When Complaint Is Seen As Messy and Divisive
The recent statement by the presidency cautioning citizens from protesting against the worsening insecurity and Mr. President’s refusal to remove the Service Chiefs, which the vast majority of Nigerians believe have overstayed without achieving meaningful results, have not only elicited worry but brings to mind the fact that there is something deeply troubling about the present Federal Government in relationship to finding solution to the present security challenge in the country.
Understandably, it is a human nature to avoid confrontation, coupled with the fact that people feel awkward when they are corrected of their bad behaviors or action by others.
What however, caused more frustration to Nigerians is not government’s asymmetric admonition but the passivity of, and support of government’s position by the supposedly men of goodwill. As many, in recent days argued that even in a democracy, government is at liberty to take or discard advice and public opinion.
In their view, public opinion do not always provide clear-cut policy guidance, and even when public opinion is clearly in favour of a certain course of government action, the authorities may decide otherwise-particularly when they realize how uninformed, superficial, and changeable most opinions really are. Government may also reject people’s opinion as a result of it’s own convictions, the recommendations of the public service, the pressure of advocacy groups and lobbyists, or the rigidity of the ruling party.
Whenever leaders fail to follow a clear-cut preference among the public opinion, they may actually be relying on a deeper understanding of the issue, the greater information at their disposal, a more sophisticated analysis of it’s implications, a concern for minority groups’ rights, or a less prejudicial attitude,.
Arguably a structured position, but that not withstanding, there are reasons for Nigerians to complain and possibly protest, looking at the degree of insecurity in the country, the prevailing harsh economic situation, a state of depression (or is it a recession) that has been designed by yet to be established architects, and of course, the recent fiscal, sociological, political and communal happenings in the country; coupled with the pockets of Ethno-religious upheavals and misgivings from one region against another or powerful personalities against each other.
Aside from the fact that protests against obnoxious government policies or inaction, remains not a privileged but an organic necessity in a great society-for without objective criticism, the government cannot govern; as there is no adequate way in which it can keep itself informed about what the people of the country are thinking, government’s disdain for facts, and their lack of curiosity to finding new information that might produce a deeper understanding of the present security and other policy challenges have obviously become a really that the vast majority of Nigerians now worry about.
Also, Nigerians may have for the moments lost all fear of punishment and yielded obedience to criticism because, fundamentally, the present crop of leaders failed to “demonstrate a passion for their purpose, practice their values consistently and leads with their hearts as well as their head. They consistently failed to establish long term relationship with the people and lack the self-discipline to get results. They (leaders) lack all the attributes of authentic leaders outlined by Bill George, a Professor of management practice at Harvard University
Indeed, while the vast majority of Nigerians believe that the only recourse for our leaders in this present situation is to restructure the nation and rigg the security architecture in the country- an advice the FG has continually rebuffed, there are many other reasons why the people are not happy with the present situation in the county.
Like in business, ‘claiming too much credit can destabilize alliances. When each party in a strategic partnership claims too much credit for its own contribution and become skeptical about whether the other is doing its fare share, they both tend to reduce their contributions to compensate\. In my views, the government have not, is not giving the masses the attention they need as strategic partners in the project Nigeria.
Take as an illustration, many Nigerians at different times and places complained that these leaders were voted to provide good and qualitative leadership; elected to bring the nation’s economy out of the wood and were chosen to bring democracy’s dividends to the people. But, instead of providing the lavishly promised and highly expected conducive leadership, they visit the masses with cluelessness and Utopia Instead of reviving the comatose economy, they threw it further down into recession and instead of bringing dividends of democracy, they democratized poverty, institutionalized unemployment and governmentalized hopelessness and frustration.
In many ways, the present administration may have a sincere desire to move the nation forward, but there are two major militating factors. First, there is no clear definition of our problem as a nation, the goals to be achieved, or the means chosen to address the problems and to achieve the goals. Secondly, the system has virtually no consideration for connecting the poor with good means of livelihood-food, job and security. This is the only possible explanation for this situation.
To correct this narrative and appreciably curtail the level of insecurity in the country, FG must recognize that ‘a country’s defense capability has to be continually upgraded as new technology, especially information technology, is incorporated into weapon systems. This requires a sound economy that can afford to pay for new weaponry and a highly educated and trained people who can integrate the various arms into one system and operate them efficiently and effectively’.
There is also a lesson to draw from China.
As documented, during the height of the Cultural Revolution in China, the system broke down. Favoritism, nepotism, and cover corruption infected high places. The whole society was degraded as opportunists masqueraded as revolutionaries and achieved “helicopter promotion” by betraying and persecuting their peers or superiors. Corruption became worse when China embarked on its open-door policy in 1978. Many communist activists who felt they had been deceived and had wasted the best years of their lives set out to make up for lost time and enrich themselves in every way they could.
That was between 1966-1976.
But today, China has experienced a period of economic growth, the likes of which the world had never before seen. Its model, says a report blazes a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernization and offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development.
This is happening because their leaders believe in two things. First, that public order, personal and national security, economic and social programmes, and prosperity is not the natural order of things but depends on the ceaseless efforts and attentions from an honest and effective government that the people elect; with the second being the fact that it takes a prolonged effort to administer a country well and change the backward habits of the people.
To truly build the nation of our dream, we must learn as a nation how to place the future of our nation in the hands of our youths, promote stability and cohesion in society; and develop the culture of great reverence for education and knowledge.
Jerome-Mario Utomi,([email protected]), Writes from Lagos, Nigeria.