Nigeria: Strong Individuals, Weak Institutions And A Broken Society By Ogundana Michael Rotimi
Last Saturday, we woke up to the news that Audu Maikori, the CEO of Chocolate City Entertainment, was arrested in Lagos; by a team of policemen attached to the Inspector-General Monitoring And Intelligence Team and was immediately transferred to the Force Headquarters in Abuja. His arrest, however, was not disconnected from the series of posts and comments he shared on his social media pages about the Southern Kaduna massacre. The information turned out to be untrue, prompting a retraction and apology from him to the general public.
Well, the piece of today is neither about Audu Maikori nor about his actions, but about the scenarios surrounding his arrest and release. It is about our institutions!
I am a strong proponent of strong institutions as being key to our development and sustainability. Pathetically, we are a nation of strong and powerful individuals with weak and fragile institutions in a broken society.
When we talk about strong institutions building, as being fundamental in ridding off our society of the lawlessness that has crippled it and brought it down to its knees, we aren`t kidding about it. I do believe that no nation can achieve its founding dreams and become admirable great if its institutions are weak and fragile. I also believe, no society in the world can match up with others when its institutions are broken. It is a matter of fact that if you want to know about a society that you should check its public institutions.
As the saying goes, “chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. Well, in the same way, laws are only as strong as the weakest institutions that enforce them.
The tumultuous situation surrounding the Audu`s saga brought the Kaduna state government under pressure from various quarters, with sympathy here, hostility there; some saying there’s no smoke without fire, others countering that it’s a smokescreen. Friends are torn apart in the debate; comrades too. Critics even joined and coined the hashtag- #FreeAudu. But, until we all put partisanship behind us and support justice and equity we may not achieve the change we are in dire need of.
It is quite logical to assume that the scenarios surrounding Audu`s arrest and release resulting to various comments and counter comments across the divide, is a function of a weak institution. It took the order from one man to get Audu arrested and took the intervention of one woman to get him released.
According to Madam Oby Ezekwesili, a former Minister of Education, she disclosed on her Twitter Page that she had contacted the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to resolve the matter and get Audu Maikori released.
“I asked the @GovKaduna to consider @Audu ‘s apology and his unfortunate arrest as a TEACHABLE MOMENT for both the Government & everyone.”
“At the end of our discussion, @GovKaduna agreed to ACT and FREE @Audu quickly and end this unfortunate development. WILL WATCH OUT FOR IT,” she said.
The implication of this is, the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai actually ordered the arrest of Audu Maikori and it is not just the security operatives of the land doing their job as one would have expected. That was why it was easy for Madam Oby Ezekwesili to call him and pleaded for Audu`s release.
It took the call of one man to the security operatives in the land for another man to be arrested and took another call to get the arrested released. This is what happens in a society with weak institutions.
I could not but wonder why the whole processes have to go that way in a country governed by law.
Make no mistakes, when public institutions are weak, actions and reactions are centred around ethnical or religious or political affiliations. Every side of the divide defends its own and draw a comparison with a previous occurrence that was either overlooked or upturned or manoeuvred. That was why the Kaduna State government was brought under pressure.
In a society where institutions are weak and fragile, they wait for order and counter order from strong individuals before they do their jobs.
Had we built our institutions to be strong and active, they would not have waited for the order of one man before taking actions if they deem it necessary.
Had we built our institutions and make them strong and reliable enough to do their jobs without fear and favour, they would have professionally done a good job in Audu`s case and in so many other related and non-related cases. In that case, no one would have been calling the name of a governor or another for being responsible for the arrest or release of anybody. Hence, everyone would be made to face the consequence(s) of his/her action(s) without resulting into any form of civil unrest.
Had we built our institution to that level of display of trust, no individual would be accused of masterminding the arrest or release of any accused persons.
We live in a country where we have men and women that are stronger than all our institutions all combined, using them at will for personal gains.
We live in a society where our institutions are not guided by laws but by selfish orders from men and women in high places.
We live in a society of broken institutions, where laws are never followed, processes are not adhered to and where justice is completely perverted.
It is becoming hopeless to think that we cannot trust our institutions to do the right thing and take the right actions according to our laws. Our institutions must be capable of implementing and enforcing the laws of the land in accordance with its terms without bias and any external influence.
Corruption and weak institutions are parts of the challenges facing our nation and are responsible for many of our problems. It is the reason why the call for building strong public institutions cannot be overemphasized. Mark you, in strengthening our institutions, we must start by building Values, Structures, and Processes. With these three elements in place, no individual will be placed above the law; the government will function optimally while transparency and accountability would be made easy.
Strengthening existing institutions and building more reliable ones, remain key to Nigeria’s socio-political development and sustenance of its democratic structures.
The reason why we are still a nation of Strong Individuals, Weak Institutions and a Broken Society is because: we have consistently had RULERS instead of LEADERS, who are not ready to relinquish their powers to our institutions to make them more powerful and stronger than them. And until then, we are just joking! It is the combination of strong institutions and visionary leaders would fast-track development in all sectors of the country.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Ogundana Michael Rotimi is a Nigerian Biochemist, Socio-economic & Political Commentator, and Public Speaker. He tweets @MickeySunny.