Salihu Moh. Lukman
Electing Party Leaders through Consensus
Since the commencement of negotiation for new leadership in APC, starting with Ward Congresses, the decision of the APC CECPC is that new leaders will be elected through consensus. This implies that stakeholders will reach an agreement on specific individuals who will emerge as party leaders. So far, the process has achieved some degree of success as the new leaders of the party from wards to local governments and states have emerged through consensus. There were instances of disagreements, which the party’s reconciliation committee under the leadership of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu has succeeded in resolving many of the cases.
With the National Convention scheduled to hold March 26, 2022, the process of achieving consensus is similarly expected to produce new national leaders. Already, following meetings of the CECPC, Progressive Governors and other party leaders with President Buhari, some initiatives aimed at achieving consensus leading to the emergence of new national leaders have commenced. A zoning formula has been reported to be agreed and the president is reported to have expressed his support for the emergence of Sen. Adamu as the consensus National Chairman of the party around whom the negotiation to achieve consensus for other positions is expected to be achieved. Progressive Governors were reported to have been mandated by the president to work with the CECPC and achieve agreed consensus on all party positions.
Party Activities and Attempts to Undermine Consensus
Incidences within the last few days appear to be almost questioning whether any negotiation is taking place within the party to achieve consensus. From uncertainty about whether the party’s National Convention will hold, circumstances have been created whereby directives of President Buhari, who is unquestionably the leader of the party, to negotiate consensus leading the emergence of new leaders seem to be discarded. Conflicting directives to party leaders allegedly from the president are allowed to appear in the public. Every time a new directive appears, party leaders and members complied, and new realities also emerge in the party.
For instance, when on Sunday, March 6, 2022, on the day President Buhari went to London, the information emerged that President Buhari instructed Progressive Governors to initiate processes of leadership change in the party given the reluctance of His Excellency Mai Mala, the APC CECPC Chairman to implement decisions to hold the party’s National Convention, party leaders and members welcomed the decision, which accounts for the legitimacy enjoyed by all the eleven members of the CECPC who immediately rallied themselves around His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello who was vested with the responsibility of acting as APC CECPC Chairman in the absence of His Excellency Mai Mala who was out of the country for medical treatment.
Immediately, activities of the party around preparations for the March 26, 2022 National Convention were strengthened. The CECPC under His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello began meetings almost on a daily basis. Decisions taken were implemented immediately and communication with party members and the public regarding preparations for the National Convention was very regular, unlike under the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala. Newly elected state leaderships of the party were inaugurated, an action which should have been carried out long ago but deliberately stalled as part of the plans to sabotage the National Convention. With the inauguration of state leaderships of the party, the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) was scheduled for Thursday, March 17, 2022. The scheduled NEC meeting was also designed to begin to return the APC back to normal operations as provided by the party’s Constitution.
The NEC being the second highest organ of the party has the powers to take decisions, which should guide party operations in between National Conventions. Under the APC constitution, the NEC is required to meet every three months. The last time the NEC met was December 8, 2020, when in view of the challenges facing the party, and trusting that the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala will faithfully and honestly implement decisions taken leading to the emergence of new leaders, transferred its powers to the CECPC. As of December 8, 2020, the expectation was that the tenure of the CECPC would not go beyond six months, implying that by June 2021, the APC National Convention would have taken place and new party leaders would have emerged. Sadly, His Excellency Mai Mala began endless postponement of the National Convention, and it became clear to everyone, including President Buhari that the CECPC leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala has abused all the trust of party leaders and members, with allegations of corruption against the Chairman and Secretary, His Excellency Mai Mala and Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe respectively.
Changes in CECPC and Syndicated Media Campaigns
With the emergence of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello as Acting CECPC Chairman on March 7, 2022, and all the actions taken to implement decisions leading to the convention, confidence of party members and leaders began to be restored. Some few party leaders who collaborated with His Excellency Mai Mala to sabotage the decision to organise the National Convention, however, began media campaigns aimed at undermining the legitimacy of actions taken by the CECPC under His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello. Mostly done through surrogates, the campaigns include planting syndicated report of a coup against His Excellency Mai Mala, leading to the emergence of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello as Acting Chairman of the CECPC.
