By Umar Yahaya Dan-Inu
Governance, in simple terms, means ‘quality decision’ that affects the citizenry’s life. It encompasses accountability, openness and responsiveness in our institution. When Nigeria utilizes its resources, it can achieve progress and development in every aspect, especially when its men and women come together, respect their differences and views, and work together for the nation’s development.
Any society that lacks leaders who can stand up and look at the challenges and solve them is bound to fail. One of the finest Historians in the world, Francis Fukuyama, opined that Nigeria’s problem is a “lack of quality governance”. Since the beginning of the fourth republic, Nigerians have elected four successive presidents with an optimism that the country’s governance would be changed. Moreover, they hope that prudent accountability and transparency would be established in the polity; corruption would be minimal; the difference would be set from the military rule we experienced in the 80s and 90s; every sector of the economy would thrive.
We also expected that there would be equity, fairness and inclusion in governance and leadership where every region of the country and everyone would be carried along to change the nation’s narrative for good. But instead, the nation’s stories remained the same after 23 years of democracy.
Democracy is all about giving people the opportunity to participate in the leadership and decision-making of their country, to decide on their future, to have their voices on who should lead them and the type of policy choices government made, and how national resources should be channelled for the development of the country.
In our polity, the stories are not the same. The flaws in our democracy are very glaring. There is no prudent accountability. Even the civil society organizations (CSOs) and media houses who are to help in grilling government and demand accountability are part of the problem. Corruption has become deep in our system. We institutionalize it. Mathew Hassan Kukah’s opined that “it is part of the human system”.
Ahmed Idris, a former Accountant General of the Federation, and his accomplices, fraudulently siphoned 109 billion naira. They took advantage of the system, betrayed the people’s trust and put the nation and its people in more miserable poverty.
There are thousands of his types and stories in this poverty. The measures put by the government to checkmate corrupt practices are not adequate. There is a need for more because corruption is in every sector and aspect of the country. Insecurity, banditry and kidnapping have taken menacing proportion. People are killed unjustifiably regularly, while the government doesn’t seem to care.
On the other hand, the academic staff union of universities (ASUU) has been on strike for several months. Students are doing nothing at home. As the government is showing a nonchalant and lackadaisical attitude toward the striking lecturers, there is no sign of ending it. This justifies the position that Nigeria needs prudent leadership and governance.
Good policy is key to achieving national development. Though public policy can be seen as an act of government carried out through the identification of societal needs and demands and acted upon by the executive and legitimized through the legislative process, it should be pro-people, participatory and devoid of elitism. When we look at the challenges posed by the lack of good policy design and implementation, one will realize Nigeria is in the wrong direction. Every past administration came into power with a vague plan that could not be achieved.
This has been the norm since Nigeria got Independence in the early 60s. The trends have always been to tell people what to do, even if it’s not feasible and realistic. When policymakers disregard the poor segment of their society, they are bound to fail. I genuinely believe that “change will not come to us easily”; it is the responsibility of scholars and experts in our country to stand up and demand change.
We need a change in the area of policy design. People should be carried along in the process of design and implementation. All their problems should be captured, and attention should be given to the solutions stated. The CSOs should track all the government expenditures to speak on the pros and cons of every policy initiated by the government and engage the government on development issues.
Nigeria needs strong leadership. It is a known fact that global leaders showed resilience and exhibited what leadership means during the worldwide pandemic. Covid-19 posed a bigger challenge to people around the world. It killed millions of people, destroyed families and hit the global economy like never before.
In Nigeria and around the world, schools were shut down. The leaders imposed a lockdown; there was no movement of people from state to state. It affects everyone. People are afraid to interact with their families and friends because they fear contaminating the virus.
We need leaders that can inspire hope in times of crisis, especially in the forthcoming 2023 election. Nigeria doesn’t deserve bad people and leaders. We need efficiency in our governance and focused leaders. A courageous and bold one. A leader who can galvanize support from the global community and command respect. A leader with capacity, empathy, foresight and deep knowledge that can translate policy goals into reality.
We must prioritize security, education, health, and employment opportunities. Our failure in effective identification, design and implementation has been the major setback of our public policy. We need expert intervention and input to get it right. We must establish good governance and uplift our people from the artificial poverty created by elite manipulation. Until and unless we stand and get it right, we will continue to suffer at the hand of bad leaders.
Umar Yahaya Dan-Inu wrote from Nguru, Yobe State via firstname.lastname@example.org.