Connect with us


Generational Responsibility To Salvage The Nigerian Civil Service



Toyin Falola At 70: The Reminiscing About A Scholar And Legend

By Tunji Olaopa

The African Public Service Day (APSD) is an annual programme already entrenched within the calendar of the African Union (AU), to be celebrated every June 23 of every year. It emerged in 1994 at the Conference for African Ministers for Public or Civil Service in Tangier, Morocco. Its objective is very simple: to outline the fundamental significance of the public service in the transformation of governance on the continent. Every year therefore, each country is supposed to domesticate the essence of the celebration to beam a critical light on how to raise the bar of the civil and public service professionalism and the capacity readiness to deliver on the promises of good governance on the continent. Indeed, the African Public Service Day celebration is a befitting reminder of the administrative axiom that the public service is the institutional bulwark that ensures the efficient delivery of democratic dividends to the citizens. The fundamental implication of this is that once the public administration fails, the entire democratic experiment fails.

The reform and transformation of the public service system in Nigeria is essentially unfinished. Consequently, the urgency of the reform of the system is caught between two imperatives. The first is the unfolding dynamics of the Fourth Industrial Revolution around which the good governance of any state is securely tied. All good governance frameworks require the operational capacity generated by new technologies to become efficient. The public service is not least in this regard. The second imperative is democratic. One significance of democracy is to empower the citizens. Indeed, democratic governance demands the efficiency of a capacitated public service to deliver the dividends that will transform the lives of the citizens.

READ ALSO: Nigeran Civil Service Bureaucratic Corps From A Generational Lens

One aspect of the elements of public service reform that I want to stress in this contribution has to do with relationship between the public administration professional community and the reform of the civil service system. The argument is that the community of service and practice has a fundamental role to play—indeed carries a burden of generational responsibility—in resuscitating the public service as a professional calling. Let me elaborate. After many years of consistent reform efforts, bad implementations and lack of constant political will to carry reform implementation through to its logical conclusion, the public service system still remains in a near comatose state of dysfunction. Its thriving bureaucratic culture has denied the profession of its vocational reputation. In the Nigerian public service, practically anything goes! The sense in which the system has been invaded by mediocre and charlatans with a strange and confounding mission and work culture which keep running down the vocational capital of the system. The system has unfortunately traded its professionalism for rent-seeking in the context of the politics that Nigeria plays with the destiny of her citizens to be discerning enough to see the extent of degeneracy and rot.

If we do a reality check, the overwhelming and incontestable evidence that conditions public perception of public administration is that neither can government get the work of development done, nor are public institutions working. And the proliferation of private educational institutions, private security service providers, electricity distribution companies, etc. affirm this pervasive theory. Apart from the fact that government has gotten used to delivering on its policies and programs through a task force approach, and at that with the technical support of policy experts and consultants, governments, and indeed the public service, tend to look at implementation and service delivery as an afterthought, rather than as policy priority. This whole coping mechanism, and dependence by government on management consultants, think tanks and policy experts who deploy predominantly industry-tested techniques and diverse concepts-rooted management tools to drive implementation dynamics and change management has certainly become an issue which requires the public service to deepen institutional capacity for learning and skills transfer.

The point here is that whereas there is no lack of ideas and expertise, most of those inputs provided by consultants, without insider-experts collaboration, do hardly translate into deep enough contents and solutions to address first-hand, the issues and problems which governments in Nigeria are seeking for solution. Sadly, MDAs, in turn, lack appropriate skills to use these universal frameworks nor do they have overarching theory of change to guide the functional integration of the new tools, techniques and shared experiences and learning in the dynamics of MDAs’ programme and project management. Thus, making alignment between plans, strategies and implementation to be at best ad hoc, fragmented and incoherent

READ ALSO: Civil Service Commission As Catalyst In Repositioning Nigerian Public Service

The bureau-pathology of the system has been deepened by the substitution of instant or immediate reward, deriving from the undermining of public service principles and rules, for deferred gratification. The virtue of public service has been eroded by the need to make ends meet through corrupt means. This inevitably created the deep-seated moral deficit in work culture that supports the dysfunctional cultural fixation at the root of bureaucratic corruption. And it inevitably increases the degeneration of the value framework that upholds a selfless profession. Existential concerns to make ends meet instigate public servants to undermine the legacy potential of a system that ought to be the bulwark of democratic governance. It is therefore so easy to see how the public service, through government and politicians’ reductionist thinking, could be politicized so much to the point of being mere lines and graphs in organizational and governance charts. In other words, no matter the earnest efforts of the government to reform the system, its dysfunction keeps solidifying.

