An Open Letter To President Muhammadu Buhari
By Stella Omonigho
Your Excellency Sir,
I am writing this letter with so much pain in my heart because of the state of our dear nation Nigeria under your leadership and watch. You will recall that when you came into power on the 29th of May 2015 Nigerians were hopeful that your administration was going to strengthen our young democracy and ensure that the dividends of democracy accrue to all Nigerians irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or party affiliations.
Before I continue Sir, kindly permit me to define the term democracy under which Nigeria is supposed to operate politically as a democratic country so as to remind myself constantly to remain within the scope of democracy as I address this letter to the Father of the Nation in order not to be faulted or accused of being undemocratic.
According to Pennock (1979:7), Democracy is: The government by the people where liberty, equality and fraternity are secured to the greatest possible degree and in which human capacities are developed to the utmost, by means including free and full discussions of common problems and interests.
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Weale (1999:14) opined that in a democracy, important public decisions on questions of law and policy depend directly or indirectly upon public opinion formally expressed by citizens of the community, the vast bulk of whom have equal political rights. Lastly, the common definition even known to a neophyte is that of Abraham Lincoln that democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Lincoln went on to express his idea on the subject matter by saying: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master”. Therefore Mr President, based on the freedom of expression provided by our constitution and by the system of government Nigeria has adopted, I write to you to express my fears, my pains, my disappointments and my suggestions on the state of the Nation.
Before you finally emerged the President of Nigeria in 2015, you were once the military head of state between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985, then you contested for the Presidency under the All Nigeria People’s party (APP) in 2011 and then migrated to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013 where you obtained the party ticket for presidency and won in the general elections in 2015. This means that you are a man of great knowledge and experience in leadership, in political matters especially as it obtains in Nigeria. With this wealth of experience as a retired Major General, Nigerians voted for you massively hoping you will be the messiah to save them from insecurity and insurgency as you promised in your electioneering . We all believed in you Baba, that a young man Hashimu defiled all odds and trekked from Lagos to Abuja for 18 days to demonstrate his love, admiration and hope in you. Sir, below are some of the promises you made to woo us to vote for you in 2015 and since we saw you as a man with integrity, we believed every word you said despite some red flags being flown by some elders. These promises were extracted from some of your campaign videos and posters:
Ban on government officials from going abroad for medical treatment.
Public declaration of assets and liabilities.
Introduction of National Gender Policy and offer of 35 per cent appointment to women.
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Increasing the number of doctors from 19 per 1000 population to 50 per 1000 .
Upgrading all Federal Government-owned hospitals to world-class facilities within five years .
Ensuring that political office holders earn salaries and emoluments as determined and approved by the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC).
Creating a Crime Squad to combat terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, militancy, ethno-religious and communal clashes in the country.
Amending the Constitution to remove immunity from prosecution for elected officers in a criminal case.
One dollar to one naira.
Constant and uninterrupted power supply.
NSir, contrary to the first promise made, I am aware that you have been going on medical vacation in the United kingdom. more frequently than any other President this country has ever had. On the 5th February, 2016, you took a medical trip to the United Kingdom where you spent 10 days. On the 6th of June you returned to the UK for medical examination and you spent 13 days, on the 15th January, 2017, you went again and spent 50 days, then on 7th May, 2017, you went on another medical trip where you spent 104 days without handing over governance to the Vice President in your absence as provided in the constitution. The medical trips have gone so frequent that Nigerians have lost count and interest in the numerous trips which we believe are not free or cheap. So many people in your cabinets also took various medical vacations sometimes announced but most times unannounced. This was totally the contrary of what you promised before coming into power. While the poor Nigerian cannot afford health care in Nigeria where you promised to improve on our health services, you Baba and members of your cabinet proceed on these trips even at the slightest health challenge.
Secondly Sir, there is a great upsurge of insecurity in the nation that killings, kidnapping, rape, bombings and various attacks are now so common that the media are almost getting embarrassed to report all and the police are now so ashamed to admit to which led to the denial of the recent bomb blast at Sabon Gari in Kano where the police claimed it was a gas explosion whereas eye witnesses saw the suicide bomber yet nobody was prosecuted or warned among the police force for misleading the whole country by this false claims. Parents sold their property, borrowed and some died to save the lives of their children who were kidnapped in boarding schools and on campus. Kidnapped victims of the Kaduna-bound train are still with the abductors. Innocent people are being slaughtered by the day in the name of religious clash and nothing is being done to stop it. Baba, this was not your promise to us in 2015.