The CECPC Secretary, Sen. Akpanuduodehe, on Monday, March 7, 2022, walked out of the meeting of the CECPC chaired by His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello. Then news of his resignation and subsequent rebuttal by him emerged. As it turned out, the CECPC actually passed a vote of no confidence in the Secretary in line with the provision of Article 21(vi) of the APC, which affirms the power of organs of the party to take such actions based on two-third votes by members of the organ. The resolution for vote of no confidence against Sen. Akpanuduodehe was passed by ten out of thirteen members of the CECPC. Thereafter, the CECPC announced that Prof. Tahir Mamman is the Acting Secretary and Barr. Ismail Ahmed is the spokesperson. Throughout the week of March 7 – 14, Sen. Akpanudoedehe was conspicuously absent from the APC National Secretariat and didn’t attend meetings of the CECPC, although on Friday, March 11, 2022, he was reported to have visited the APC National Secretariat but did not attend the CEPCP meeting, which was ongoing at the time of his visit.
As part of the syndicated news reports aimed at undermining decisions and actions taken by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello, there was the false report that thirteen APC governors were threatening to leave the party if the decision to change His Excellency Mai Mala as Chairman of CECPC is achieved. Some party leaders, including Governors Nasir El-Rufai and Rotimi Akeredolu SAN of Kaduna and Ondo States respectively responded with the information that only three governors, not thirteen, are supportive of His Excellency Mai Mala. The three Governors are Yahaya Bello of Kogi, Hope Uzodinma of Imo and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun States. The remaining eighteen governors and the deputy governor of Anambra State are supportive of initiatives being taken by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello.
Conflicting Presidential Directives and London Lobbies by Party Leaders
Around the same period, during the weekend of March 11 – 13, there were reports about President Buhari returning His Excellency Mai Mala as the Chairman of the CECPC. Then on Sunday, March 13, there was the statement by Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special to the President on Media and Publicity, informing APC leaders about President Buhari’s warning drawing attention to the electoral consequences of the open leadership contestation in the party and calling for order. By Monday, March 14, the report was that party leaders including His Excellency Mai Mala, His Excellency Kayode Fayemi and His Excellency Nasir El-Rufai have travelled to London to meet with President Buhari. No details of the meetings emerged. The feeler, however, was that President Buhari met Governors Fayemi and El-Rufai and endorsed preparations for the March 26 National Convention initiated by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello and accordingly confirmed that he would be attending the scheduled March 17 NEC meeting of the party.
Before the weekend of March 11 – 13, there were media reports about some party leaders, including Sen. Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, Mallam Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education and Hon. Farouk Adamu Aliyu, meeting the President in London. This report of the visit by Sen. Sirika, Mallam Malami, Mallam Adamu and Hon. Aliyu was remotely associated with all the lobby to influence decisions of the president regarding the need to achieve consensus leading to the emergence of new leadership for the APC. Interestingly, the presence of these longtime political associates of President Buhari in London may have been responsible for many of the reversals of decisions taken by President Buhari regarding the party’s leadership contestation.
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The four leaders – Sen. Sirika, Mallam Malami, Mallam Adamu and Hon. Aliyu were political associates of President Buhari since 2003 when he first contested for President under the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP). Part of what has emerged suggests that their mission to London was to get President Buhari to alter the decisions reached with Progressive Governors and other party leaders on zoning party positions. Particularly, they wanted the president to unilaterally change the decision to get the deputy national chairman, North, moved from North-East to North-West so that Hon. Aliyu can become the president’s anointed candidate. Recall that there was a discredited zoning list purportedly signed by the president, dated February 25, 2022 with Hon. Aliyu, who is from North-West as the agreed candidate for deputy national chairman, North, instead of allowing it for the emergence of someone from the North-East as agreed. In that discredited zoning list, the position of National Secretary was given to South-East and not South-West as was later announced by the CECPC.
