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Nigeran Civil Service Bureaucratic Corps From A Generational Lens



How To Revive Public Schools - Tunji Olaopa

Tunji Olaopa

Henry Glassie, the American historian, writes that “History is not the past but a map of the past, drawn from a particular point of view, to be useful to the modern traveller.” This axiomatic statement grounds the fundamental significance of the nature and the relevance of history and historical interpretation in all human endeavors. From statecraft and governance to personal and collective enterprises, history enables us to navigate the present and orients the future. Someone says it is an early warning signal for those who pay the needed attention to its signs. Indeed, for David McCullough, another American historian, “History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” In this piece, I will like to deploy historical analysis to (a) put the present state and future possibilities of the Nigerian civil service in perspective; (b) outline a generational perspective to enable me to figure out the present state, and (c) give an overall picture of who we are and why we are the way we are in the Nigerian civil service.

A generational framework attempts to provide a trajectory of historical analysis founded on the significance of particular generations in history. History is often reckoned with in individualistic terms, as the deeds and actions of strong men and women. A generational analysis, however, relocates the variable of historical significance to generations of individuals in history; those whose collective actions and deeds contributed to the understanding of the paths and directions that history took and is taking. Of course, generations are very difficult to delineate, and this is because one generation merges into another. But this objection is not strong enough to undermine the distinctness of generations in, for instance, administrative history in Nigeria. In most human rhetoric, the idea of generation plays a useful role. However, we fail to explore the deep sociological and historical possibilities inherent in deploying the concept as a significant variable of analysis. I am deploying the idea of “generational capital” to name the potential and possibilities that a generation can bring to bear on the evolution of a family, a community, a nation or an institution. The obverse is also important: generational deficiency links the unwillingness or inability of any generations to the failure of the recipient of their capacities and capabilities.
The trajectory of the emergence and institutionalization of public administration and the civil service in Nigeria benefits immensely from a generational analysis. There are three generations that contribute capital and deficiency to the institutional performance and productivity quotients of the Nigerian civil service. Of course, the first generation of civil servants and public administration belong to what we now fondly refer to as the golden age of the public service in Nigeria. This first generation unraveled between the 50s and the early 60s. This period coincided first with the inauguration of the Nigerian civil service in 1954 as a nascent institution, and the political independence of Nigeria. These two facts significantly attest at once to the quality of the officers that founded the civil service and the institutional quality of the public service itself. The Nigerian state therefore began its post-independence existence with a very strong and professional civil service, regarded as perhaps the strongest of the colonial legacies bequeathed to Africa. This civil service framework was one nurtured on the traditional Weberian structure which required from civil servants the requisite of anonymity, neutrality and impartiality. Thus, a civil servant’s overall profile is therefore expected to be circumscribed by efficiency, effectiveness, integrity, accountability, responsiveness, representativeness, loyalty, equity, fairness, and so on.

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Those we call the civil service pioneers—Simeon Adebo, Jerome Udoji, Samuel Manuwa, M. O. Ani, I. O. Dina, Joseph McEwen, S. Ade Ojo, Ojimiri Johnson, C.O. Taiwo, Fola Ejiwunmi, G.E.A. Lardner, Sule Katagum, Joseph Imoukhuede; Ahmed Talib and Abubakar Koko (both of Udoji Commission), and many more—came into an inherited British civil service founded on a strong tradition. Those that became a part of this institution became living exemplars of its traditions and framework. Choosing a civil service career at that time conferred prestige and status in society. The condition of service supported this class recognition. At this point in its evolution, the civil services were not perfect but they stood out as value-based institutions distinguished in competence, professionalism and moral rectitude. They attracted the best and the brightest. Their internal governance was entrusted to an independent, non-partisan and impartial beacon of integrity—the Public Service Commission. Recruitment was strictly meritocratic and promotion was based on merit and performance. There were attractive competitive and comparable conditions of service and generous and well-funded pension package.

The second generation of public administrators and civil servants is from the late 60s to early 70s, the core of which constitutes those we fondly refer to as the super permanent secretaries. And the list of the members of this illustrious generation of public servants is sterling: S. Olabode Wey, M. A. Ejueyitchie, Abdul Aziz Atta, C. O. Lawson, Allison Ayida, Liman Ciroma, Shehu Musa, Gray Eromosele Longe, Ahmed Joda, Philip Asiodu, Ime Ebong, Mrs. Folayegbe Akintunde-Ighodalo, P. T. Odumosu, N. U. Akpan, Ali Akilu, Francesca Emanuel, Ibrahim Damcida, Musa Daggash, Prince Solomon Akenzua, Prince Festus Adesanoye, Princess Tejumade Alakija, Sunday Awoniyi, Adamu Fika, Olu Falae, G.P.O. Chikelu, Prince Sanda Ndayako, Theophilus Akinyele, Jonah Ogbole, and many others. The permanent secretaries that carried “super” qualifier amongst this corps were so-called because they were called upon at a most desperate and chaotic time in Nigerian history—the civil war period—to deploy their administrative acumen, competences and wisdom to take Nigeria through the pre-war, war and post-war periods. Their challenges also dovetailed into managing the command-and-control structure of the military during and after the war. So, as Theodore Roethke, the American poet, noted, the eyes of these public servants had to see in this dark time.

