Salihu Moh. Lukman
As far back as 1918, the German Sociologist, Max Weber, while delivering the speech, ‘Science as a Vocation’ at Munich University, observed that the “fate of our times is characterised by rationalisation and intellectualisation and, above all, by the ‘disenchantment of the world’. Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life …nor is it accidental that today only within the smallest and intimate circles, in personal human situations, in pianissmo, that something is pulsating that corresponds to the prophetic pneuma, which in former times swept through the great communities like a firebrand, welding them together.” More than hundred years after, logical (rational) and knowledgeable (scholarly) assessments of situations have receded. Disappointment (disenchantment) has taken over almost everybody, such that the direction societies are following deviate from known or predictable experiences. Inspirational (sublime) values have disappeared or are fast disappearing, and as a result, conditions that expedite processes of development and human progress are being eroded.
Instead of nations becoming stronger and people united, citizens are more and more divided, experiencing so many conflicts and wars, consuming human lives and property on a scale that is very alarming. In the midst of all these, everyone, or most people, both leaders and the led, as argued in the book edited by the American Psychologist, Robert J. Sternberg, Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid, become ‘trapped in rigid mindsets, …actively drawing novel distinctions rather than relying on distinctions drawn in the past. This makes us sensitive to context and perspective. When we are mindless, our behavior is rule- and routine-governed. In contrast, when mindful, our behavior may be guided rather than governed by rules and routines.’
This is no doubt the Nigerian reality of today – ‘rigid mindsets’ with ‘novel distinctions’ of our diverse sensitive ‘context and perspective’. Behaviour, rather than being ‘guided by rules and routines’ (mindful), is instead directed almost mindlessly. So-called smart people are behaving more stupidly. Therefore, more problems are being created than solutions found. How do we get out of this mess? With all the intractable problems of insecurity – insurgency, banditry, kidnappings, abductions, etc., what will be required to get citizens (leaders and the led) to become mindful and guided and not governed by rules and routines?
Given the excessive politicisation in the country, especially as 2023 comes closer, the temptation to reduce answers to partisan choices are quite high. Valid as partisan choices could be, it is important to recognise that even within partisan choices, citizens will require strong engagements with leaders at all levels and the courage to articulate recommendations as well as win the buy-in of leaders to consider implementation. Part of what must be also recognised is that, important as partisan choices are, beyond the personalities of leaders, the substantive details of initiatives, in terms of strategic plans and the programmes required to recover Nigeria and put the country on the path to resolve all its intractable challenges and accelerate processes of nation building can at best be work in progress.
Perhaps, it is necessary to make important clarification from the beginning. No choice is perfect or absolute, partisan choices inclusive. Citizens’ commitment to develop partisan platforms is a determining factor to ensure that choices produce desired outcomes. When choices of partisan platforms are therefore limited to celebration of ‘rigid mindsets’, it may only be active in ‘drawing novel distinctions’ and not capable of ‘relying on distinctions drawn in the past.’ The difference is that ‘drawing novel distinctions’ will be largely about rationalising choices while ‘relying on distinctions drawn in the past’ is about being able to recognise and acknowledge reality and accordingly envision new realities or at least give new insights to old realities.
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Therefore, in terms of political choices and their applications to contemporary Nigerian reality, the challenge is whether the choices Nigerians make are creating new realities or at least giving new insights to old realities. If political choices are expressed in terms of, for instance, expression of support or resentment to All Progressives Congress (APC) or any party for that matter, including the PDP, to what extent does that produce new realities that can respond to our numerous challenges as a nation? Or in what way is the choice at least giving new insights in terms of how problems can be solved?
There can hardly be agreement in terms of how to produce new realities and it will be fruitless to try to establish any agreement as it will be almost impossible. The important issue is about getting Nigerians to take reasonability and initiate actions to produce the envisioned new reality. This was the point very well-articulated by one of the leading ideologues of the PDP, my good friend and longtime associate, Dr. Sam Amadi, when he reported some reflections, he recently had, on his Facebook timeline, about a ‘friend from Rwanda who’ argued that ‘in Rwanda culture, leaders don’t complain or wail about problems. Leaders proffer solutions.’ This was explained to be because the Rwanda culture ‘was a result of the experience of genocide, when the youths of Rwanda discovered that the world did not offer them support. They took it to mean they alone should solve their problems. So, if you are a leader and you are wailing instead of solving problems, you are shifted from the leadership cadre to the followers cadre. Leaders solve problems.
With such reflections, Dr. Amadi admits that the ‘cultural mindset’ of the Rwandans ‘is the opposite of the culture of leadership in Nigeria.’ In Nigeria, ‘Leaders wail and complain and blame others. It is not their fault. It is the system. It is the federal government. It is the state government. It is Boko Haram. It is Yoruba agitators. It is Sunday Igboho. It is IPOB. It is even the people who refuse to change. It is the former government. It is the dead- Zik and Awo- who didn’t take us out of Nigeria. It is everyone and everything but the leader,’ if one can add, and followers too. Dr. Amadi further highlighted that even ‘in our personal life we fail the leadership test. Our misfortune has to be the work of witches and wizards, or relatives who didn’t help us or government that is corrupt. We are never responsible for our misfortune.’