Consequently, by the evening of Wednesday, March 16, 2022, news about the president reversing his earlier directive to Progressive Governors and party leaders to the effect of changing the leadership of the CECPC emerged. Conveyed in a letter to His Excellency Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Chairman Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) directing a ‘return to status quo ante’ on the leadership of the CEPCP, with photo images of President Buhari together with His Excellency Mai Mala in the company of Mallam Adamu, the President effectively reversed his earlier instructions. By the morning of Thursday, March 17, 2022, Sen. Akpanuduedehe announced the cancellation of the scheduled March 17 NEC and attempted to alter the composition of Convention Committees announced by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Sani Bello. Members of the CECPC had to immediately enforce the vote of no confidence in Sen. Akpanuduodehe to stop further attempts to reverse decisions taken on the March 26 National Convention. His Excellency Mai Mala who returned to the country on Thursday, March 17 had to issue a statement affirming the sanctity of all decisions taken by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Sani Bello.
Return of Old Attempts to impose Party Leaders and Candidates
Part of the sentiment being used by the London lobby team of Sen. Sirika, Mallam Malami, Mallam Adamu and Hon. Aliyu was to ensure that the old Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) leaders are not ‘marginalised’ in the new APC leadership to emerge from the March 26 National Convention. These are old opportunistic arguments, which were self-serving used by some few vested interests around the president to impose themselves as party leaders and candidates. There were many instances leading to the imposition of candidates during elections, which undermined the electoral viabilities of parties associated with the president. From the ANPP in 2003 and 2007 to CPC in 2011, this has been the reality. Often, individual politicians with this self-serving agenda have used it to impose themselves on party members as candidates for elections. Although there are many instances whereby imposed candidates win elections, there are also many instances when acts of imposition destroyed the electoral advantages of the parties leading to the loss of elections. This was partly the reason for the large-scale defeat of CPC in 2011 election in Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Katsina and many states.
Perhaps, it needs to be highlighted that while the team of ‘CPC London lobbyists’ used the CPC sentiment to push for the anointment of Hon. Aliyu as deputy national chairman, North, they were not interested in the reversal of the speculated anointment of Sen. Adamu as the president’s choice for the National Chairman in favour of Sen. Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, who is by far the most qualified former CPC leader aspiring for the position of National Chairman. Noting that Sen. Adamu was never a member of CPC, unlike Sen. Al-Makura who was the only elected CPC governor in the country between 2011 and 2013 when CPC was dissolved into the current APC, why shouldn’t any CPC lobbyist prioritise the case of National chairman over and above a deputy National Chairman? This partly highlights the limitations of all the scheming influencing many of the president’s decisions to reverse decisions he took around all the leadership contestation in the party. Why should the president endorse Sen. Adamu over Sen. Al-Makura as the National Chairman of the APC? Didn’t Sen. Al-Makura defeat Sen. Adamu, which made the CPC to have the only State, Nasarawa, it won in 2011?
Sen. Al-Makura has led the APC to victory in all elections in Nasarawa State since 2015. In fact, it could be argued without any fear of contradiction that Sen. Adamu was compelled to leave the PDP because of the domineering electoral influence of the APC in Nasarawa State under the leadership of Sen. Al-Makura. Every rational consideration would expect President Buhari to choose Sen. Al-Makura ahead of Sen. Adamu. But the same old irrational and illogical decisions leading to the imposition of candidates in ANPP and CPC have found their way to APC and may have influenced President Buhari’s decision for Sen. Adamu over Sen. Al-Makura. These irrational and illogical decisions are driven by people who are opposed to political contests because they must impose themselves at all costs using their close relationship with President Buhari. Largely because they hardly have much electoral significance, meaning that on their own they can hardly win elections, instead, they just want to ride on decisions of the president to anoint them as candidates based on which they may succeed in bulldozing their way to emerge as elected leaders and candidates.
