Between Ahmad Lawan And The President Of The Senate: Moment of Truth
By Mon-Charles Egbo
“There comes a midnight hour when everyone has to throw away his mask”…..Soren Kierkegaard.
In an attempt to fairly interrogate the above quote, one needs to find out first, what happens when the mask is discarded and why it has to be at midnight hour.
Figuratively, the midnight hour represents a transition time or the end of an era and equally the beginning of another. It is that crucial moment of quiet introspection when one is driven by firm convictions towards unusual decisions and actions. And similarly, because a mask is about displaying a false appearance, mask removal thus is synonymous with embracing the truth or accepting the reality, eventually.
Hence whenever the mask is removed, remarkable things happen: minds and thoughts are liberated from every form of bias, dogma and subjective judgement, wherein it dawns on them that in every circumstance, there is always a difference between appearance and reality or opinion and truth. Equally, new opportunities emerge for growth and development because people and situations are eventually being assessed and evaluated sincerely and objectively.
Then relative to this discourse, mask removal unravels the correlation between an office holder and the office itself. People begin to realize that either the occupant defines the office by their character or the office defines the occupant by its dictates, or that it is the disposition of the leader and the system supporting the position that interplay to determine the quality of leadership dispensed, by way of good or bad governance.
Furthermore, mask removal confers some sort of specific inspiration that enables one to rediscover themselves and the world around them.
It is in this wise that a former Nigerian minister, Iyorwuese Hagher, observed that “we have a military-contractor-political complex eating up Nigeria and masking as retired generals, businessmen and democrats in the daytime. At night, the masks are removed and all we see are desperate crooks. This is exactly what the Nigerian elite is. White-washed sepulchres. They cover their rottenness with noise and flourish. They lie gratuitously. They smile without feeling and ruthlessly destroy our common patrimony and impoverish, mis-educate, un-educate, and infect us to die. But they too die and all we have is a legacy of tribalism, corruption, bigotry and anomie”.
Except for the masked mind, this is an apt description of present-day Nigeria.
The country is at war with itself. Primordial sentiments, mutual suspicion and bloodletting reign supreme. The citizens are in penury and misery. Everyone is desperately seeking escape routes. There is a mindless obsession with how things ought to be rather than a commitment to tackling the prevailing situation. There is a trust deficit between the government and the masses sequel to varying assumptions and illusions that accompany public offices, which in most cases, are complicated by the conduct of the occupants. There is a heightened prejudice and apathy for which opinions now overshadow the truths while appearance diminishes the reality. Similarly, the just are demeaned while the crooks are dressed in borrowed robes and also, selfish leaders pass as dedicated servants while sectional interests tower above national interests in all aspects of policy and governance.
And then quite sadly, the elites are not relenting in their conspiracy to shield the masses from reality. They have a way of empowering every segment with specific consciousness for mutual hostilities to keep the masses down and divided. Their tools include religious, ethnic and partisan considerations which they deploy to divert attention from the crucial issues, of which they are succeeding because the masses are still limited by the masks.
Another salient feature of this inglorious mask is the constitutional status of the legislature. Except one is not being real or truthful, the national assembly is as powerless as it exists at the mercies of the executive. All the powers, especially the supervisory roles, listed in the constitution, are merely academic and theoretical because there are no functional mechanisms to exercise them effectively. If for instance, the presidency is vetoed on any matter, how does the legislature enforce it? Does the legislature enjoy any constitutional control over the law enforcement agencies or even the treasury, let alone the cabinet ministers who are appointed by the president? Again, if the legislature withholds assent to sundry presidential requests, particularly relative to borrowing, does the constitution provide for definite consequences for non-compliance?
Therefore, it is only when the mask is thrown away that the overriding need to review the country’s constitution is embraced dispassionately. Otherwise, this is the major area where the elites are still inflicting harm on the masses. And sadly once again, the mask will not allow for a clearer perception of the difference between a civil rule and democratic governance.
However, the vintage Abraham Lincoln was not only visionary when he noted that “for every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader”; he must have experienced that “midnight hour when everyone has to throw away his mask”. He must have rediscovered himself before discovering that indeed, there are people who recognize politics as simply an avenue for sincere and selfless service to humanity.
But like eagles, dedicated leaders are rare to come by. They are what they are called to be. They are people-oriented, visionary, strategic-thinking, ready to make sacrifices, solution providers and above all, driven by national interest and unity.
Instructively, they do not have to be saints. Yes, nobody is a saint and no leader is perfect. None has ever been.