Dr. Amadi’s reflections excellently highlight part of Nigeria’s challenges. As Dr. Amadi stressed, until Nigerians ‘focus on finding solutions and less on wailing or blaming’, and ensure that focusing ‘on problem should be to find solution and not for the smug feeling of sanctimony’, our challenges as a nation will not disappear. Instead, our challenges are more likely to get worse. The caution however is that this should not be used in any way to rationalise political choices or block criticisms. In fact, what this means is that in the context of taking responsibility, within our different political choices, including partisan choices, Nigerians should constantly be able to recognise challenges and accordingly initiate or propose appropriate responses to them. Inability to do that will only push citizens, including leaders to be mindless, and not mindful, of Nigeria’s development challenges.
Inadvertently, this requires that part of the overarching political goal is to develop Nigerian politics such that both leaders and followers take responsibility. This is not simply about declarations or simply choices of leaders. It is about developing corresponding political initiatives to reorient Nigerians to take responsibility, which entails a clear political vision. Within the context of individual political choices, Nigerians should have the courage to develop recommendations and work to win the support of, first, political leaders to undertake to implement the recommendations, and secondly, win support of Nigerians in general. It should be expected that the requirement for competition will necessitate that each of the partisan choices available to Nigerians, APC, PDP or any other party for that matter, will have to be both responsive and representative.
Ideally, being responsive and representative should compel political parties and leaders to be more guided by rules and routine and to that extent ‘sensitive to context and perspective.’ Without going into analysis of Nigeria’s political history, especially under the Fourth Republic, it is hardly disputable that PDP mismanaged and squandered opportunities for sixteen years between 1999 and 2015. No need to go into details as that is not the focus. What is more important at this point is the recognition that it was easy for Nigerians to register their support for APC, and on that account voted PDP out of power in 2015.
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Of course, there were contextual factors, which made the APC to win the support of Nigerians. These factors include the successful merger of defunct opposition parties – Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) and Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) – combined with relatively transparent processes of candidate selection for the 2015 elections, especially the presidential candidate, together with all the inspiring campaign promises and the personality of President Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential candidate of the APC. With all these, the APC was able to win the 2015 elections and Nigerians had very high expectations. The question is, to what extent did the APC and its governments meet or are meeting the expectations of Nigerians? What are the challenges and how is the APC and its governments responding to these challenges? Compared to PDP, how different is the APC?
No need for the familiar debates of PDP vs APC here. The fundamental issue is the question of the extent to which APC leaders and members are responding to challenges. Are we taking responsibility? The good thing is that, in APC, leaders are not in denial of the challenges. This was not the case with PDP before 2015 and up to this moment. However, being members of the APC, we should be able to acknowledge too that although, the slogan of the APC is CHANGE, which underlines the commitment of the party and its leadership to bring about change in the country, the programmatic details as articulated in the party’s manifesto require a mobilisation programme in order to win the support of Nigerians.
One of the big gaps confronting the APC, which unfortunately makes it easy for opposition politicians to dent the party and its governments’ is the absence of mobilisation programme to engage Nigerians to take responsibility in their different fields of endevour in responding to challenges facing the country. Getting Nigerians to take responsibility in their different fields of endevour in responding to challenges facing the country is a critical success factor in terms of producing the change envisioned by the APC and its leadership as articulated in the manifesto of the party. The inability of Nigerians to take responsibility through initiating appropriate actions raises questions about the sustainability of initiatives of government. Beyond questions of sustainability, there is the issue of public awareness and the associated challenges of public support and endorsements. It is not enough for government to initiate programmes and projects as responses to challenges facing the country. Public support and endorsements will be required to make them sustainable, which is not automatic.
Part of what should be recognised and acknowledged is that the challenges facing us as a nation are deep-rooted. It will require a robust programme of reorientation in the country to sustain the envisioned change APC and its leadership are working to achieve. Once the focus and scope of initiatives is limited to operations of government institutions, and non-governmental institutions continue with business-as-usual practices, most of the challenges facing the country will linger. For instance, take the case of insecurity, which is the most important threat to the survival of the country.
As much as combative military operations against insurgency in all its manifestations – banditry, kidnappings, abductions, etc. – are fundamental to restoring order and protection of lives and property in the country, equally important is also how Nigerians across all strata of social life are being mobilised to take responsibility in restoring order and guaranteeing security of life and property in every part of the country. How is government working to raise awareness of Nigerians in terms of what to look out for as danger signals in our different communities? What kind of conducts by citizens, including community leaders constitute risk factors and therefore indicative of security challenges? What should be done, where and who to report to? What other initiatives should citizens take?
