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Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu And Nigeria’s  Greater Future That Beckons



Prof. Tunji Olaopa

By Tunji Olaopa

And finally, Nigerians have gone to the polls and the presidential election has been concluded. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the President-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Of course, the months ahead are going to be filled with all sorts of legal disputations at the election tribunals over the conduct of the elections and what happened or what should have happened. However, the impending transformation of the Nigerian state through strategic refocusing of policy and strategy on the well-being of longsuffering Nigerians cannot wait for the resolution of the legal disputes before the more urgent task of good governance commences.

The conclusion of the presidential election brings a huge relief for me at a personal level, as would have been obvious from my many op-ed pieces in the last couple of weeks, that signaled my apprehension about what the election implies for the political and socioeconomic fortune of Nigeria and Nigerians beyond 2023. This is my apprehension: Nigeria cannot afford to elect a leader(ship) that will keep up the framework of bad politics which will keep pushing Nigeria beyond the precipice and the backwater of history. And it would seem that Nigerians, given the immense statistics of readiness to enter the electoral space, were also aware of this danger. And this is especially so for the Nigerian youths who have borne the brutal brunt of mal-governance for many years.

And so, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu won the election in a very tight race that threw up so many surprises. The outcries that have greeted the result of the election is characteristic of the many deep fissures and administrative dysfunctions that have characterized the postcolonial Nigerian state. And they are also the result of the persona and personality of the president-elect himself. Apart from the many controversies and deliberate lies that surrounded his political character and status prior to the election, many have wondered about the outcome of the election and this expensive second golden opportunity given to the All People’s Congress (APC) despite the dismal governance performance of the incumbent administration. 

And yet, the final outcome is clear testimony that Tinubu has finally realized his aspiration of becoming the president of Nigeria. And this is where aspiration becomes the foundation of a mandatory responsibility that goes beyond just fulfilling a lifelong desire. At this critical standpoint, we have transcended the level of warning a presidential aspirant of being careful what he wishes for. One could almost feel pity for the one who wears the mantle of being the president of Nigeria in 2023, going forward. Uneasy lies the head! And this is all the more so because President Tinubu inherits an immensely insecure and divided state. He inherits the burden of an administrative and governance frameworks that run on dysfunctional wheels. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu inherits a Nigerian state in deep crisis of multiple dimensions. 

In “The American Crisis,” penned in December 23, 1776, the American statesman Thomas Paine commented, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”  He was referring to the revolutionary fervor that signaled the height of the American Revolution. This was a period when the fate of the nascent American state, and the future of Americans, hung delicately in the balance. The American crisis was generated because Britain taxed the Americans without affording them the freedom of being represented in the British parliament. The Americans rebelled and the revolutionary war started. In Nigeria, the crisis derives from the uncritical and irresponsible lust for power by the political elite, over the years, and in ways that has brought calamities of different sorts—infrastructural deficit, de-industrialization and a growingly deepening phenomenon Dutch and Double Dutch disease in the oil sector; public service abysmally low capability readiness, anti-intellectualism in the policy space, an institutionalized culture of recycling of ignorance in policy management and an affirmation of the thesis that the fish gets rotten from the head; non-abating culture of planning without statistics; poverty, insecurity, unemployment, heightened Japa syndrome, collapsed national integrity system, fractured federation, degraded reckoning amongst the comity of nations, etc. In other words, for sixty-three years, Nigeria has been cursed with a leadership deficit that longs for power but lacks the governance vision that determines how that political power should be deployed to transform the quality of lives of Nigerians. This is the enormity of the task before the president-elect.      

But Bola Ahmed Tinubu also inherits the potential to make Nigeria great. By becoming president, he is situated into a space—like every other person in history who has had that position and has succeeded or failed—where he is positioned to make the most of the political power he is entrusted with for good or evil. And he asserts this awareness in his acceptance speech, appropriately titled “The Era of Renewed Hope.” According to him, despite all that characterized the election, and the current state of the Nigerian state, “Let the better aspects of our humanity step forward at this fateful moment.” Contrary to what others might think, I strongly believe Nigeria stands at the threshold of a revolutionary moment, the same place the nascent United States stood in 1776. And I further believe that Asiwaju is historically poised to achieve more than anyone gives him the chance to achieve as president. 

