ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN -Value and Nature of Presidential Political Appointments and its Lessons for Nigeria.

As President Trump is finding out, running a business (no matter how large the corporation is) is a different kettle of fish from running a democratic country. While experience of managing a large corporation gives you a lot of transferable skills, new additional skills and competencies are needed to lead a fractured divided nation. However, the checks and balance incorporated into most democratic systems and the vast vested interests involved means a president cannot always be sure of the intentions and faithfulness of party members that surround him. Many presidencies have after all fallen due to the treachery and betrayal by previously loyal men and women. So what is a president to do? A common trend globally is the appointment of family members and long term loyal friends into office to ensure confidentiality and loyalty.mohammadu-buhari-official

The Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom have through history surrounded themselves with long term friends, old school mates and loyal long standing associates while in office. Not to be left out; the dictators of modern times all surrounded themselves with family members for exactly the same reason. From Saddam Hussain in Iraq, Kabila in the Congo to Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Whether they have official portfolios or not, leaders like to see loyal familiar faces every day.

All through American history, Presidents have always used trusted aids and family members as close aids and advisers as well as appointees. In my last count there has been at least nineteen presidents that have done this overtly; so this is a well travelled path. This is an advanced democracy governed by the rule of law, yet “nepotism” is an approved acceptable presidential conducted for a good part of its democratic history. Some of the notable examples are:

  • George Adams was the official secretary to his father.
  • Martin Van Buren appointed his son as his secretary.
  • Webb Hays was his father’s bodyguard and de facto chief of staff in the Whitehouse
  • Roosevelt Whitehouse was led by Anna for the latter part of his presidency. In fact, she was the de facto president for the last year of that administration.
  • JFK appointed his brother as the Attorney General.
  • Of course we see the Trump presidency using the same formulae by appointment of family members and close long term confidants.

Truth is, even if a son is fired by his president father as an adviser; he cannot be fired as a son. So there exist an eternal glue and bond that connects the president with his family members that makes them formidable associates in office. Loyalty is the most important quality Presidents look for and it is seldom obtained from strangers and casual acquaintances.

Additionally, leaders need honesty. But most people around them tend to be afraid of their jobs, hence will try to tell the leader what he wants to hear. But family members and close long term friends and loyalist tend to be more secure in their place in the life of the leader that they are not afraid of being sacked. Hence they are able to better confront the leaders with the truth.

Imagine if any minister of the Federal Republic said what Mrs Buhari said last year. He or She would have been fired. But despite his “other room” diatribe, the president could not sack his wife.  So close friends and families are better able to say what mere appointees are afraid to say.

The number one operational requirement of any president (regardless of the type of government) is TRUST and LOYALTY. It is therefore not a surprise that leaders will seek to surround themselves with people they trust and they feel will be loyal to their cause. Whiles there are laws in many nations that seek to spread national offices across the ethnic-religious and regional spectrums of each nation; there has always been scope for leaders to surround themselves with trusted hands, at least in their immediate circle. The usual aim of these distributive laws and conventions is to avoid undue dominance of one religion, ethnic group or region over the others. After all many conflicts have been caused by the hegemony of one side over the other.

So, the question is , why has appointments of close and trusted aids to governments worked in a place like the United States, but in Nigeria we make too much issue of this? Why do we focus more on the religion or state of origin of a Minister; instead of his productivity and effectiveness? Why is it that the worst man appointed “from my state or region” is better than the best man from another region? If there is productivity and progress, will it matter where the Minister is from or what religion he practices?

Nepotism is not a Nigerian or African phenomenon. We should stop making it look like a peculiar national problem. It is the break down of trust between Nigerians and their leaders that has led to a total mistrust of leadership intentions. So people will seek assurances and refuge in ethnic or religious identification of officials.