Albert Einstein once remarked that “the world as we created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” To recuperate the vocational essence of the public service, as essentially a spiritual calling—a professional space where only those with the training, orientation and discipline to create public value alone should be found—then, there is the need for out-of-the-box reflection that targets the communities of service and practice, and tasks them on how we got to where we are as a profession, and what we need to do to renegotiate the future.

The public service is founded on a deep understanding of public-spiritedness. This is a virtue that differentiates the profession from a mere career trajectory. It renders the public service as a calling devoid of instrumental thinking or the vagaries of market dynamics. Public-spiritedness situates the responsibility of the public servant within the ambit of public accountability, and instigates her to an efficient, effective and equitable management of the civil service system. As an ethical frame, the public spirit ensures that the civil servant is not so preoccupied with the technical details of her responsibilities to the exclusion of their human concerns and the public trust. It is this deep-seated professional and vocational virtue that has been badly eroded. Most Nigerians now believe that the civil servants are the most corrupt professionals in the country. The profession therefore requires a fundamental rebranding and reprofiling through significant reform to increase its IQ, restore the public service cherished values and ethics, meritocracy-propelled professionalism and its stewardship relationship with the public—the very reason for its existence as a profession and management—if it would ever regain its prestige as the guardian of the democratic governance codes, institutional memory and continuity in governance.

READ ALSO: Reformed Civil Service Commission: Comparative Lessons for Nigeria

What are we doing to harness our collective strengths as bureaucrats, academics, researchers, development workers to give our profession the future it deserves? This question becomes important given the near-absence of any gatekeeping capacity for public administration and the public service in Nigeria. As one of the professions in Nigeria without a professional body charged with the responsibility of setting standards, maintaining codes of practice and keeping the intellectual contents of its knowledge pack at the cutting-edge of global administrative and governance developments, the public service is abjectly left without any institutional integrity that protects its sacred calling from infiltrators. The profession that the administrative pioneers built with so much candour, sacrifice, foresights and energy has thus been transformed into what will make them turn in their grave.

This is the challenge, precisely. At independence, the public service was handed to Nigeria as a colonial legacy that could assist in the task of nation-building. The generations of pioneers and forebears who laid the foundation for this profession—Simeon Adebo, Jerome Udoji, Sule Katagum, Allison Ayida, Joseph Imoukhuede, Samuel Manuwa, Augustus Adebayo, and many more, struggled not only to retain the ethical and professional codes of the vocation, they handed over to us a formidable instrument for good governance (think about the great infrastructural transformation of the old Western Region, for instance), what excuse will this generation of public servants have for resting on our oars? What would we count as our institutional and administrative legacies? What, in other words, will be the civil service that we will be able to trumpet as the embodiment of our collective professional oversight for the coming generation to assess? What, with all the advantages of intellectual and professional education, creative and disruptive technologies, and the competences necessitated by the knowledge age we operated, will our generation be remembered for as our significant contribution to a profession with an undeniable future, relevance and possibilities?

The first pioneering generation of public administrators and public servants had a sense of the enormity of the task ahead of them, and saw the significance of communities of service and practice as the context within which they could channel their collective efforts. This was the reason for the emergence of the National Association for Public Administration and Management (NAPAM) as a gatekeeping structure. It was clear to them that without a body that guards the cherished values and virtues of the professional, the task ahead would be daunting, if not impossible. NAPAM is meant to be the backbone for a community of practice that allows practitioners, students and scholars of public administration to share experience on the nature, challenges and future of administration in Nigeria. But with NAPAM dead and buried, vast and formidable body of public administration practitioners, scholars, researchers and development workers are left without a structural collective to channel their thoughts and action plans on the reform of the system and the profession. At a critical level, the gatekeeping responsibility of NAPAM involves a deep reflection on the image of public administration in Nigeria. This is defined by the need for a fundamental cultural change that will transform attitudinal and behavioral of public servants, which is the first step towards reinfusing the public service with the sense of public-spiritedness and professionalism that could deliver efficiency and productivity.