Most of these issues are at best taken for granted. There is hardly any planned campaign taking place at national level to mobilise Nigerians with specific sets of detailed responses. Because issues of public awareness around these issues are taken for granted, everybody, both leaders and followers are just ‘complaining and wailing’ as Dr. Amadi rightly observed. Some have gone beyond ‘complaining and wailing’ to propagate false narratives, which can at best be distractive, if not subversive to any campaign or initiative to end insecurity in the country. Unfortunately, most of these false narratives are allowed in the public space without strong efforts to correct them. Take some of the claims by religious and community leaders that insecurity in the country is directed against particular ethnic and religion groups. These are very treacherous narratives, which should be combated not through military operations but civic engagements with religious and community leaders.
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Absence of engagements with religious and ethnic groups is more and more creating factors in the country, which are disorientating and undermining the authority of conventional structures and representatives of Nigerian society, including non-governmental institutions. In their place, unaccountable and self-appointed leaders are emerging and culture of public blackmails against conventional structures and representatives is becoming rampant in the country. It was Benjamin Arditi, the Mexican political scientist, in the book, Politics on the Edge of Liberalism, who cautioned that ‘situations of disorientation can facilitate the appeal of charismatic leaders who present themselves as self-styled saviours, or lead people to seek the sense of belonging offered by aggressive forms of nationalism, uncompromising religious sects, or violent urban tribes.’
One of the major challenges facing Nigeria today is that ‘self-styled saviours’ projecting themselves as leaders campaigning to win ‘a sense of belonging’ based on aggressive ‘nationalism, uncompromising religious sects, or violent urban tribes’ are springing up in every part of the country. This is partly the issue around the Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho phenomena in the South-East and South-West. Unfortunately, because such phenomena are allowed without any counter-mobilisational strategy, they are increasingly becoming threats to political leaders. To some extent, they are also becoming models of responses to Nigeria’s challenges by ethnic and religious groups, which is dangerous.
Therefore, beyond the question of insecurity, the broader issue of mobilising Nigerians to develop new orientation require a programmatic national coverage. Given some of the challenges, especially in relation to, for instance, engaging youth in the country, how can it be handled? This will require partnership with youth organisations. Who are these youth organisations and what will be required for government to be able to develop the kind of partnership that can produce the desired outcomes of changing Nigeria? What is the potential of using the nation’s educational system to facilitate or strengthen engagements with youth groups in the country? Given the challenge of frequent closures of our educational institutions due to strikes by teachers and university lecturers, how will it affect government’s mobilisation of youths in the country? Above all, how can engagement with youths address the challenge of creating employment opportunities in the country?
M Generally, the ‘situations of disorientation’ in the country have created problems whereby the character of Nigerian civil society, including the labour movement has radically change. Most of the organisations that used to be knowledge-driven, based on which they have strong connections with academic institutions, are bereft of knowledgeable viewpoints. At least up to the late 1990s, most of these organisations were very active in policy engagements through campaigning for alternative policy frameworks. When they criticised government policy, they did not only explain reasons for such criticisms, but also proposed alternatives. This is hardly the case today. The main approaches of the work of civil society are mainly to abuse and condemn whatever government is doing with hardly any recommendation for alternatives. If anyone is looking for evidence of how ‘sublime values’ have retreated form Nigerian public life, just look at the character of today’s Nigerian civil society and labour movement today and compare them with what used to obtain in the past.
Beyond civil society organisations and labour movement, the sad reality is also that quality of scholarship in our academic institutions is, to say the least, below standards. We have professors, researchers and lecturers who cannot engage in any useful enquiry about the challenges facing the country. Many so-called professors, researchers and lecturers, rather than working to provide new insights into challenges facing the country and to that extent propose alternative responses, they join the ‘complaining and wailing’ community. They speak in languages that are offensive to government and political leaders with unsubstantiated allegations.
Part of what has been lost is the fact that categories of leaders of non-governmental organisation who used to have strong values that envisioned a prosperous country have disappeared. Instead, we have many leaders of non-governmental organisation who see nothing good in Nigeria and its political leadership. They promote the campaign for hatred against the country and its leadership. The culture of political intimidation using protests and strikes has become rampant. Most demands by non-governmental organisations come with threats of strikes and protests in the first instance. In the context of mobilisation to produce change in Nigeria therefore, what will be required to change the orientation of leaders of non-governmental organisations in the country for instance? Being members of APC, how can we engage our leaders differently without joining the ‘complaining and wailing’ group of Nigerians? If, like other Nigerians, APC members join the ‘complaining and wailing’ community, which is largely the case, how can we take responsibility to ensure that the commitment of our party and our leaders to change Nigeria is achieved?
