NIGERIA: A Case of Too Many Purposeless Cooks by Debo Adejugbe
I have something I will like to say. My points will come out the way I really feel, pardon me if it hits a sore point – I assure you, it’s my purpose.
It is no more news that our president overwhelmingly won the 2011 general election in what he termed an “Act of God”, what is however surprising is what he has done with that mandate freely given by that “Act of God”. It is also not new that he has sauntered from one issue to the other without particularly achieving success in any of them (his aides and supporters will disagree with this opinion though).
Coupling this with the failure of his government and his body language / utterances, it betrays a man who is at ease with the “Act of God” bestowed on him by “goodluck” and Nigerians’ patience. Therefore, critically asserting that our President is weak and out of his depth is understating the obvious by miles.
In an attempt to compensate for his lack of charisma and purpose, Mr President went on a shopping spree for Assistants, Special assistants, Senior Special assistants, Assistant to senior special assistant, Media assistants, Assistant to media assistants, Special advisers, Senior special advisers, Adviser to special advisers, Social media assistant to assistant to media assistants……add that to a retinue of ex-militants speaking on his behalf…..you get my point already. The roles of these personnel all boils down to one issue: defend the President with your reputations and skills at all times. This is case ONE.
Enter Doyin Okupe! The man brought in to be Mr President’s link to the public; the new face of his administration whose job is to help bridge the gap between the people and government’s achievements (even if there is none). He has settled in to the pace of the administration in little time, but we should not forget that his appointment is an admission that the hundreds of aides at Mr President’s beck and call are seriously deficient and useless.
On the other hand, the opposition sensed a weak, inefficient and indecisive commander-in-chief that would crumble under the simplest of pressure; they decided to maximize the attack threshold to a level that will make, even a stronger individual crumble. They went for it. This is our case TWO.
Now, if you have been following the latest trend, you will notice a small group of free-thinkers not happy with pace at which the government is moving (which is backwards). It’s so easy to see why these people are irritated, I am too, but then thousands of “follow agents” exist within the government, opposition and free-thinkers’ stratosphere just for the sake of echoing what these people say irrespective of their personal opinions and gut feelings. This is our case THREE.
I just gave you a glimpse into how things are working presently. Now, let’s look at how these things affect our country and development.
Looking at case ONE critically, you will notice a President with no purpose or plan being drawn away from the task of finding a purpose for his government, now wholly focused on appointing the best “attack LION” to defend his every move. When there is no move to defend, they create a melee that will keep the opposition and the free-thinkers engaged until the next governance mishap surfaces. It is needless saying the government thrives in this arrangement; as it gives them the opportunity to attack rather than defend an issue logically.
If you witnessed the last presidential chat, you will understand that the president and his aides are never comfortable when not being attacked. It makes them very nervous sitting down with someone not seen as an enemy answering questions not intended as attacks. Another case is Doyin Okupe’s recent AIT interview, both veered towards calling the opposition out to attack.
Let’s move on to case TWO!
In Nigeria, the opposition is very watery and lacking of a purposeful intent when “capturing power” is removed from their menu. The opposition’s main aim (like many opposition movements around the world) is to become the government in power – this is acceptable, but where I have a problem with the opposition in Nigeria is a lack of proper planning on what to do when they capture that power they desperately crave.
To drive home my point, please ask the opposition what they intend to do when they “capture power”, ask them about their policy focus and how they intend to make sure the right people are appointed to the right offices. You’ll be shocked that they don’t have a plan yet!
In civilized climes (which we need to emulate), there is an organized opposition tracking government policy focus, voting trends in the legislature, budget performance, foreign policy, security focus, sports development etc. They come up with alternatives wherever the administration lack a solid plan and sell themselves to the populace based on progressive issues (even if you can never be totally progressive) and how they plan to do things differently.
By my own understanding, an opposition or a group of opposition (in our case) ought to provide a solid alternative to an incumbent administration when the next election comes. It is sad to admit failure in this context, all they do is look for ways to “outrig” the incumbent and when that is done, they continue with radically insensitive policies that make us crave for times past. Does that spell improvement or advancement of cause?
Moving on to case THREE now! The free-thinkers really want a change and they are championing a new dispensation by speaking up against any weakness or misuse of government apparatus by those in power. I have to be candid with you, not everyone in this group is doing it to see the desired change. Some are pumping their fists to curry attention and get called to the master’s table – Dr Reuben Abati is a recent case study of how the table turns very fast in Nigeria.
We know there are too many special advisers and they are coming with fewer brain cells nowadays, it’s same with the quality of opposition we have and the civil society is a breeding ground for dumbness.
Let make a pot of stew from these three cases. Bring a clueless and weak government in, add it to a warped and directionless opposition plus a polluted civil society whose members are divided along personal, tribal, religious or some other lines; there you have a recipe for a disastrous pot of Naija stew.
I love criticizing, but then it’s up to me to bring up some reasonable solutions too. If we notice a government is never going to come good, let’s put some of our focus on seeing a thriving and focused opposition that can give us the country we desire – it’s never too early or too late.
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