Partly because the so-called CPC lobby around President Buhari wasn’t about getting trustworthy people to emerge as APC leaders during the March 26 National Convention, the objective may have been to bring in people who can do the hatched jobs of imposing some so-called CPC old leaders as candidates for 2023 elections. Noting that, for instance, both Mallam Malami and Sen. Sirika are aspiring to emerge as APC governorship candidates for Kebbi and Katsina States respectively, this may be the major consideration for the lobby around Hon. Aliyu to become the deputy national chairman, North. Also noting that both Mallam Malami and Sen. Sirika are facing strong opposition within the party in their respective states, Kebbi and Katsina, the suspicion that they want Hon. Aliyu as deputy national chairman, North so that he can do the hatched job of producing them as candidates by whatever means cannot be dismissed.
Recall that Hon. Aliyu was alleged to be at the centre of most of the allegations of corruption against the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole during the 2019 elections, the probability that he will collaborate with aspirants for elective positions to impose candidates cannot also be wished away. There were specific allegations against Hon. Aliyu of extorting huge amounts of money as Chief of Staff to Comrade Oshiomhole from some aspirants for the 2019 elections. Part of the information was that Hon. Aliyu parted ways with Comrade Oshiomhole on account of these allegations. Although these are allegations, however, to the extent that Hon. Aliyu is yet to put up any public defence to clear himself should discourage anyone from promoting him for any party leadership position in the APC.
Unilateral Reversal of Decisions Creates Open Contest
By some default, therefore, while desperately pushing the President to anoint people like Hon. Aliyu as consensus candidates, these ‘CPC lobbyists’ have inadvertently created situations whereby there is the strong likelihood for an open contest in APC during the March 26 National Convention. Instead of working to support the president to win the cooperation of all party leaders, including the speculated choice of Sen. Adamu as the consensus National Chairman, an unregulated situation has emerged ahead of the APC March 26, 2022 National Convention whereby everybody is free to join the contest for the position of National Chairman. One of the mistakes of the so-called old CPC members, including the ‘CPC London lobbyists’, is to elevate the respect of party leaders for the president to the level of compelling obedience without recognising that it is a mutually reciprocal respect. Unlike what obtained under the CPC, whereby President Buhari was largely the singular electoral asset of the party, in the case of the APC, President Buhari, although the dominant electoral asset, other party leaders are also electoral assets in varying degrees, which was the added factor responsible for the electoral victory of 2015 and 2019.
Once President Buhari is made to unilaterally change party decisions, and to that extent therefore create unregulated conditions for leadership contest, he is made to effectively undermine the respect he enjoys among APC leaders. Beyond creating an unregulated situation, an unhealthy condition has also been created whereby the president being a moral leader is being projected to be directing party leaders based on his presidential powers. With or without presidential powers, President Buhari has earned his position as the leader of APC. His unique personality as someone who is truly loved by very ordinary citizens remarkably earned the APC its electoral victory of 2015 and 2019. Party leaders and members will always respect instructions coming from President Buhari. Therefore, party leaders and members, by extension all supporters of President Buhari must appeal to so-called ‘CPC lobbyists’ to stop undermining the president’s authority through the attempt to impose party leaders and candidates for election.
Expanded Democratic Space in APC
The good thing, however, arising from the actions of the ‘CPC London lobbyists’ by getting the president to issue conflicting directives to Progressive Governors and party leaders, thereby disrupting negotiations for the emergence of consensus leaders is that it has in some ways mobilised internal rebellion within the APC, which will lead to open contests for all positions in the party in the March 26, 2022 National Convention. Given open contests, it is doubtful if any attempt by the president to influence the emergence of any leader, including the speculated anointment of Sen. Adamu for the position of the National Chairman can succeed. Thanks to the ‘CPC London lobbyists’, the democratic space in APC has been expanded beyond what it would ordinarily have been. For the first time, since 1999, internal party contest in a major Nigerian political party, APC, which is also the governing party, will most likely experience full- blown contests for all leadership positions whereby winners may emerge irrespective of speculated choices of the president, and by extension, possibly all other party leaders.
