Suspend All ‘Suspendables’
Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
The imperial and nationalist federal government of Nigeria has finally summoned the courage to do what it ought to have done long ago by suspending the impervious, cantankerous, divisive and nosey Tweeter, that breezy all-comers social media platform giant created by an American capitalist to poke its big ugly Uncle Tom nose into all crannies of the wide world, whether invited or not, to rattle governments, remove governments, promote LGBTQ values, and give space to nincompoops and outlandish vituperative outbursts, who in the process display profound ignorance and undue bellicosity to hard working governments and officials in the name of freedom of expression and human rights!
Indeed, as anyone can see even with half an eye, Tweeter, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and all the other platforms have inexorably fulfilled the Orwellian peeping Tom predictions in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and should be dealt with in the language they will understand, the language of proscription and/or outright ban! What else can these platforms be but BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU? George Orwell was mightily right!
Bravo to the highly sensitive and responsive federal government which has done what the powerful Donald Trump as the very President of America could not do! For good measure, the best president which America was unfortunate to have had so far, Donald J. Trump has wisely and boldly congratulated the Buhari regime on the feat of banning Tweeter in Nigeria! Can you beat that? Trump had something to congratulate Nigeria on.
This is an excellent endorsement from a president who once insultingly described our president in terms that I will not deign to repeat here for decency sake and offend the presidency. The same man who called Africa as a place of ‘s..thole’ countries! Of course, if you snatch another man’s wife, you would get a congratulatory call from Satan himself! As we all know, ungrateful Nigerians have been using Tweeter to sabotage the dynamic, people-centered Aso Rock government ensconced in the magical and detached world of sleepy Abuja.
To be sure, even former editors of the free press who work with the government have appropriately, loyally, and stoutly defended the temporary suspension of Tweeter. The language Nigerians understand appears to be the product of one spokesperson that was reported as saying that Nigerians require a strong hand to govern them, or something like that!
When I ruminated on my essay topic for the week, especially after the beautifully sadistic ban on Tweeter by Abuja, a title which I had encountered as a boy about one Mbonu Ojike (1914-1956) a nationalist and onetime Vice President of NCNC leapt to my mind. As an Africanist, Mbonu, known as ‘Boycott King’ advocated ‘a reduction in consumption of Western goods’ with the slogan ‘boycott the boycottables! No doubt, the lust for everything foreign had been with us since our first contact with Europeans from the 12tn century or so.
In the past, some of our kings sold their subjects in exchange for a mirror or gin or some trivia! Wish we had summoned the gumption to develop our indigenous technology we would not be depending on oil as the mainstay of our economy. If in the 1950s we could boycott foreign goods, the federal government’s order that Tweeter should be suspended would have been familiar territory.
The purpose of this essay therefore is to celebrate the beauty of suspending Tweeter. I am also of the inane view that all other social platforms used for democratic mischief should be suspended forever. Not till further notice. Newspapers, TV stations, WhatsApp, Blogs, SMS and mobile telephones should all be suspended as we work on the unity of the country. Too much jagajaga! Ignoramuses calling for war as if war is a tea party. They all use social media platforms to preach hate.
There is a language which Nigerians understand: force. Just forget all those niceties about democracy and free expression. Do votes really count in Nigeria? Can we beat our chests and assert with any degree of confidence that our votes brought in the governors, legislators and the president? What is this talk then about freedom of expression? Further proof is in Imo State. The governor my namesake Hope Uzodinma was enthroned by the Supreme Court. This of course is a legal seal to the beauty of illegality. It is to be celebrated. Is this not why Imo State has become an epitome of peace, ultimate tranquility, stability and rapid progress?
Once in the checkered history of our beleaguered nation, I think it was between 1983 and 1985, by some rabid decrees, crafted by lawyers it became an offence for journalists to report any matter, true or false, which embarrassed a public official. It was in the days of military misadventure in governance. And so, anything was possible. Those khaki boys in misguided nationalism thought they could run a country like a military formation. But the house soon crumbled and Nigerians learnt some lessons. But we cannot compare that era with the times we live in. Those days of insane dictatorship are gone forever in any guise or form as Aso Rock has told some mischievous politicians who are instigating misadventure in the military.
Presidential spokesmen are very important in government. They polish the dull and make the straight the crooked. They do damage control. They are also a gateway to understanding the mindset of the chief executive. Thus when a spokesman says that the nation needs a strong hand, the message is clear. Enough of the nonsense that is IPOB. Enough of the nonsense that Miyetti Allah. Enough of the nonsense that Boko Haram.
