In public health, a preventive action that focuses exclusively on the proximate causes of disease and plague is more risky than a long-term preventive action that attends to equally crucial upstream causal factors. The reason being that insofar as the focus is not on cures for resultant disease(s), attention is only given to lesser preventive measures. Apart from the medical science, it’s also a gospel truth in all areas of human endeavor that: to rely on neutralizing a proximate leaves a little or no room for foreseeing possible errors. The longer view, by contrast, enables one to prevent a threat before it becomes imminent.
In the ideal system of governance, detailed attention is often given to every aspect of the government to guard against likely (and unlikely) aftermaths in the immediate and distant futures. Also, on this side of the planet, several African countries are taking the bulls by the horn by taking lofty steps that are not just good for the present, but that would be commended by generations to come. South Africa is the country that is currently blazing the economic and industrial trails on the continent. Fostering the already robust economy would be the target and saddled duties of future WOZA generations.
Kenya is also not lagging behind. The country’s Environmental Action Plan and Biotechnology Development Policy are not just commendable, but are also positively futuristic in nature. And together with Cape Town, Nairobi and similar African cities and countries are on a journey that will lead them to greatness in the nearest future. Sadly, same could not be said of Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth.
Without mincing words, Nigeria has not even started a journey talk less of sustaining the tempo. From the bothering bordering Lake Chad up north to the overflowing Atlantic Ocean in the south, it is evident that Nigeria cannot even contend with natural events; what should we expect of man-made challenges? The nation’s haplessness is typified by its multi-faceted nature and is deeply rooted in our history as a nation.
Throughout the history of Nigeria as a nation, our dossier has been filled with files with “confusion” inscription boldly written. One of such confused aspect of our history had started since independence.
The Federation of Nigeria was granted full independence in October 1960 under a constitution that provided for a parliamentary government and a substantial measure of self-government for the country’s three regions. The federal government was given exclusive powers in defense, foreign relations, and commercial and fiscal policy. The monarch of Nigeria was still head of state but legislative power was vested in a bicameral parliament, executive power in a prime minister and cabinet, and judicial authority in a Federal Supreme Court. The system was put in place by the colonialists to solve some problems.
It was meant to prevent the concentration of power at the center, improve citizens’ participation in governance by bringing power close to them, and to make leaders more accountable by compelling them to rule those that they interact with. Issues like the evident disparities in religion and education were also handled by the independence arrangement since the regions rule themselves and formulate principles, policies and laws that were deemed fit for the area. The results transcended beyond politics through economy to social security. However, selfish politics and ulterior politricking in unison, assumed an enormous crescendo, and the system—that if sustained would have improved the status of the nation—came crashing like Intercontinental Bank shares after it was hit by Sanusi’s axe. Now we are struggling to go back to square one.
Despite the shaky foundations of our democracy, independence, and federation, our past and present leaders, and Nigerians themselves, are also involved in this imaginary yet very costly redundancy, driving around a circle, and having after-thoughts that are coming rather too late.
The late president Yar’adua had his several late after-thought moments. One of such occurred during the protracted ASUU strike that saw the gates of all ivory towers shut for months. At the outset, the president declared his resolve not to negotiate with the striking lecturers. He vehemently, through his spokesperson, reiterated the fact that he was the president and couldn’t be coerced by any body or union into signing any agreement. After several months of dust-laden, rat-infested, students-deserted lecture halls, the president’s team literally begged the striking workers. We all knew that government would still beg the lecturers, what we fail to know was why didn’t the presidency realize this at the outset?
President Obasanjo’s National ID Card Project was also an expensive but often overlooked manifest of the dangerous after-thoughts going on along Nigeria’s corridors of power. The project gulped a whooping 214 million US Dollars, yet it was a colossal waste no thanks to the inability of the initiators of the project to be cohesive, focused and articulate prior to the commencement of the project. Why weren’t the mistakes clearly spelt out? Why wasn’t the waste preempted as a means of siphoning public resources? Who was brought to book for the ridiculous escapades that saw some citizens sleeping over at registration units in their quest to get the card?
The poor handling of the perennial Jos crisis is a monumental climax of the expensive afterthoughts of our leaders. The deaf hears what the problems are; the blind sees the repercussions; and the intellectually deficient can fathom and decipher what should be done, yet we keep beating around the bush. What happened to the reports of the various committees? What about the suggestions of the learned elites via the various media outlets? Why does the government prefer to leave things undone until the whole place goes up in flame again?
Nigeria and Nigerians are paying for the ills of the past and praying that currently inflicted injuries speedily heal. Lives have been lost, infrastructures have been destroyed, and destinies are being changed; yet those at the top are currently unaware only to awake from their intellectual slumber when out of office. At that time however, redress is impossible, and mistakes will remain forever regretted. Ask IBB.
What if had not organized the elections when he knew quite alright that the result would be announced, would the opposition to his candidacy be this strong? What if he had announced the results of the June 12, 1993 elections, would he have embarked on this almost impossible quest to see his name on the January 15, 2010 presidential ballot paper? His inability to look beyond the immediate repercussions and focus on the long-term consequence had seen him crying like a babe from one part of the nation to another over zoning and any term arrangement that would see him emerge as PDP’s presidential flag bearer ahead of Jonathan— someone whose political history presents him as a person with deeper consideration of present and future outcomes of actions, inactions and wrong actions.
President Jonathan emerged on national scene as the diligent, supportive and loyal deputy of a hermaphrodite thieving state governor. As the vice president, he also made it a habit not to jump the gun, or talk without insightful reasoning. His most trying times were the days when the late President was away on health grounds. Jonathan had every legal backing to ascend the throne, temporarily, until Yar’adua showed up. However, he didn’t; much to the chagrin of his political opponents who saw him as a coward. His failure to announce his intention to run for the presidency is another indication to his intellectual prowess.
Nigerian leaders need to realize that although thugs and electoral manipulations usually bring them to power, in-depth wisdom is neede
d to succeed as a leader. It’s not that we don’t have intelligent leaders around, they only need more wisdom. We are in dire need of leaders who look at the bigger picture and not the short-lived benefits.
Nigeria is greatly depleted of ideations that are futuristic, opinions that are effective, and advises that are far-reaching despite the fact that we rank high in the League of Nations with more advisers than necessary. Our logistics need great improvement from its current dismal status. We deserve insightful opinionates around governors who know faster means of solving problems apart from pumping more money and awarding more contracts.
The secret to preventing national redundancy and expensive political afterthoughts is not the employment of more advisers or prolonging initiation of actions; but the simple rule of acting right and having a clear conscience. Great rulers aren’t with bigger cerebrums; they chose the right people and acted right in the best interest of all.