Unintended, the ‘CPC London lobbyists’ have also helped to inadvertently expand the democratic space for internal party contest for the emergence of candidates for 2023 elections. In other words, by their actions, they have weakened the high possibility that the party’s candidates for 2023 elections will emerge through consensus. This new reality is very much needed to challenge Nigerian political parties to comply with basic democratic tenets of free and fair internal contests for the emergence of party leaders and candidates for elections. This is perhaps very much needed to return the APC to its founding vision such that it can recover all its electoral advantages.
Acknowledgement and Appeal
The unfolding dynamics in APC, which by some default is expanding the democratic space within the party is made possible due to the liberal leadership of the president. Associates of the president should also respect the decisions the president takes jointly with other party leaders instead of undermining his liberal disposition by seeking to get him to reverse decisions he jointly takes with other party leaders. It was the liberal disposition of the president that allows him to respect positions of party leaders, based on which he subscribes to decisions and delegate implementation to competent structures of the party. If the president can respect other party leaders, why should other associates of the president exude any form of disrespect or contempt for other party leaders in whatever way?
Accordingly, APC leaders and members should appeal to both President Buhari and his old political associates in the old CPC to refrain from acts that will undermine the authority of the president as the leader of the party. The president needs to recognise that being the leader of the party, imposes on him some level of propriety, which requires that once decisions are taken through meetings, it will require at least another meeting to change decisions taken. In every respect, the decisions of the president as conveyed in the letter to His Excellency Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, PGF Chairman of March 16, 2022 directing a ‘return to status quo ante’ could have been achieved from the London meeting with Governors Fayemi and El-Rufai. The letter to the PGF Chairman was avoidable and unnecessary.
So-called old CPC leaders should stop projecting the president as a leader of only a section of party members. The piresident is the leader of all members of the APC and all Nigerians. Some of the so-called old CPC members, should also be reminded that, in their own rights, they have what it takes to successfully negotiate their emergence as leaders and candidates of the party without resorting to the undemocratic practices of imposition. Many of them are highly respected leaders of the APC and therefore, given free and fair environment for electoral contests within the APC, they can win elections to emerge as party leaders and candidates for elective offices. APC leaders and members should therefore appeal to these old CPC leaders to properly integrate themselves in the structures of the APC and develop the needed confidence to freely negotiate for leadership positions in the party based on the ability to mobilise support to win majority votes. May Allah (SWT) bless the new democratic space in APC and support the emergence of new APC leaders based on majority votes at the March 26 APC National Convention. Amin!
Dr. Lukman is a freelance APC campaigner. email@example.com
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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.
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.
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.
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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New Thinking In Public Service And Administration
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has already become definitive of the twenty-first century, and the Nigerian civil service system cannot afford to keep struggling to key into the fundamentals of a new age that has transformed human sensibilities and ethos in many radical ways, from the way we work to the ways we organize our lives and existence. The public service is one of the fundamental institutions, across the globe, that has been significantly affected by the massive and radical digital transformations of human administrative endeavors. The challenge, however, and especially with a public service in a difficult administrative environment like Africa, is how easy it is for the public service to be caught up in its bureaucratic rules and processes in ways that deeply circumscribed its efficiency and service delivery mandate. This is all the more so for the Nigerian public service and her struggle to reprofessionalise as a functional institution while undermining her bureaucratic credentials.
This is not a light assessment given the predilection for an institution like the public service to be taken in by administrative traditions, and be fixated on a procedural mindset that is firmly opposed to change. Such a mindset becomes trapped unfortunately in yesterday’s ways of thinking and is immune from exploring the new possibilities available for making the public service a better institution for complementing the capabilities of the state to improve the well-being of humans. The vocation of the public service—the administrative principles, codes of practice, ethical values and knowledge systems—constitute all that shapes the future of the profession. However, what happens if the professionals are not looking up, and defining the conditions and circumstances that make for the continuous transformation of the profession? What happens, that is, if we refuse to conduct regular environmental scanning, deploy scenario planning, follow global trends, or interrogate the intellectual assumptions and theories undergirding administrative practices? Thus, with the shifting demographics, constantly evolving technologies, and environmental sustainability challenges, the way we lead, the way we administer, the way we solve problems or manage change, etc., are changing so dramatically now that any institution not willing to key into the innovative sensibility will be left behind. And, of course, the Nigerian public service cannot afford to be left behind.