Enough of the nonsense that is Amotekun. Enough of the nonsense that is ESN. Enough of the nonsense that is Fulani banditry. Enough of the nonsense that is kidnapping. Enough of the nonsense that is parochial and clannish appointments to the national patrimony. Boots have been worn in readiness to deal with moronic Nigerians who Tweet nonsense to abuse and insult the hard suffering leaders of the Nigerian State.
As for newspaper houses, let them know that Daily Times and The New Nigerian, Radio Nigeria Kaduna, Radio Nigeria Lagos, could be resuscitated as mouth organs of the federal government. NTA and its sister stations nationwide are enough to tell us what we need to know about Nigeria and the world. All private TV stations should take note. No programmes or guests who are critical of government should be welcome in the studio. They should be suspended.
The government itself should be ready to suspend all ‘suspendables! The nation has to move. And if the nation fails to move because of some bloody laggards in the corridors of power, the government should suspend the nation too! If things refuse to move after that, government should suspend itself for the sake of peace and allow dead bones to come back to life!
Professor Eghagha can be reached on 08023220393 and firstname.lastname@example.org
With Us, Not For US
By Ijeoma Fynecountry
The 21st of March of every year is international day for the celebration of persons living with down syndrome. The advocacy and push for communal and political recognition of the basic fundamental rights for persons living with various types of disabilities, particularly intellectual disability, just as enjoyed by their peers who do not have any form of challenge – physical or intellectual has recorded a substantial success around the globe, especially in more developed climes.
While the same cannot be said of the situation in Africa and Nigeria in particular, scanty breakthroughs have also been seen over the years, with the consistent and dogged efforts by some specialized organizations such as Down syndrome Foundation, Nigeria (DSFN).
The theme for this year’s celebration is “With us, Not for us”. This theme is apt particularly in the current era where the push for inclusion has taken a center stage in the campaign worldwide. While it is comforting to know that people, government and communities alike are now becoming more empathetic to the plight of persons living with disability, it is also necessary and most important that their rights as human beings deserving of not just empathy but actual concrete benefits accruable to other citizens without disability, is massively taken into consideration and actually provided for.
Therefore, it is not enough for the government to map out and create as in Lagos state and few other states, sections in the public schools to admit children or persons with intellectual disability, it is necessary to adequately equip these special schools with the needed “specialized” manpower, infrastructural and educational aids to attain the targeted educational goals for these persons. Likewise in the provision of better healthcare, economic, social needs of persons with disability etc.
Persons with intellectual disability do not just need to be specifically educated in accordance with his or her type of disability, but MUST also necessarily be able to aspire to or expect to be employed according to his or her learned ability. That way, a full right, befitting of a person, be him a person with disability or not, is assured. For what is the need of going through a learning process, acquiring a specialized knowledge about a craft or handiwork and eventually still not being given the opportunity of gaining employment as supposed, not due to lack of knowledge but for having a disability? No human being should be subjected to such. Our government should do better. The society at large should do better.
The theme for this year is enjoining all stakeholders – the government, communities, corporate organizations, religious bodies/organizations, individuals to open up their hearts, and recognize the very urgent and important need to help in the actualization of these basic human needs, rights of persons living with intellectual disability as we are all human. No human rights or needs should be prioritized over the other no matter the state of their health, mental and physical capacity. Stand with us by taking actual intentional steps towards uplifting and elevating the humanness of persons living with disability. It is not enough to say that you are for persons living with disability, your specific, intentional, targeted actions toward ensuring the practical applicability of these rights matters.
Fynecontryis a Lagos-based legal practitioner and the legal resource person for the Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria.
The 2023 Elections And The Newness Of Nigeria
By Hope Nwawolo
Despite the hues and cries that greeted the results of the 2023 elections, what if the court’s pendulum stays or swings otherwise in the expected litigations?
What will it teach our inquisitive young children?
What will it do to the hopes and dreams of the youths?
What will it do to the mind set of those in diaspora, waiting and hoping to return?
How will it affect our heroes still alive and yearning for the good old times?
One basic fact is that no matter where the pendulum swings, something new has started in the political sphere of Nigeria. And because it was unexpected, it has become almost impossible to strangulate it.
In every competition, there is an expectation that the best man will win. That may not always be in politics, particularly, in Nigeria…where the winner may not be the best man or even the better man. And when it is said that politics is a game of numbers, sometimes, the actual numbers may not be visible to determine the end result. It becomes a case of the more you look the less you see; until interpreted by respected learned men with high integrity.
Politics, they say is a dirty game, where money speaks and promises made are broken without an iota of guilt. Where the gullible minds of the masses are deceived, with as little as a box of indomie. Where some vibrant but jobless youths are brainwashed to risk their lives to snatch ballot boxes for the politicians who do not know them beyond giving them stipends through some third parties. Where market women are forced to come out for rallies and campaigns because they cannot afford the fine that will be imposed on them if they failed to participate. They also do not want the harassment of the market leaders.