Mr President, the cost of food has gone up drastically over 300% since you came into power as a result of insecurity. Farmers are being killed and the females raped and ripped to death hence most of them stopped going to the bush for fear of being victims. In some cases, some of them were kidnapped in their farms, tortured until friends, families and fellow farmers contributed to pay the ransom. Travelling on the highway especially in some places like Abuja-Kaduna way, Benin-Abuja, Lagos-Ibadan among others is a nightmare as travellers are kidnapped almost on a daily basis. This has affected productivity of traders so badly in the country.
Thirdly Sir, power supply has been so epileptic despite the increment in the electricity tariffs. Businesses folded up as some traders could not afford to run them with the high cost of diesel and other petroleum products.
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On the fight against corruption which was your main focus Sir, it has become an open secret that Nigeria has recorded so many cases of corruption in your time more than any other especially among your appointees and cabinet members. These ones have graduated from stealing millions into stealing billions and no tangible sanction has been meted out to them. What we see is a drama show either in court or during interrogation and at the end the cases are swept under the carpet and these thieves come back to contest for other political positions. Under your watch Sir, an individual carted away with 80 billion naira, another 1.5 trillion, another 117million and so on. This is so painful to us the masses who find it difficult to eat 2 square meals a day not to talk of three. Baba, all these looted funds would go a long way in reviving our economy and possibly pay back a part of our foreign loans. How can it be said that Nigeria was borrowing almost on a monthly basis in 2021, yet individuals in your cabinet are carting away such huge amounts of money under your watch? What will the world say about us?
Mr. President Sir, the story about public universities being underfunded, poor remuneration of varsity workers and fraudulent payment platform (IPPIS) is no longer new even in the global sector. While political leaders and appointees earn more than 50million naira monthly, a university professor which is the apex of academic qualification in the world does not earn half a million naira. No wonder some of your ministers talk to professors with so much scorn and disrespect, no wonder an individual in your cabinet asked professors to go and farm. It is so sad that not much value is placed on education in Nigeria. Incessant strike and industrial actions by varsity workers because of failure of your government to fulfil agreement reached with the unions have led to constant closure of the university campuses and unrest of the youths in recent years while we see on social media pictures of graduation of the children of our political leaders who schooled in foreign universities while the children of those who voted for you are perpetually at home.
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In line with the aforementioned Sir, while reminding you of areas where seeming failure has been recorded, permit me to make some suggestions on how to correct some of these anomalies before it is too late if not too late. As the adage says, “it is better late than never” . Mr. President Sir, posterity will remember your tenure for either good or bad. There is therefore an urgent need for a restructure in your cabinet; political appointments into various public offices must be reviewed based on merit and not sentiments irrespective of the person’s political, religious or ethnic affiliation. There is a great need to put a round peg in a round hole, that is to say that only those who are genuinely qualified and concerned about the developments and security of the nation should be appointed or remain in office.
As the father of the nation Sir, the time is long overdue to rake all parastatals of every corrupt director, minister, manager, desk officers e.t.c. in order to save not only public funds that are being looted on a daily basis but also the face of our nation. Agencies established to fight against corruption must do so with all sincerity irrespective of whoever is found wanting (there must be no sacred cow).
Furthermore, security agencies such as the police, the army and the civil defence must not hesitate to prosecute any defaulter of the law, nor deny the reality of the state of insecurity o the nation.
Lastly, with the recent acrimony and misunderstanding between the two major religions in the country, there is an urgent need for you Sir to address the nation on religious tolerance and harmonious living among all Nigerians irrespective of any provocation. On no account must anyone take laws into his or her hands by taking the life of any Nigerian.
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In conclusion, dear father of the nation, President Muhammadu Buhari, save our public universities by meeting directly with the aggrieved unions especially ASUU, and meet their demands in order to resolve the long-ignored issues because the students are suffering, deprived and delayed in life.
I hope Sir, that you will graciously look into all these points raised with genuine concerns for our nation Nigeria and act with dispatch to save our country from sinking any further.
Long live Nigeria!
God bless Nigerians!
God bless our nation!
.Omonigho, PhD, is a public affairs analyst.
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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 .
Rigged Elections And The Moral Burden Of Illegitimacy
By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
Adamu: A man who rigs his way to power carries a moral burden!
Orezime: A moral what?
Adamu: You heard me, didn’t you?
Orezime: I’m not sure I heard you right. Moral what you said?
Adamu: A moral burden, I said!
Orezime: Hahahahahahaha! You make me laugh! Are you from the moon?
Gani: Or Mars?
Emeka: In which country? In Nigeria? That principle does not apply in Nigeria! There is no moral burden on anybody in this country! The election which produced Bubu in 2015 was rigged. Where are the two million voters from Kano State who voted in 2015? Was an INEC official not burnt alive after that election? The one which brought Obj to power was also rigged by the forces which wanted him to ease the tension of the Abiola tragedy on the Yoruba people. Yet those men had the temerity to preach against corruption!