The fact is, a President can still choose to be corrupt even if all his appointees are complete strangers to him with no prior association and all federal character laws obeyed. This is no guarantee for an honest or effective presidency. In a Presidential system like ours, the buck always stops with the President; regardless of who his appointees are. We will hold him responsible for all the achievements and failures of his administration. So we should therefore stop focusing on the minors and start demanding results first; rather than make noise about the religion or state of origin of an appointee of the president. If appointing all his family members as federal ministers gives us stable Power, growing economy, full employment, security, great education and healthcare in Nigeria, that will be preferable to a non performing but regionally balanced cabinet.

The whole essence of a Presidential system of government is so that we can ultimately hold one person responsible for the direction, performance and achievements of the administration. Not because, the president does everything by himself; but because he decides on who to appoint and what is the agenda they should pursue. Hence, it is still all about the President’s judgments and decisions. In the end; no point blaming a non-performing Minister; blame the President that keeps him in position. If our leaders are to be held to such level of accountability; then we need to give them the benefit of allowing them to appointing who they want in their government; because in the end they will be held accountable. And we as the people should focus more on outcomes and productivity and less on who delivers it.

But I am also a realist. The clamour for religious and ethnic balance in government appointments is sown into the tapestry of the national apparel. So it is almost impossible for appointments not to degenerate into “how many Muslims”,how many Niger Delta indigenes” and so on are appointed. But as long as we prefer “our own”; instead of the “best person for the job”; we must be prepared to live with underperformance and stagnated development in the country. After all; despite the fact that the North have produced more leaders in Nigeria than any other region; the North is also the least developed part of the country. So there is no correlation between a region producing the President and the development of that region. Non at all.

It is time we extol merit above all else. Allow Presidents to choose his own men or women and then hold him fully accountable for there performance or otherwise. We should stop thinking these things are peculiar Nigerian issues when in fact all nations allow their leaders some free hand to appoint those he works with and become fully accountable for their actions. The President and all his men should be allowed to deliver for all the people.

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NIGERIA AND THE POLITICS OF DIFFERENCE AND DIVISION

What is it that makes us identify with other people as we go about our daily lives? What is the natural context for human existence and interactions? We tend to gravitate towards people who we believe are like us, even if we don’t know them. We tend to trust more people we believe have same fears as we do and see the world as us. Simply put, the natural format of human existence is Tribal. This could be based on ethnic, colour, language, geography, faith or any other emblem of collective similarities that exist. So when a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-faith nation is being formed, you are fighting against the natural tribal nature of humans. You are trying to bind together people who do not naturally see themselves as together. 

Good and visionary leaders will try to construct new threads and narratives that link people together in the name of national unity. They appeal to higher goals of our common humanity and communal interdependencies so as to engender a spirit of oneness and nationhood. Where such leaders do not exist, people will naturally backslide into their tribal caves bit by bit and It will soon become a fractured nation of they and us.

It is sad that in Nigeria, the people allow themselves to be used by politicians; who will fan the flames of ethnic and tribal sentiments to win power and then go ahead to cooperate with all ethnic, religious and tribal co conspirators to divide our commonwealth amongst themselves. The Dasuki List contain politicians from all ethnic, tribal, religious and geo-political zones. They were indeed one unified nation under God when it comes to corruption. But they become divided and tribal when campaigning or when being prosecuted.

It is a shame to read the nonsense from Femi Fani-Kayode over the past few days on his incarceration experience with the EFCC and meetings with Kanu in prison. I believe everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but Fani-Kayode is found of using intellectual veil to disguise his fallacious and inconsistent diatribes. You need to read between the lines so see that he is pursuing his own personal agenda and does not represent either the Yorubas or Nigeria. How much of the money they shared did he invest in his ‘beloved’ Yoruba communities? Like Asari Dokubo who made Billions under Jonathan but invested practically all of it overseas in neighbouring countries and practically non in Nigeria. How many Niger Delta citizens does he employ? You claim to fight for a people and yet give your jobs to foreigners. Such hypocrisy is symptomatic of Nigerian politicians and many activists.

The summary of my blog is that even in tribes, there are families of various status and rankings that comes together. My point is that a tribe is bonded together by separate unitary and separate lines of division; just as a nation glues together different tribes and faiths. We cannot always retreat to our tribal bunkers every time we are aggrieved. We need to understand that we are all now interdependent on one another.