The way forward is straightforward: it involves investing in new thinking. The idea of new thinking speaks about the capacity of an individual, an organisation or a state to assess and reassess current situation and future possibilities through a strategic framework that will enable the individual, organization or state function better and more efficiently. The idea of new thinking is conditioned by a reform program that is strategic. In other words, new think for any organization or institution combines strategic thinking and strategic planning to be able to face the future. It is this strategic thinking that allows an institution like the public service to rethink and reengineer its modus operandi and business model to become better.
The notion of new thinking presupposes an old one. And with regard to the public service, this old thinking template is represented by the traditional, “I-am-directed” Weberian framework that defines administrative business before the advent of the managerial revolution. This Weberian structure required from civil servants the requisite characteristics of anonymity, neutrality and impartiality, and an overall profile circumscribed by efficiency, effectiveness, integrity, accountability, responsiveness, representativeness, loyalty, equity, fairness, and so on. However, it is a system that is essentially hierarchical, cumbersome and acutely bureaucratic to effectively fulfil the mandate of good governance. As a migrated structure, the Weberian system arrived in Nigeria without its value foundation. This made it impossible for the Weberian structure to organizationally mature into fully formed and value-oriented institution. Thus, it eventually became a bureaucratic paradigm that became ultimately a bureaucratic culture that contributed to the underdevelopment narrative in Nigeria. This made it possible for the system to be hijacked by various personalities for selfish and short-term ends.
Transforming the public service in the grip of this old business model demands also that the reformer must put in mind that the transition into the fourth industrial revolution must also occur within what has been called the VUCA environment. The public service is immersed in a VUCA environment, characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. These are four elements that are defined by the state of the world, decisions of government, and national dynamics. The VUCA environment is one that confronts the functioning of the public service and demands an engagement that enables the public service to confront the challenges and achieve administrative excellence in the process. This implies that such a public manager who will steer the public service through the challenges of the VUCA environment cannot be merely transactional, and operating with a twentieth century administrative mindset. It also means that the public service must always aspire to become capacity ready in meeting the challenges of governance and administration that the social, political, cultural and economic environments might throw up.
The public service, within a VUCA environment, is faced with the challenge of transforming itself within what is called a scenario. In administrative reform, a scenario consists of a starting point (an initial or alpha state), a trajectory (chain of steps or events) and a future (omega) state. A reform agenda or scenario therefore takes a state from the alpha point though a trajectory to an omega point. Within a VUCA environment, therefore, the public service is always finding itself in an alpha point as the environment keeps getting complex and challenging, and is always oriented towards an omega that is better able to serve the needs of the citizens. The burden of the VUCA environment, together with the imperative of the fourth industrial revolution, requires that the public service in Nigeria must be constrained by the demand of strategic thinking and planning. While strategic thinking is conceptual and initiates the search for imaginative strategies, strategic planning is more programmatic in the ways it formalizes the steps involved in transforming the public service.
In thinking and planning strategically, therefore, care must be taken to distinguish between creating a strategy and being strategic. On the one hand, creating a strategy is a process of translating a plan into a set of results. On the other hand, the act of being strategic is a competence that involves critical thinking. The argument is that an institution, like the public service, requires strategic thinking to generate a reform strategy that will move the institution forward into more optimal functionality and productivity. Both must be channeled institutionally to the most central process of strategic decision making. This is what allows the institution to either think outside of the box or even without a box to structure institutional imagination. Strategic decision-making is ultimately tied to an institution’s capacity to maneuver through the VUCA environment in order to perform better. Thus, to move the Nigerian public service system forward to an omega point of cutting-edge optimality that creates performance, public value and productivity, there is the need to bring strategic thinking to bear on the institutional parameters, processes and values in ways that generate strategies for efficiency and effectiveness. Here, we survey the significant areas that constitute the locus of new thinking for the public service and the transformation of its efficiency and service delivery capacity.