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Before expounding the trajectory of the third generation of civil servants and public administrators, to which I belong, I need to note a few administrative dynamics and dysfunctions that heralded the emergence of the third generation. From the pioneering generation of civil servant, as noted earlier, Nigeria inherited a civil service that was essentially value-driven, public- oriented and highly professionalized. The values of the service as well as those existing within the Nigerian society of the period were mutually reinforcing to facilitate the core public spiritedness that the profession demanded. An added positive characteristic was the symbiotic relationship between town and gown that allowed for a policy architecture that benefitted from both. While the Victorian value set that grounded the civil service made it inevitably elitist, the real challenge for the pioneers was their inability to interrogate and deconstruct the value foundation of the civil service in ways that connect it with local ideas and traditions. This failure would later have terrible consequences, which the pioneers themselves anticipated.

Both the Adebo Commission (1971) and the Udoji Commission (1974) signaled the moment at which the system ought to have transited from the Weberian, “I-am-directed” administrative tradition, so that the system would be remodeled to facilitate its capacity readiness to carry the functionality of a developmental state. Unfortunately, the system was at the height of its success, preeminence and somewhat too self-satisfied to respond to reform prompting. The administrative dissonance between the civil service and the second and third development planning undermined the vision of placing the Nigerian state at the commanding height of the economy as a developmental state that was able to realize the objectives of transforming the lives of Nigerians. Several series of events—discovery of oil, the immense petrodollar that submerged the national revenue, the rejection of the Udoji recommendation for a managerial rehabilitation of the administrative system, the implementation of the Udoji bonanza which structurally disconnected the service wage structure from national productivity trajectory thus making recalibration within technical-rational parameter complex, and the 1975 purge of the civil service—eclipsed the golden age of the civil service, and aggravated the second generation that was already immersed in bureau-pathology. It was already an open season of societal and administrative anomie. The economy awash with oil revenue had already instigated national profligacy. And Prof. Wolfgang Stolper had become frustrated by the culture of planning without facts or statistics. Once the 80s were fully underway, the Nigerian economic and institutional dynamics was too weak to resist the structural adjustment programmes when they were foisted on the country.

From the 1975 civil service purge to the SAPs de-institutionalization process, the value-orientation of the inherited civil service ethos had been damagingly eroded. Professionalism and public-spiritedness had gone to the dogs! The culture of delayed gratification had been replaced by that of instant gratification (or something-for-nothing). The statist dynamics of prebendalism and clientelist framework could then easily invade the civil service in ways that instigated a culture of waste and redundancies as well as a damaged maintenance and asset managing system. The third generation of public servants were thus heralded by a ballooning cost of governance and an administrative debilitation that were a far cry from the system inherited by the pioneers, from Adebo to Ayida.

By the time my generation came of age, it was already deeply embroiled in the dynamics of the bureau-pathology that has debilitated the civil service. And this was all the worse because we had mentors and seniors who connected us to the golden age in terms of their passion, professionalism and knowledge-propelled zeal for service. They carried the grand narratives of promise and progress tied to nation-building. And they were all too willing to pass on their knowledge and zeal through a generational handholding. Unfortunately, however, it is my generation of administrators and public servants that has to pick up the brunt of institutional decay at its acutest point, and especially when the challenges of national integration and good governance have become more heightened. Nigeria now needs “a world-class public service delivering government policies and programmes with professionalism, excellence and passion”, to quote the vision of the NSPSR. But then, the “professional, efficient, effective and accountable” public servants who understand the system (past, present and in the light of daily growing innovations in public administration) to bring knowledge and skills into capacity readiness may really not be on ground. Besides, there is a dearth of think tanks and consulting firms that have developed services portfolios that have deep enough relevant contents, solutions-frameworks and core competences to address first-hand, the issues and problems for which governments in Nigeria are seeking solutions. And at that in measure that could seamlessly translate into handholding technical support services which MDAs require to excel or to be on top of their game.

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The third generation and its notables (not in any verified order of seniority) would include Aliyu Mohammed, Aminu Saleh, Gidado Idris, Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, Ignatius Olisemeka, Baba Gana Gingibe, Abu Obe, Yayale Ahmed, Ebele Okeke, Amal Pepple, Stephen Oronsaye, Oladapo Afolabi, Sali Bello, Goni Aji, Danladi Kifasi, Winifred Oyo-Ita and Folasade Yemi-Esan. They were generationally, confronted from the 80s through the 90s to date, with a huge tide of challenges and possibilities. The managerial revolution that the Udoji Commission recommended confronted the public service with new concepts and practices around target setting, performance assessments metrics, professionalized human resource departments, policy-engaged research, evidence-based policy intelligence, monitoring, evaluation and new project management accountability structures, management and operation research, etc. Of course, the succeeding governments, from independence, were equally concerned with the sustained decline in the effectiveness and efficiency of the civil service, and especially its disconnection from development planning and state objectives. Thus, administrative and governance reforms became key parts of service rehabilitation. But then, the reforms became as transformative as they also contributed to institutional problems. One example suffices here: the Dotun Philip Commission and the Civil Service Reorganisation Decree 43 of 1988 it inspired during the Babangida administration. One major reform item of this reform report was the paradigmatic shift away from the British Westminster parliamentary and administrative tradition to the American presidential system.

