Nigeria Is Working?

When the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the National Assembly, reconvened on a Sunday in the history of Nigeria to address the imminent impasse in the nation as a result of the January #occupyNigeria, #fuelsubsidy and Nigerian Labour Congress protests, one would have thought that there was a paradigm shift in the debate for Nigeria first above individuals and political interests.

The previous week we had the National assembly on holiday as the ruling party, Papa Deceive Pickin prepared for its national party convention, with the majority gone, both the Senate and House of Reps were on self-derived recess. Likewise in some states where Papa Deceive Pickin held the majority in the state house of assemblies, the members were all away to their constituencies. Hence the mandatory absence from duty posts. They will be quick to justify their actions because political party convention is one the requirements of the law, as well as building a strong internal democracy.  Well the end justifies the means with Papa Deceive Pickin producing a 60-year-old youth leader.

What happens when other political parties decide to have their annual conventions, another holiday? It is about time the National Assembly harmonises its calendar with all political parties on the need for party conventions to fall within certain scheduled breaks of the National assembly and not legislative weeks.

This week it is the turn of the Asiwaju Conglomerate of Nigeria senators and house of reps members to abscond from their primary duty at the National Assembly for the much awaited, sensationalized and grand birthday of their leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagban of ????. Anyway titles are irrelevant, but all roads lead to Lagos for what I call Eko O ni Baje Owambe weeklong event, the mass of exodus of legislators to Lagos cannot be questioned or else one will not be deemed to be an omoluabi. The South West governors {except Mimiko of Loners Party} with respective members of House of Assembly, politicians and associates will be there to mark attendance register.  Who does not want to run for second term in 2015? They must have bought their Aso Ebi by now. There is no debate; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu should be celebrated by his peers, admirer, political party and well-wishers but at what cost to the public and the treasury?

Invariably, the National Assembly will be on another impromptu holiday for the week with their Easter holiday commencing, they will be back by April 16th.  3 legislative weeks wasted with recourse to public funds, I dare to ask who will question them, and after all they fix their wages and allowances at will while their in-house committees collect funds from government agencies they oversee without accounting for it. As you can see Nigeria is working courtesy of these legislators who live above us.

We still have to work on the role of institutions above individuals, the collective responsibility of the nation entrusted in the hands of elected public office holders, should be put to better use for the sole purpose of Nigeria and Nigerians before other concerns.

This would have been a great opportunity to increase government revenue if we were to go by the opinion of the piquant Feyi Fawehinmi of the Aguntasolo blog, who once said on twitter that it is about time we have feferity tax in Nigeria. From the after Papa Deceive Pickin convention congratulatory ads to this week’s Eko O ni Baje Owambe ads, the government would be smiling to the bank but then “won fi owo abu se abu lalejo ni”.

Or my crazy thought, If we can buy tokunboh helicopter for the army, why cant we buy 2005 tokunboh camry for all our legislators including the Ministers to save cost.

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The Future of Nigeria Without Us

I was working on a piece about rational choice theory in the Nigerian context, wanting to link it up with present scenario in Nigeria. 80% complete I decided to return it to my archive for further reading. What however caught my attention is a subtle message being sent out by the ruling elites across Nigeria, the idea that we are equals and there is no space within the polity for young people except being appendages to their ego. 3 different events caught my attention during the week.

Event 1

The much awaited Future Nigeria Symposium for Young & Emerging leaders kicked off on March 19, 2012, twitter world kept updating while the expected live stream was barely audible. So this afternoon, a one hour summary of the symposium was aired on Channels TV using the regular #RubbinMinds slot which is a youth platform run by Future Nigeria. Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s comments about young people wanting to participate in governance caught my attention, it was very obvious he was not buying the idea nor giving it a second thought. Hold on, the Rivers State governor was emphatic about how having a younger generation in government would end up in mismanagement of the treasury, so they should rather tag along and put pressure on people like him in government to perform. It would interest you to know that the same Rotimi Amaechi became the Special Assistant to the Deputy Governor of Rivers state in 1992 at age 26, was elected to the Rivers State House of Assembly and was the speaker for 8 years from 1999 at age 34 and was elected governor of Rivers State in 2007 at age 42.