Given the critical nature of the gatekeeping imperative towards reprofiling the public service brand, it becomes urgent for the convening of a public service reform conference. Let us take this as the first leg in not only the jumpstarting of the communities of service and practice to their urgent responsibility to public administration, but also opening up the space of administrative reform of the public service system beyond the public servants themselves. The conference will be broad-based not only in its composition but also objectives, ranging from a panoramic survey of past reform efforts, to a deep diagnosis of the dysfunctional dynamics of the public service and public administration in Nigeria, to multifaceted discourses on the directions for transformation. One critical objective of the conference is an animated discussion on the role of a national integrity system (NIS) as the framework within which to solidify institutional integrity, not just of the civil service, but all public services. The NIS constitutes a strategic structural framework for safeguarding important institutional reform and values, especially against the scourge of bureaucratic and political corruption. It facilitates a wide-ranging transformation of the work culture, grounded in a national value dynamic, which will check the tradition of immediate gratification which leads public servants to undermine public service efficiency and growth capabilities.

READ ALSO: Olaopa Meets With Top Lagos Civil Servants, Speaks On How To Reposition State Public Service

The conference should serve as the marching order for the resuscitation and functional imperative of NAPAM and other communities of service and practice. This should include other platforms like the Conference of Retired Permanent Secretaries, states’ equivalent associations for heads of service, the academics and public administration scholars, researchers and department worker to initiate required conversation that will help us to regain the soul of the Nigerian civil service and reshape the future of the profession. This is the urgent imperative if the labor of our national and administrative heroes and heroines will not be in vain.

The vision and strategy for where we want the civil service to be in the foreseeable future are not hard to craft. What is difficult is the will to push the vision to its logical conclusion by implementing its roughest details. Indeed, most visions have died because they had no good soil in reality to aid their survival. Going forward therefore, a key feature of new direction to transform the public service’s business model is applying corporate governance principles and structural changes to align operations to the growing frontiers of technology and e-governance, while at once mainstreaming new tools and techniques to reprofile MDAs’ standard operating systems as whole-of-government transformation initiatives.

As part of instituting a new productivity paradigm in Nigeria therefore, there is the compelling need to take more seriously the whole issues of policy implementation i.e., MDAs’ institutional capability readiness and result-orientation towards overall progress in the achievement of outcomes – financial and performance reporting, better annual reports, bottom-line reporting, quality of services reporting, outcome reporting, state of the public service reporting – much more than ever before. Besides, governments should no more be satisfied with mere reporting of efforts – motion without movement – to reform the public service and to transform it as pronounced at publicized events and through press statements. Rather, it should seek a cultural renewal in the public service and a rekindling of a sense of serving the public that is rooted in social compact-enhanced stewardship that is measurable and evidence-based. Capacity of public servants must be built to better understand and manage transaction costs, manage the different forms of risks in policy implementation; deploy capacity to better evaluate outcomes and to be savvy in managing collaborative partnerships and synergies like PPPs, and for better relationship management. They also need to be more skilled in tracking and managing projects when they drift from the intentions of government and objectives of policy.

The emergence of the twenty-first century public service manager involves arming public managers with new competences that allow them to manage old and the news skills required to manage the new workplace and workforce. Beyond instituting a new performance management culture, the public service must develop a corporate governance policy in managing the expanding frontiers of public sector contractual relationships – grants to non-profit organizations, social impact bonds, PPPs. Making it urgent for the administrative leadership in the civil service to build required commercial, legal and regulatory skills to design and manage complex projects, skills for knowledge management and sharing, the incubation of social innovation around open government partnerships, training issues around results, citizens engagement through social media, crowdsourcing, ethnography, opinion research, branding and user data analytics. Essential to this new strategic intelligence central to the transformation in the nature of government which subscribing to Open Government Partnership enables. The public service should deepen institutional capability to utilize the fundamental benefits of the public-private partnership framework to strengthen its capability readiness to take on governance and policy challenges.

Transiting the public service to the next level in its change agenda demands serious work where all hands—political and bureaucratic—must be on deck. Whatever stage a public service system gets to in its administrative transformation, there is always more reform to be done to get the system always ready for more challenges, and the tasking demands of democratic governance.

