The Buhari Famous Declaration
By Promise Adiele
Declaration is an iconic word. It can be substituted with proclamation or announcement depending on the context. In various academic disciplines, declaration conveniently stakes a claim as a locution of reputable acclaim. I recall the famous self-rule declaration by Pa Anthony Enahoro in 1953. I also remember the Ojukwu declaration in 1967 which birthed the Republic of Biafra. On each occasion, the declaration was greeted with joy and celebration. But it wasn’t the case when Nigeria’s evil genius Ibrahim Babangida declared June 12 1993 presidential election null and void. Declaration on that occasion was greeted with gloom and a sense of foreboding that bordered on the tragic. When in Ola Rotimi’s The gods are not to Blame the old, purblind seer, Baba Fakunle, after casting his opele stringed objects of divination rose and declared that the baby Odewale will kill his father and marry his mother, it was greeted with disdain. When a medical doctor emerges from an operating theatre, family members, friends and well-wishers besiege him for a declaration. If it is positive, people rejoice. If it is negative, people mourn. Was it angst or excitement that greeted Pa Muhammadu Buhari’s recent declaration which some people find intriguing but to a lesser degree fascinating?
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Recently, Mr. President declared that Nigerians should vote for any political party or candidate of their choice in the fast-approaching February presidential elections. Furthermore, the president declared that he would not allow anyone to use thugs to molest Nigerians or compromise the electoral protocol. That declaration by the president is piercing and penetrating. Like an arrow shot in the dark, it chose its victims randomly. The victims of that presidential arrow are political criminals schooled and established in the dark art of power-grabbing, those who mindlessly perpetrate different shades of criminality for which they hold a medal and a world title. Their infinite, rapacious appetite for depravity and iniquity is a class art. Their lives and businesses are criminality personified. They thrive on the hills of anomy and flourish in the degraded chambers of malfeasance. Everything about these characters is shrouded in mysterious, infinite conjecture. Nigerians know these people. They are not happy with that presidential declaration. If for anything, the declaration has castrated the virility of political desperados which was displayed during the party primaries. Perhaps, had Pa Buhari put his feet down during the party primaries insisting on probity and rectitude, certain presidential candidates would not have emerged thus saving our political space the current avoidable national and international embarrassment.
Ordinarily, Buhari is expected to openly support his party and encourage Nigerians to vote for its candidate but it appears the septuagenarian is hearing voices which inform his impartial disposition towards the elections. The Buhari declaration is symbolic in many ways. While enraging those preparing for electoral scams and various underhand tactics to win the polls, the declaration has allayed the fears of many who think that the ruling party will deploy state instrumentality and power apparatus to pervert the elections. These fears are not misplaced because the ruling party has a reputation for the enthronement of chaos and disorder which provide the ideal scenario for their rank and file to luxuriate. In this case, hindsight is not in doubt. One would expect Mr. President to match words with action. Those training ferocious dogs in the Orwellian tradition as Napoleon trained his dogs and unleashed them to hound the opposition should be called out. Those training human mastiffs, crocs, pythons, scorpions, and all kinds of deadly creatures for the February elections should be identified. For these people, it is either they win or Nigeria implodes. Buhari must check them.
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While the Buhari declaration calls for jubilation at least at its face value, some people have also called for caution given the president’s capriciousness and inconsistencies in recent times. The question is – was the president honest in his declaration that Nigerians are free to vote for any candidate of their choice? Was he talking tongue-in-cheek? Is the president on the same page with his wife who is glaringly campaigning for a certain candidate and urging Nigerians to vote for him? Can Pa Buhari be trusted in his declaration? Are there genuine fears in the camp of those planning to snatch power by all means and run with it or will they click their glasses in merry-making and dismiss the presidential declaration as a flash in the pan, then console one another with no shaking, that familiar mantra of remorseless minds. It is worth repeating that there are some politicians in Nigeria whose only stock-in-trade is to enunciate electoral violence, destabilize the process and employ feral thugs maintained by taxpayers’ money to unleash mayhem on the polity. The questions keep inundating my sensibilities – has the Buhari declaration disappointed the Biblical devices of the crafty so that their hands cannot perform their wicked enterprise? Or is the declaration a smokescreen to disarm the unsuspecting and lead Nigerians into a blind alley where they will be ensnared and beguiled?
