GOOD GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA: THE TUWO AND SOUP METAPHOR
"How nice you are to a bowl of Tuwo depends on how hungry you are."
One fundamental thing one notices that we lack in governance and government is the word good. Many Nigerians talk about good governance as the only guarantee to peace, progress, stability, free and fair elections, infact it is viewed as the only passport to delivering the dividends of democracy.
For the health, power, the manufacturing sectors, education and largely the nation to work, we need good governance, in order to maximise our potential, improve the general welfare of the Nigerian people and even development in geo-political terms, there must be good governance.
The late Okadigbo puts this perspective, "asked to define ‘good’ most Nigerians will waffle and babble. Most of our leaders that pride themselves as operating under the parameters of good governance cannot explain how".
What we have in the last twelve years of our democracy achieved is a battery of contradictory description or proposition as to what good governance is. As a matter of fact the term good is difficult to define in the essential context of the Nigerian condition.
In the Nigerian context, our situational ethics sets the tone to the effect that we have a relative dysfunctionality, what is good in one place may be bad in the other, there must be a given situation, time and space.
Under this little intellectual exercise we can say that the talk of good governance in and for Nigeria, past, present and future is idle, not lending itself to any objective and precise analysis and this is why our leaders take us for a ride, they promise bridges where there are no rivers and take bald men to the saloon for a barb.
So until good governance is viewed as the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or in our case not implemented). We are still far off simply because the way and manner public persons tend to public institutions, conduct public affairs, manage public resources, are corrupt, and without due regard for the good of the people.
We lack good governance because years of political activity under the guise of democracy, we are yet to find the balance; we still operate a political economy of state robbery, rather than popular democracy.
Good governance within the confines of a popular democracy should be anchored on two things, one, a constitution suited to the special needs and circumstances of Nigeria as multi-dimensional ethno-religious and political economic structure: and two, a leadership suited not only to the exigent needs of Nigeria, but the exactitudes of the people.
We should stop glossing and know that by and large good governance require no ordinary type of leadership; tolerance; breadth of outlook, intellectual comprehension; hardwork; selfless devotion; statesmanship; a burning sense of mission are some of the virtues that are necessary to make a success of leading this nation.
Unfortunately past administrations have lacked these virtues or at best have possessed one at the expense of the other and as such led them to groping in the dark on how to deliver good governance. The increasing fear is that today, with no tuwo and soup on the table, the current government is guilty of same crime.
We have refused to cultivate leadership that has shown a knack to develop a mental magnitude, as clear as our problems are, there seems a lack of ability in appreciating and grasping the salient details as well as most of the temporal and practical implications, of a given situation or problem.
In my honest thinking the problems of good governance remain because the fundamental objectives and directive principles of our statutes are non-justiciable thereby the issues of good governance remain platitudinous rather than obligatory on our leaders.
There are also the problems of political in-direction and correctness, thus an economic morass in the polity, our lack of anything good is premeditated on our inability to have an ideological notion of destiny. We have no coherent body of thoughts; heroes are on the decline, nobody to look up to, good governance exists only in a vacuum.
Good governance requires full protection of human rights, and particularly those of minorities.
It also means an independent judiciary and an impartial and incorruptible police force. Decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations.
Institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe. Need of mediation of the different interests in communities to reach a broad consensus in society on what is in the best interest of the whole nation and how this can be achieved.
It also requires a long-term perspective for sustainable human development and how to achieve the goals of such development. Ensuring that all members of the society feel that they have a stake in it, all groups, and especially the most vulnerable must have opportunities to maintain or improve their well being.
Government institutions as well as the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public and to their institutional stakeholders. The only minus and indeed the major constraint is that all that I have enumerated as a recipe for good governance is what we lack.
The current crop of leadership is yet to show that it is up to the task, the reason why nobody believes its fuel subsidy crooked dance, when it cannot provide security for its citizenry, it spends millions in convincing foreigners of their safety.
When its own people cannot put tuwo and soup on the food table, its leaders are feeding fat on the nation’s collective wealth, dying abroad, being replaced by the children and we are bothered by Fitch ratings... like the hungry man that ate in his dream at night hoping he would wake up filled. We are not bothered about where our lack of good governance takes us to, as hunger increases we still lay romance with the bowl of tuwo and soup, time will tell.
Written by Prince Charles Dickson.