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Technology, Technical Education, Culture, And Society

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Funmi Olonisakin: The Mainframe Of Global Success

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Toyin Falola

The cultural orientation and conviction of a set of people define the core of their existence. It is the window through which society and its members could be understood. The renowned anthropologist Edward Tylor, in his badly titled book, Primitive Culture, explains culture as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” Such a complex whole comprises individuals’ primary belief system and explains why it defines their core. As a result, it is easy to understand why technological innovations and their applications could create a subconscious conflict and, in the worst case, a conscious conflict between what people had accepted to be the right way of doing things and what the new approach is trying to enact. Viewing technology from the angle of what Jennifer D. Slack and J. Macgregor Wise refer to as “received view” in Culture + Technology: A Primer is progress, causality, convenience, and other concepts that put it at a polar position to culture. While this may not be entirely untrue, technology is not a necessary alternative to culture but could be culture itself.

Technology, Technical Education, Culture, And Society

Referring to and relating culture to technology is hinged on the idea that technology is the application of science. In essence, science has existed as long as humans have been able to comprehend and analyze things, and the application of science is the basic definition of technology. This emphasizes that technology is also as old as humans, and they adopt and use the different inventions and discoveries of the human species. If then culture comprises the continuous uses, enduring systems and artefacts, knowledge, law, and every other thing captured by Edward Tylor, it is safe to say that today’s culture is yesterday’s new technological breakthrough. This brings us to the logical conclusion that technology can be old or new, that older technology is today’s culture, and that culture and technology can be the same. As a result of this and concerning Africa, technology is not a new concept or idea; it could be said to be as old as the culture of the people themselves.

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Unlike some ethnocentric scholars who posited that Africa was in a long period of developmental darkness until the discovery and contact with the Europeans, Africa’s civilization and technology, like what Hegel proposed in his Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, has been a centre of different technological breakthroughs and have been recorded and discovered to be a centre of various technological civilizations and inventions earlier than some other societies. For instance, different studies like those of Posnansky (1981: 542-47), Harlan et al. (1976), Shaw (1981), Schmidt (1978: 292-96), Shinnie (1971: 93-94), among others, have put the introduction and practice of metallurgy and agriculture in Africa earlier than it was seen in Europe and the Middle East. More specifically, the Egyptian calendar of 4231 BC, although adjusted in 3200 BC and 2773 BC, has evidence of old discoveries of Africa. Other notable examples include the use and designs of terracotta in the Nok culture as early as 1500 BC, the Proto-Saharan writing, Mathematical developments, arts, architecture, and medicines, have shown that technology cannot be said to be new to African society.

Over the years, these technological discoveries and practices developed and formed a belief system and concept that we refer to as culture today. Hence, the current conversation on the latest technology should relate to what is now considered modern technology; otherwise, it would undermine the historical breakthroughs in Africa. The introduction of modern technology, especially after the contacts with the Europeans, has clashed with the culture of the people. The first problem is that there had to be a radical adjustment to new ways of doing things that many people are yet to embrace. These technological advancements have not considered the people’s cultural convictions to allow gradual adoption.

Kabiru Kinyanjui in Culture, Technology and Sustainable Development in Africa posits that the influx of modern technological advancements, combined with colonialism, suppressed cultural confidence, creating heavy reliance on them and disregard for indigenous cultural advancement. This was faced with hostile reactions from the indigenous groups, and when they had no choice but to accept them, they found it quite difficult to handle. However, with the development of institutions to promote science and technology, the bridges between them were created, allowing for adaptation and adoption. To bolster this, the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST) was established to advance the study of science and technology, with emphasis on research, allowing modern technology to thrive in Nigeria. Also, Africans have tried to resist many western developments because they believe technology can consume valuable cultural values that are still beneficial to society. When considering the cultural history of the people, social decadence and an increase in social vices are considered possible results of the adoption of new developments and technology without sieving out the parts that are not favourable.

READ ALSO: Prof. Toyin Falola: A Tribute

The enthronement of technological advancement over African culture could be considered a subtle kind of neo-colonialism. It creates a measure of control when access to these developments is either not directly available in Africa or requires certain commitments. Economic and capitalist interest in introducing technological innovations to replace cultural approaches and materials have also been arguments favouring subconscious neo-colonialism. Another source of concern for Africans about the radical importation of technological advancement without independence is the tendency to unconsciously allow over-reliance on and the preference for modern technology kill the cultures that made it African and break the sociological threads of African society.