Nigeria_politicalDuring the Janjaweed massacre in Darfur, the world joined forces to condemn (rightly so) the atrocities of the Sudanese government against South Sudan people and rebels. The global narrative at that time was of a war between the Muslim north and Christian South in Sudan. The South appeared as if they were an homogenous Christian people fighting for independence from a tyrannical Islamic North. Well few years later, the Christian South Sudan gained independence from Sudan and became the newest country in the world.

As many of you will know, the “united and Christian” South Sudan that appeared as a united and homogenous group during the war of independence have been fighting each other ever since. Over 100,000 people have been killed not by the Islamic North, but by the “Christian” South Sudanese themselves. They fought side by side to break away from the North, only to turn the same guns on each other after independence. They have now divided themselves by their different ethnic and tribal groups even though they are all still mainly Christians. There has been no peace in South Sudan since. So their assertion that their problems were wholly from the tyranny of the main Sudanese government has been shown as a fallacy. They were united fighting the North only to gain independence and start killing each other. This is a lesson for every nation who tries to play the tribal card. Today, Kanu and his likes want a Biafra Republic, because they feel hard done by the nation Nigeria. If there is ever a Biafra Republic, I can guarantee there will begin new internal war and fighting between constituent tribal units of the new nation and the usual pattern will repeat itself.

So the solution is not breaking our nation up, but agreeing that just as corruption can bind all our leaders together in common purpose regardless of their ethnic and tribal origins; Nigeria can be governed as a unified nation if we get the right leadership in place. There is already a proof of concept in place. The leaders come together and united when it comes to stealing. That shows unity can achieved if that passion is turned towards more constructive activities. If they can unite to steal, then it is possible to unite to rule a cohesive nation; bound by lofty goals of our fathers.

So Nigerians, don’t allow yourselves to be used and abused by these rascals called politicians and militants. Don’t allow the flames of division to thrive amongst us. These people are not leaders they are thieves and politricians, who trick the people for their own personal gains. Let us become faithful, loyal and honest to our country and make their days numbered who will not fight for the unity of our collective purpose and destiny as a nation. It is time to wise up. We are more united than we give ourselves credit for. God bless Nigeria.

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NIGERIA, A NATION OF CONTRADICTIONS FUELED BY IGNORANCE

One fact I have always accepted is that if everyone on this planet were like me, this will be a boring place for us all. Hence the diversity of temperaments, likes and dislikes make the earth a more dynamic, adventurous and interesting place to live. But looking at the socio-cultural posture of Nigeria, it is clear that inbuilt contradictions exist in most Nigerians and many are not fully aware of it. On one hand we criticize others from another ethnic group for behaving in a way that seems in consonance with their perceived cultural or religious believe (even if misguided); yet we try to claim an hegemony of our own cultural or religious values. So we are right and they are wrong; even if we do the same things we criticise them for.

A perfect example is the sad case of an Igbo woman who was killed by mob in Kano for allegedly insulting Islam. This was an horrific crime committed on an innocent lady and there can be no justification for it. There was rightly a national outrage and condemnation of this barbaric act by many fellow Nigerians. nigerian-police-abuse

But any social media user would have seen the weekly videos and pictures of suspected thieves or kidnappers being stripped naked, beaten and even killed all over the Southern parts of Nigeria; from Lagos to Port Harcourt to Enugu. So my question is, what is the difference? In Kano, an ignorant mob killed an innocent woman for alleged infraction of their religious sentiments but all over the south we frequently assault and even kill suspected “criminals” based on our mob justice and synthetic outrage. Which is worse?

Truth is we are all guilty. The fact that the motivations differ does not make the crimes any different. The foundation of our criminal justice system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. This safeguard exists for a good reason. All over southern Nigeria, I have seen cases of the mob supporting and praising the police for beating in public suspected criminals. But who decides guilt? I will tell you a story to illustrate this foolishness of a shameful national pastime many engage in. This is a true story.