Orezime: The international community winked at the whole exercise.
Gani: Yes! That’s why those two could only preach; they couldn’t really act decisively. A moral burden? They spoke from both sides of their mouths on the issue of corruption. The late President Yar Adua confessed that the election which produced him was compromised. An honest man, he didn’t live long enough to right the wrong of the period!
Orezime: That’s why I laughed when Adamu talked about a moral burden arising from rigged elections.
Bankole: In the ideal world, any power that is stolen and acquired through a dubious means imposes a moral burden on the power holder. No matter what the person does, that power remains stained.
Orezime: What does that amount to in our country? Even the brigands who shot their way to power in the notorious days of military misadventure in Nigeria soon became legitimate.
Emeka: You are going too far in our history. See what happened in Lagos State in the governorship elections of March 18. Ethnic jingoists went about preaching hatred against Igbo people and warned them against coming out to exercise their constitutional rights. Security officials looked the other way when ballot boxes were snatched in broad daylight in places where the opposition was leading.
Gani: A serving state governor personally went about snatching ballot boxes and threatened to shoot whoever got in his way. The same governor declared somebody wanted without recourse to the Inspector General of Police! He worked against the party on which platform he won the seat to spite the party hierarchy!
Adamu: And to think that this is the President-elect’s state. He kept mute through the horrendous attacks on Igbo people in Lagos State just the way the incumbent president has looked the other way when herdsmen went on the loose!
Bankole: Rigged elections are so familiar yet notorious in our land. It was the main trigger to the crisis in the Western Region in the First Republic because the people reacted when they saw a rape of their rights and wishes! It soon snowballed into a conflagration that consumed the nation in the late 1960s. Already, the youths are talking about a protest in the ENDSARSNOW# manner. I hope it doesn’t result in disaster. We have lost too many lives already!
Orezime: What I fear is the rise of ethnic profiling in a supposedly democratic society. To be sure, Governor Sanwo-Olu and the party hierarchy did not single out any ethnic group for verbal attacks. They even courted them. Yet they didn’t caution their followers to stop the degeneration into ethnic hatred. It is a dangerous curve what is happening in Lagos. I don’t subscribe to the Lagos is no man’s land nonsense which some misguided fellows are spewing, but threatening anybody not to vote their candidate is a new low! Can a Sanwo-Olu victory be said to be legitimate if a significant percentage of the electorate is disenfranchised?
Emeka: Good question. They did not stop there. They rolled out the culturally dreaded Oro rituals on election night. Come on! Who is fooling who? The Oro festival was designed to drive fear into non-Yoruba in Lagos. In the 21st Century?
Gani: I am sure the reports from election observers will be damning.
Bankole: I don’t care about those biased observers.
Adamu: Where are we headed in this country?
Orezime: We are on the road to Kigali!
Bankole: May we not travel that route!
Orezime: It’s a good prayer. But what are we doing to avoid the descent into anarchy? Nothing. Those monkeys are simply interested in acquiring power.
Gani: The Obedient Movement seems to have lost steam once it was misbranded as an ethnic agenda to grab power at the national level. Peter Obi needs to tread carefully so he doesn’t become another June 12! Some people are egging him on to challenge INEC through protests.
Orezime: If he decides to lead a protest, it would be within his constitutional right to do so, especially as INEC is stalling on the issue of inspecting elections materials despite an order from the courts. Peaceful protests are guaranteed by the Constitution.
Adamu: No one can be sure whether a peaceful protest will remain peaceful after it starts. That’s the experience the ENDSARS people had.
Gani: It’s not enough to stop people from taking to the streets. Protests are fundamental to democracy.
Adamu: We do not want dead heroes! Mark my words.
Bankole: That’s ominous!
Emeka: It means nothing. Nigeria must change. We cannot go on like this forever! Things are just going down. No cash. No fuel. No power supply. No security. No nothing. Peter Obi gave a glimmer of hope. Now that has been dashed to the ground.
Adamu: Rigging will remain a moral burden each time our President-elect travels outside the country, each time he meets foreign observers, especially those ones who have a dossier on him. History will also judge him and assess how he came to power. This applies to all the states as well where some politicians have turned themselves into demigods and have compromised poor INEC officials with mouthwatering sums. This is not how to build a democracy. The votes must be counted and must count. Seventeen people have their lives during the governorship and House of Assembly elections. We are supposed to count ballot papers, not bodies. Sad!
Bankole: The moral burden of rigged elections is on all of us. Without our connivance there would be no rigging. We can only hope that this will end some day!
Emeka: Tough luck!
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