Event 2

Then the tweet answer of the former Minister of FCT and certified ruffler of feathers popped up on my timeline

@elrufai: “@bashirenesi: u criticized Gen. Buhari as too old for president, y do u now support him ?”…the younger ones are not as good, or honest!”

I supported General Buhari in the last elections and his credibility was one of the reasons why I decided to campaign for him. Nasir El Rufai served as an adviser in the transition government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, at age 38 in 1998, became Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Secretary of the National Council of Privatization where he spearheaded the privatisation of many government-owned companies at the age 39 in 1999 and he became the minister of Abuja FCT at age 43 in 2003.

Event 3

Then the news of the young Special Adviser (advocacy) to the Minister of Youth Development joining the ruling party, PDP, filtered in. I was elated to hear about young people joining political parties to participate in the polity though I have my reservations about PDP as a party, 13 years in power with little or no opposition yet the ruling cannot give concrete account of its leadership, continuity and stability. When President Yaradau and Goodluck got into office with the latter eventually becoming president, one would have though the opposition won the elections with the cluelessness and loss of focus by the government.

Just as I was savouring the news, I got to hear about PDP electing a new national youth leader in person of Mala Umar Garba, age 60. I was like what the heck? Was this not the same man who claimed he was 57 years old in a newspaper interview in 2008? My next series of tweets were:

“PDP CHANGE: Umar Garba Chiza, 60 years old, becomes PDP National Youth Leader. Bamanga Tukur the National Chair is 77years old”

“If the PDP national Youth leader is 60 years old, I wonder what Ohimai will be in PDP #justcurious”

“PDP BOT Chairman OBJ is officially 75”

“Bisi Akande the chairman of ACN is 73years old”

“Muhammadu Buhari the CPC leader is 70years old”

“The PDP National Youth leader is the same age with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Imagine Tinubu leading twales at Ojota”

The new PDP national Chairman, Bamanga Tukur is 77years old, he became the general manager of the Nigerian Ports Authority at about the age of 37. I quoted Governor Raji Fashola at his last re-election manifesto saying “the problem is not with their age but the age of their idea”. Egghead Odewale asked, what about regeneration and it dawned on me that the series of events that happened weeklong was a coded message from the ruling elites.I tweeted again:

“My father is 64years old, PDP National Youth leader is 60years old. what am I?”

“You are all calling me a toddler cos PDP National Youth Leader is 60, my father is 64 years old. My son is 9 years old. What am I?”

Summary

Before we begin the North vs the South divide, we must understand the political parties plus ruling elites have the same ideology of remaining in power till they die, they don’t see young Nigerians with equal rights to lead this nation. In the same week when the Future Nigeria symposium held to engage future youth leaders, the message either coded of subtly put across from the ruling elites, who at our age where opportune to serve this nation, is that they will not avail our generations the opportunity to participate in deciding the future of this country. The future they will surely not be part of.

I may be wrong or just worried but I leave you to connect the 3 events, you may have had other scenarios you did not take note of. If you pay more attention to the ruling elites, you will get the coded message.

Our culture and religion dwells on respect for elders in Nigeria but the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes all as citizens with equal rights. The race for 2015 has begun and surely it does not include you and me unless we have our own plans.

In the name of Nigerians and for Nigerians

Nigeria remains a country divided by various interests yet bonded together by similar interests. Every time there is a dissenting opinion calling for a change from the status quo, the beneficiaries of the present political arrangement are quick to remind us of what danger signal we may be sending across. What they have not told you and I, is how this system continues to protect their self-interests.

At large, across the length and breadth of the country exist a network of ruling elites, they cut across every religion, profession and ethnic group. And they draw their legitimacy from the very existence of all Nigerians, in the name of Nigerians and for Nigerians.  How do they do this? They build on our political communities, define the community membership with social and economic rights.

For the common good of our communities and in the general interest of all, this ruling elites claim to act. Altruism is the order of the day, they make us believe that they are acting on our half to benefit us, then why complain about their human efforts to satisfy our needs. What they have not told us, is how their self-interests makes altruism invincible. “No man giveth but with intention of good to himself” says Thomas Hobbes, one of the first modern democratic theorist. For someone who helps an injured stranger, his reward or gain might be relieving his distress from seeing someone in pain.