Chinedu a student in Lagos called his fairly well to do cousin Peter for help to pay his school fees due in a week’s time. So Peter asked Chinedu to meet him in Ikeja so that he can give him some money. Their rendezvous was the car park of a popular bank. On getting there, Chinedu waited for his cousin to arrive. After five minutes, Peter arrived walking briskly and a bit out of breadth. He was holding a sports bag. “I need to quickly use the toilet next door, can you hold this bag for me” declared Peter to Chinedu after they exchanged pleasantries. So Chinedu took the bag and waited. Within 3mins a mob rushed in and confronted Chinedu shouting that he is thief who stole electronics from a shop in the market behind. All shouts of “I am innocent” was ignored. They took the sport bag from him, opened it and found the stolen electronics in it. They then commenced beating Chinedu, so much that it took the police to rescue him from being killed. The mob were convinced he was the thief simply because he had the bag with him. Had Chinedu been killed, the mob would have been satisfied they have delivered justice to a thief. But from the background I gave, you can see that Chinedu was an innocent boy, who was framed.

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This is why it is foolish to jump to conclusions without the facts. This is the reason why we have courts to determine the pertinent facts and give judgement based on evidence. You can never be sure of guilt until you get all the facts in every situation. Mob justice does not bother with facts or even the objective truth. They just use their rage to delver justice as they see fit. This is what happened in Kano. I am sure most of the mob that attacked this lady in Kano did not see or hear her commit the alleged infraction directly. They simply went by the words of someone with his own evil agenda. And this happens all over Nigeria daily as well. The fact that Kano was religiously motivated does not make it any worse than what the rest of the nation indulge in.

So we need to develop a sense of due process in Nigeria from the north to the south and stop being hypocritical by condemning something we also engage in. We need to be interested in facts and evidence rather than the rush to judgement. We should stop showing outrage with what happens in the North, only to do the same things ourselves albeit with a different motivation. Human life should matter and we all need to begin to give others the benefit of the doubt we expect to be given. A sad indictment of our education system is the many graduates that lack critical thinking capability.They do not know how to ask the right questions or critically challenge a thesis proposed to them. Blinded by all manner of sentiments (from religious to ethnic to moral), they believe easily the lies of others and allow themselves to be used as tools for criminal activities through mob action. We must all begin the change by making sure we do not allow ourselves to be used in future. Everyone must be responsible for their own actions. God help us in Nigeria.

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RESTRUCTURING LAW ENFORCEMENT & POLICING FOR A NEW NIGERIA – PART 1

 

Globally, policing has been going through a transition since the start of the millennium. With diverse pressures and diverging expectations, financial paucity, the concept of policing has been seeking a self-adaptive mutation for acceptance without universal Nigerian-police-1success.

In a major report in 1999, Lord Patten reflected in his submission on the review of policing in Northern Ireland by expressing the dilemmas faced by the modern police when he said:

“How can professional police officers best adapt to a world in which their own efforts are only a part of the overall policing of a modern society?…There is no perfect model for us, no example of a country that, to quote one European police officer, ‘has yet finalised the total transformation from force to service”[i]

The predicament facing the police globally are being fuelled by certain key transnational developments, salient of which are:

  • Transnationalism and ever increasing globalisation (Bottoms and Wiles, 1996).
  • Rapid rate of Social and Technological Changes.
  • Government pressure from restive citizenry dissatisfied with police status quo (Leishman, Loveday and Savage, 1995).
  • Increase in non state actors aggression attacking nations from within, such as terrorism and violent militancy.
  • The spread of intra-national paramilitary organisations who are challenging the settled belief of the police as the custodian of state monopoly to use force.

All these have led to a global debate on the purpose, ethics and operational parameters of the police institution. Although Lord Patten went on to declare that the purpose of the police is the protection of the human rights of the citizens; in the African and particularly Nigerian context, a slightly amended submission is required.