However, technology is not necessarily a contradiction of culture, and with understanding, the seeming conflicts might be needless. It is a way of developing the current cultural approaches to things and their distribution and diffusion to other parts of the world. The advancement of technology has been responsible for the spread of European culture. Although using the same for Africa may seem late, it might also spread African culture. As observed by Stephen A. Akintoye in A History of the Yoruba People, the culture of Yoruba and Benin had spread all over the world, with evidential practices in Brazil, the United Kingdom, United States, Argentina, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, among others, as a result of heavy immigration from Africa to these places. Presently, there is a reasonable use of African fashion senses and styles worldwide, and the current globalization and technology drive has taken African cultures across the world.

BOOK: Toyin Falola’s Decolonizing African Studies: Knowledge Production, Agency, And Voice

In Africa, some of these technological developments and practices have evolved into specific professions with a long line of history attributed to them. The makers of Adire, Aso Oke, Aso Ofi in the textile industry, the Agbede blacksmiths’ profession, among others, especially in the Yoruba regions of Nigeria, required an application of specific techniques, which could also be regarded as technological innovations. These professions developed their education systems, and the trade culture is always passed through them. This brings us to the realization of how technical education has operated throughout Nigeria’s history. Africa’s most common teaching method is the apprenticeship system, which is connected with social responsibility and confers social status to those learning and the teachers.

As observed by W. Ahadzie (2009), children are often taken to learn several skills at an early age. Many of these professionals were family professionals, so children are easily incorporated into it. The apprentice is controlled gravely by the interests of the master, and the master is responsible for the apprentice. Among other things, these systems made the facilitation of technical education easier. Given the relative success of the cultural process of technical education before colonialism and contact with Europe, it is clear that some of these processes can be adapted to improve technical education in the current dispensation. Although there is evidence of the use of apprenticeship in the modern technical educational system, particularly with different internship programs made compulsory for students in technology disciplines in the form of Industrial Trainings and SIWES and those taking professional courses, there is still a need for more emphasis and constructive structures for the system.

More time should be set aside for students to interact with practising experts in their fields to visualize what they are learning. Also, as observed by Kwesi Kwaa Prah in The Intellectualisation of African Languages for Higher Education, the continuous development in the intellectualization of African languages is a way of closing the gap between culture and technology. The level of understanding of modern technology will be increased if technical courses or processes are developed and taught so that African languages have ready representations, explanations, and terms for them. Such endeavour would also embrace the illiterate generation of the population that does not have the opportunity to acquire formal education. This is because technological products are beneficial to everyone, not only to the youth, literate, or the new generation.

READ ALSO: BOOK REVIEW: Pathways To Nigeria’s Future: A Review Of Toyin Falola’s Understanding Modern Nigeria

In conclusion, the co-existence of modern technology and culture in Nigerian society might be the developmental breakthrough that the country has been waiting for. This is because there will be a high tendency for technological innovations to originate from the country. Moreover, this would foster the technical know-how in many sectors of the economy and guarantee national development. There would also exist a comprehensive methodological approach to issues challenging the nation’s progress.

.Part of a public lecture presented at the Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, Lagos, on March 2nd, 2022.

Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

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Opinion

An Open Letter To President Muhammadu Buhari

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An Open Letter To President Muhammadu Buhari
Dr. Stella Omonigho

By Stella Omonigho
Your Excellency Sir,
I am writing this letter with so much pain in my heart because of the state of our dear nation Nigeria under your leadership and watch. You will recall that when you came into power on the 29th of May 2015 Nigerians were hopeful that your administration was going to strengthen our young democracy and ensure that the dividends of democracy accrue to all Nigerians irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or party affiliations.

Before I continue Sir, kindly permit me to define the term democracy under which Nigeria is supposed to operate politically as a democratic country so as to remind myself constantly to remain within the scope of democracy as I address this letter to the Father of the Nation in order not to be faulted or accused of being undemocratic.

According to Pennock (1979:7), Democracy is: The government by the people where liberty, equality and fraternity are secured to the greatest possible degree and in which human capacities are developed to the utmost, by means including free and full discussions of common problems and interests.