. Being excerpt from the 2022 African Public Service Day Lecture Delivered at the Commemorative Event Organized by the Ekiti State Government and to celebrate the retiring Head of Service, Mrs. Peju Babafemi, on Thursday, 23rd of June, 2022 in Ado Ekiti.

.Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies
(NIPSS), Kuru, Jos .


Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading
Click to comment


Reading Professor Olu Obafemi’s Melodies Of Inclement Climes



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku

    “Happiness is a crime in Nigeria.” This is a line – a line of distinction – I am lifting from a message sent to me as a response to my last Friday’s column on ‘“Professor Mabel Evwierhoma on Rubiales and “Wetin women want.”’ The owner of the lifted line is a positively dangerous poet, radical scholar and critic Professor Owojecho Omoha of the University of Abuja. I will at a later date revisit the full message of this literary scholar who is one of the distinguished boosters of this column.

    Why is his quoted line meaningful or relevant to me today? For good reason, I have been trying to reinvigorate the idea or thought of happiness in Nigeria – your country my country our country – despite our common concerns concerning our dissatisfaction with our ungrateful leaders who significantly are our demonic consumers consuming this land, our land centuries and more than centuries ago. On my way to Warri last Friday I was thinking deeply about this when I was caught in the Benin-Ologbo obstacle on that cruel stretch of the Benin-Sapele-Warri Road of urbanized or almost urbanized jungle. I was clutching Professor Olu Obafemi’s very new book of poems, his fresh new volume of poetry which he quite properly entitles Melodies of Inclement Climes. I was looking at the moving poems in my desire to erase temporarily from my mind the vicious, tedious, muddy, degraded watery road which is evidently and steadily now the road of the unhappy people of the Niger Delta, and it was at this moment that Owojecho Omoha’s line found me. But I was already engrossed in the first offering, the first poem, in which the Niger Delta malaise stares at me – even though Professor Olu Obafemi is not from the Niger Delta, your Niger Delta my Niger Delta our Niger Delta. Ologbo where conservatively above three thousand trucks (trailers) and other uncountable vehicles – commercial and private – were practically at a stand-still, moving without moving because of the motorable-less motor-way, is one of the unfortunate or tragic by-products of urbanization that is no urbanization in the Niger Delta. Ologbo is a border town, a border community that links Edo State and Delta State. It is the most significant place that links Itsekiri, Urhobo and Edo (Benin) communities. It is the place where the work of cooperation and mutual help among the communities and travellers through the communities can find significantly honest expression that should capture our cultural and patriotic ethos that should give us good health and happiness. This is what Olu Obafemi seems to tell us, among other things, in “Those who gaze beyond today:”

    While others like us 

    Bleed our land to death 

    Greedily erecting mansions 

    In other people’s lands, 

    Laundering filthy coins 

    Stolen from the sweaty brows 

    Of the poor and the deprived 

    In our own un-honed beaches and sandy shores!

    Lay to ruin and waste and wreck 

    The black Gold!

As I read Professor Olu Obafemi’s Melodies at the shores of Ologbo two things emerged to me and rose to my dense imagination in a more than realistic way and manner. The first is that Olu Obafemi is a patriot and a national poet. His imagination extends beyond his Kiri-land (North Eastern Yoruba-land in Northern Nigeria) streams to dwell on national problems that depict our respective inclement climes – or, to put it differently, in his “Streams of Kiriland” (I am not alluding specifically to his poem that bears this title) we have a glimpse of our respective communal malaise that shows us our respective inclement land in our untamed beaches in Ologbo of the Niger Delta and elsewhere outside Ologbo or Kiriland. As beautiful and as nostalgic Kiriland is or may be it is strange that urbanization and civilization have not befriended it. It is this perspective that throws up to me the second vital aspect of Melodies of Inclement Climes. Olu Obafemi conservers what is best from his (and our) past in order for the merciless problems and inclementness of today can be properly addressed. So I am not reading Professor Olu Obafemi as an entire nostalgic poet after all! Our lives’ test is not and cannot be the past or the future. It is now. It is today. It is the present. It is the here and now. Are we happy today in our country – economically, commercially, politically, educationally, medically, technologically, hygiene-wise and otherwise? Without endorsing the present that is before us we cannot honestly face tomorrow. We live in an economy and in a political clime ruled and propelled by ingratitude, disaffection and dissatisfaction and exploitation and oppression. Let me quote our poet of melodies dwelling on our inglorious climes: “Let our earth be replenished again/As scavengers and scoundrels are rid of our land.” (39).This must be so if we must eliminate “Death [that] clings to our throats/As mortal Anopheles, King of Death –/Husband of malaria, swarm/And corpses hold parades on our shores” (44). What our country needs now is a renewed vision, a full insight into our shortcomings, limits and possibilities informed by our awareness and knowledge of our place in the comity of nations. This is an absolute necessity if we must live an adequately and properly human life. 