Despite being signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its African version, most nations in African and Asia have slightly different posture on the universality of some rights based on their constitutional provisions. For instance, some nations have a constitutional ban on Homosexual relationships, by some do not. Hence it is more appropriate to see policing in Nigeria and the sub-region from the prism of the need for the protection of Constitutional rights of its citizens, rather than just human rights.

So in assessing the operational effectiveness of the Nigerian police, Constitutional rights of Nigerians should be the focus of analysis and not simply the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as many tend to do. The Nigerian constitution has many borrowed language of universal rights, but there are national peculiarities that need to be noted. For instance; the universal declaration protects the right to Family Life. While this provision will be police-recruitwidely interpreted in many Western societies to include ALL manner of ‘Family life’; But in the Nigerian context, same-sex couples are not recognised as “Family” as there is a prohibition against such relationships. You can now begin to see elements of national peculiarities to these rights.

Chapter IV of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution (as amended) lists the fundamental rights of the citizens. These are similar to the European Charter of Fundamental and Human Rights, which reflects the provisions of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human rights. In summary, these rights are stated in the Nigerian as follows:[ii]

  1. Right to Life
  2. Right to Respect for the dignity of a person
  3. Right to Personal Liberty
  4. Right to Fair Hearing
  5. Right to Private and Family Life
  6. Right to Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  7. Right to Freedom of expression at the Press
  8. Right to Peaceful assembly and association
  9. Right to Freedom of movement
  10. Right to Freedom from discrimination
  11. Right to Acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria

So the expectations on the Nigerian Police should be the protection of Constitutional Rights of the citizens. This allows for national particularities to be taken onto account. The banal use of the phrase “Human Rights” could be slightly misleading in the Nigerian context. Many nations have their own esoteric interpretation of what constitute elements of the universal rights as we know it. So Nigeria is not unique in this position.

To understand the sad state of the Nigerian police, a recent historical context is needful. After the military coup of 1966, the military co-opted the police into government by making two of their ranks Governors. According to Asemota,[iii] the Military needed the police after the 1966 coup as the police were the only institution that had communication links all over Nigeria and had presence in every town in the country. Hence cooperation of the police was required to sustain the military rule, especially given that at that time the army was very small in comparison to the population.

Coming out of the civil war strengthened in number and infrastructure, the military felt they no longer need the police. So after the coup that brought General Murtala Mohammed into power, the police were no longer represented at all in government.  This reality many believe was the beginning of the modern neglect of the police. It has been argued by some, even within the police in Nigeria that the previous military governments that ruled Nigeria for more than half of its Independent years, made deliberate efforts to emasculate and disempower the police.

This many argue was intended to ensure the police did not develop the competence, skill and capability to challenge the military through the many coups that brought the army into power.  A salient champion of this school of thought from within the police, was a patrol1 policepolice Public Relations Officer for Lagos state during the Babangida military regime in the 1980s, who was suspended and dismissed  due to his “radical” claim of the disempowerment of the police by the military juntas.[iv] His name is Alozie Ogubuaja.

According to Ogubuaja:

“A military government will want a weak police force so that they can twist them as they want. The military want a weak police so that they can be used to do their biddings, the good, the bad and the ugly. Secondly, a weak and inefficient police force raises the profile of the military as masters in power. Thirdly, a strong and efficient police force is a threat to the military because there can not be two captains in one ship. The military would want a monopoly of power, to dominate and rule”.[v]

While the military when in power invested and modernise themselves infrastructure wise, the police was largely under funded and neglected. But the continuing negative public perception of the role and capacity of the police is a major source of concern in a democracy.

Hence the police remain the most misunderstood profession by the general public in Nigeria. Many expect them to work magic despite the limitations and constraints of their tools and service conditions. Their performance is weighed with misconception and ignorance, resulting in an out of context assessment of their activities. Ignorance of the inner workings of the police and the penchant for secrecy by the Nigeria police had led to little public confidence in the service, plenty of misconception and depleted public support and cooperation with the police.