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Weale (1999:14) opined that in a democracy, important public decisions on questions of law and policy depend directly or indirectly upon public opinion formally expressed by citizens of the community, the vast bulk of whom have equal political rights. Lastly, the common definition even known to a neophyte is that of Abraham Lincoln that democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Lincoln went on to express his idea on the subject matter by saying: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master”. Therefore Mr President, based on the freedom of expression provided by our constitution and by the system of government Nigeria has adopted, I write to you to express my fears, my pains, my disappointments and my suggestions on the state of the Nation.

Before you finally emerged the President of Nigeria in 2015, you were once the military head of state between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985, then you contested for the Presidency under the All Nigeria People’s party (APP) in 2011 and then migrated to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013 where you obtained the party ticket for presidency and won in the general elections in 2015. This means that you are a man of great knowledge and experience in leadership, in political matters especially as it obtains in Nigeria. With this wealth of experience as a retired Major General, Nigerians voted for you massively hoping you will be the messiah to save them from insecurity and insurgency as you promised in your electioneering . We all believed in you Baba, that a young man Hashimu defiled all odds and trekked from Lagos to Abuja for 18 days to demonstrate his love, admiration and hope in you. Sir, below are some of the promises you made to woo us to vote for you in 2015 and since we saw you as a man with integrity, we believed every word you said despite some red flags being flown by some elders. These promises were extracted from some of your campaign videos and posters:

Ban on government officials from going abroad for medical treatment.
Public declaration of assets and liabilities.

Introduction of National Gender Policy and offer of 35 per cent appointment to women.

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Increasing the number of doctors from 19 per 1000 population to 50 per 1000 .
Upgrading all Federal Government-owned hospitals to world-class facilities within five years .

Ensuring that political office holders earn salaries and emoluments as determined and approved by the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC).
Creating a Crime Squad to combat terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, militancy, ethno-religious and communal clashes in the country.
Amending the Constitution to remove immunity from prosecution for elected officers in a criminal case.
One dollar to one naira.
Constant and uninterrupted power supply.

NSir, contrary to the first promise made, I am aware that you have been going on medical vacation in the United kingdom. more frequently than any other President this country has ever had. On the 5th February, 2016, you took a medical trip to the United Kingdom where you spent 10 days. On the 6th of June you returned to the UK for medical examination and you spent 13 days, on the 15th January, 2017, you went again and spent 50 days, then on 7th May, 2017, you went on another medical trip where you spent 104 days without handing over governance to the Vice President in your absence as provided in the constitution. The medical trips have gone so frequent that Nigerians have lost count and interest in the numerous trips which we believe are not free or cheap. So many people in your cabinets also took various medical vacations sometimes announced but most times unannounced. This was totally the contrary of what you promised before coming into power. While the poor Nigerian cannot afford health care in Nigeria where you promised to improve on our health services, you Baba and members of your cabinet proceed on these trips even at the slightest health challenge.

Secondly Sir, there is a great upsurge of insecurity in the nation that killings, kidnapping, rape, bombings and various attacks are now so common that the media are almost getting embarrassed to report all and the police are now so ashamed to admit to which led to the denial of the recent bomb blast at Sabon Gari in Kano where the police claimed it was a gas explosion whereas eye witnesses saw the suicide bomber yet nobody was prosecuted or warned among the police force for misleading the whole country by this false claims. Parents sold their property, borrowed and some died to save the lives of their children who were kidnapped in boarding schools and on campus. Kidnapped victims of the Kaduna-bound train are still with the abductors. Innocent people are being slaughtered by the day in the name of religious clash and nothing is being done to stop it. Baba, this was not your promise to us in 2015.

Mr President, the cost of food has gone up drastically over 300% since you came into power as a result of insecurity. Farmers are being killed and the females raped and ripped to death hence most of them stopped going to the bush for fear of being victims. In some cases, some of them were kidnapped in their farms, tortured until friends, families and fellow farmers contributed to pay the ransom. Travelling on the highway especially in some places like Abuja-Kaduna way, Benin-Abuja, Lagos-Ibadan among others is a nightmare as travellers are kidnapped almost on a daily basis. This has affected productivity of traders so badly in the country.

Thirdly Sir, power supply has been so epileptic despite the increment in the electricity tariffs. Businesses folded up as some traders could not afford to run them with the high cost of diesel and other petroleum products.