    Professor Olu Obafemi is a super ambidextrous writer and scholar of more than numerous parts. He is best known as a play-wright, dramatist and theatre personage, theorist and critic of a profoundly profound mind. But he is without question a poet of distinction as well – which the present volume superbly makes evident. Melodies of Inclement Climes appeals to me exceedingly from the perspectives of the rhetoric of poetic drama, phenomenology, biography, memory, wrap of childhood, autobiography, history, activism, politics, geography, social exploration, revolutionary revolution, psychology, public health, progressive variation in language and feeling. I am on purpose not dwelling on all these perspectives in this briefly appealing enterprise to engender every reader’s interest in Melodies. (I am thinking of something adventurous and enchantingly enchanting outside here). With respect to the last named subject, let me titillate my readers thus: I wish you to join me to think of Professor Olu Obafemi as a magnificent poet who concentrates everything feelingly into a sentence –“Melodies of Inclement Climes;” “And hardened villains of misrule;” “And love shall visit these shores again;” “This is the story of our nation now; Debtor-elephant.”

    The beauty of Professor Olu Obafemi’s new volume of poetry is the trick of its language. The emotions or feelings the poet generates are significant enough to ensure full daylight in our inclement climes. It is thus not for nothing that Professor Olu Obafemi has been a recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) and wearer of other laurels. His rhetoric is not any adornment or inflation of words done for the reader’s unquestionable insight or for a particular effect but for a general creative power that has an intensity and concision of indubitably great poetry. 

    Melodies of Inclement Climes will leap in my arms, hands, and mind for a pretty long time of creative reading and critical happiness.  This is not an ostentatious praise, but the true judgment of a reader and critic – this reader and critic – of esthetic and moral sensibility. I duly bow and salute the poet for this fresh volume. Join me in my bow and salutation.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.


Continue Reading


The West And The Hypocrisy Of Democracy



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

Western deception has been with Africa forever:

1493: Pope Alexander VI issued a papal bull, “Inter Caetera,” proclaiming the right of Spain and Portugal to enslave Africans and own the land. They were subjects. They stole your people and your land.

1885: Africa was a Dark Continent. It required colonization to become civilized. Europe would bring change and civilize them. They stole your raw materials and truncated your self-development.

1940: When over a million Africans fought in Europe, North Africa and the Far East during the Second World War, the West convinced them they were dying for freedom and democracy. But where in Africa do they receive freedom and democracy? Indeed, Apartheid was inaugurated in 1948 in South Africa.

When will this deception come to an end? So, Gabon and Niger were democracies before the 2023 coups? You must be using the wrong dictionary to define democracy. Cameroon under the invalid Paul Biya is a democracy? You must be confusing the Mali Empire with the modern country of Cameroon. And the presidents who rule for as long as they want practising democracy?

You need a little education.

Recent developments in Africa’s political space, particularly the growing number of military takeovers, have informed fresh queries around the expressions of neo-colonialism in Africa and the commitment to liberal democracy as the ideal political model for the region. The point of reference for these queries is the ceremonial reactions from the acclaimed “champions of democracy” in the West, who waste no time issuing condemnations at every instance of “democratic failure” on the continent without any actual commitment to ensuring that power indeed lies with the people. Not only have these champions of African interests—the United States (US), Britain and France—touted democracy as the best system of political organization to achieve political stability and economic prosperity in Africa, but they have also prosecuted wars, allegedly in its defence, which cost millions of lives and destabilized entire regions. However, it is not enough to accuse our benevolent friends in the West of hypocrisy without providing compelling proof of double-dealing in delivering their duties as democratic crusaders. After all, in a democratic setting, all are innocent until proven guilty. 

