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


The 2023  Elections And The Newness Of Nigeria



The Futility Of A Marital Chase
Dr. Hope Nwawolo

By Hope Nwawolo   

Despite the hues and cries that greeted the results of the 2023 elections, what if the court’s pendulum stays or swings otherwise in the expected litigations?

What will it teach our inquisitive young children?

What will it do to the hopes and dreams of the youths?

What will it do to the mind set of those in diaspora, waiting and hoping to return?

How will it affect our heroes still alive and yearning for the good old times?

One basic fact is that no matter where the pendulum swings, something new has started in the political sphere of Nigeria. And because it was unexpected, it has become almost impossible to strangulate it.  

In every competition, there is an expectation that the best man will win. That may not always be in politics, particularly, in Nigeria…where the winner may not be the best man or even the better man. And when it is said that politics is a game of numbers, sometimes, the actual numbers may not be visible to determine the end result. It becomes a case of the more you look the less you see; until interpreted by respected learned men with high integrity.

Politics, they say is a dirty game, where money speaks and promises made are broken without an iota of guilt. Where the gullible minds of the masses are deceived, with as little as a box of indomie. Where some vibrant but jobless youths are brainwashed to risk their lives to snatch ballot boxes for the politicians who do not know them beyond giving them stipends through some third parties. Where market women are forced to come out for rallies and campaigns because they cannot afford the fine that will be imposed on them if they failed to participate. They also do not want the harassment of the market leaders. 

In politics, fear is palpable in the air, before, during and after elections. The 2023 elections recently carried out, depicted these more than expected in both the politicians and electorate. What started like the usual political pattern took a drastic turn about nine months to the first elections and though it was said to be only a social media affair, it got everyone sitting upright and tightening his seat belt, particularly after the first elections.

Now, there is a generational shift, a new awakening, a new dawn and a new political birth, waiting to happen. To wherever the pendulum turns; where the court stands, it will make a turnaround in Nigeria. It may be turbulent at the beginning, it may be emotionally draining and psychologically traumatizing, but it will point to light at the end of the tunnel.

There is a new hope backed by a high spirit of determination. An unexplainable faith in many people for that newness of existence and purpose. An unprecedented emotional and psychological strength in the youths not to give up on their dreams. An unquenchable desire to keep praying. Soon a newness will break forth to calm all nerves and dry all tears.

A newness that will permeate conflicts and hatred,

A newness that will dissipate unnecessary anger,

A newness that will usher in unquestionable and transparent political systems in future elections,

A newness of freedom to choose a candidate without coercion or molestation

A newness of jubilation after the announcement of election results.

This is the new Nigeria that is awaiting delivery…

Nwawolo, PhD, writes from Lagos.




Continue Reading


Overcoming Policy Execution Trap As Nigeria’s Development Challenge



Prof. Tunji Olaopa

By Tunji Olaopa

If I am asked to give a succinct and apt summary of the entire challenge faced by the Nigerian state in terms of her policy architecture and development management, in spite of contestation in the development literature, I will not hesitate in stating clearly and unambiguously that it is the challenge of policy implementation; the whole dynamics of getting things done. By elimination, the implication is that the challenge cannot be located as that of the dearth of development ideas, insights, models and paradigms. Right from her independence, Nigeria has been inundated with several ideas, both local and global, about development policy and frameworks. And yet, policy outcomes keep getting bogged down in the murky waters of political shenanigans. This means that the new administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu has its challenge mapped out, in red, for it.

There is no shying away from this postcolonial predicament that has limited and kept limiting Nigeria’s capacity to honour the terms of her social contract with Nigerians. Hence, the Tinubu government will soon be inundated with the impatient agitations of Nigerians for a quick and tangible fix that will address their sufferings. And they are justified since they have not been given any real deal for the past sixty-three years of sovereign independence. And the new administration is obligated because that is the reason for seeking office in the first place.