READ ALSO: Political Insanity Or Harvest Of Greed

On the fight against corruption which was your main focus Sir, it has become an open secret that Nigeria has recorded so many cases of corruption in your time more than any other especially among your appointees and cabinet members. These ones have graduated from stealing millions into stealing billions and no tangible sanction has been meted out to them. What we see is a drama show either in court or during interrogation and at the end the cases are swept under the carpet and these thieves come back to contest for other political positions. Under your watch Sir, an individual carted away with 80 billion naira, another 1.5 trillion, another 117million and so on. This is so painful to us the masses who find it difficult to eat 2 square meals a day not to talk of three. Baba, all these looted funds would go a long way in reviving our economy and possibly pay back a part of our foreign loans. How can it be said that Nigeria was borrowing almost on a monthly basis in 2021, yet individuals in your cabinet are carting away such huge amounts of money under your watch? What will the world say about us?

Mr. President Sir, the story about public universities being underfunded, poor remuneration of varsity workers and fraudulent payment platform (IPPIS) is no longer new even in the global sector. While political leaders and appointees earn more than 50million naira monthly, a university professor which is the apex of academic qualification in the world does not earn half a million naira. No wonder some of your ministers talk to professors with so much scorn and disrespect, no wonder an individual in your cabinet asked professors to go and farm. It is so sad that not much value is placed on education in Nigeria. Incessant strike and industrial actions by varsity workers because of failure of your government to fulfil agreement reached with the unions have led to constant closure of the university campuses and unrest of the youths in recent years while we see on social media pictures of graduation of the children of our political leaders who schooled in foreign universities while the children of those who voted for you are perpetually at home.

READ ALSO: 12-years-old School Pupil Dies After Flogging By Teacher

In line with the aforementioned Sir, while reminding you of areas where seeming failure has been recorded, permit me to make some suggestions on how to correct some of these anomalies before it is too late if not too late. As the adage says, “it is better late than never” . Mr. President Sir, posterity will remember your tenure for either good or bad. There is therefore an urgent need for a restructure in your cabinet; political appointments into various public offices must be reviewed based on merit and not sentiments irrespective of the person’s political, religious or ethnic affiliation. There is a great need to put a round peg in a round hole, that is to say that only those who are genuinely qualified and concerned about the developments and security of the nation should be appointed or remain in office.

As the father of the nation Sir, the time is long overdue to rake all parastatals of every corrupt director, minister, manager, desk officers e.t.c. in order to save not only public funds that are being looted on a daily basis but also the face of our nation. Agencies established to fight against corruption must do so with all sincerity irrespective of whoever is found wanting (there must be no sacred cow).

Furthermore, security agencies such as the police, the army and the civil defence must not hesitate to prosecute any defaulter of the law, nor deny the reality of the state of insecurity o the nation.

Lastly, with the recent acrimony and misunderstanding between the two major religions in the country, there is an urgent need for you Sir to address the nation on religious tolerance and harmonious living among all Nigerians irrespective of any provocation. On no account must anyone take laws into his or her hands by taking the life of any Nigerian.

READ ALSO: Saving INEC, EFCC, ICPC From Treason

In conclusion, dear father of the nation, President Muhammadu Buhari, save our public universities by meeting directly with the aggrieved unions especially ASUU, and meet their demands in order to resolve the long-ignored issues because the students are suffering, deprived and delayed in life.

I hope Sir, that you will graciously look into all these points raised with genuine concerns for our nation Nigeria and act with dispatch to save our country from sinking any further.
Long live Nigeria!
God bless Nigerians!
God bless our nation!

.Omonigho, PhD, is a public affairs analyst.

 

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Opinion

New Thinking In Public Service And Administration

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New Thinking In Public Service And Administration
Prof. Tunji Olaopa

By
Tunji Olaopa

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has already become definitive of the twenty-first century, and the Nigerian civil service system cannot afford to keep struggling to key into the fundamentals of a new age that has transformed human sensibilities and ethos in many radical ways, from the way we work to the ways we organize our lives and existence. The public service is one of the fundamental institutions, across the globe, that has been significantly affected by the massive and radical digital transformations of human administrative endeavors. The challenge, however, and especially with a public service in a difficult administrative environment like Africa, is how easy it is for the public service to be caught up in its bureaucratic rules and processes in ways that deeply circumscribed its efficiency and service delivery mandate. This is all the more so for the Nigerian public service and her struggle to reprofessionalise as a functional institution while undermining her bureaucratic credentials.