As a philosophy of government, democracy has existed since the Greco-Roman times. However, its foray into Africa can be traced to the eve of independence when Britain and France introduced forms of local representation as concessions to indigenous demands for independence. Thus, from 1959, parliamentary elections and other democratic institutions started to become commonplace on the continent. But, as it would turn out, this democratic experiment, which formed part of the third (global) wave of democracy, was to be short-lived—derailed as it was by fluctuating Western interests on the continent. 

Guiding Western interest in Africa from the 1950s was the ideological war between the West (mainly the USA) and the Soviet Union. The “Cold War,” as it came to be known, was the first incident to unmask the real intentions of the West for post-colonial Africa. In their quest to emerge as the world’s sole superpower, the US and the Soviet Union, who actively strove to undermine each other’s influence by, among other things, advancing their political ideologies around the world, turned to Africa as another important frontier of conquest. While the Soviet Union armed African revolutionary movements against their Western colonial overlords and provided support to openly communist governments, Washington concluded that, to effectively check the spread of Soviet influence on the continent, it was more expedient to enthrone biddable leaders in African states than it was to woo them with any ideological arguments or economic incentives.

Anxious to ensure power was handed over to reliable politicians, Britain and France became eager participants in the US policy in Africa. Together, the US and its allies targeted venal local strongmen, preferably with military backgrounds and authoritarian tendencies, who, in collaboration with its intelligence agencies, ousted legitimate/democratic governments. Notable victims and beneficiaries of this plot included (in the former category) Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Patrice Lumumba of Congo DRC, Sylvio Olympio of Togo and (in the latter category) Idi Amin of Uganda, Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo DRC and Gnassingbé Eyadema of Togo, to mention a few. Consequently, thirty-three African countries that achieved independence between 1956-1970 became authoritarian immediately or not long after. 

Another demonstration of the complete disregard that the West has for democracy, peace/stability and human rights in Africa is its willingness to engulf the entire region in conflict so that it can achieve its “strategic interests.”  Once again, we begin from the Cold War era where, having recently come out of a highly destructive war in Europe (in 1945) and being cautious of engaging in another, the West and the Eastern Bloc turned Africa into the site of their proxy wars. In southern Africa, where the US considered both Angola and Mozambique as areas of “strategic interests,” Washington armed the 200,000 Portuguese conscripts, who went on to fight a protracted war against local nationalist revolutionaries, with imported weapons, which included defoliants and napalm. In Angola, the US, in cooperation with Apartheid South Africa, backed the National Union for Total Independence (UNITA) against the country’s (Soviet-backed) leading national liberation front, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). There were also similar cases in northern Africa where Sudan was funded and armed by the US against Egypt and Ethiopia, who had also pitched their tents with Moscow. These conflicts and the resultant proliferation of arms saw the loss of millions of African lives from war and famine and a general destabilization of the region. 

While the West cannot be said to have been directly involved in all the occasions of transition from democratic to authoritarian rule, in more than a few instances, the leaders of newly independent democratic/multi-party African states seized the opportunity of Western patronage to quickly switch to one-party/despotic rule. In other cases, it was the corruption, resource mismanagement, “tribalism,” patrimonialism, clientelism and imperialism perpetrated by a Western-backed ruling political class which formed the basis of military takeovers (coups). Nevertheless, in this atmosphere of quasi-democratic rule, full-fledged despotism, military rule and Apartheid—where national resources were siphoned by kleptocratic regimes and millions of Africans either became refugees or died as a result of civil wars, hunger, and human rights abuses—our western “friends” were content to look the other way if the government in place proved itself an ally of Washington.      

Perhaps the most glaring example of the West’s democratic hypocrisy in Africa was its age-long support for the highly racist and politically repressive Apartheid regime in South Africa. Like the French, who were able to cajole Washington into believing that they were fighting communist-backed insurgents in Algeria, the South African Apartheid regime, for forty years, posed as the last bastion against communists in Africa—an attitude that was able to secure a steady flow of western arms. This, alongside the West’s tacit approval, allowed for one of Africa’s most despicable shows of human debasement, carried out in the name of imperialism and racial superiority. After all, as President Ronald Regan remarked in 1981, South Africa was “essential to the free world in its production of minerals we all must have.”  