And so, we stand at the threshold of history in Nigeria. And this is where Asiwaju Tinubu needs to borrow that fundamental statement that heralded his predecessor’s first coming: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.” This critical statement contains the gem of a governance framework that is key to diversity management in statecraft. Contrary to the acrimonious ethnic and religious rivalries that ruffled the electoral contest that brought him in, and even the scornful and derisive dismissal that attend “Tinubu’s many sins and weaknesses,” the president-elect now has the fundamental opportunity to prove all detractors wrong, all advocates right, and make all Nigerians a believer in the possibility of good things coming out of Nazareth. 

The most fundamental question for me, therefore, is: how does Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu transform himself into the transformational leader Nigeria urgently needs at this crucial moment in history? The challenges of transformation in this context translate into mining the many opportunities for a game-changing performance that will leverage change management frameworks and dynamics towards not only rolling back the deficits of the past eight years, but also jumpstarting the economic machinery to achieve inclusive growth that will harness the social, generational and youth capital and talents in Nigeria towards transforming Nigeria’s productivity profile.  

First, vision and visioneering is key. Or, in precise terms, what is needed is a critical conceptualization of the socioeconomic problematics that have kept Nigeria locked into a cocoon outside all possibilities of achieving greatness in the comity of nations. This requires that the president gets the calibration of three levels of strategic base fundamentals right. The first requires, as a matter of necessity, a baseline policy and economic assessment of Nigeria’s present situation that constitutes a clear and present danger to her potential greatness in a global world. And this enables me recall clearly the sterling performance of President-elect Tinubu at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) presidential engagement forum meeting in January 2023. At that meeting, Asiwaju clearly and without any hesitation outlined an understanding of Nigeria’s current state and realities within certain macroeconomic assumptions that have kept Nigeria’s growth rather stunted despite all the best efforts of successive leaders.

This takes me to the second strategic base fundamental: the determination of an architecture of the change space within which the visioneering and strategic articulation of policy dynamics would be managed. If anyone would hear me out, I am strongly convinced that this is the strongest forte of Asiwaju Tinubu. Lagos State and the trajectory of its continuing governance successes over different governors prove this. At the NESG dialogue, Tinubu articulated the vision of a private sector-led economic growth for Nigeria, powered by a reformed public sector. And such a vision automatically puts the burden of performance on the capacity to harness a professional and intellectual capital of a crop of committed experts, technocrats and teams who can be trusted with the patriotic task of performing the vision that can make Nigeria better. The change space is a space of leadership, team building and policy intelligence. It is within this space that the IQ of the administration’s first eleven team—at the tactical, strategic and operational levels—is determined. It is also within this space that leadership forthrightness in policymaking and diversity management play out. No matter how charismatic and visionary a leader is, he or she needs those around him or her who can understand the vision, articulate the framework for realizing it and the mechanism for translating it into tangibles for the welfare of the people. 

The third base fundamental that the president-elect must get right in order to game-change the Nigerian predicament is the articulation of a competent change management strategy that speaks to the “how” of a culture change that re-engineers and re-professionalizes the public service into a capability readiness to backstop Nigeria as a capable and democratic developmental state. It is through a coherent and politically supported public service reform that Asiwaju can achieve his aspiration for an innovative, producing and productive Nigeria that he so beloved. I will further outline the fundamental dimension of this change management in my next piece. 

Against all odds, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been elected the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Even though he is not a stranger to impactful governance, becoming the president at this time in the history of Nigeria is clearly a providential act. His divine mandate is therefore very clear: to reverse the misfortunes that have been visited on hapless Nigerians by unscrupulous politicians, and to give the citizens their first taste of true leadership backed by clear infrastructural development, a diversified and strong productive economy, and a globally competitive Nigeria that thinks local but act global. These are the times that try Nigerians’ souls and patience, but then the president-elect is also not a stranger to hewing honey out of the rock.      

Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor of Public Administration.




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With Us, Not For US



Barrister Ijeoma Fynecountry

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.


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The 2023  Elections And The Newness Of Nigeria



The Futility Of A Marital Chase
Dr. Hope Nwawolo

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.




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Overcoming Policy Execution Trap As Nigeria’s Development Challenge



Prof. Tunji Olaopa

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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