The Nigeria police are saddled with the constitutional responsibilities of prevention and detection of crime.[vi] Given the foregoing pivotal and all-encompassing roles they play, the police have become a key institution for social order in Nigeria. Since no law operates in a vacuum, police enforcement gives value to the law and helps to regulate traditional tension between the antagonistic forces inherent in Nigerian and all human societies.

From colonial era, through military rule and the democratic dispensation, policing in Nigeria has been a tough task. Conflicts arising from social inequalities, political, religious and cultural differences appear to have widened the role and function of the police beyond the traditional law enforcement to other social services functions. So police are working in tense environments, in which their actions or inactions do have national ramifications.

However, the Nigeria police have been under lots of public criticism, especially since the late 70s over its apparent inability to effectively prevent or control crime. Several factors have been attributed to this sorry state of affairs.  Some of the key complaints are:

  • Lack of professionalism, generally attributed to the recruitment policy which has on the quality of manpower.
  • Poor training and institutional lack of discipline.
  • Corruption and culture of bribe taking.
  • Few numbers of manpower and poor equipment.
  • Bribe collection to work against the interest of justice. The highest bribe payers tend to get the police to support their position.

The consequence of these institutional problems is the resulting distrust and poor image and regard for the police by the citizenry. So my key question is; Is the Nigerian Police in Transition or in Crisis? Evidence will suggest both. The scale of the change that confronts the Nigerian police suggests a crisis of immense proportion, even as it suffers from an identity crisis and transitioning to a more ethical force in an unethical criminal justice environment.

A national police force is trying to cope with a world more joined up in trade, technology and of course transnational crimes and terrorism. Its legitimacy, authority, knowledge Nigeria_militant_deltabase and competency are being challenged by these multilateral pressures. And from the evidence available, the Nigerian police appears to be an analogue force fighting in a digital age.

They are simply over their head with the challenges facing them and there appears to be no strategic review of practices and procedures and well as tools and equipment to better respond to the multiple global-scale and global-inspired challenges confronting the police in Nigeria.

I am positing that a new policing settlement focused on protection of Constitutional rights of citizens, may offer the police a fresh basis for engagement, legitimacy and acceptability by Nigerians. How this can be constructed and achieved in Nigeria will be the focus of my concluding part of this article.

 

[i] Patten Report (1999), Paragraph 1.5

[ii] Chapter IV, Section 33 (1) of the Nigerian constitution

[iii] S.A Asemota . Policing Under Civilian and Military Administrations”. in Policing Nigeria, Past, Present and Future, (eds.) Tekena Tamuno et al, Malthouse Press

[iv] He was dismissed in 1988 from the Nigeria Police Force by the military rulers

[v <https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/NIgerianWorldForum/conversations/messages/42023&gt; accessed 22 July 2016

[vi] Section 4 Police Act. Cap 359, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990

 

NOTE:

Dr Charles Omole is a lawyer, Transformation expert, Corporate strategist to governments around the world. He is the author of a new book on policing titled, Developing Good Governance in Law Enforcement in African Societies – The Case of the Nigerian Police Force.

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Reformation of the Nigerian Police

The media headlines in the past couple of days states the drive to recruit 10,000 new Police officers based on the instruction of PMB. If this is true, then I have serious concerns. Just recruiting more officers is not going to solve the problems of an unreformed police force. 
Currently, research has shown that over 30 percent of current officers are not available for frontline policing because they are tied down as private security guards for VIPs, the rich and powerful. Another 10 percent are tied to several policing related agencies like EFCC. The United Nations benchmark for adequate policing is 200 per 100,000 population. Nigeria is about 220 based on the number of officers on the books and our official population. So as far as raw numbers go, Nigeria has reasonable numbers of officers on the payroll. Problem is that it does not feel adequate because a sizeable number are not available for frontline police work. So merely employing more officers will not solve the problem.

The police currently have just over 400,000 officers on the books. But the Nigeria Police Force have less than 10,000 walkie talkies. Almost 50 percent of police stations in the country do not have reliable patrol vehicle. The training regime for recruits perpetuates bad habits and is overtly reliant on use of physical force rather than constitutional rights protection. 

I believe recruiting new officers is not the right course of action, but a fundamental reform must precede any recruitment exercise. This will include mass sacking of several many disgraced officers. And the Police Service Commission (PSC) must be scrapped as well as Ministry of Police Affairs. They are both useless and reservoir of corruption and incompetence. As at last week, the most up to date Annual report produced by the PSC on the state of the police and their management was in 2011. That was five years ago. 

A total reform of the police is needed before we throw good money after bad.

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IT’S THE INTERNET STUPID…WAR AGAINST TRUTH IN NIGERIA

Any student with a basic knowledge of Research will know to treat with caution and care any information obtained from the Internet. But with the availability of mobile internet in Nigeria, there has been a major shift that many should be aware of. Stories about events and developments in Nigeria on the Internet seem to be overwhelmingly FALSE. Nigerians are now experts at creating false stories and new fictitious blogs and then share it on their status as NEWS. This is crazy. Nigeria_political

I asked my administrator to spend one hour investigating several stories shared by Nigerians on Facebook; they were ALL FALSE. All twenty of them. From images of events in other parts of the world falsely claimed to be from Nigeria, to stories about political developments that are wholly fictitious. A good lesson for all social media users is to resist sharing stories from or about Nigeria without first authenticating it as true or likely to be true.

Some doubt the truth of many stories, but share it anyway…I don’t get the sense in that. These falsehoods serves to muddle the waters of political discuss in Nigeria as people find it hard to separate facts from fiction. Truth has become a casualty of emerging Nigerian social media space.

As a practical guide; when I see a story about developments in Nigeria, I check it against reputable media houses to see if the story is being carried or published elsewhere. This alone exposes 90% of the false stories. Nigerians should not equate being available online to being an Authority. We should develop a habit of intellectual rigour and healthy skepticism.

Anybody can sit on their bed in a town in Nigeria and create a blog of falsehood. We should stop giving such stories the oxygen of publicity. If nobody repeats or rebroadcast their lies; they will have to give up eventually. So before you share that post next time….ask yourself if you are certain it is true or you are merely helping to spread falsehood and lies. Let us all start fixing our policy now….one story at a time.

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BUHARI’s Danger of Mandate Misdirection

In my last post, I advised President Mohammadu Buhari (PMB) to go narrow and deep in his approach to governance. This requires him to focus on narrow areas of policy and dive deeply into them to embed irreversible change for the benefit of the people in defence of his democratic change mandate. I posited that this is better that a wide and shallow approach which tries to initiate change on too many fronts, but not effective in institutionalising change in any of them. Dissipating energy in too many areas but not concluding any of them. It’s like jack of all trade and master of non. mohammadu-buhari-official

The kind of alliance that was cooked together in APC to get PMB elected requires compromise and a doze of reality. Had CPC won the election; PMB would have had the focus needed to effect his passionate change mandate with minimal compromise. But with the compromise necessary to produce APC, PMB has to reflect on this and know that he cannot implement all he had in mind in CPC and that APC contain people of dubious credibility just like the PDP. In fact many were in the PDP until recently.

The danger as I see it is that other than his fight against corruption; there is no discernible strategic direction  to the workings of this administration. There appears to be a drift in policy that is not joined up, is disjointed and and lacking coherence. For instance, I do not see any strategic vision for the policies of the CBN in the management of our monetary policies. Each day is another directive from the CBN but all lacking clarity of purpose and no understanding of what the end game should be. The CBN was pursuing a cashless policy by encouraging Nigerians to use electronic fund transfers; yet the CBN Governor was happy to give Millions of Dollars in cash in a briefcase to the former national security adviser. Why did the CBN not ask to transfer the funds to a nominated account? Why pay in cash such huge amount in direct contradiction of its own cashless policy? Where is the cashless policy gone? And yesterday, the CBN introduced a N50 Stamp Duty Charge for every deposit (including electronic) made into peoples accounts by third parties. This N50 charge is fixed regardless of how much was transferred above N1000. A more equitable approach would have been to start at N50,000 transfers (this will exclude most of the poor) and then make it a percentage of the funds value starting from N1 to up to N100 maximum. Paying N100 charge on a N50Million transfer is negligible for instance. In most nations of the world, Stamp Duty is a percentage of the transaction concerned to allow for proportionality, equity and fairness. By introducing this fixed charge; it will drive more people away from the banking system in direct opposition to its Cashless society vision. Where has the cashless policy gone? With its ban on ALL use of Debit cards abroad; the CBN has succeeded in one swoop to reverse many of the gains of its cashless policy. Now many are back to cash is King frame of mind. Who can blame them?