The end of the Cold War changed Western attitudes towards Africa. Without the Soviet threat, the West leaned more towards development diplomacy and foreign aid regimes as the main thrust of its foreign policy in Africa. Foreign aid to Africa, however, turned out to be a Trojan horse. Already saddled with the task of building vibrant economies whilst also harmonizing the aspirations of the different ethnic nationalities which characterized them, African countries, especially in Francophone Africa, also had to grapple with the undermining economic and political agreements they had been coerced into signing with their erstwhile colonial overlord as a condition for independence and continued patronage. To make matters worse, some African countries were, at the end of the Cold War, either fighting or had just come out of civil war. This, combined with the widespread corruption and mismanagement of national resources which characterized Africa’s tyrannical governments, put many Af5rican countries at the mercy of international monetary agencies (the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank) and their financiers whose aid they were now heavily dependent on. 

At first, these Bretton Woods institutions were content to grant loans/aid, at debilitating interest rates no less, to authoritarian leaders who used them to perpetuate themselves in power and, in return, provided the former with mineral and other economic concessions. However, without the Cold War pressures, more emphasis was placed on the liberalization and capitalist/free-market aspects of US foreign policy to guarantee return on investments. Soon enough, Structural Adjustments Programmes (SAPs) were introduced as a precondition for further loans/aid. Said adjustments, which demanded limited government intervention in the public sector, i.e., removing government subsidies in energy (fuel/gas), education and health care, brought untold hardships to already suffering populations. And as research has shown, poverty and non-tax revenue make for the ideal democratic environment. In other words, “when the government is not beholden to citizens for its funding, there is less accountability and less reason to democratize” (Tilly 1990). Instead, leaders simply use the “free” funding from natural resources (oil) and foreign loans/aid to buy enough support to remain in power. 

Judging from the various expressions of Western interests in Africa over decades, it goes without saying that the West simply pays lip service to ideologies when convenient. Although many Africans might not object to the cynical pragmatism that has always guided Western foreign policy in Africa, I dare say they will not stand for the continued lies and hypocrisy that have characterized Western reactions to African developments. Even if the above-described instances of Western hypocrisy in Africa were to be argued to be in the past, it is a living past for Africa.  

Africa, today, still has authoritarian governments in place whose political repression and human rights abuses go on unchecked by our democracy and rule of law-loving friends in the West. After being siphoned by kleptocratic governments, our commonwealth still finds its way to Western banks, where it sits and improves the local economy. Western interests continue to impoverish Africans and destabilize their regions. So, Africans are today saying to the West, its diplomats, presidents, and the other agents of its propaganda: “Your gambit in Africa is up. Our people are awakened!”   

The West has sold you a fake product called democracy. Africans, your vote is not a sign of democracy. It is no more than a deception. There is no democracy without accountability. You are just voting thieves to power. There is no democracy without transparency. You are just using your votes in support of crooks and thugs. There is no democracy without good governance. Your vote is facilitating theft. Maybe you are waiting for your turn to steal. There is no democracy without development. Your vote is moving you back to the Stone Age. Even early humans knew when to replace stones with iron during the Stone Age. Africa, you don’t have a democracy. Anyone you have not appointed cannot disappoint you! Citizens are being deceived, and they are deceiving themselves. Organize yourselves at various levels and think of alternatives to democracy or, at the minimum, how accountability and transparency will form the core of your democratic practices. Your lifetime president is not a Democrat. He is an authoritarian kleptocrat far worse than the combination of Doris Payne, Stephane Breitwieser, Simon Leviev, Veerappan, Derek Smalls, Vincenzo Peruggia, Bonnie and Clyde, Natwarlal, Carl Gugasian, Frank Abagnale, Anna Sorokin, Albert Spaggiari, Jesse James, Anthony Strangis, and Bill Mason. Do you know these names?