To be different, APC members should be able to appeal to the party’s leaders to urgently develop a strong mobilisation campaign that can connect citizens with all the initiatives of government. As part of such mobilisation campaign, raising public awareness about the initiatives’ government is taking should be a priority. The second thing is also to be able to provide feedback to government about the effectiveness of initiatives taken by APC governments’ so far. To what extent are government initiatives responding to challenges? How are government initiatives’ being able to envision new realities or at least give new insights to old realities? What are the expected roles of citizens in their different fields of endevour to achieve envisioned realities? In particular, how is government mobilisation programme succeeding in securing the buy-in of especially non-governmental leaders to initiate supportive actions to resolve challenges?
As members of APC, we need to take responsibility and acknowledge that challenges facing the country require a strong mobilisation campaign as a fundamental requirement for bringing about change in the country. This is, at the moment, almost taken for granted. In fact, most of the distortions going on today in Nigerian public spaces, which attempts to dismiss the APC and its governments as a failure is largely because of weak or absence of strong mobilisation programme. Being able to acknowledge this reality should be supported with good recommendation on how best to develop strong mobilisation programme to rally the support of Nigerians to address challenges facing the country.
Noting the existence of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), with the statutory functions of mobilising public support for government policies, programmes and activities, among others, how can it be transformed to get it to develop and drive the kind of strong mobilisation programme, which can begin to re-orient the mindsets of Nigerians and get everyone to take responsibility? The question of why the NOA was unable to develop a strong mobilisation programme since 2015 should be engaged mainly in the context of ensuring that the campaign supports Nigerians to embrace positive behaviours and to that extent therefore envision a prosperous future for the country.
How can this be achieved? Perhaps one of the things that need to be done is to completely re-organise the NOA. As part of the re-organisation, it may be necessary to be moved out of the Ministry of Information and make it a specialised agency of the Federal Government directly under the presidency. Making it a specialised agency under the presidency will strengthen its powers to be able to engage all agencies of government at all levels. Its current status as an agency under the Ministry of Information limits its powers and to that extent its capacity.
The second issue is that there has to be a review of its activities, personnel and general orientation. Elementary logic would suggest a complete overhaul, otherwise, it will simply continue with business-as-usual approaches. Once its approaches are business-as-usual, it will not be able to drive any campaign for change in Nigeria. Largely because it is conducting itself based on business-as-usual approaches, it is hardly present in most of the critical public debates about challenges facing the country. Beyond being absent in most public debates, it is hardly under any consideration in terms of organisations regarded with any visible roles in addressing challenges facing the country. For instance, in the case of insecurity, does the NOA outline for itself a kind of checklist of what to do when incidents of insecurity emerge in any part of the country?
All these need to be put in place. It is not to lament about any failing or rationalising why we have what exists today. As members of APC, it should be about responding to the reality facing us and ensure that we appropriately take responsibility. We must engage the issues with all the confidence that our political leaders, especially President Buhari will favourably consider these proposals and strengthen the capacity of the party and its governments to mobilise Nigerians. The important appeal that should be made is that failure to develop a strong mobilisation programme will continue to create gaps that will make the voices of political opposition louder in the country, even as they don’t have any clear proposed alternatives. They will simply continue to promote divisive politics based on mis-information and falsehood. It is painful that with all the initiatives of APC governments, especially Federal Government under President Buhari, the claim of any failure can be made. Unlike all past governments since 1999, the APC Federal Government is successfully implementing more initiatives and projects. How can the APC government successful implementation of almost all the projects past governments have failed to execute be a failure?
If APC and its governments are being alleged to be a failure, what is the specific alternative being presented by the opposition to APC? The narrative of failure of APC and its governments must be corrected based on a strong mobilisation programme. Nigerians just need to ‘focus on finding solutions and less on wailing or blaming’. Nigerians must be protected from ‘self-styled saviours’ – both politicians and other desperate categories, whose mission can only be self-serving. A stich in time saves nine!
Dr. Lukman is the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Abuja. However, the position he expresses here does not represent the view of any APC governor or the Progressive Governors Forum.
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Adedotun Phillips And The Unfinished Business Of Reform In Nigeria
In the annals of public administration scholarship in Nigeria, and most especially with regard to the specifics of the dynamics of institutional reforms in getting the Nigerian state into shape, the name of Professor Adedotun Phillips stands out as a gigantic institutional memory. Adedotun Oluwole Phillips—husband, father, academic, scholar, statesman—was a public servant par excellence. His entire life was defined around service. In the long line of the public service giants around whom the profile of the Nigerian public service is configured—Simeon Adebo, Jerome Udoji, Sule Katagum, Joseph Imokhuede, Ali Akilu, Allison Ayida, and many more, the name of Dotun Phillips is a fundamental star. When mourning the passing of Prof. Phillips, on 13 December, 2020, President Buhari said pointedly: “The history of the Nigerian Civil Service cannot be complete without reference to the contributions of Prof. Phillips.” He is right. Phillips represents the best that a public servant could be and give the nation in terms of the best that her professionalism and credentials can afford. And Prof. Phillips’ contribution is even much more cogent because it is situated within the trajectory of public service reform in Nigeria. In other words, Prof. Phillips’ immense contributions to the public service in Nigeria tie into Nigeria’s effort to make sense of the state and future of her public service as a backstop to her development and progress.