Prof. Olaopa’s new book on public policy and development challenges

How then can we begin to understand this policy execution challenge? It is simple: how can an administration in Nigeria transition from governance vision and policy intention to policy outcomes that elevate and transform the quality of life of its citizens? Failure to understand and give critical and political attention to this question lies at the heart of the governance failures of successive Nigerian administrations. The new Tinubu administration cannot afford such a glaring mistake. And so, a fundamental case must be made out of the question of how policy intentions get circumscribed in the dynamics of policy execution that occasions policy failures in past administrations.

Modern states all across the world are distinguished by the traditional four functions they discharge as part of their administrative responsibilities—security i.e. securing the sovereign territory against lawlessness, policy formulation and implementation, governance regulation and service delivery.The capacity to perform each and all of these functions very well within an integrated framework in the governance context is what delivers the dividends of democratic governance to the citizens, and it enhances the state’s competitive and human development rating in global reckoning. With these functions, we have the metrics to differentiate between high-performing states like China, India, the United States,Botswana, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirate, Germany, Rwanda and the Asian Tigers (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea), and low- or even under-performing countries like Nigeria that is still cluelessly stuck within a dysfunctional vicious cycle within her arrested development.

From the perspective of governance, there must be something these states are getting right in the connection between leadership, politics, and policy articulation. For instance, there is a trajectory of relationship that links elite bargains to development bargains. In other words, development is a
function of elite nationalism and the extent to which the political class of a state can commit elite suicide and gamble on development on behalf of the people they are leading. In Nigeria, low
manifestation of elite nationalism has made it really difficult for the political class to set aside their personal and egoistic class interests in ways that enable them to clearly and ideologically discern and navigate the deadly developmental landmines strewn all over our governance landscape by the
neoliberal implication of ideological apparatuses and frameworks to which Nigeria is beholden. And here, the factor of development gamble of the Asian Tigers’ elites comes into bold relief. From within the ideological ambit of the developmental state, the leadership of the Asian Tigers were able to define a policy space that consciously and critically weighed the benefits and shortfalls of external influences, especially the type that came from the World Bank, IMF and the other cohorts of the neoliberal policy dynamics. Their developmental circumspection paid off!

Since we cannot argue that Nigeria has been stumped by the lack of vision documents, development plans and blueprints, or even policy expertise, the locus of the new administration’s focus  must be directed at the possibility of mustering the political will to undermine the mystified Nigerian Factor, and face the global neoliberal consensus in order to begin the crafting of an enabling policy architecture to drive development. And to achieve this translates to creating the delicate balance between ‘doing the right things’ (a function of decision making quotient) and ‘doing it right’(project and change management effectiveness), and overcoming the various political, cultural, structural and systemic constraints that trapped past well-meaning policies and intentions of Nigerian leaders in the dynamics of implementation.

There is first the conspiracy of elitist interest that ensures there is a poor resource allocation that focuses on elite bargain than development calculations and taking care of the national interest. Other constraints follow: (a) the disconnect between policy design and implementation due to  weak  implementation planning, risk assessment and incompetent change management strategies; (b) unstable and poorly managed macroeconomic policies; (c) policy and project discontinuity; (d) public service low capability readiness; (e) political interference; and finally (f) deep-seated political and bureaucratic corruption. In essence, development has failed not because Nigeria lacks the blueprint or paradigms to make it happen, but due to the dynamics of the politics that the political elite plays with Nigeria’s development potential.

Let me outline what we can regard as the “politics of policy implementation” that Nigeria has played for many years, a politics the new administration must take into serious consideration if it
does not want to fall into the category of failed administration right before it commences. This politics throws Nigeria’s development and policy non-performance right into the frame of the 2005 World Bank review findings about policy and development projects in Africa. According to the finding, 29% of development projects ever get completed, 45% of on-going projects are rated as satisfactory, while 26% of such projects invariably get cancelled. Such a review can never backstop a solid development project of a developmental state.