The ruling elites actions don’t count to be altruistic when they make no sacrifice on their part to benefit the common good of all.  But trying to measure the level of self-interest and altruism in our ruling elites is rather difficult, why? Over the years we have not been able to define what is in the common interest of our community, our public interest has been over taken by religious and ethnic advocacy.

There is no community on earth were people have 100% freedom to do what they want, what exists are communities bounded by public interests and driven by a set of individuals who should possibly have personal self-interests to buy into the idea. At other times there would be conflict of public interest and self-interest, whichever one takes precedence is determined by several other factors. Often people want good things for their communities, they would want good roads, good schools and healthcare facilities, in order to get this, they may need to have a voice. Everyone does not get to have a voice at the same time but they entrust their voice in the hands of representatives who they believe share the same public interests with them.

However, it becomes difficult for the representatives to share the same public interests with his community when he has an exit strategy as a result of the opportunity to represent the community. He may join the ruling elite which is expected and before long he differs with his community. For how long he gets away with this is determined by how well he can manipulate the information he has access to, by the virtue of his position in the network he finds himself.

For as long as the polis consists of more people who openly pursue public interests but differ from their conception of self-interests, the ensuing confusion/problem is humongous. It is in the interest of the ruling elites with access to information to hamper the development of ideas in the community with a view to create distortion. Note, our ideas and what we want and the choices we make are shaped by education, persuasion and socialization. Once our ideas are influenced, our actions will surely be influenced by the little circle which has access to information the community does not have. With this influence comes coercion built upon the self-interests of the ruling elites.

Yaradua’s Demise : Is God speaking to us again?

“Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (انّا للہ و انّا الیہ راجعون) : ‘Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return’.” Sura Al-Baqara, Verse 156

“And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” Job 1:21

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Umaru Yaradua passed on May 5, 2010. He is survived by his mother, wife, siblings, children and relatives. He will be remembered in Nigeria’s history mainly for the controversy that surrounded his sudden disappearance from the country and the culminating factors leading to his eventual death.

It is so sad that after serving Nigeria as governor and president, we may never have the opportunity to listen to his own side of the whole story. The Saudi trip; the lies; the return, the chaos and the eventual submission to the will of God. Eventually the blame game will start with everyone putting the blame on the dead, just as it was done in the case of Sanni Abacha. Who will defend the dead? My condolence to the Yaraduas, we shall mourn with them but Nigeria must surely move on.

Reaction to Yar’ Adua’s demise:

“What passes for the Nigerian nation is nothing more than a tragic arena, and Yar‘Adua is only the latest tragic figure. The vampires, including those within his own family, turned him into a mere inert resource for their diabolical schemes. They have a reckoning with their conscience, assuming they know what the word means. One can only hope that, while mouthing sanctimonious platitudes such as”Power belongs to God,” they have now learnt that the politics of Do-or-Die cannot guarantee who does and who dies. They must stop playing God. I pray for the repose of the soul of their latest, much abused innocent victim.” ~ Wole Soyinka

“All shall die, whether great or small. May Umar Yaradua find in death the peace that left his life after he was railroaded by merchants of power into an office for which he had shown no ambition?” ~ Sola Adeyeye

The death of Yaradua will certainly not be the end of this political thread, we certainly deserve to know what actually transpired in the presidency and the principal actors, if culpable, must be tried for treason and felony for attempting to subvert the law and peaceful co-existence of this country. If death has taken away Yar’ Adua, it has not taken away the so called opportunistic cabal and vampires, who are still very much alive and around.

We deserve to know how tax payers’ money was spent in this whole “Yardiegate “. Who was behind the BBC interview ? Did Yaradua actually grant that BBC interview? Who signed the 2009 appropriation budget into law? Why was the president smuggled back into the country? Who gave orders to the Army Chief to draft soldiers to the Abuja Airport? Is the President’s health a private or state/public affair? Did our constitution prevail in the whole #Yardiegate episode?

I want to believe that the passing away of Yaradua is not a mere coincidence but a sign of what is to come in the days ahead. Nothing happens on this planet without the knowledge of GOD, even when the leaves drop from the trees and the ants of the earth go about their business.