Since the inauguration of the Nigerian public service in 1954, Nigeria had been experimenting with administrative and institutional reforms that were meant to put the civil service in shape for the challenge of nationhood. Starting with the reform of wages, remuneration and compensation that characterized the colonial service, it graduated to the need for the Nigerianisation of the core echelon of the public service especially after independence in 1960. The Phillipson-Adebo Commission of 1953 kickstarted the series of reform commissions that culminated in the emergence of the Nigerian public service system, and the other post-independence reform efforts that were meant to essentially complete the organizational development dynamics of the civil service, convert her structural frameworks into institutional frame, and strengthen its capability readiness for the task of national integration and development.
However, independence brought with it its own unique sets of challenges that the public service system was not quite ready for. The first was the challenge of plurality. The Nigerianisation Policy confronted the thorny issue of how to recruit Nigerians of different ethnocultural orientations into the civil service. Representativeness became the criterion that most suited Nigeria’s ethnic composition. And then gradually, the over-bloatedness that was the consequence of the misuse of this principle led to not only a gradual debilitation of the system but also the overshadowing of its initial efficiency by a crippling bureaucratic culture. When the 1971 Adebo Commission was set up, the civil service was already caught up in the restructuration of the federal constitution under a unitary logic marked by increased centralisation of political authority, ascendancy of federating forces, greater structural differentiation of the constituent states, increases in the Federal Government largesse, and expansion of the policy-making and execution functions of the Federal Civil Service. The implication of this “new federalism” on the civil service was the gradual evolution of a structural pattern that consistently whittled down the capacities the civil service has to promote good governance. For instance, the allocation of functions to the ministries was influenced more by political factors than by the standard criteria for the allocation of such functions i.e. the functional principle, the process principle, the clientele principle, and the area principle.
The corruption of the governance and accountability framework of the public service was simultaneous with the emergence of the managerial revolution which Britain was already contending with, especially with the Fulton Report of 1968. Thus, the 1971 Adebo Second and Final Salaries and Wages Review Commission was caught in the larger managerial concern of transforming the civil service system in ways that transcended its original remit of wage. It however passed the buck of that concern to the Udoji Commission, constituted in 1972. The commission, under the full influence of the UK Fulton Report, argued that the civil service of a development-oriented society must be one that is suffused with change and reform if it must be able to effectively meet the challenges of its context. And the Nigerian public service system, in its bureaucratic conditions, was not that amenable to those changes. The Udoji Commission then recommended a new style public service infused with “new blood” working under a result-oriented management system operated by professionals and specialists in particular fields. The government of the time however made a mess of this commission’s report, and so forfeited a significant opportunity to set the civil service on a path of institutional transformation.
Thereafter, successive Nigerian governments became embroiled in the contestations to make the system compliant with the managerial revolution, new public management (NPM) and its reform imperatives. By the time the Murtala/Obasanjo regime took over in 1975, the civil service was already too systemically dysfunctional to matter any longer in development consideration. Indeed, the purge of the service by Obasanjo in 1975 was long overdue even though it turned out to negatively undermine the little shred of professionalism remaining. The Second Republic was truncated by the Buhari-Idiagbon regime in 1983. And then, enter Professor Dotun Phillips. One of the fundamental legacies of the regime was the constitution of the Dotun Phillips Study Team in 1985, with the objective of undertaking an interrogation of the structure, mode of operation and strategy of the civil service in the light of contemporary administrative situation, as well as finding means by which the eroded professionalism of the system could be restored.
When the Babangida regime took over the reign of government, it inherited the study group and reconstructed its report into the foundation of the 1988 Civil Service Reforms through a Civil Service Re-organisation Decree No. 43 of 1988. The basis of the Decree is the establishment of a virile, dynamic and result-oriented civil service. The Babangida administration was also seriously concerned about the gains and benefits of managerialism and of a professionalised civil service. The added objective was the alignment of the service with the form and spirit of presidentialism.
Professionalism goes to the very heart of what it means to be a public servant; what it means to be public-spirited. It is the sum total of the competences, knowledge, attitude, spirituality and ethical sensibility that a public servant requires to perform her responsibility to the public with all accountability, transparency and commitment. A professional public service, in other words, is circumscribed by three actions-moulding value frameworks: ethical values (i.e. integrity, honesty, respect); democratic values (i.e. responsiveness, representativeness, rule of law); and professional values (i.e. excellence, innovation). To seek the restoration of professionalism is to attempt a restoration of the pride and ideals of the public service. It is to seek the reinvention of the public service as a noble calling, a vocation in the manner of the Levitical order of priesthood. This was the philosophical foundation of the Philips’ reform agenda. The re-professionalization strategy is meant to reposition the civil service through a rebranding of its critical ethos and virtue. Thus, if the civil service system in Nigeria must overcome its dysfunctional bureaucratic culture, the best way is for it to reconnect with its inherent value as a vocation that is spiritual and spirited. And managerialism was just the perfect structural mold within which to achieve this reconnection. The managerial revolution was founded on the urgency of re-articulating what makes a public servant accountable, effective and efficient. Since the old Weberian system has collapsed under the burden of administrative rules and regulations, a managerial reform becomes the next best thing to recreate the public service in the image of an efficient machine.