The politics of policy implementation in
Nigeria is founded on the following assumptions and practices. One: there is that dangerous presumption, that the new administration must resist, that once policies and development plan are designed, they are automatically implemented by the public service. And such a presumption is against the background of a scant investment in implementation analysis and planning, as well as the failure to facilitate the capability review, determine public
administration system’s capability readiness, and strengthening of the MDAs as the powerhouse of government administrative functionality. The MDAs, that is, are not working according to any
specific theories or praxis of change that can guide the functional integration of blueprints or paradigms. This kind of policy inattention draws attention to the policy contradiction: launching a
national development plan and strategy that are not implementation- ready in terms of adequate capability review of the MDAs integral to ensuring implementation success. Two: this
presumption is compounded by the uncritical reliance of past governments on policy experts and consulting firms who are tasked with designing high-end policies that are then dumped on MDAs whose capability reviews and implementation readiness have been neglected in the first place. The
extroversion of the policy design is then compromised by poor functional integration. The truth is that most of these consulting firms lack the appropriate deep content and solution frameworks that are in tandem with the context of policy dysfunction they are supposed to work with. Three: governance policy or project are hardly subjected to feasibility test determined in terms of scope and expectation that are captured by their framework of time, cost and risk assessments before
they are pushed into implementation. This makes it very difficult to benchmark funding projections for these policies and projects against revenue estimations, as well as facilitating in-built flexibilities that enable the policies and projects to adjust to volatilities and contingencies.

All the issues raised above constitute binding constraint that will undermine any governance possibilities the new administration requires to make a success of democratic governance. Undermining the binding constraints demands returning to the fundamentals. The first and most significant is that the new administration needs to interrogate the framework of how government business is currently being conducted. Governance successes are necessarily a function of how government business engages the complexities of the policy design and execution processes within a results-oriented frame. And that entails undermining the structural gaps between policy objectives, development strategies and policy outcomes. This demands second, setting the public service on a performance curve with the institution of a performance management system. This means that the public service must, for example, unfailingly now deploy KPI-based metrics to replace the cumbersome annual performance evaluation report (APER). And at the backend, it becomes imperative to have a monitoring and evaluation system supported by databases that enable staff and program continuous assessment, human resource development rooted in iterativep performance gap identification, supervisors-staff dialogue and multisource feedback mechanismsf for overall national development policy tracking and reporting.

The governance mantra must be on getting the balance between doing the right things and doing it right. And this cannot be achieved through the wanton multiplication or even duplication of
governance plans, programs and blueprints. What is needed is sequencing the blueprints into a coherent and feasible implementation programme, with the right amount of political will behind it. This gives the success of democratic governance a 95% chance of succeeding. The new administration  needs that fighting chance!

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

Continue Reading


Rigged Elections And The Moral Burden Of Illegitimacy



Prof. Hope Eghagha

By  Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

Adamu: A man who rigs his way to power carries a moral burden!

Orezime: A moral what?

Adamu: You heard me, didn’t you?

Orezime: I’m not sure I heard you right. Moral what you said?

Adamu: A moral burden, I said!

Orezime: Hahahahahahaha! You make me laugh! Are you from the moon?

Gani: Or Mars?

Emeka: In which country? In Nigeria? That principle does not apply in Nigeria! There is no moral burden on anybody in this country! The election which produced Bubu in 2015 was rigged. Where are the two million voters from Kano State who voted in 2015? Was an INEC official not burnt alive after that election? The one which brought Obj to power was also rigged by the forces which wanted him to ease the tension of the Abiola tragedy on the Yoruba people. Yet those men had the temerity to preach against corruption!

Orezime: The international community winked at the whole exercise.

Gani: Yes! That’s why those two could only preach; they couldn’t really act decisively. A moral burden? They spoke from both sides of their mouths on the issue of corruption. The late President Yar Adua confessed that the election which produced him was compromised. An honest man, he didn’t live long enough to right the wrong of the period!

Orezime: That’s why I laughed when Adamu talked about a moral burden arising from rigged elections.

Bankole: In the ideal world, any power that is stolen and acquired through a dubious means imposes a moral burden on the power holder. No matter what the person does, that power remains stained.