Under the late Abacha Sanni junta, Nigerians in their usual manner demonstrated, cried and formed numerous opposition movements. We prayed fervently for God to intervene. We had endured Abacha and his goons for almost 5 years. The suffering was unbearable. Surrounded by mystery and controversy, Abacha died June 8, 1998. Without full recourse to what happened during the Abacha years, Nigerians hit the streets with jubilations as if our messiah was coming.

The same set of people who sold us out returned in agbadas and babarigas under the umbrella of return to the democracy while their godfathers ruled by proxy . We ushered in the era of give Baba a chance to rule us, with the presidential elections of April 1999 and swearing in May 1999. The time between Abacha’s death and the swearing in of Obasanjo was approximately 12 months. Results ~ 13years in the wilderness of democracy.

Fast forward to May, 2010, 13 years in the wilderness of democracy with so many revelations. The power tussle on how to loot this country became the order of the day. We were so bewitched until we arrived at Yardiegate. Nigerians hit the streets and prayed fervently for divine intervention. The country was gradually slipping into a state of oblivion. Save Nigeria, Light up Nigeria, Enough is Enough and the Diaspora marched through the streets demanding for a change.

The Nollywood script directed by the cabal with the help of Turai was the height of insult upon 140million plus Nigerians. We cried to God to show mercy upon Nigeria, Yaradua was hijacked by the cabal from the whole nation. On May 5, our President passed away. The time between Yaradua’s death and the next election plus swearing in [May 29, 2011] is approximately 12 months 3weeks. Results ~????

It is not a mistake or mere coincidence that God has asked Yaradua to come over for rest at this time, this must serve as a lesson to all the kokumos of Nigeria, who think the presidency and political office is their birthright. Never say Never.

Would it be a mere coincidence that we have another 12 months to decide the next phase of this country? Is God saying something to us? Can anyone solve the puzzle or connect both events? While I remain optimistic about the future of Nigeria, I must say that if we get it wrong in 2011, we may have to wander again in the wilderness of democracy for another couple of years and this time it may be worse. Enough said about Nigeria breaking up before 2015. Obviously if we continue on the chosen path of the cabal who held Yaradua and the Nation to ransom, we would have ended up as a failed state. This might just be the reprieve that we need as a nation.

I will not join anyone in jubilation, rather it’s time to return to the trenches and seize this opportunity to follow the right path. I am sick of small victories. So much for the future of this nation, my son will soon start asking me the same questions I have been asking my parents, what is wrong with Nigeria? Why are things the way they are? Where did we go wrong? God help me that he does not have to ask such questions if we get it right or else I may never have answers like my parents.

Goodluck Jonathan is sworn in May 6, 2010. Maybe it’s just a mere coincidence or it means well for the nation. Before the sycophants and mediocre start singing the praises of Goodluck to the gates of hell, lets us all brace up for the task ahead. I don’t want to accept that Goodluck Jonathan is anyway much different; he belongs to the same ruling party as Obasanjo and Yaradua. Let Goodluck Jonathan and all politicians know that we cannot afford to falter at this point.

“It is either we know how to fight but not how to win an enduring battle or that the Nigerian ruling elite and the larger cabal are the smartest in the world. Or could it be that we are not just ready for that Nigerian revolution? Could it be that we get satisfied with little victories and then lose focus and start bickering over the spoils of war when the final battle has not been won? It is high time we re-strategised, formed alliances and get down to the business of an all Nigerian liberation battle plan or we just raise the white flag and surrender to the ‘superiority’ of our opponents – the few who hold us all to ransom. We have the choice of either cutting the chains or asking the oppressor to adjust the tight chain so we can have temporary relief. The choice is ours.” ~ Kayode Ogundamisi

“In an independent state, it should be possible to for us to cater for the happiness and well being of our people. Independence for our state should mean freedom and human dignity for the ordinary person in the street.” ~ Obafemi Awolowo

Originally written May, 2010

The Scratch Card Money Spinning Scheme

The motive by people to take advantage of one another when one is in need has become a norm which is not synonymous to Nigeria only. Growing up, we were inundated with overwhelming stories about how one needed to pay graft to get something done, even if you were legally entitled to such.
One of such areas is the advent of scratch card business in Nigeria. The scratch card industry which took off effectively on March 31, 2005 has grown from nothing to an estimated N11.7 billion annually. It will be recalled that the ban on importation of scratch card into Nigeria formally took off in March 31, 2005. Over 15 companies were granted permission by the Ministry of Communications to print scratch cards locally.

