It bears repeating that Nigeria’s continued existence will be at risk if the rich and the wealthy are not receptive to the clear warning of anger and poverty-induced disillusionments in the land.
First, Aisha Buhari’s warning that most of Nigeria’s leaders, “as a result of a long time of injustice done to” the mass of the people, “cannot go to” their “villages and sleep with”their “two eyes closed” is an indication that governance in Nigeria has failed; nothing is working! Her passionate plea to Muhamadu, her husband; and those working with him to “fear God, and … know that, one day, we will all return to God and account for our deeds here on earth” paints a clear picture of how the application or implementation of policy recommendations and remedies of the Buhari-led government have so far fared! Of course, that’s the wife of the sitting president of Nigeria, questioning the relevance, effectiveness or efficiency of Public Administration through government policy directives and their implementations. This is the question on the minds of the common man and woman on the street!
If reports from across Nigeria are also anything to go by, then, one can safely say that the man in the saddle as governor of Oyo State is a very likable person! No sooner had he mounted the saddle of governance than he started doing what truly portrayed him as not only being in charge but also as one helmsman who understands why he was elected to govern the over-6 million-strong population. And, within a few months in office, Seyi Makinde has demonstrated that strategic governance does not reside in building an empire or throwing money around but in building a team and being pragmatic in allocating resources to where they are needed most, in the most appropriate manner! He has proved that responsible leadership is not about the administration of an enclave. Rather, it is about the efficient management of the institution of the state; not even a public institution, because public institutions are located within the institution of the state.
Makinde won the election, not because the then ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state didn’t have laudable ideas but because its handlers were so full of themselves that they didn’t know how to sell those ideas to the electorate. GSM, as he is fondly called by his admirers, has therefore shown that it could happen anywhere! Go to Oyo now: the state is working and the people are happy! Makinde loves his people and his people appreciate him in return! While drawing inspirations from successful countries like Japan, which attained greatness through focus “on intellectual development”, the governor attributed the scourge of poverty in Nigeria to leadership failure. He insisted that “how we organize ourselves and how we utilize our God-given “natural resources” is the only thing that can “take us out of poverty.”
The foregoing painted, in graphic relief, the unfolding-yet-foreboding cataclysmic nature of Nigeria’s fragile democracy. Even, the aristocratic Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for the first time, saw poverty in its garnished form when he bluntly called for a paradigmatic shift in our applied economic theories, and an overhaul of our public administration system.
The perception of many Nigerians today is that, once the president reels out favourable policy statements, promises and intentions of government (that may never be delivered), government goes to sleep and everybody is on his or her own. Whether or not God be for us all, henceforth, is entirely a different story! For instance, the president promised on assumption of office to recover all Chibok and other Nigerians from Boko Haram’s captivity but, unfortunately, the story, as we speak, has gone from bad to worse. Years on, the Leah Sharibus of Nigeria have been languishing in the terrorists’ den for being who they are. The Emir of Potiskum, Umaru Bubaram Bauya, recently escaped death by the whiskers; and that was after no fewer than four members of his entourage had been brutally murdered by the marauders. More Nigerians are being beheaded. Then, and, as always, provocative, medicine-after-death, ‘all whip, no hay’ Press Statements from the Presidency that is obviously far removed from the people would follow!
So, where do we go from here, because it appears as if effective governance has taken flight? As things stand, politicians are just muddling through! Our policies are neither working nor pragmatic. So, nobody is sure of anything! Like laboratory rats, useful only for experiments, failure to source a creative distance from where we currently pitch our tent, in addition to poor welfare that is painfully customized to suit poverty in our country, has stolen the common man’s heart. So also, the crestfallen status of the Rule of Law and its negative essence has become more palpable in Nigeria’s socio-political firmament. Is it any wonder then why “we have abundance of” natural resources that are still being wasted”?
Staying with the philosophy of nationhood, that Buhari’s erstwhile persuasive ‘body language’ has failed Nigerians says a lot about the conspicuous challenges of the Nigerian state as a chronically ill society with patronage, patrimony and preference. Available indices are also unhelpful! For instance, Nigeria’s economy is projected to “have a suppressed economic performance at around 2% by 2020”, due, primarily, to government’s failure “to fix structural constraints.” And, unless bold steps are taken to address, especially, the “pace of growth and job creation”, the number of Nigerians stuck in poverty is also most likely to account “for a quarter of all people living in extreme poverty worldwide.” Evidence before the world has shown that Nigeria’s security architecture has collapsed. It is even being alleged in some quarters that we are using anticorruption to incentivize corruption. Is it any surprise why there is no war in Nigeria but there is also no peace; why motion is in excess supply while movement is in wanton scarcity?
Again, what happened and where did we go wrong? Why are our leaders engaging in ‘Marlian’ rigmaroles in ways that do not offer us a valuable anchor to believe that they understand even the basic socioeconomic issues that have unfortunately become existential threats to our unity? What are the roles of Nigeria’s Ahitophels and political janjaweeds, whose counsels are never destined to yield to persuasion or dialogue, in all of these? Above all, when last did we feel safe in Nigeria, irrespective of the differences in governments and administrations over the years?
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
*abiodun KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun, Nigeria