This is not a light assessment given the predilection for an institution like the public service to be taken in by administrative traditions, and be fixated on a procedural mindset that is firmly opposed to change. Such a mindset becomes trapped unfortunately in yesterday’s ways of thinking and is immune from exploring the new possibilities available for making the public service a better institution for complementing the capabilities of the state to improve the well-being of humans. The vocation of the public service—the administrative principles, codes of practice, ethical values and knowledge systems—constitute all that shapes the future of the profession. However, what happens if the professionals are not looking up, and defining the conditions and circumstances that make for the continuous transformation of the profession? What happens, that is, if we refuse to conduct regular environmental scanning, deploy scenario planning, follow global trends, or interrogate the intellectual assumptions and theories undergirding administrative practices? Thus, with the shifting demographics, constantly evolving technologies, and environmental sustainability challenges, the way we lead, the way we administer, the way we solve problems or manage change, etc., are changing so dramatically now that any institution not willing to key into the innovative sensibility will be left behind. And, of course, the Nigerian public service cannot afford to be left behind.

The way forward is straightforward: it involves investing in new thinking. The idea of new thinking speaks about the capacity of an individual, an organisation or a state to assess and reassess current situation and future possibilities through a strategic framework that will enable the individual, organization or state function better and more efficiently. The idea of new thinking is conditioned by a reform program that is strategic. In other words, new think for any organization or institution combines strategic thinking and strategic planning to be able to face the future. It is this strategic thinking that allows an institution like the public service to rethink and reengineer its modus operandi and business model to become better.

READ ALSO: Prof. A. D. Yahaya In The Annals Of Public Administration Scholarship In Nigeria

The notion of new thinking presupposes an old one. And with regard to the public service, this old thinking template is represented by the traditional, “I-am-directed” Weberian framework that defines administrative business before the advent of the managerial revolution. This Weberian structure required from civil servants the requisite characteristics of anonymity, neutrality and impartiality, and an overall profile circumscribed by efficiency, effectiveness, integrity, accountability, responsiveness, representativeness, loyalty, equity, fairness, and so on. However, it is a system that is essentially hierarchical, cumbersome and acutely bureaucratic to effectively fulfil the mandate of good governance. As a migrated structure, the Weberian system arrived in Nigeria without its value foundation. This made it impossible for the Weberian structure to organizationally mature into fully formed and value-oriented institution. Thus, it eventually became a bureaucratic paradigm that became ultimately a bureaucratic culture that contributed to the underdevelopment narrative in Nigeria. This made it possible for the system to be hijacked by various personalities for selfish and short-term ends.

Transforming the public service in the grip of this old business model demands also that the reformer must put in mind that the transition into the fourth industrial revolution must also occur within what has been called the VUCA environment. The public service is immersed in a VUCA environment, characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. These are four elements that are defined by the state of the world, decisions of government, and national dynamics. The VUCA environment is one that confronts the functioning of the public service and demands an engagement that enables the public service to confront the challenges and achieve administrative excellence in the process. This implies that such a public manager who will steer the public service through the challenges of the VUCA environment cannot be merely transactional, and operating with a twentieth century administrative mindset. It also means that the public service must always aspire to become capacity ready in meeting the challenges of governance and administration that the social, political, cultural and economic environments might throw up.

The public service, within a VUCA environment, is faced with the challenge of transforming itself within what is called a scenario. In administrative reform, a scenario consists of a starting point (an initial or alpha state), a trajectory (chain of steps or events) and a future (omega) state. A reform agenda or scenario therefore takes a state from the alpha point though a trajectory to an omega point. Within a VUCA environment, therefore, the public service is always finding itself in an alpha point as the environment keeps getting complex and challenging, and is always oriented towards an omega that is better able to serve the needs of the citizens. The burden of the VUCA environment, together with the imperative of the fourth industrial revolution, requires that the public service in Nigeria must be constrained by the demand of strategic thinking and planning. While strategic thinking is conceptual and initiates the search for imaginative strategies, strategic planning is more programmatic in the ways it formalizes the steps involved in transforming the public service.