In politics, fear is palpable in the air, before, during and after elections. The 2023 elections recently carried out, depicted these more than expected in both the politicians and electorate. What started like the usual political pattern took a drastic turn about nine months to the first elections and though it was said to be only a social media affair, it got everyone sitting upright and tightening his seat belt, particularly after the first elections.
Now, there is a generational shift, a new awakening, a new dawn and a new political birth, waiting to happen. To wherever the pendulum turns; where the court stands, it will make a turnaround in Nigeria. It may be turbulent at the beginning, it may be emotionally draining and psychologically traumatizing, but it will point to light at the end of the tunnel.
There is a new hope backed by a high spirit of determination. An unexplainable faith in many people for that newness of existence and purpose. An unprecedented emotional and psychological strength in the youths not to give up on their dreams. An unquenchable desire to keep praying. Soon a newness will break forth to calm all nerves and dry all tears.
A newness that will permeate conflicts and hatred,
A newness that will dissipate unnecessary anger,
A newness that will usher in unquestionable and transparent political systems in future elections,
A newness of freedom to choose a candidate without coercion or molestation
A newness of jubilation after the announcement of election results.
This is the new Nigeria that is awaiting delivery…
Nwawolo, PhD, writes from Lagos.
Overcoming Policy Execution Trap As Nigeria’s Development Challenge
By Tunji Olaopa
If I am asked to give a succinct and apt summary of the entire challenge faced by the Nigerian state in terms of her policy architecture and development management, in spite of contestation in the development literature, I will not hesitate in stating clearly and unambiguously that it is the challenge of policy implementation; the whole dynamics of getting things done. By elimination, the implication is that the challenge cannot be located as that of the dearth of development ideas, insights, models and paradigms. Right from her independence, Nigeria has been inundated with several ideas, both local and global, about development policy and frameworks. And yet, policy outcomes keep getting bogged down in the murky waters of political shenanigans. This means that the new administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu has its challenge mapped out, in red, for it.
There is no shying away from this postcolonial predicament that has limited and kept limiting Nigeria’s capacity to honour the terms of her social contract with Nigerians. Hence, the Tinubu government will soon be inundated with the impatient agitations of Nigerians for a quick and tangible fix that will address their sufferings. And they are justified since they have not been given any real deal for the past sixty-three years of sovereign independence. And the new administration is obligated because that is the reason for seeking office in the first place.
Prof. Olaopa’s new book on public policy and development challenges
How then can we begin to understand this policy execution challenge? It is simple: how can an administration in Nigeria transition from governance vision and policy intention to policy outcomes that elevate and transform the quality of life of its citizens? Failure to understand and give critical and political attention to this question lies at the heart of the governance failures of successive Nigerian administrations. The new Tinubu administration cannot afford such a glaring mistake. And so, a fundamental case must be made out of the question of how policy intentions get circumscribed in the dynamics of policy execution that occasions policy failures in past administrations.
Modern states all across the world are distinguished by the traditional four functions they discharge as part of their administrative responsibilities—security i.e. securing the sovereign territory against lawlessness, policy formulation and implementation, governance regulation and service delivery.The capacity to perform each and all of these functions very well within an integrated framework in the governance context is what delivers the dividends of democratic governance to the citizens, and it enhances the state’s competitive and human development rating in global reckoning. With these functions, we have the metrics to differentiate between high-performing states like China, India, the United States,Botswana, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirate, Germany, Rwanda and the Asian Tigers (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea), and low- or even under-performing countries like Nigeria that is still cluelessly stuck within a dysfunctional vicious cycle within her arrested development.
From the perspective of governance, there must be something these states are getting right in the connection between leadership, politics, and policy articulation. For instance, there is a trajectory of relationship that links elite bargains to development bargains. In other words, development is a
function of elite nationalism and the extent to which the political class of a state can commit elite suicide and gamble on development on behalf of the people they are leading. In Nigeria, low
manifestation of elite nationalism has made it really difficult for the political class to set aside their personal and egoistic class interests in ways that enable them to clearly and ideologically discern and navigate the deadly developmental landmines strewn all over our governance landscape by the
neoliberal implication of ideological apparatuses and frameworks to which Nigeria is beholden. And here, the factor of development gamble of the Asian Tigers’ elites comes into bold relief. From within the ideological ambit of the developmental state, the leadership of the Asian Tigers were able to define a policy space that consciously and critically weighed the benefits and shortfalls of external influences, especially the type that came from the World Bank, IMF and the other cohorts of the neoliberal policy dynamics. Their developmental circumspection paid off!
