The pursuit of happiness just became one step easier for citizens of Imo State in southeast Nigeria.
Thanks to their governor, they now have a dedicated official to oversee their “happiness and purpose fulfillment.”
Governor Rochas Okorocha named the official, who just happens to be his sister, during a swearing in ceremony on Monday.
Ogechi Ololo was initially named ‘Commissioner of Happiness and Couples Fulfillment,” much to the delight of social media users who wondered exactly what the function of this new role would be.
A day later, the governor’s office issued a correction to say that the correct title would be “Supervisory Commissioner for Happiness and Purpose Fulfillment”.
Media officer for the state, Chuks Nwokeji, said: “Unfortunately, her portfolio was erroneously published as ‘Commissioner of Happiness and Couples Fulfillment’ in various media as a result of lacuna of information.”
“Mischief makers and others without sound moral upbringing capitalized on it to do what they know how to do best,” he added.
Full details on what she will do in the role have yet to emerge but another aide issued a statement that the ministry will “guide ministries and departments on what they must do to guarantee the citizens’ happiness and contribute better to the society.”
The appointment itself has been met with ridicule on social media sites as Nigerians weighed in on what the role actually means and the ethics of the Governor appointing his own sister to the role.
However, Imo State press secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, defended her appointment in a statement: “The choice of Mrs Ogechi Ololo, a Masters Degree holder in Computer Science, USA, who has been the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor on Domestic Matters and Food Security, can be described as a round peg in a round hole.”
Okorocha is known for his grand gestures; recently unveiling a series of statues honoring world leaders including Africa’s first female President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and South Africa President Jacob Zuma.
The statues were criticized as a waste of money in a region plagued with economic difficulties.
According to BudgiT, a civic advocacy organization in Nigeria, Imo state owed external sources $60.2 million in 2016.
Earlier this year, Okorocha proposed a budget of N131 billion (equivalent to $360 million) for Imo State, with more than 77 percent of its budget sourced from federal allocations, BudgIT said.
Okorocha is not the first official to appoint a ‘Happiness Minister’. In February 2016, the United Arab Emirates appointed a Minister of State for Happiness to “align and drive government policy to create social good and satisfaction.”
While in 2013, Venezuela created a portfolio for the Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness.
Nigeria currently ranks 95th out of 155 countries on the United Nations World Happiness Report 2017.