Since strategic decision-making is key to the adoption and deployment of new thinking in Nigeria’s public service, then strategic policy intelligence emanating from the irreducible developments in contemporary decision science becomes inevitable. Decision science has become a critical field that has integrated cognate developments from artificial intelligence, organisational psychology, systems thinking, machine learning, probabilistic modeling, scenario analysis, big data analytics, and many more to become a key area that the public service must buy into to push forward its policy intelligence that strengthen decision-making. Modern policy making that has taken cognizance of decision science will most likely possess nine fundamental features: (i) forward-looking; (ii) outward-looking; (iii) innovative, flexible and creative; (iv) evidence-based; (v) evaluation; (vi) review; (vii) joined-up; (viii) inclusive; and (ix) learned lessons.
Strategic decision-making in turn demands that we rethink the nature of government and of the governance space where this strategy would be deployed. This is the occasion for the open government initiative to create a Public Service 2.0. Open government is founded on the principle that government—not just its laws and policies, but the reasons and processes of decisions that generated those policies and the flows of money that fund their implementation—should be open to the citizens and nongovernmental agents. The idea of open government aligns the public service with the necessity of (re)creating public value(s) that will transform the quality of life of the citizens. Indeed, the joint production of public value(s) by the government, nonstate actors and the citizens places the public service squarely within the ambit of the New Public Governance approach, the New Public Administration, and the New Public Service approaches that place the active citizens at the core of democratic governance, and the center of service delivery by the public service.
No public service can operate within the imperatives of the fourth industrial revolution without transforming its idea of human resources management and the dynamics of the workplace. For example, the idea of remote working and specialist contractors provide an institution like the public service the capacity to recruit a global workforce and create incentives that increase employee loyalty and commitment, and collaborations that generate productivity. This gives room for the achievement of a better work-life balance deriving from freer time and flexibility to work. And facilitates the acquisition of “twenty-first century literacies”: (a) interpersonal skills: facilitation, empathy, political skills; (b) synthesising skills: sorting evidence, analysis, making judgements, offering critique and being creative; (c) organising skills: group work, collaboration and peer review; and (d) communication skills: better use of new media and multi-media resources.
Thus, even though institutional reform is inevitable within the public service system in Nigeria, such a reform must be constrained by the imperatives of new thinking that arms the public service system with the wherewithal by which it must facilitate its own transformation. This is how the public service can become not only world-class, but compliant with the fourth industrial revolution and the challenge of national development in Nigeria.
. (Being a paper presented at a seminar held at the Public Service Institute of Nigeria – PSIN, Abuja, recently).
. Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor, National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies
(NIPSS), Kuru, Jos .
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Letter From A Falsely Accused Accountant-General
By Omoh Giwa
Dear Ms Giwa,
For dread of your scathing and satirical remarks on political issues, I have decided in anticipation of your nosy weekly missives, to respond in like manner just as you are known to run your mouth like a diarrhoea-plagued bowel.
There comes a junction in a man’s life, when he acknowledges he has bitten off more than he can chew. Such a man is left with a choice; choke or vomit but the real question is how do I vomit N80 billion? You might wonder why I cannot just cough it up or use a morsel of Eba or Fufu to get rid of this fish bone stuck in my throat? Things are never as they seem.
It is ironical that the self-acclaimed gatekeepers of integrity and discipline; after ousting and labelling the previous administration, corrupt and embezzlers of public funds, should be caught with our pants down. The irony is not in our criminal and ridiculous show of greed or the hypocrisy of our actions but in our gate-keeping. If you consider our allegations against my predecessor who was disgraced for the alleged misappropriation of 2.5 billion naira and my alleged crime, you’d be incensed all over again but you must allow me defend myself before you crucify me.
