and encourages skills and creativity. These are the yardsticks of promotion and this is what got X the job in the first place. X had access to good education for which he did not spend a fortune. At the workplace, X is not discriminated against in whatever form so he has the opportunity of expressing himself and sharing ideas that will be beneficial to the organization he works for. There are others like X in this organization who got there based on educational qualifications and skills as well. The organization not only meets it productivity targets but also surpasses them. This has a great effect on the sector to which the organization belongs. Ultimately, the economy of the nation is improved.