Investigating and researching the Buhari declaration will be quite interesting. What informed the declaration? Is he privy to some devious plot by political marauders and witchcraft to undermine the wishes of millions of Nigerians? Is Buhari appalled by the kind of characters that will likely mount the rostrum as policymakers in the unfortunate and God-forsaking event that his party wins the presidential elections? Is Buhari violated by the number of political predators and enemy nationals ready to have Nigeria for dinner if the ruling party wins the election? Or does Buhari see the election as an opportunity to redeem his vanished reputation as a man of integrity by bequeathing to Nigerians an electoral legacy that will usher in a new beginning for the country? Indeed, there must be a reason why Buhari is not offering his chest in support of his party’s presidential aspirant. Is Buhari’s conscience assailed by all the drug-related, double-dealing narratives flying around some aspirants seeing that it was for the same drug issues that he killed three young Nigerians as a military head of state? Drug lords do not have a conscience and will stop at nothing to achieve their aim.
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Buhari’s declaration that Nigerians are free to vote for any political party and any candidate of their choice may be encouraging but it must go beyond mere rhetoric. By his declaration, Buhari disowns all intent to cheat and partake in the rape of the people’s collective will. To do otherwise will be to concede an abysmal lack of control of his government and that will be an unthinkable paradox. There are indications that some governors, in their bid to satisfy an inordinate yearning and reciprocate a political gesture have planned to manipulate INEC staff and machinery. These governors have become anathema to the people of their states in more ways than one and they must be checked. Security heads, police, and all the military mechanisms must be reined in and put in check too. If Buhari’s body language is tailored towards bequeathing a free and fair election only on paper while the serial plunderers of our polity have the last laugh, then Buhari would have lost on all fronts and posterity will judge him cruelly. The enemies of Nigeria will not backtrack easily. They will never give up without a fight. The novel consciousness for a new Nigeria is resonating within and outside the country and enemy nationals are not happy about it. It is hoped that Buhari will match words with action and his next declaration will be to institute a new Nigeria.
Mountain Top University.
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With Us, Not For US
By Ijeoma Fynecountry
The 21st of March of every year is international day for the celebration of persons living with down syndrome. The advocacy and push for communal and political recognition of the basic fundamental rights for persons living with various types of disabilities, particularly intellectual disability, just as enjoyed by their peers who do not have any form of challenge – physical or intellectual has recorded a substantial success around the globe, especially in more developed climes.
While the same cannot be said of the situation in Africa and Nigeria in particular, scanty breakthroughs have also been seen over the years, with the consistent and dogged efforts by some specialized organizations such as Down syndrome Foundation, Nigeria (DSFN).
The theme for this year’s celebration is “With us, Not for us”. This theme is apt particularly in the current era where the push for inclusion has taken a center stage in the campaign worldwide. While it is comforting to know that people, government and communities alike are now becoming more empathetic to the plight of persons living with disability, it is also necessary and most important that their rights as human beings deserving of not just empathy but actual concrete benefits accruable to other citizens without disability, is massively taken into consideration and actually provided for.
Therefore, it is not enough for the government to map out and create as in Lagos state and few other states, sections in the public schools to admit children or persons with intellectual disability, it is necessary to adequately equip these special schools with the needed “specialized” manpower, infrastructural and educational aids to attain the targeted educational goals for these persons. Likewise in the provision of better healthcare, economic, social needs of persons with disability etc.
Persons with intellectual disability do not just need to be specifically educated in accordance with his or her type of disability, but MUST also necessarily be able to aspire to or expect to be employed according to his or her learned ability. That way, a full right, befitting of a person, be him a person with disability or not, is assured. For what is the need of going through a learning process, acquiring a specialized knowledge about a craft or handiwork and eventually still not being given the opportunity of gaining employment as supposed, not due to lack of knowledge but for having a disability? No human being should be subjected to such. Our government should do better. The society at large should do better.
The theme for this year is enjoining all stakeholders – the government, communities, corporate organizations, religious bodies/organizations, individuals to open up their hearts, and recognize the very urgent and important need to help in the actualization of these basic human needs, rights of persons living with intellectual disability as we are all human. No human rights or needs should be prioritized over the other no matter the state of their health, mental and physical capacity. Stand with us by taking actual intentional steps towards uplifting and elevating the humanness of persons living with disability. It is not enough to say that you are for persons living with disability, your specific, intentional, targeted actions toward ensuring the practical applicability of these rights matters.
Fynecontryis a Lagos-based legal practitioner and the legal resource person for the Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria.
The 2023 Elections And The Newness Of Nigeria
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.
Overcoming Policy Execution Trap As Nigeria’s Development Challenge
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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