In 2004, Ms. Ann Bresnahan, CEO of Startech Connections, Abuja, a telecom operator stated that a total of one billion cards were used in Nigeria in 2004 while MTN Nigeria, Glo Mobile and Celtel Nigeria consume more than one million scratch cards monthly. This estimate does not include the scratch cards consume by private telecom operators, popularly known as PTOs in Nigeria. Besides, some examination bodies in the country use scratch cards for the purchase and administration of their examinations. Among them are: Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and West African Examination Council (WAEC).

Overnight scratch became the order of the day, you need a scratch card to do anything in Nigeria. The scratch card business went on neither unhindered nor supervised by any relevant government agencies. You need a job, buy a scratch card, you want to join a football academy or talent hunt show, buy a scratch card, you want to contest in a beauty pageant, buy a scratch card and you want anything in the educational sector, buy a scratch card.

When Oceanic Bank announced the launch of it Oceanic Football Talent hunt with the scratch card initiative, it was nothing but taking advantage of thousands of football loving talents across the country. The bank instituted what could be termed as a “football beauty pagent” with no one asking how many applicants actually bought the scratch cards. I still maintain there is an ethical issue with the bank’s decision to collect money from applicants.
For years, Nigeria’s leading retail banks have wooed customers with sweepstakes and lotteries. First Bank, Union Bank, UBA, Bank PHB, Skye Bank, Intercontinental bank, Oceanic Bank, Afribank and company have all engaged in this unethical exploitation of customers. Intercontinental was notorious for rigged lotteries that produced hundreds of winners. Diamond Bank claims that it is giving away 50 million naira to lucky customers. GTBank and Zenith Bank must be commended for refusing to indulge in this unethical practice.

The irony of it all is the government has joined in this scam to scheme every penny out of the poor masses that are in need, instead of providing an environment for watchdogs to scrutinise this transactions as well as jobs. It is absurd and unheard of anywhere that a citizen of a nation will be required to pay to serve his country especially when he will be putting his life on line. It is in Nigeria that you have to pay for application to join the police or serve in the army. How do we drive patriotism when you pay for application forms to join the police and end up buying your uniforms with you personal funds?

JOIN THE NIGERIA POLICE
Sales of application scratch cards for police recruitment will commence on 8th April 2009 and close 1st of May, 2009. It is open to graduates of polytechnics and universities. Nation wide screening will take place at all state police commands on 11th May 2009.
To get the scratch card for registration
HOW TO APPLY FOR THE NIGERIA POLICE

To apply for any of the advertised positions, you must purchase an Application Scratch Card (To get the scratch card call

With your Application Scratch Cards in your hand, carefully scratch off the “Scratch Off Panel” behind the card and click on any of the category pictures on the homepage.

Insert the Serial and PIN number of your card in to the appropriate boxes and hit the verify button. If you have a used or invalid card, it would give you an error message. If you have provided a valid card, it would take you to the account creation form. Fill the form and submit – you would be taken to the application form.

Join the Nigerian Army
– Obtain a PIN Code from all branches of Oceanic BankONLY after the payment of N2,500 Application Fee to the cashier.

– Login to http://www.nigerianarmyms.org

– Select either Short Service Combatant Commission(SSC) orDirect Short Service Commission(DSSC)Application link on Top of this page.

– Click on the Register and Make Payment link

– Select BranchCollect.

– Enter your username, password, 8-digit PIN Number and Submit. Login and begin to fill the forms and upload your passports and documents.

As if that is not enough, when government of different countries are creating government-funded employment agency facility in the name of job centres, state governments in Nigeria have joined in an attempt to milk the masses.

This morning, Imo State ran an advert on AIT about 10,000 jobs creation for Imo State indigenes under the age of 30 asking the applicants to purchase scratch cards at the cost of N2, 000 from designated banks to enable them access online application. http://www.imo.ngrecruit.com/
Imo government said it “is executing a socio-economic agenda towards revitalising the economy and restoring infrastructure in the state”. To drive these initiatives, the government seeks to recruit 10, 000 youths. Imagine collecting N2,000 from say 10,000 jobless people, that amounts to N20m.