Orezime: What does that amount to in our country? Even the brigands who shot their way to power in the notorious days of military misadventure in Nigeria soon became legitimate.

Emeka: You are going too far in our history. See what happened in Lagos State in the governorship elections of March 18. Ethnic jingoists went about preaching hatred against Igbo people and warned them against coming out to exercise their constitutional rights. Security officials looked the other way when ballot boxes were snatched in broad daylight in places where the opposition was leading.

Gani: A serving state governor personally went about snatching ballot boxes and threatened to shoot whoever got in his way. The same governor declared somebody wanted without recourse to the Inspector General of Police! He worked against the party on which platform he won the seat to spite the party hierarchy!

Adamu: And to think that this is the President-elect’s state. He kept mute through the horrendous attacks on Igbo people in Lagos State just the way the incumbent president has looked the other way when herdsmen went on the loose!

Bankole: Rigged elections are so familiar yet notorious in our land. It was the main trigger to the crisis in the Western Region in the First Republic because the people reacted when they saw a rape of their rights and wishes! It soon snowballed into a conflagration that consumed the nation in the late 1960s. Already, the youths are talking about a protest in the ENDSARSNOW# manner. I hope it doesn’t result in disaster. We have lost too many lives already!

Orezime: What I fear is the rise of ethnic profiling in a supposedly democratic society. To be sure, Governor Sanwo-Olu and the party hierarchy did not single out any ethnic group for verbal attacks. They even courted them. Yet they didn’t caution their followers to stop the degeneration into ethnic hatred. It is a dangerous curve what is happening in Lagos. I don’t subscribe to the Lagos is no man’s land nonsense which some misguided fellows are spewing, but threatening anybody not to vote their candidate is a new low! Can a Sanwo-Olu victory be said to be legitimate if a significant percentage of the electorate is disenfranchised?

Emeka: Good question. They did not stop there. They rolled out the culturally dreaded Oro rituals on election night. Come on! Who is fooling who? The Oro festival was designed to drive fear into non-Yoruba in Lagos. In the 21st Century?

Gani: I am sure the reports from election observers will be damning.

Bankole: I don’t care about those biased observers.

Adamu: Where are we headed in this country?

Orezime: We are on the road to Kigali!

Bankole: May we not travel that route!

Orezime: It’s a good prayer. But what are we doing to avoid the descent into anarchy? Nothing. Those monkeys are simply interested in acquiring power.

Gani: The Obedient Movement seems to have lost steam once it was misbranded as an ethnic agenda to grab power at the national level. Peter Obi needs to tread carefully so he doesn’t become another June 12! Some people are egging him on to challenge INEC through protests.

Orezime: If he decides to lead a protest, it would be within his constitutional right to do so, especially as INEC is stalling on the issue of inspecting elections materials despite an order from the courts. Peaceful protests are guaranteed by the Constitution.

Adamu: No one can be sure whether a peaceful protest will remain peaceful after it starts. That’s the experience the ENDSARS people had.

Gani: It’s not enough to stop people from taking to the streets. Protests are fundamental to democracy.

Adamu: We do not want dead heroes! Mark my words.

Bankole: That’s ominous!

Emeka: It means nothing. Nigeria must change. We cannot go on like this forever! Things are just going down. No cash. No fuel. No power supply. No security. No nothing.  Peter Obi gave a glimmer of hope. Now that has been dashed to the ground.

Adamu: Rigging will remain a moral burden each time our President-elect travels outside the country, each time he meets foreign observers, especially those ones who have a dossier on him. History will also judge him and assess how he came to power. This applies to all the states as well where some politicians have turned themselves into demigods and have compromised poor INEC officials with mouthwatering sums. This is not how to build a democracy. The votes must be counted and must count. Seventeen people have their lives during the governorship and House of Assembly elections. We are supposed to count ballot papers, not bodies. Sad!

Bankole: The moral burden of rigged elections is on all of us. Without our connivance there would be no rigging. We can only hope that this will end some day!

Emeka: Tough luck!


Continue Reading

Top Stories

%d bloggers like this: