Towards a normal country

by Anthony A. Kila

Before and beyond the obvious irritating and expensive ridicule that Nigerians at home and abroad were exposed to last week, thanks to the postponement of the parliamentary elections (or NASS as they say in the Nigerian parlance), it should now be clear to all those that care and bother to think that what this country desperately needs right now is to consciously move towards normalcy rather than continue to seek greatness.

For too long, one of the most recurrent rhetoric of Nigerian leaders has been centered around the greatness of Nigeria, some want to achieve it whilst others want to restore it. This weird obsession with the greatness of Nigeria is based mainly on factors such as the size of Nigeria, its population and the natural resources that to be found in the country. It is a weird obsession because facts in hand, Nigeria is hardly famous for any greatness when compared to other nations in the world, rather as a country, we are famous for importing products and services and imitating rules and practices. By the way, there is nothing particularly wrong with that; reinventing the wheels is always a useless exercise. The Nigerian obsession with greatness however becomes even more weird and reveals a lot of its eccentricities when we remember that most of the countries we imitate and import from hardly talk about greatness.

All they do in these places is to operate a normal country wherein they get things done. Their flights arrive on time, their roads are constantly maintained and repaired when damaged, their public officers respect the law and are accountable to the people, their elections are never postponed, and on election day no one is forced to close her business and no one is forced to renounce to her right to move about or forced to live in fear; because they are normal countries, things do go wrong and when they go wrong, most people know where to go to and who to hold accountable. The mission of those in charge of both public and private affairs is to make that things run normally and their duty is to identify and deal with anything or person that will be a hurdle to normality.

In these systems, only a few talk about greatness rather efficiency is the keyword and one of the advantages of a normal system based on efficiency is that it requires those that that will deliver products and services to give details on how things will be done. The underlining principles of a normal system include consideration, certainty, checks and commonsense.

In a normal system, a leader that wants to appoint someone to act for him on behalf and for the benefit of the people thoroughly considers the importance of the job at hand and its implication for the users if things go wrong and consequently recruits a competent person that can prove his capacity to do the required job. The applicant for the role comes forward with a clear plan of what to do, how to do it and what to do in case things go wrong. When dealing with others, the appointed person at every stage shows high consideration for his role, the resources he has to manage, the time of those that will be affected by his action and inactions and he always ask to see prove that all will work normally.

Consideration for things and people leads to certainty. In a normal country, anybody making decisions that will affect others will tend to consult them before deciding or at least give them ample notice to adapt after deciding. Nothing will be out of the norm for an efficient administrator because as part of his duty, he will have preempted all possible scenario including completely external variables such as human sabotage or even any undesired act of God. The efficient leader will make things very clear so everyone involved knows what to expect for their actions and inactions.

One of the easiest ways to make a normal system based on efficiency work is to highlight the role and importance of checks in everything we do. Before committing to anything, those operating in a normal system will want to check if it is possible to deliver their commitment, they will not rely on promises, goodwill or even miracles. They will for example check to see if all their staff can arrive on time at the polling booth where they should be operating before voters arrive. They will even put in place method of checking that staffs are there at said time. They will set aside time to make sure that all necessary materials can be checked and certified to meet required and agreed quality and quantity.

Lest we forget, normal things do not happen normally, if we want a normal country we the people need to make that happen. To do so is common sense: vote wisely by electing only those that you think are driven by a mission for an efficient state and not by a self-serving ambition.

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