These youths are unemployed and yet the only way to create employment opportunities is to monetise the application process with no guarantee that the applicant will get a job. This is a state that is reported to owe outstanding pay and bonus arrear for up to 24months. It would be recalled that the civil servants in Imo State just resumed from a one-week warning strike which is meant to draw the government’s attention to the non-payment of their revised allowances, monetised entitlements and full monetary value of their respective promotions.

What is it exactly that the government in this country intends to do for the citizens? We are literally left at the mercy of survival, we must pay our way through every services in this country.
Does anyone care about the subtle method of defrauding people all in the name of scratch cards?

Section 17 of the constitution states:
(1) The State social order is founded on ideals of Freedom, Equality and
Justice.

(2) In furtherance of the social order-
(a) every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and
opportunities before the law;
(b) the sanctity of the human person shall be recognised and human
dignity shall be maintained and enhanced;
(c) governmental actions shall be humane;
(d) exploitation of human or natural resources in any form whatsoever
for reasons, other than the good of the community, shall be prevented;
and
(e) the independence, impartiality and integrity of courts of law, and
(3) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that-
(a) all citizens, without discrimination on any group whatsoever, have
the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as
adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment;
(b) conditions of work are just and humane, and that there are
adequate facilities for leisure and for social, religious and cultural
life;
(c) the health, safety and welfare of all persons in employment are
safeguarded and not endangered or abused;
(d) there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons:
(e) there is equal pay for equal work without discrimination on
account of sex, or on any other ground whatsoever;
(f) children, young persons and the age are protected against any
exploitation whatsoever, and against moral and material neglect;
(g) provision is made for public assistance in deserving cases or
other conditions of need; and
(h) the evolution and promotion of family life is encouraged.

The scratch card scheme by Imo state and some private organisations in Nigeria is nothing but an exploitation of the masses and are not humane at all. I hope someone will go to court and challenge this nonsense or have access to debate the Imo State government on this.

Only the dead have seen the end of the war ~ Plato

Originally written April 2010

 

Nigeria: A Nation In Dire Need Of Institutions

Much has been said about the on-going near debacle in Nigeria and it is important to address the issue as an existing phenomena and not a new trend as some see it. The present government is clearly imbibed in one form of transformation agenda which has not been sold to the average Nigerian. Unfortunately, the kind of democracy practised is not institutionally embedded to challenge incumbents, most especially the president who has much power conferred on him by the 1999 constitution.

The use of transformation as a political means of conveying the policy direction of the government plus the inability to differentiate between transformation and transition does not augur well for the country. Transition entails a process from the present stage into the next stage of a planned process, while transformation entails proceeding into an unknown space for the purpose of arriving at some change.  Transitiondoes bring about change if that is the desired outcome, it lays out the fundamental process of building on the present while taking into consideration the following:

  • Initial or inherited conditions
  • External conditions
  • Policies
  • Outcomes

It is important that the present government readjusts to a transition mode as opposed to the idea of doing it all at once and solving it with a magic wand.  There are many questions to be asked: where is this transition taking us to, where is the expected destination, how does the citizenship buy into the restructuring of the country with a bottom-top approach as opposed to a top-bottom approach? A rejection of the transition of a nation can easily translate into a rejection of its democracy where there is insufficient civic participation/support. The different emerging spheres in a transition must be clearly understood and addressed with the interest of the nation at heart:

  • Sphere of values:  what does the country want to be known for when it comes to its culture and identity?
  • Sphere of reason: what is the role of institutions in building the country?
  • Sphere of interest: Who gets what?

In the last 30 years, the institutions across the country have become very weak, with individualism and sentiments taking over the system. Economic and political reforms require time, patience and adaptation from the citizens; the government must put mechanisms in place to carry citizens along in the decision making process.  Building an institution requires every element of trust- it is not enough to be elected legitimately as required by law, but the need to gain the absolute trust of citizens is the most important requirement for a government to carry out its transition effectively.