In its attempt to lay the foundation of a professionalised civil service, the 1988 reform emphasized the need for specialization. Civil service officers were required to undergo regular training and retraining. This led to the creation of a new bureaucratic structure made up of assistants, officers and directors. The assistant does not require any university or professional qualification to function. The officer, on the other hand, requires a university degree or a professional qualification while the director was reserved for professionals who had been given general management functions as heads of a department, branch or division.
But then, the Dotun Phillips reform carried the professionalization mandate beyond the bound of administrative reason and necessity. It was rather too ambitious of the reform to attempt the professionalization of everybody in the civil service. In other words, it was a profound mistake to think that the service could be handled by professionals all alone, to the exclusion of other non-professionals and generalists. Unfortunately for the reform agenda, the professionalizing move turned into a politicizing one that, for instance, turned permanent secretaries into political appointees, contrary to the politics-administration dichotomy on which public service integrity depends. The idea of professionalism suffered a conceptual-reality deficit in the sense that it was seen as a function of how long a public servant spent in any particular ministry.
And yet, the Phillips reform was not in any sense a failure, despite its fundamental assumptions and reform errors. The reform agenda, apart from the Udoji Commission report, was the next fundamental advocacy for managerialism and performance management in Nigeria. Indeed, both reform agenda and their recommendations are still fundamental to achieving a world class public service in Nigeria. Prof. Philips’s recommendation of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system as a significant plank in the performance management system, and a decentralized HR are sine qua non for any functional public service. Management controls through organization, operations and management research (OOMR), critical for propelling policy implementation praxis, is a feature of the Phillips agenda we need to revisit. In revisiting the Phillips reform recommendations, we will be able to retrospect on two fundamental issues in Nigeria’s reform necessity. The first has to do with the imperative of creating and incentivizing professionalized planning, research and statistics departments in the MDAs that should take responsibility not only for sector plans, but also for monitoring and reporting on their implementation. The second issue derives from the first: the departments of planning, research and statistics serve as the institutional template for a structured and recurrent engagement between policy researchers and policy workers; a hub of policy intelligence and action research that the MDAs can strategically deploy.
Prof. Adedotun Oluwole Phillips’ engagement with the Nigerian public service system is not yet done. Even in death, he is still awaiting fulfilment that will derive from the government recognizing the deep reform fundamentals that remain untapped within his reform dynamics. In returning to the Phillips reform, Nigeria would have taken a significant managerial reform step forward. And we would have given Prof. Phillips a posthumous reason to rest in the knowledge that he served Nigeria well.
Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and professor of public administration, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos . firstname.lastname@example.org
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The End Of Your Rule Is Near
Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
The end of your rule is near. Mr. President. Mr. Governor. Mr. Speaker. Mr. Chairman. Mr. Legislator. The end of your rule is here. It has been four, eight, sixteen years since you danced into State or Legislative House after election victory. Or after a dubious victory awarded by a dubious court after dubious monies dubiously exchanged hands. Your humility while you sought votes was legendary. You shook hands, hugged cripples, visited the bereaved, paid school fees, and ate with the sick. You built alliances across zones, across religious groups, economic groups, across social groups. You made promises. You raised hopes. You preached unity. Now that the end is here, let us ask you Mr. Chief Executive, what kind of ruler, what kind of leader, what kind of administrator have you been? Did you dash hopes? Are you leaving the people worse than they were when you came into office? Did you create a few super rich, from your ethnic group, from your religious group, from your family? Are the people beating their drums in joy on the imminence of your departure? Will they start to ignore you from June this year when you become a lame duck? Are you now worried about how freely you can walk after you leave office?
It is one of the beauties of democracy, beginning and end of tenure. You give account to the people, to posterity, and to the Great Judge ultimately. Because there is end of tenure, there are marginalised persons who wait for the end to come. Those you may have locked up in time or physically or psychologically. These hope that once you are gone, freedom will come their way, there will be a restoration. Also, the wrong policies which you have enunciated will be thrown into the dustbin. Those who had barely tolerated your greed or your foolishness or your wicked, selfish ways will now openly despise you. The sycophants who had licked your boots with histrionic relish will now move on to the new power base, forgetting you, cursing you and blaming the woes of their ancestors on you. You will become history, bad history if you have been a bad ruler. It is the story of the world; it is the story of life and the iterative narrative of humanity. Yet, we, the rulers and the ruled, never learn. The tragedy of man, according to Nietzsche, is that he forgets.
