Nigeria: Preservation of Traditional Support Systems
Specialists in comparative studies often question the value of studying social welfare programs for the elderly in nations, such as Nigeria, whose federal systems affect an inconsequential fraction of the population. This position has a clear bias that presumes that societies that do not rely on comprehensive federal programs are of little interest. Such a perspective overlooks the fact that neither inclusive nor centralized programs may be the long-term goal of many economically developing nations and, indeed, contrasts with efforts to retain traditional methods of support as well as with recent movements toward decentralization of government responsibility.
It is suggested here that it is precisely the limited role of the government in providing social welfare benefits for the elderly, as in Nigeria, that is of analytical interest to policymakers in many other nations. Analyzing the process of marginal government involvement increases understanding of both deliberate and unpremeditated attempts to maintain customary sources of income and social support. This is useful information to the analyst who wants to know the extent to which government strategies, including the option of noninvolvement, have had an impact on the emergence of specific models of support programs, such as industrial models of social insurance.
Government in Nigeria, as in most other African nations, has had little direct involvement in income, health, or social service programs