Since we cannot argue that Nigeria has been stumped by the lack of vision documents, development plans and blueprints, or even policy expertise, the locus of the new administration’s focus must be directed at the possibility of mustering the political will to undermine the mystified Nigerian Factor, and face the global neoliberal consensus in order to begin the crafting of an enabling policy architecture to drive development. And to achieve this translates to creating the delicate balance between ‘doing the right things’ (a function of decision making quotient) and ‘doing it right’(project and change management effectiveness), and overcoming the various political, cultural, structural and systemic constraints that trapped past well-meaning policies and intentions of Nigerian leaders in the dynamics of implementation.
There is first the conspiracy of elitist interest that ensures there is a poor resource allocation that focuses on elite bargain than development calculations and taking care of the national interest. Other constraints follow: (a) the disconnect between policy design and implementation due to weak implementation planning, risk assessment and incompetent change management strategies; (b) unstable and poorly managed macroeconomic policies; (c) policy and project discontinuity; (d) public service low capability readiness; (e) political interference; and finally (f) deep-seated political and bureaucratic corruption. In essence, development has failed not because Nigeria lacks the blueprint or paradigms to make it happen, but due to the dynamics of the politics that the political elite plays with Nigeria’s development potential.
Let me outline what we can regard as the “politics of policy implementation” that Nigeria has played for many years, a politics the new administration must take into serious consideration if it
does not want to fall into the category of failed administration right before it commences. This politics throws Nigeria’s development and policy non-performance right into the frame of the 2005 World Bank review findings about policy and development projects in Africa. According to the finding, 29% of development projects ever get completed, 45% of on-going projects are rated as satisfactory, while 26% of such projects invariably get cancelled. Such a review can never backstop a solid development project of a developmental state.
The politics of policy implementation in
Nigeria is founded on the following assumptions and practices. One: there is that dangerous presumption, that the new administration must resist, that once policies and development plan are designed, they are automatically implemented by the public service. And such a presumption is against the background of a scant investment in implementation analysis and planning, as well as the failure to facilitate the capability review, determine public
administration system’s capability readiness, and strengthening of the MDAs as the powerhouse of government administrative functionality. The MDAs, that is, are not working according to any
specific theories or praxis of change that can guide the functional integration of blueprints or paradigms. This kind of policy inattention draws attention to the policy contradiction: launching a
national development plan and strategy that are not implementation- ready in terms of adequate capability review of the MDAs integral to ensuring implementation success. Two: this
presumption is compounded by the uncritical reliance of past governments on policy experts and consulting firms who are tasked with designing high-end policies that are then dumped on MDAs whose capability reviews and implementation readiness have been neglected in the first place. The
extroversion of the policy design is then compromised by poor functional integration. The truth is that most of these consulting firms lack the appropriate deep content and solution frameworks that are in tandem with the context of policy dysfunction they are supposed to work with. Three: governance policy or project are hardly subjected to feasibility test determined in terms of scope and expectation that are captured by their framework of time, cost and risk assessments before
they are pushed into implementation. This makes it very difficult to benchmark funding projections for these policies and projects against revenue estimations, as well as facilitating in-built flexibilities that enable the policies and projects to adjust to volatilities and contingencies.
All the issues raised above constitute binding constraint that will undermine any governance possibilities the new administration requires to make a success of democratic governance. Undermining the binding constraints demands returning to the fundamentals. The first and most significant is that the new administration needs to interrogate the framework of how government business is currently being conducted. Governance successes are necessarily a function of how government business engages the complexities of the policy design and execution processes within a results-oriented frame. And that entails undermining the structural gaps between policy objectives, development strategies and policy outcomes. This demands second, setting the public service on a performance curve with the institution of a performance management system. This means that the public service must, for example, unfailingly now deploy KPI-based metrics to replace the cumbersome annual performance evaluation report (APER). And at the backend, it becomes imperative to have a monitoring and evaluation system supported by databases that enable staff and program continuous assessment, human resource development rooted in iterativep performance gap identification, supervisors-staff dialogue and multisource feedback mechanismsf for overall national development policy tracking and reporting.
The governance mantra must be on getting the balance between doing the right things and doing it right. And this cannot be achieved through the wanton multiplication or even duplication of
governance plans, programs and blueprints. What is needed is sequencing the blueprints into a coherent and feasible implementation programme, with the right amount of political will behind it. This gives the success of democratic governance a 95% chance of succeeding. The new administration needs that fighting chance!
. Olaopa, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor of Public Administration .
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