The transition process is an interplay between internal and external factors and cannot be built around individuals, political parties or ethnic groups, but institutions. The inter dynamic process between government, political parties and citizens must be shaped by institutions. At the moment we have a new wave of civic engagement by the younger generation which we hope would bring about a new sense of citizenship and perception of Nigeria. The level of trust in the society is a measure of how the society views the government and other institutions.

Through the Occupy Nigeria protests in January 2012, every mechanism of the government was deployed in shaping the discussion with regular interviews on mainstream and social media, while the civil society and the young people took the debate to a new level. It was not just about the fuel hike but also about highlighting the roles and definitions of government and institutions. Conspicuously missing in this debate were educational institutions; in other countries, the academic community play a significant role when it comes to national issues/debates.  The proffered excuse is the claim that universities were on academic strike.  With the universities back to work (after the occupy Nigeria protests), is there an on-going academic debate on the matter? Which faculty of any Nigerian university is ready to engage the Minister of finance on the proposed economic policies with a view to contribute to national development, educate the citizens and improve on engagement and participation?

The House of Representative probe into the fuel subsidy removal, further confirmed the near total collapse of various institutions- from security agencies to the NNPC and PPRA. The Ministry of Finance, Petroleum Resources and several other institutions were on hand to play the blame game back and forth without regard for those they represented.

A lot of economic indices favour developing countries to grow their GDP at a faster rate than developed countries. This will only happen if the institutions are empowered to function devoid of political, religious and ethnic sentiments.  In the absence of this, what we have are quasi-functional institutions which operate within a limited network influenced by political parties or ethnic affiliations. The few positioned citizens in these networks are the big players in the economy where the code of conduct remains shrouded in secrecy with excessive government intervention being used as a cover up for hidden interests of various groups, which are presented in the guise of public goods and expanded by various lobbyists. Some politicians and their cronies continue to use these special interests to gain political influence at the expense of developing our institutions while the government continues the politicization of the economy which is very harmful to economic growth.

The country is paying a huge price for the absence of institutions due to inconsistent government policies and corruption without anyone really worrying about the implications- citizens pay with their dear lives (bad roads and resultant accidents), poor health access, insecurity, substandard education, decay of existing infrastructure. The tax system is very weak while the informal economy continues to expand at the expense of the state. This vacuum is taken over by political opportunists determined to extort citizens in the name of taxation policies.

On the other side of the divide is the civil society, the opposition parties and concerned citizens who constantly serve as a check to the excesses of the government. Here you will find intellectuals and professionals who can contribute to restructuring our institutions during this transition.  To see a different approach towards addressing national issues, an analytical approach to effective problem solving must be encouraged within the public sector.  Advocating for a polycentric governance system across the 36 states is long overdue, as it will open up public and private spaces to facilitate in effective problem solving. The challenge will be how to make public service more effective by working closely with the citizens and institutions frequently, this will create new ways of putting services together using local talent and resources, a mix of large and small efficiency across.  It is important not to confuse complexity with chaos, as every state across the country has its own complex nature. Learning how to deal with this complexity is ideal as opposed to providing short term solutions.

The government cannot be absolved of wasteful spending and the overlapping functions of various institutions, hence the outcry for cuts in recurrent expenditure. An understanding of how government institutions work is unclear to many citizens, why and how these institutions have performed badly should be part of the on-going debate as opposed to advocacy for outright cuts. The idea of setting up committees and task forces to address every single issue outside the framework of existing legal institutional capacity for long term development is not ideal for our transition; relevant institutions must be empowered to deliver and the best hands must be employed to do the job. Case in point includes the establishment of a World Bank desk in the presidency to vet Federal contracts- an indictment of the activities of the Bureau for Public Procurement which is an institution set up by law. Another example is the case where the Central Bank donated funds to bomb blast victims despite the existence of a federal relief agency. The SURE initiative which crumbled within 6 weeks is yet another example- why should it be concerned with road projects when we have the Ministry of Transport, FERMA and the Ministry of Niger Delta.

The government should refocus on

  • Enforcing law and order/security
  • Power Supply
  • Macroeconomic stabilization by macroeconomic policies
  • Microeconomic liberalization
  • Fundamental institutional restructuring and reforms

This transition period should be used to build the foundation for our future with emphasis on institutions and not individuals, political parties or ethnic groups.