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Memory is the strength of the wise. Memory is the strength of successful societies. Institutional memory. Memory is the strength of successful nations. That ability never to forget the circumstances of their existence, their history, and their identity. In great societies, there is no collective amnesia. Some individuals may forget. But the institution that is the State never forgets. Some facts may slip into amnesia. But they will crawl back in the day of reckoning. Knowledge of the past is instructive and fundamental to building the future. So, our philosophers teach us. I remember Ernest Hemingway when he says ‘a man is a sum of his memories’!
O mighty ruler, the bearded one with oil stains on his white robe, all the roads and projects which you concentrated in your own part of the land, all the appointments which you made to favour a section of the electorate, and/or your cronies will now haunt you. The viciousness with which you dealt with supposed enemies will haunt you. If you ignored the interest of the people to pursue your narrow selfish interests, it will be time to splash your acts of impunity on the pages of newspapers and social media. Did you think you were God when you kept people waiting for you, while you made older people kneel to you to make their requests? The people will soon say to you: ‘command no more, your rule is over’, as Creon tells the mighty Oedipus in Antigone in Sophocles’ classical play!
A fool can and could win elections in Nigeria. But a fool cannot govern like a wise man, because a fool can only do foolish things that could hurt the people. An idiot or a man with idiotic ideas could win elections anywhere in the world. Demagoguery often starts from idiotic ideas and sentiments couched in fanciful or pseudo nationalistic language. Argentinian singer and author once wrote: ‘my grandfather was a brave man; he was only afraid of idiots. I asked him why, and he answered: because there are too many of them, and by being a majority they could even elect a president’. So, we are also worried about the people, the mob that Shakespeare despised in his plays, describing them through one of his characters in Julius Caesar as ‘you blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things, you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome’. Men and women who sell their soul for a mess of the proverbial pottage. They who would vote for the idiot who may not do much to improve their lot. These are the type the Prophet Hosea has in mind when he says ‘my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge!
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Real leadership is for the wise, the humble, and the visionary. A myopic man in office brings the office to his level. That is dangerous to our collective survival. Of such men we must beware. A fool should not go near the throne. He will endanger the empire. For this reason, blockheads were precluded from the throne in traditional African societies. Even the deformed were asked to go away from the road to the throne. In the modern age, thieves or crooks win elections all over the world. Crookedness could be hidden from the people. It is often in the dark. In saner climes, crooks get booted out. In our land, they seek and win elective positions because they carry a deep pocket.
It is true that some current leaders or elected officials have been misjudged. As we know, there are some who have made a difference, who have touched lives, who have sacrificed a lot for the people. But all state officials are judged harshly on account of prevailing situations. Hunger, real hunger, is real in the land. People are barely able to feed. Inflation is near the sun. Insecurity is real. So, the people are frustrated. They are angry. And their judgment will be harsh. It is possible that with the passing of time, opinions would be moderated. For that time, we must wait though not everyone will be exonerated, not everyone will be around for the beauty of reversals. It is the way of man, it is the way of life!
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Mr Elected or Appointed Official, your time is up, the end is here. Those you have alienated, some who did a kind thing for you in the past, some who supported your election and were subsequently ignored by your ‘Almighty Self’, some you gave contracts and refused to pay for work done, some who fell under the moving bus because you listened to gossip and gave them no chance to defend themselves, some who were shoved from the inner table because they are not brothers and sisters from your ethnic group, they await your exit. The time has come when you must rise from the level of the beast that was Nebuchadnezzar and come to your senses. They will see you in public and walk past you in scorn. Or bring down the statues you erected as it happened in Imo State after the last governor left office. There will be money in your deep pocket, but there will be no political power in your hands, there will only be infant gums without teeth to bite the sweets of the world. What have you wrought O Elected Official, what have you wrought in the land of the living?
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Obasanjo As Our Newsmaker
General Olusegun Obasanjo who has been a long-standing Chief of Owu Kingdom in Ogun State needs no introduction. He is too well known to us here to be introduced. In fact, the retired army general of our despicable army is popularly and deliciously known well and well outside our shores to be re-introduced to the imagination and consciousness of your compatriots my compatriots our compatriots and your citizens my citizens our citizens. Many citizens and compatriots will say, rightly or wrongly, that at the two different times he led this country people, the masses and all tribes of persons, that is, cried out in pain and in aguish.
We can always go back to our civil war years of 1967 to 1970 to recall the man and his exploits as the chief strategist and the numero uno of the Third Marine Commando he took over from the great – perhaps our greatest – civil war hero, the late Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle, the one and only Black Scorpion of his soldiery era of gallantry whose poisonous bullets muted the booming guns of thunder and artillery fire of Biafra. Before our troops and Biafra’s knew it what seemed impossible to everyone regarding the time the war would end became possible.