Continue Reading


Informaction: Theory Of Change And Witch Persecution In Africa



Witch Burning, Impunity And Abuses Linked to Witchcraft Beliefs In Benue State
Dr. Leo Igwe

By Leo Igwe 

A theory of change explains how activities, measures, and steps undertaken to address a problem could facilitate or help realize certain changes or outcomes. It articulates how an impact would be achieved and some progress made. In this case, the expected outcome is an end to witch-hunting in Africa. Unlike in Western countries, the persecution of supposed witches persists in the region. Witch bloodletting takes place in many parts of Africa. The persecution of people accused of witchcraft leads to horrific abuses and death. Alleged witches are attacked, tortured, lynched, imprisoned, or banished. They are subjected to jungle justice, trial by ordeal, forced disappearance, and internal displacement. Simply put, those who are accused of perpetrating occult harm are treated without mercy or compassion. Incidentally, the impression is that nothing could be done to combat or neutralize this dark and destructive phenomenon, that witch hunting is cultural to Africans. The impression is that seeking to eradicate witch-hunting in African societies is a futile effort. This notion is gravely mistaken and needs to be corrected. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches was launched in 2020 to correct these misconceptions and facilitate effective actions. It works to fill the missing link in the activism against witch persecution in the region. The AfAW is a protest initiative, and exists to challenge and dispel allegations of witchcraft.

The main goal is to end witch-hunting in Africa by 2030. This objective sounds like an ambitious goal or some pipe dream, but it can be achieved. And AfAW aims to end witch hunting based on an informactional theory of change. This theory rests on two pillars: information and action because witch hunting persists in the region due to lack of information, or misinformation, and due to lack of action, inaction, or infraction. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches uses this two-pronged approach to combat witch-hunting in Africa.

At the global level, there is a lack of information about witch-hunting in Africa. Although a lot has been written and published on witchcraft in African societies, many people in Europe and America claim do not know about raging witch hunts in the region. Part of the problem is that these publications are filled with misinformation and misinterpretation of witchcraft accusations and witch persecution in the region. Scholars have presented witchcraft accusations as benign and useful to African societies. Meanwhile these accusations are not in any way gentle or pleasant. Studies have portrayed witchcraft allegations as stabilizing and harmonizing mechanisms. They have overlooked the critical and skeptical perspective of witchcraft beliefs. Scholars have largely ignored the accused side of the story, the harmful and destructive consequences of witchcraft imputations. At the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, we work to correct the misrepresentation of witchcraft accusations in Africa. We campaign to draw attention to this imbalance in the perception of the phenomenon. But correct information is not enough. Balanced interpretation does not suffice. To combat witch persecution, information needs to be turned into action, into effective policies and interventions.

On the action side, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches takes measures to address the problem because lack of adequate information has occasioned inaction or infractions. Wrong information has resulted in apathy and indifference towards witch hunting in Africa. Many international agencies are reluctant to act; they have refused to take action or to treat the issue with the urgency it deserves. With adequate and balanced information, international organizations would take appropriate actions.

At the local level, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches works to fill the information and action gaps. Many people accuse and engage in witch hunts due to a lack of information or misinformation. Accusers act based on a lack of information about the cause of illnesses, deaths, and other misfortune. Many people persecute witches because they have incorrect information about who or what is responsible for their problems, because they are not informed about what to do and where to go, who or what to blame for their misfortunes. Many people do not know what constitutes sufficient reason and causal explanations for their problems. As part of the efforts to end witch-hunting, the AfAW highlights misinformation and disinformation about causes of misfortune, illness, death, accidents, poverty, and infertility, including the misinformation that charlatans and con artists, god men and women such as traditional priests, pastors, mallam and marabouts use to exploit poor ignorant folks. The AfAW provides evidence-based knowledge, explanation, and interpretation of misfortunes. It informs the public about the law and other existing mechanisms to address allegations of witchcraft. The AfAW sensitizes the public and public institutions, including schools, colleges, and universities. It sponsors media programs, issues press releases, makes social media posts, and publishes articles and blogs on witch-hunting in the region.

In addition, the AfAW facilitates actions and interventions by state and nonstate agencies. The post colonial African state is weak so state agencies have limited powers and presence. So the AfAW encourages institutional synergy to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. The AfAW petitions the police, the courts, and state human rights institutions. It  pressures them to act, to collaborate and take appropriate measures to penalize witch-hunting activities in the region. With an informactional approach, witch hunting in Africa would slowly decrease and diminish. Witch persecution would be a thing of the past within a decade.
Dr.Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches which aims to end witch hunting in Africa by 2030.

Continue Reading

Top Stories