In my opinion; probably the worst appointment made by PMB is that of the Information Minister. Lai Mohammed is a politician and good at spin and misdirection. He was effective as APC spokesman; but a government with mandate for change requires credibility  and trust from the media and the public. Lai Mohammed seems incapable of delivering this. He is still in the spin mode and each time he speaks; he reduces the credibility of this administration further.

What is the solution you may ask me? The answer is as follows:

  1. PMB should set up a Central Policy Unit (CPU) in his office. This team made of experts will produce the policy direction of his administration across all sectors of the economy in a coherent way.
  2. These policies will then be handed over to the various ministers to implement in their respective ministries.
  3. The accountability of each minister will be for the delivery of the policies given to his/her ministry. This will have KPIs and targets for implementation. More importantly; there will be the assurance that the policies are joined up with that of other ministries in a way that creates coherence and compelling outcomes.

Without the creation of the CPU, each ministry will simply pursue there own agenda, conflicting policies will emerge from various ministries and the government will lose momentum and the drive to deliver its change mandate. The CPU also allows PMB to control the narrative of his government by managing the CPU directly. The CPU also allows impact of policies to be objectively tested across all sectors before its implementation. It allows the government to project a coherent posture with the direction of travel clear for all to see. This will help eliminate any perception of a reactive, uncoordinated, piecemeal and confused administration.

So, to avoid a misdirection of the change mandate given to him; the president should do the following:

  • Create a solid leadership for EFCC (with the encouragement of the Chief Justice and other agencies) and allow these institutions to pursue and prosecute corruption official past and present. PMB should stop making corruption his main daily talking point. There is more to governance than fight against corruption. PMB should allow his team to lead on this war on corruption while he focuses on other things that are essential to Nigerians.
  • PMB should create a CPU as stated above in the Presidency. This unit will produce a collective policy framework that will then be passed on to the ministers to deliver, sector by sector. It must not be left to each minister to produce its own policies. Doing so is a recipe for disaster and confusion. The left hand will not speak to the right hand. I also believe many of these ministers are better at monitoring deliver of policies than producing one themselves. Many of them lack the 360 degree thinking needed for a joined up operation.
  • PMB should focus his press statements on how he is dealing with issues that affect Nigerians daily instead of a fixation with corruption statements. Truth is Nigerians will measure any fight against corruption by results and outcomes rather than just statements and press releases. So let your administration outcomes and actions speak for you on corruption, Mr President, rather than the daily statements we see with no legal conviction in sight for any of the alleged corrupt officials. PMB should speak about Power, Roads, Prices of goods, education, health and so on. Let the institutions you have set up deal with corruption matters in the background Mr President.
  • Setup a quarterly State of the Nation Press conference where you will be able to explain what your administration has done in the preceding quarter in ALL areas of national life. Control your own narrative; rather allow yourself to be defined by the words of your enemies.

There is a blueprint on how all these will work that is tried and tested. I wish PMB all the best and God’s wisdom as he delivers on the change mandate given to him by the people. Change in Nigeria has to be one step at a time and the work begins now. It is doable and we all have a part to play. It is then we will all be able to say in the words of our true pledge to Nigeria: “…to be faithful loyal and honest. To serve Nigeria with all our strength…and uphold her honour and glory. So help us God”.

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