My Preliminary Issues With The Atiku Policy Document, By Umar Ardo
The major problem of this Policy Document is that it fails to address the most fundamental issues faced by most other previous similar documents – i.e. the ‘how’ issues! We all know the problems; we know why we’ve the problems; and we also know what to do to solve these problems. What we’ve not so far been able to figure out is ‘how to do’ what to do. And this Policy Document, like others before it, has no doubt identified the issues and problems, and what to do to resolve them; but, like the previous ones, woefully fails to demonstrate how. ‘How’ has always been the problem, and not ‘why’ or ‘what’. What Nigerians expected most from the document is the ‘how’, and the fact that it is missing makes the Policy Document less appealing.
Another key developmental problem relating to the ‘how issues’ is in the translation of paper policy to practical implementation. Over the years, our policy makers have failed to translate paper designs to ground implementation. For example, take any road or civil engineering design upon which bidding is quoted and contract awarded, and compare it with the finished project. The marked differences between the two will give u clear idea of what l mean. Or, how does it differ with Nigeria’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd National Development Plans, the 9-Point Reconstruction Programme, Operation Feed the Nation, Green Revolution, DIFRI, MAMSA, Vision 2010, NEEDS, 7-Point Agenda, Vision 2020, etc.
All these came and went without adequately being able to translate in practical terms the policies enunciated in those documents. Thus, the inability and failure to translate our policy designs into practice have been such a huge problem to Nigeria’s national development efforts that deserve special attention and solution in any policy document of this magnitude. The fact that this one completely fails to address the issue has put to serious question the author’s real grasp of the major problems facing the country. This is a glaring minus to the Policy Document!
Again, one of the key priorities of an Atiku Administration, according to the Policy Document, is to ‘establish Technology Support Programs (TSP) to be funded by Dispora Bond’. Based on available statistics, more than 70% of the diaspora money coming into this country is from the USA ??. How could a president who cannot visit a country design and implement a major policy of government that is mainly dependent on a country he cannot visit? How feasible is that going to be? The absence of an answer to this question casts a dark shadow on this critical policy thrust.
Furthermore, the vital aspect of the fight against corruption is conspicuously missing in the Policy Document – i.e. leadership by example! While striving to create institutional mechanisms of fighting corruption, the universal most effective method of tackling the menace of corruption is to lead by example.
The fact that the Policy Document has glossed over the need to build and promote honesty in our polity and see government funds and property as sacred trusts in the care of the president for which he is personally accountable is a serious cause for concern. Given that the Policy Document has even admitted that despite the creation of several anti-corruption agencies by previous Nigerian governments (interestingly when the candidate was VP), corruption still thrives is a clear indication that good policies alone are not sufficient; personal drive, follow-through and good example of the leadership is even more important.
That this critical element is insufficiently appreciated in the Policy Document has put a big hole in the personal resolve of the author to squarely face this serious aspect of our national malice if ever elected into office.
On the whole, therefore, the document creates more questions than provides answers to Nigeria’s political, economic, social, environmental and general developmental problems.