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

In thinking and planning strategically, therefore, care must be taken to distinguish between creating a strategy and being strategic. On the one hand, creating a strategy is a process of translating a plan into a set of results. On the other hand, the act of being strategic is a competence that involves critical thinking. The argument is that an institution, like the public service, requires strategic thinking to generate a reform strategy that will move the institution forward into more optimal functionality and productivity. Both must be channeled institutionally to the most central process of strategic decision making. This is what allows the institution to either think outside of the box or even without a box to structure institutional imagination. Strategic decision-making is ultimately tied to an institution’s capacity to maneuver through the VUCA environment in order to perform better. Thus, to move the Nigerian public service system forward to an omega point of cutting-edge optimality that creates performance, public value and productivity, there is the need to bring strategic thinking to bear on the institutional parameters, processes and values in ways that generate strategies for efficiency and effectiveness. Here, we survey the significant areas that constitute the locus of new thinking for the public service and the transformation of its efficiency and service delivery capacity.

Since strategic decision-making is key to the adoption and deployment of new thinking in Nigeria’s public service, then strategic policy intelligence emanating from the irreducible developments in contemporary decision science becomes inevitable. Decision science has become a critical field that has integrated cognate developments from artificial intelligence, organisational psychology, systems thinking, machine learning, probabilistic modeling, scenario analysis, big data analytics, and many more to become a key area that the public service must buy into to push forward its policy intelligence that strengthen decision-making. Modern policy making that has taken cognizance of decision science will most likely possess nine fundamental features: (i) forward-looking; (ii) outward-looking; (iii) innovative, flexible and creative; (iv) evidence-based; (v) evaluation; (vi) review; (vii) joined-up; (viii) inclusive; and (ix) learned lessons.

Strategic decision-making in turn demands that we rethink the nature of government and of the governance space where this strategy would be deployed. This is the occasion for the open government initiative to create a Public Service 2.0. Open government is founded on the principle that government—not just its laws and policies, but the reasons and processes of decisions that generated those policies and the flows of money that fund their implementation—should be open to the citizens and nongovernmental agents. The idea of open government aligns the public service with the necessity of (re)creating public value(s) that will transform the quality of life of the citizens. Indeed, the joint production of public value(s) by the government, nonstate actors and the citizens places the public service squarely within the ambit of the New Public Governance approach, the New Public Administration, and the New Public Service approaches that place the active citizens at the core of democratic governance, and the center of service delivery by the public service.

READ ALSO: DCP Abba Kyari: Deconstructing Public Service In Its Degenerate Mold

No public service can operate within the imperatives of the fourth industrial revolution without transforming its idea of human resources management and the dynamics of the workplace. For example, the idea of remote working and specialist contractors provide an institution like the public service the capacity to recruit a global workforce and create incentives that increase employee loyalty and commitment, and collaborations that generate productivity. This gives room for the achievement of a better work-life balance deriving from freer time and flexibility to work. And facilitates the acquisition of “twenty-first century literacies”: (a) interpersonal skills: facilitation, empathy, political skills; (b) synthesising skills: sorting evidence, analysis, making judgements, offering critique and being creative; (c) organising skills: group work, collaboration and peer review; and (d) communication skills: better use of new media and multi-media resources.

Thus, even though institutional reform is inevitable within the public service system in Nigeria, such a reform must be constrained by the imperatives of new thinking that arms the public service system with the wherewithal by which it must facilitate its own transformation. This is how the public service can become not only world-class, but compliant with the fourth industrial revolution and the challenge of national development in Nigeria.

. (Being a paper presented at a seminar held at the Public Service Institute of Nigeria – PSIN, Abuja, recently).
. Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor, National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies
(NIPSS), Kuru, Jos .
tolaopa2003@gmail.com

 

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Letter From A Falsely Accused Accountant-General

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Letter From A Falsely Accused Accountant-General

By Omoh Giwa

Dear Ms Giwa,
For dread of your scathing and satirical remarks on political issues, I have decided in anticipation of your nosy weekly missives, to respond in like manner just as you are known to run your mouth like a diarrhoea-plagued bowel.

There comes a junction in a man’s life, when he acknowledges he has bitten off more than he can chew. Such a man is left with a choice; choke or vomit but the real question is how do I vomit N80 billion? You might wonder why I cannot just cough it up or use a morsel of Eba or Fufu to get rid of this fish bone stuck in my throat? Things are never as they seem.

It is ironical that the self-acclaimed gatekeepers of integrity and discipline; after ousting and labelling the previous administration, corrupt and embezzlers of public funds, should be caught with our pants down. The irony is not in our criminal and ridiculous show of greed or the hypocrisy of our actions but in our gate-keeping. If you consider our allegations against my predecessor who was disgraced for the alleged misappropriation of 2.5 billion naira and my alleged crime, you’d be incensed all over again but you must allow me defend myself before you crucify me.