Biafra surrendered and Lt. Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu to the pleasure and displeasure at the same time of Biafrans and Nigerians was in his surrender- flight to Ivory Coast. Obasanjo took the credit for what the Black Scorpion started and systematically pursued gallantly and strategically. What tales were not told and retold several times over about the Black Scorpion! Within three years the torture, torpor, stagnation and degradation of our Igbo brothers ended. That was the beginning of the ascent of Obasanjo’s superfluous popularity as a newsmaker. The obscure army engineer who succeeded the authentic commander of the Third Marine Commando was honeyed as our worthy war officer and commander and military newsmaker by the honeyed pens and voices of our war journalizers and broadcast seeds of our broadcasters.
Let me hop-step-and-jump to our patriotic present.
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About more than three weeks ago, our one and only Obasanjo, former military head of state and civilian but dictatorial president of this dear land – your country my country our country under the Peoples’ Democratic Party became a frontline newsmaker when he said what he should not have said at a gathering of what I wish to refer to as what have you or what not compatriots and citizens. What did he say that he should not have said? The wily warrior who whaled the super-patriotic and outstandingly clever and sensible Chief Obafemi Awolowo out of the presidency in 1979 caused despair in the Niger Delta when he gushed with unpatriotic or inhuman ignominy that the natural oil in the Niger Delta belongs to Nigeria and not to the region. In the voice of almost a traitor who is worse than a traitor who belongs to the godless variety of tormentors our ex-head of state and ex-president and occupier of Aso Rock for eight years held back nothing when his rain of words thrummed on the roof of the Niger Delta. “The oil in the Niger Delta belongs to Nigeria,” he thrummed, thrusted and thundered. Of course, he was giving vent to a constitution which the standing army he once commanded put in place to torment and terrorize us.
I had been thinking deeply since our newshounds put the acclaimed letter-writer in the news once again. And I have been of the opinion that the great General is not a true patriot because a true patriot in our part of the world must have a crystal clear conscience that underlines his humanity that should consolidate the whole of our humanity.
Of course, some frontline denizens and citizens of the Niger Delta pointedly spear-headed by E.K.Clark, a former commissioner of information at the federal level when General Yakubu Gowon held sway in the land from the middle of the nineteen sixties to the mid-nineteen seventies, have since attacked Obasanjo the maker of news. E.K. Clark and company’s attacks were not devoid of great gusto. I, in particular, regarded E.K. Clark’s gusto as the gustation of gustation. It was rightly meant to prick and press the conscience, the guilty conscience, of Obasanjo who certainly must have a guilty one especially after E.K. Clark’s salvo.
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I remember the ex-president’s follow-up response that he has no hatred in his heart or conscience for the Niger Delta region. His guilty conscience surely elicited his response. But anyone like the General and erstwhile commander of our armed forces who is possessed of a guilty conscience must always be seen and regarded as a defeatist – as Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher, activist, humanist and writer who rejected the Nobel Prize for Literature in his hey days, informed us a long, long time ago.
Obasanjo does not love our Niger Delta more than our Niger Delta people and citizens. What does not go around does not go around. If Nigeria does not give Niger Delta justice, fairness and equity Nigeria should not expect the Niger Delta to take the trouble to give or guarantee peace and to “live and remain patriotic” in Nigeria. Nigerian people everywhere should know this: If our Niger Delta people are afraid of injustice that either terrorizes them or forces them to die unjustly, why should they unjustly obey their tormentors who all the time have been immoral force-mongers and cruel power-mongers? Obasanjo and his co-travellers could take the position they have been taken with reference to the Niger Delta because the majority of the region’s indigenes in government at whatever level have been compromising themselves and the region. Their selfishness and greed have tormented the people and the region without qualms over the years.
But this must be viewed as political, economic and moral sins of the past that must no more be tolerated. Now let me add as follows: our silence over the decades was not a “sign of assent”: it originated from nightmares which have been intentionally birthed, nurtured and controlled by our decisioners. But all this must end now.
All tribes in the Niger Delta must perish, must die and re-born themselves along the line of unity that is unity for all; along the line of justice that is justice for all; along the line of the rule of law that is the rule of law for all; along the line of fairness that is farness for all; along the line of what is good for the goose must be good for the gander. Torture by exploitation and oppression and degradation must stop and be hated and halted. Water torture, the result of pollution of the streams, rivers, mangroves, farms and the land by oil excavators and their political and greedy backers, must be ejected completely and permanently – now.
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All negative newsmakers and grandstanders profiting from our region by stirring us to torture one another must be shunned and shamed out of our anguish in darkness and in broad daylight. I hope our highly respected fabulous newsmaker of news and grandstander of grandstanders is going to profit himself a great deal from this column today by fighting patriotically for us henceforth. Our heroes lying in their graves will turn and turn and smile the smiles of the new times when he does this genuinely and sincerely. In his column of last Tuesday, January 18, 2022 on the back page of this newspaper Ray Ekpu ended as follows: “Nigeria abhors change, the right kind of change.” Niger Delta, I underline, is ready for the right kind of change. Their living heroes will enforce it in their land. They will do this without grandstanding and grandstanders.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
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