Senator Ahmad Lawan is certainly not a saint neither is the president of the 9th senate perfect. Both as a person and a public official, he may not have met the expectations of all, which incidentally is impossible. But one thing that cannot be removed from him, both ways, is that he has a place among the league of leaders that Nigeria needs, particularly in this precarious era.
By every standard of objective analysis, especially given his public leadership trajectory, Lawan remains very relevant to this generation. Aside from sound education, he has the right mix of a passion for national unity and development, emotional intelligence, knowledge of history and a clear understanding of policy and governance issues. In particular, he is experienced and versatile in the workings of the legislature and with sufficient understanding of the limitations of the 1999 constitution. The ideals and aspirations expressed in his speeches and the energies driving his actions portray him as truly the people’s advocate.
While assuming the leadership of the 9th senate, Lawan had vowed that “in the laws we enact, in the oversight and representations we undertake, the wellbeing of the Nigerian people will always be our priority”; thus implying that he would not be interested in churning out bills just for the sake of numbers but would focus on the ones that have direct bearing with the people.
Hence, he deployed that rare combination of leadership personality, intelligence and creativity in galvanizing his colleagues towards working for the people. Under him, the defining attributes of the senate are unprecedented camaraderie, unity of purpose, bipartisanship, commitment to national interest through people-oriented legislation and willingness to make patriotic sacrifices.
And despite being tagged with a series of labels, diligent research shows that Lawan takes a principled stand on every critical issue of governance. Be it about national unity, electoral system reform, restructuring, development of the Niger-Delta region, insecurity, National Social Intervention Programme, constitution amendment, economic revitalization, almajiri system of education, women and youth inclusion in governance, improvements in the power, education and health sectors as well as transparency in service delivery, Ahmad Lawan has distinguished himself truly as a good governance advocate.
Also despite championing a harmonious relationship with the other arms of government, any informed and objective critic agrees that Lawan has never lost his voice on issues of good governance. Although as highlighted earlier, public office holders are viewed with suspicion understandably due to past experiences, and again, he may not have lived up to the expectations of all, there is so far, no proven case of legislative compromise against Ahmad Lawan or the 9th senate. His conduct and actions are guided by his well-publicised legislative agenda wherein he conspicuously underscored his willingness to collaborate rather than confront so as not to further impoverish the masses as was the case with the immediate past assembly. Once again, the 1999 military-imposed constitution has no veritable protection for the legislature.
And until the mask is thrown away, it will be difficult to understand that Lawan embodies the views and opinions of his colleagues as he has never been accused of acting against their interests in any form. The overwhelming ballots that made him the president of the senate have since translated into the overwhelming respect, cooperation and support he enjoys among his colleagues. The patriotic manner he provided pragmatic leadership concerning the electronic transmission of the election result and also the passage of the 2023 budget among others are eloquent testimonies to his commitment to working for the people.
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Instructively also, even when public office comes with its dynamics, Lawan remains who he is. His national leadership responsibility could not affect his resolve to faithfully serve his constituency. For what it truly means, Lawan is a true representative of his people. In the area of community development through legacy projects targeted at rural roads, hospitals, and schools in addition to empowerment schemes through scholarships, bursaries, capacity building, job placements as well as special interventions in agriculture, families and grassroots economy, Senator Ahmad Lawan has verifiably made outstanding marks across the lengths and breadths of the Yobe North Senatorial District. The record is indeed indelible as validated by this week’s presidential visit to the state.
And for the umpteenth time, it is only when the mask is removed that the truth is known. It is then that the real trouble with Nigeria, which unarguably predates the Lawan-led 9th national assembly is unveiled for lasting solutions. Then particularly concerning the ongoing leadership recruitment processes, it is after the midnight hour that we can realize that truly, we have a country to fix, an economy to repair and a citizenry to protect. Only then can we reason beyond the same old rhetoric and partisan affiliations to make the right choices. Again, it is only when reality triumphs over appearance, that the just shall be celebrated and the villain shall no longer be dressed in borrowed robes.
Then finally, it is only when one is free from prejudice or apathy through diligent research, that Ahmad Lawan can be fairly assessed and acknowledged as one who by his passion for a prosperous Nigeria is truly a signpost for national unity and statesmanship as well as one who through firmness of character and patriotism, really blends with the dictates of the senate presidency, even though the prevailing faulty constitution defines his powers and spheres of influence. But until that “midnight hour when everyone has to throw away his mask” to appreciate the difference between appearance and reality or opinion and truth, this is wishing him a happy birthday as he turns 64.
.Egbo is the print media aide to the president of the senate.
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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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