DOING an assessment of government or any organization for that matter in our kind of environment is a hazardous exercise, not that the activity in itself is a dangerous one, no, it is not. It is something people do in other places with glee and hope what they do would produce outcomes that would give them fulfillment as individuals and pave the way for improvement of the entity as the case may be. In our case, assessment exercise has become an adventure capable of consuming a life, depending on what institutions and issues are involved. If it is politics, the threat level is high. Depending on the deductions, one could be labeled a traitor and worse, a political enemy, who wants to stall the “wheel of progress.” It is important to note that many in this country may have been murdered in the past because of the view they held about the performances of some governments. Today I can tell you that our political class has not grown to the point where they take divergent opinions about the administration they lead as fair comments and positive contributions to the proper development of the society; they would rather see such as subversive elements to be hunted and even driven out of town. This is a reality and it is still happening. The maltreatment is worse if the dissenter is a member of an opposition party. Assessment here is also compounded by the unstable nature of key factors of development especially the policy aspect. It is common knowledge that we have no yardstick or benchmarks, and for those who know it is impossible to have benchmarks without clear vision of what it is we desire. My readers would attest that I am an advocate of a clear picture of the kind of nation we want and the process for realizing it. Forget those who talk about pragmatism; nations that want sustainable development don’t run on ad-hoc basis, they run on long term plans segmented in time.
Undertaking an assessment of the federal government at a time like this has more difficulties added to it. There is the highly volatile polity to contend with and the state of anomie. The latter is the most consequential of all, because it impairs reason; it fuels emotions and we all know emotion and rationalization are not compatible friends. A hungry man can hardly comprehend the world around him, all he cares for and wants to hear is food; how it comes may not be his business. I must admit that the atmosphere is choky and as you read this, the economic indices are not fine. There is increase in job losses and many families are increasingly finding it very difficult to cater for basic needs of life, fuel shortage and terrible electricity outage added up to thicken the atmosphere of despondency, and if history is anything to take seriously, then the first casualty in this kind of setting is objectivity.
I think Richard Hooker had this season in mind when he said, “He that goeth about to persuade a multitude that they are not so well governed as they ought to be, shall never want an attentive and favourable hearers.” Our circumstances have made us captives of rumors and lovers of that which is only negative; it has robbed us of the strength to engage in vigorous scrutiny of events and developments around us and to make rational inferences and deductions, yet scientific rational approaches are what we need to reverse failure to success. Every discomfort is like a caterpillar abandoned in a particular location, which can only be removed by a greater force.
I read a work by old time colleague, Segun Adeniyi in ThisDay Daily newspaper edition of Thursday, April 14th titled, ‘Fragment of history’ and I said to myself that would be a good title for a discourse I had intended to do to establish that our problems did not start 16 years ago. The downward spin contrary to what history revisionists would want us to believe, did not start with Buhari, Jonathan or 16 years ago as they claim, it began the very first minute the leadership baton changed hands from the exploitative colonialists to their local contemporaries. Our post-Independence leaders took over power without the understanding that the first thing they ought to have done would have been to sit down and patriotically re-examine the political and economic structure they inherited and convinced themselves that it was suitable to our cultural dispositions. Political scholars have since noted that what we have today as political and economic architecture may have been different and suitable if our political class at the time of Independence had sat down to ask themselves very necessary questions. The omission gave room for subsequent bastardizations that were to follow like wrong political structure, discriminatory policies and the hate they induced and more painful is the mis-definition of the kind of development a nation like ours deserves.
Like some have noted, instead of liberation development we embraced imitative and competitive development with the idea that all we require is just money to turn our enclave into one modeled after the western world and when oil money came the little effort towards diversification was abandoned totally and in its place was a rental economy which conflicted with hard work but encouraged easy money anchored on the philosophy of cutting corners and mediocrity. A system that loathes merits and encourages rat race is bound to collapse, it’s just a matter of time and this is the lesson we are learning now, it could get worse.
Let me shatter a myth we have created and which has lasted for too long: the little progress post-Independent leaders made was because the little structure the colonialists set up to serve their narrow purpose was still in place, otherwise most of them were ethnic jingoists who had no global vision. I don’t want to waste my time here analyzing each of them. The military which followed them rather than being nationalist like we saw in places such as Egypt, Libya and some Latin American nations, became big time agents of the preceding order. I even understand that some of them were surrogates of the decadent political class. Those who need evidence can look at their legacy. The negative infusions become monsters that are threatening to consume all of us; those little pests grew and fattened not because we did not know that they were injurious, they found a comfortable environment because all of us decided to hide in an attitude of passivity, it was our view that as long as free money continued to flow and some of us made hay by corruptly cornering some for ourselves and our children, everything was okay.
But we can see that there is no substitute for hard work, the lessons of life is that free money flies away quick and leaves its possessors stranded and emasculated. We all agree that things are bad and we want our society recreated. Path to recreation, especially of a society, is never an easy road. American citizens fought themselves and had contentious talk sessions; France had five republics, Russia had the workers revolution which took lives and China our new friend had its cultural revolution, they denied themselves pleasure of the day and locked their society against the world. We mocked them but today they are having the last laugh. Changes don’t come just by wishing; they spring from the inner resolve of citizens; it is not transferred or done by outsiders. It is about catching the mood, essence and then action. If you ask me Buhari seems to capture the mood and the question would be “what about the essence and the actions?” See you next week.