Within the remit of achieving a professionalized service, the Phillip Report focused on training to achieve specialization. Civil service officers were targeted based on the high-end qualifications they present at entry, and are required to undergo regular training and retraining. This led to the creation of a new bureaucratic structure made up of assistants, officers and directors. The unintended consequences of the reform transcended its initial objective of a professionalized and specialized service. For instance, the renaming of the permanent secretaries as director-generals was a politicising act that gave them the tenures of political appointees. They therefore occupied offices as long as the tenure of the appointing government lasts. By the late 90s, the fight to regain the value-based practices of the civil service was already getting lost. First, the service was already a mixed multitude—a genuine set of administrators and conscientious civil servants coexisting with a motley of politically-minded bureaucrats more inclined to political orientation, parochialism and primordial sentiments. Second, the category of mentors and seniors who were more than willing to assist in waging the war to relocate the system back to its value-based administrative tradition were already rapidly thinning out due to retrenchment and death.

It was thus that sincere reform efforts were contending with congealing anti-reform bureaucratic practices. Even after 1999 when the democratic experimentation commenced, and the civil service was under the reform imperative of re-professionalization to capacitate service delivery to Nigerians, the phenomenon of organized lateral transfers and the resultant stagnation and promotional block which had built up since the movement of the capital of Nigeria from Lagos to Abuja in the federal in 1990/1, had already become complicated and disenabling to the system. This measure of bureau-pathology was aggravated by a certain level of in-breeding that ensured that the service is not opened up in a structural sense that facilitates a systematic process of infiltration by external expertise and competences through sabbatical leave, staff exchange, projects-based exposures opportunity to officers, and so on. There was also a limited exposure to business and commercial orientation that constrained capacity by officers to take advantage of such emergent business models as PPPs, outsourcing, etc. in the last decades. The service also became constrained by a reluctance to modernize through a critical embrace of new technologies and digitization necessary for the implementation of open (cum electronic) government, and consequently a performance management culture that has the capacity to enhance national productivity Nigeria requires for a competitive twenty-first century economy.

In essence, the third generation of administrators and civil servants were confronted both with the challenge of modernizing the public service, and the imperative of becoming twenty-first century public servants patriotic and professional enough to drive the public service as a valuable complement to the demand for democratic governance in Nigeria. Each of the two generations was confronted with its own unique challenge. The first generation had to ensure that the inherited civil service retained its value-based framework so as to be able to function in the newly independent Nigeria. the second generation had to retain the functional efficiency of the civil service to be able not only to conduct the civil war but to also rehabilitate a war-torn Nigeria. The third generation is confronted with the challenge of democratic governance and the imperative of modernizing the public service to achieve efficient service delivery. And this challenge is all the heavier because the administrative and governance dynamics of the 60s, the 70s and the 80s cannot match up with the series of administrative and governance ideas that have all formed to insist on modernizing the government and its public management framework for an even better performance protocol and productivity than ever before.

Managerialism has transformed the way we understand government, governance and management. Essentially, the idea of the twenty-first century government is one that is democratic, citizen-centric and seamless in the way it connects its efficient and technology-enabled public service to an enlarged governance space that allows both the government and other nongovernmental and nonstate actors to brainstorm and strategize on how to generate policies that facilitate better service delivery to the populace. And the idea of a 21st century government is practically impossible without a corresponding 21st century public servant—constrained by ethical values (i.e. integrity, honesty, respect); democratic values (i.e. responsiveness, representativeness, rule of law); and professional values (i.e. excellence, innovation)—with the capacity to create and continually recreate public values within a framework of entrepreneurial dynamics that allows citizens’ and societal satisfaction. In essence, the twenty-first century public servant must be willing and able to operate in a VUCA—volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous—environment, armed with a large dose of public-spiritedness and a sense of the public service as a calling in the Levitical Order.

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


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The 2023  Elections And The Newness Of Nigeria



The Futility Of A Marital Chase
Dr. Hope Nwawolo

By Hope Nwawolo   

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

What will it teach our inquisitive young children?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A newness that will permeate conflicts and hatred,

A newness that will dissipate unnecessary anger,

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

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

A newness of jubilation after the announcement of election results.

This is the new Nigeria that is awaiting delivery…

Nwawolo, PhD, writes from Lagos.




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Overcoming Policy Execution Trap As Nigeria’s Development Challenge



Prof. Tunji Olaopa

By Tunji Olaopa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!


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