Though my compadres have not saved me from this show of shame, I refuse to sing like a canary or a certain director of the NDDC whose microphone was turned off forcefully over a meagre sum of 40 billion naira. My refusal to sing is two-pronged; firstly, I do not know if this is a test of my resilience and trust in my benefactors and secondly my accusers brought before the world, an 80 billion-count charge that I cannot seem to shake off or defend. I am saddened however, by the silence of my patron especially as it seems he is more interested in picking his successor to evade disgrace than saving me. Do you think I have been thrown under the bus and left for you vultures to pick my bones clean?
The wind of change that swept the nation and engineered the political awakening of the Lazy Nigerian Youth especially during the EndSARS saga is worrisome and I fear a threat to my political career. Will this be the end of my career that began after my Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University of Zaria in 1984 because some pesky meddling Crime Watchers cannot do the bidding of Number 1?
I have held several key positions post-BSc including Assistant Director of Finance and Accounts with the Petroleum Trust Fund and have never been caught or ousted with my fingers in the cookie jar as being ridiculed because I challenged the gang of self-righteous University Lecturers. To say I am thoroughly embarrassed is an understatement. Although I know this means nothing to my current position or even future ones (I must admit that my career is at stake if my mentor does not get his wish of replacing himself with a stooge hence I had to line my pockets for the rainy day) but I admit it looks bad on my resume and might hinder my back-up plan of international waters like certain Ministers of Finance and Agriculture.
You might wonder what my motive is with this communiqué but do not count me above rolling in the mud with pigs. I will not tolerate any slander to my name and legacy therefore; I intend to expose my detractors. This group of intelligent mafia, ASUU, is responsible for unveiling my misdemeanour as there are obviously worse cases of embezzlement schemes in this same country. I do not hear the same outrage I received for a mere 80 billion payout compared to the bigger fraud in Port Harcourt that has been fingered for 117 billion naira. What the syndicate of lecturers do not know is that those in glass houses do not throw stones (this does not apply to what we did to our predecessors as they were deserving of every aspersion cast against their names. Greedy and unrighteous Lots!).
You might think I am falsely accusing this cabal of lecturers but why is my name being smeared after I rightfully insisted (dogmatically if I might add) on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System? These supposedly intellectuals are after my hide because I caught them at their attempt to become ghost workers. They want to eat their cake and have it (which is ridiculous in itself because the average professor cannot earn half a million despite their claim of intelligence and brilliance) and we cannot allow people to eat where they have not sown hence our desperate desire to gate-keep the looting and restrict it to the inner circle. Imagine if lecturers were financially comfortable, who would play the role of the Independent and Impartial Electoral Committee?
If you think this is my only evidence against the wickedness of this mafia, consider that I also introduced Treasury Single Account, a pivotal bid to curb wastefulness and excesses (do not ask politrickians to cut down their excesses as you have no idea how difficult it is to be a public figure. We refuse to be poor like our counterparts in First World countries) especially in Federal Universities. These men intend to hold us by the balls and demand fair remuneration as if they were as conscientious as politicians. Ask these men if they can stay up all night (deliberating on money making schemes)? Do you think theorising and philosophising is on the same wavelength as politricking?
The impossible lots! So unreasonable! If only our inferiors will know their place and stay there, the world will be better for it. When they began their warning strike, they thought we would cave. They had no idea we had weightier matters of politics and power to consider so we mocked them privately especially when Baba said he was unaware that ASUU was on strike. So gullible they would believe anything. Issuing warning strikes as though they hold the real power. Like us, their weak spot is playing gods for a few weeks when they can collect their meagre share of the national loot, yet pretending to play hardball. We have not paid them since February when their warning strike began, the same way we didn’t pay them during the Lockdown when they also went on strike (they will learn to respect their superiors).
Anyway, there is a Nigerian proverb that says a child determined to frustrate its mother, will suffer too but I am struggling with the tumultuous choice of continuing my vendetta against the gang of educated rebels or accepting the slight. It is important to note that this might affect my international plan B. Let me know what you think.
Yours in Service,
Falsely accused, Disgraced yet Proud Accountant.
. Giwa writes from the University of Lagos.
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