READ ALSO: Accountant General Ahmed Idris Suspended Over N80b Fraud

Though my compadres have not saved me from this show of shame, I refuse to sing like a canary or a certain director of the NDDC whose microphone was turned off forcefully over a meagre sum of 40 billion naira. My refusal to sing is two-pronged; firstly, I do not know if this is a test of my resilience and trust in my benefactors and secondly my accusers brought before the world, an 80 billion-count charge that I cannot seem to shake off or defend. I am saddened however, by the silence of my patron especially as it seems he is more interested in picking his successor to evade disgrace than saving me. Do you think I have been thrown under the bus and left for you vultures to pick my bones clean?

The wind of change that swept the nation and engineered the political awakening of the Lazy Nigerian Youth especially during the EndSARS saga is worrisome and I fear a threat to my political career. Will this be the end of my career that began after my Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University of Zaria in 1984 because some pesky meddling Crime Watchers cannot do the bidding of Number 1?

I have held several key positions post-BSc including Assistant Director of Finance and Accounts with the Petroleum Trust Fund and have never been caught or ousted with my fingers in the cookie jar as being ridiculed because I challenged the gang of self-righteous University Lecturers. To say I am thoroughly embarrassed is an understatement. Although I know this means nothing to my current position or even future ones (I must admit that my career is at stake if my mentor does not get his wish of replacing himself with a stooge hence I had to line my pockets for the rainy day) but I admit it looks bad on my resume and might hinder my back-up plan of international waters like certain Ministers of Finance and Agriculture.

You might wonder what my motive is with this communiqué but do not count me above rolling in the mud with pigs. I will not tolerate any slander to my name and legacy therefore; I intend to expose my detractors. This group of intelligent mafia, ASUU, is responsible for unveiling my misdemeanour as there are obviously worse cases of embezzlement schemes in this same country. I do not hear the same outrage I received for a mere 80 billion payout compared to the bigger fraud in Port Harcourt that has been fingered for 117 billion naira. What the syndicate of lecturers do not know is that those in glass houses do not throw stones (this does not apply to what we did to our predecessors as they were deserving of every aspersion cast against their names. Greedy and unrighteous Lots!).

You might think I am falsely accusing this cabal of lecturers but why is my name being smeared after I rightfully insisted (dogmatically if I might add) on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System? These supposedly intellectuals are after my hide because I caught them at their attempt to become ghost workers. They want to eat their cake and have it (which is ridiculous in itself because the average professor cannot earn half a million despite their claim of intelligence and brilliance) and we cannot allow people to eat where they have not sown hence our desperate desire to gate-keep the looting and restrict it to the inner circle. Imagine if lecturers were financially comfortable, who would play the role of the Independent and Impartial Electoral Committee?

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If you think this is my only evidence against the wickedness of this mafia, consider that I also introduced Treasury Single Account, a pivotal bid to curb wastefulness and excesses (do not ask politrickians to cut down their excesses as you have no idea how difficult it is to be a public figure. We refuse to be poor like our counterparts in First World countries) especially in Federal Universities. These men intend to hold us by the balls and demand fair remuneration as if they were as conscientious as politicians. Ask these men if they can stay up all night (deliberating on money making schemes)? Do you think theorising and philosophising is on the same wavelength as politricking?

The impossible lots! So unreasonable! If only our inferiors will know their place and stay there, the world will be better for it. When they began their warning strike, they thought we would cave. They had no idea we had weightier matters of politics and power to consider so we mocked them privately especially when Baba said he was unaware that ASUU was on strike. So gullible they would believe anything. Issuing warning strikes as though they hold the real power. Like us, their weak spot is playing gods for a few weeks when they can collect their meagre share of the national loot, yet pretending to play hardball. We have not paid them since February when their warning strike began, the same way we didn’t pay them during the Lockdown when they also went on strike (they will learn to respect their superiors).

Anyway, there is a Nigerian proverb that says a child determined to frustrate its mother, will suffer too but I am struggling with the tumultuous choice of continuing my vendetta against the gang of educated rebels or accepting the slight. It is important to note that this might affect my international plan B. Let me know what you think.
Yours in Service,
Falsely accused, Disgraced yet Proud Accountant.

. Giwa writes from the University of Lagos.
victoriagiwa12@gmail.com

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