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The Gold Rush For The Golden Seat Of Power



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon

By Toyin Falola

It is another election season in Nigeria, and rather than elicit feelings of hope and optimism, of looking forward to a new dispensation that will improve on what the present administration has achieved, it brings back to me the unpleasant memory of the gold rush. On January 24, 1848, James Marshall found gold at a mill in Coloma, California. In a short period of seven years, about 300,000 people rushed there. Money was made, and California became a state. The gold-seekers, called the “Forty-Niners,” were ruthless. They killed the indigenous population in acts of genocide and seized their lands. In 1851, The Victorian Gold Rush began in Australia, doubling the country’s population and its suffering. In 1886, history was repeated in South Africa, the Witwatersrand gold rush, which created what we now call the Mineral Revolution. Johannesburg was established. The wealth was massive. The land seizure followed, and Blacks were converted to labour. The rush for the seat of the Nigerian president is reminiscent of these three gold rushes. Nigeria is now in the season of the power rush: money is about to be made, fake promises, dispossessions, and death.

As has been the tradition in the country’s nascent democracy, many old and new political aspirants are jostling to join a race whose history of rarely ever producing a credible winner should ordinarily deter prospective interests. Yet, as you might already know, the umpire’s promise of a “free, fair, and credible” process is merely a claim to such cardinal ideals that have eluded all former occupants of Nigeria’s golden seat of power. Hence, it is reasonable to rule out ideals as the sentiment guiding this process of selecting a new leader, unless you believe a bunch of enthusiastic aspirants queuing to cough up tens of millions of naira are truly motivated by a desire to serve the motherland. If like me, you are not so easily swayed, then your focus will be on what drives this widespread desire to run for president and why, all of a sudden, everyone thinks they have what it takes to lead Nigeria. They are rushing for gold!

Nigeria has an estimated population of about two hundred million people, divided into 36 states and 774 local government areas. Its national assets include more than 350 ethnic groups with potentially differing hopes and aspirations, a grossly inadequate healthcare system, dilapidated infrastructure, a haemorrhaging economy, a formidable debt profile, a raging insurgency, and an overwhelmed security architecture, and a disillusioned, disgruntled society. With a profile like this, you will agree that Nigeria is fortunate to have such a long list of illustrious sons declaring their intention to lead our beloved nation to prosperity. This must be the type of patriotism upon which the foundations of great nations like America and China are rested. It is the fascination of gold: the problems cannot deter you; only the aroma of the profits fuels the quest.

READ ALSO: APC Leader Vows To Quit APC, Politics If Jonathan Joins Party As Presidential Aspirant

Perhaps even more fortunate for Nigeria, as someone told me, is that this crop of aspirants vying for Nigeria’s number one office is cut from a different cloth and separated from the type of orientation that has impeded our development as a nation. They are not only one-time vice presidents, two-time governors, former or serving senators and ministers of our federal republic, who jointly supervised Nigeria’s steady slide into oblivion, nor are they just politicians trailed by the putrefying stench of malfeasance perpetrated while in office. For this reason, we must sing Hallelujah and thank Allah that we do not have to contend with only the cross-carpeting types whose allegiance will be to their political career and not the people whose interest they swore to protect.

This time, new explorers and traders are rushing to Johannesburg to be part of the Mineral Revolution. Our options include reputable pastors and imams who are incapable of lies and deceit. They only seek the kingdom of heaven where their treasures have been stored and are not interested in sharing part of the national cake, even when they have to pay millions of naira upfront to earn about half of it in their four years of trying to lead Nigeria out of its current quagmire. We also have doctors, senior advocates, professors, and “seasoned democrats,” some of whose career achievements and eloquence can charm the nipple out of a suckling babe’s mouth. These are people of great standing, capable and willing to bring their expertise and wealth of experience to bear in this quest for Nigeria’s transformation; if you choose to believe their manifesto – for those who care enough to have one. So how could anyone doubt their intentions or capacity? It is because we understand the behaviour of gold diggers. They offer you a cut, but when the gold reaches their left pocket, there is a gun inside the right one to dispossess you of it and terminate your life.

Eight years ago—which may seem like an eternity given the amount of carnage and suffering that has gripped the Nigerian space at that time—a former despot who had suffered three crushing defeats before retiring to his farm was rebranded and sold to Nigerians as an incorruptible and formidable general whose antecedent—the infamous war against indiscipline—proved him the best man to redeem Nigeria. Cecil Rhodes made the same claim! Before this general’s victory in 2015, when electoral campaigns were beginning in earnest and insecurity was generating a storm of anxiety among Nigerians, the story was circulated that the general and a senior advocate, who is also a pastor, were the perfect fit. They believed that while the general would be firm and thorough in handling corruption and insecurity, his vice, who is versed in the law and a pious Christian, would guide him on the right legal and moral choices. Yes! The white missionary and the white slave trader landed on our shores and came in the same ship; one offered the Bible and asked you to close your eyes, while the other took the land as you did so.

READ ALSO: Why Jonathan Cannot Contest 2023 Presidential Election – Falana

Today, while our guardian general is away on one of his usual presidential vacations and our devout vice-president is busy rallying church members to aid his ascension to the golden seat of power, the citizens are left debating amongst themselves if, after the Zaria, Benue and southern Kaduna massacres, the EndSARS killings, countless murders, kidnapping, hundreds in captivity, biting inflation, and a mountain of debt, these same people deserve another go. Like the Indians in California and the Zulu in South Africa who were not allowed to answer that question, we must be quiet.

Have we forgotten so soon the wonderous rice pyramids of Abuja, the first of its kind in Nigeria!? You may argue that seven years is enough time for any electorate to determine whether or not it has fared well under any particular dispensation and, as a result, developed some consensus on its next line of action: continuity or change. To do so concerning the Nigerian electorate would be to display a certain degree of ignorance about the calculations that go into supporting any candidate. We can always sell our votes. For example, due to an unwritten power-sharing formula, it is a known fact, particularly amongst political parties fielding candidates for elections, that an intra-faith or intra-regional party ticket is the first ingredient for failure in any recipe for clinching the most important seat in the land.

With a sitting president of northern extraction, much political sentiment favours the next president being of southern origin. Capitalizing on this knowledge, real and aspiring politicians of southern extraction who cannot afford to miss out on what might be their best opportunity to secure Nigeria’s number one chair are throwing their hats in the ring. Does the Northerner steal more than the Southerner? Additionally, the bastardization of the federal character structure under this administration—with a lopsided northern representation in key offices—has awakened feelings of ethnic domination. This has spurred more interest in the top position, but it has also made the choice of a northern candidate a little more delicate. However, there is more going on behind the scenes before the electorate is presented with the options from which to pick the lesser evil.

As you bend down to pick your Permanent Voting Card (PVC), be careful so that the gold diggers do not use caterpillars to maul you to death. They will sweet talk you into saying that you will join them in searching for gold. Remember Solomon Northup? He was tricked and kidnapped into slavery for twelve years. Yours will be for four; maybe eight. To the Christians among you, you have been prewarned by Saint Peter in 1 Peter 2:18: “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.” Come 2023; your new boss will be President Perverse. He must enjoy the success of his gold rush. He got gold while you got naira: ten Awolowos make one Ahmadu Bello; five Bellos make one Azikiwe, two Azikiwes make two heads of Mai Bornu and Clement Isong. Combine all the heads, and you will get one sardine and one Agege bread at the most. Your perverse man is the best to happen to you!

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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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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