A shortlist for Fix-Nigeria 2019 – Part 4

Akinwumi A. Adesina

Inconclusive Fixing of Presidential Bureaucracy
It is indeed cheering to note that President Muhammadu Buhari has begun fixing the presidential bureaucracy that has long been weakened by a rash of critical vacancies including its executive head, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF) suspended since April this year. The issue was part of the stuffs examined here last week within the context of an embattled presidency.

It will be recalled that the effects of reported presidential aloofness to the cracks in the bureaucracy that feeds Buhari’s presidency re-echoed last week when the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred E. Oyo-Ita visibly lost her cool with the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari in the presence of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. Since that Mainagate- induced angry reaction is being confined to the alternative dispute resolution mechanism as a presidential family affair, the president should concentrate on the expediency of filling the outstanding critical vacancies in the bureaucracy (of his presidency). He should not delay anymore, nomination of a candidate for the chairmanship of the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) that has been vacant too.

As it was noted last week, if the presidential bureaucracy had been functional from the outset, the Mainagate blight could have been avoided. It is gratifying that Mr. Boss Mustapha who has been roundly hailed as a fit and proper person, hasassumed duty as the SGF. The need to complement that with a resourceful chairman of FCSC is urgent. The three top public officers, the SGF, the head of the civil service of the federation and chairman, FCSC constitute the critical bureaucracy of the presidency. The chief of staff to the President is the link between the bureaucracy and the president. But he is just part of the personal staff of the President. The offices of the three bureaucrats (SGF, HCSC, CFCSC) are a creation of the constitution just like the permanent secretaries as presidential appointees.

A Shortlist for Nation Building:
A number of concerned and reasonable readers have been writing and talking to me about the shortlist here in the last three weeks. While some have expressed reservations about some of the names manifested so far, others have also suggested other issues that should also be included in the synopsis. Specifically, some serious elders have written that even as we suggest some citizens who shouldbrace up to serve this country at this time, we should tell the government of the day too about the expediency of building strong institutions that can support good men that will take over at some stage. Some of the concerned followers (of this column) are saying that before even good men we envisage can sustain success stories in the areas of fighting corruption, and security, the anti-corruption agencies of today, for instance, should also be more creative in the areas of collaboration with the presidential bureaucracy to reform the federal and state bureaucracies – to prevent official corruption. It has been suggested in the same vein too that even the administration of justice system and the police force need urgent reform for operational efficiency that even succeeding administrations can always build upon. The way the Federal Justice Ministry, the Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) have been prosecuting the same war on corruption most times without the EFCC, ICPC, CCB operatives leaves a lot to be desired. That is why it has been suggested several times on this platform that the Attorney General of the ederation should step out and take charge. The AGF has since taken charge of only high profile cases, although with some reservations about the take-over method. Here is the thing; there should be coherence in the way the president’s men work: there should not be apparent inter-agency rivalry and competition for personal plaudits – that should be to the country.

Otive Igbuzor

As I have been saying, the expediency of fixing this nation should not be restricted to who become the president, the vice president, the senate president, the speakers and governors and all that. We have a responsibility to look at leadership at all levels. When the iconic thinker and writer, Professor Chinua Achebe wrote in 1983 that, “the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership”, he wasn’t talking about just the office of the president at the time. He was contextualising failure of leadership at all levels and in most arms of government. Just as we still have in the country today: failure of leadership is at all levels. Is it not a fact that no one is proud of the three arms of government in the country today?

Certainly, if only half of the 36 state governments had been doing well in the country today, Nigeria’s story would have been different. This is why we need good leaders at al levels: not only in Abuja. Even our local government chairmen should be of good quality too that should have development orientation.

For a Strong Judiciary Too:
And in the same vein, we need a strong judiciary to support democracy and good governance. What we fail to realise when we go abroad to tell the world that our judiciary is corrupt is that no foreign investor will stop by in a country with a corrupt judiciary – that cannot protect investors. But the issue of a strong and credible judiciary goes beyond protecting foreign investments.
Nigerian lawyers and political leaders are well aware that even before 1999, recruitment into the judicial arm of government has not been attracting the best from the Bar. Specifically, brilliant and ethical lawyers who had expressed interest in the Bench got frustrated because they didn’t have godfathers as sponsors. Although this lead has not attracted judicial reporters’ interest, since the beginning of this democracy in 1999, only very few have joined the judicial service on merit. Recruiting authorities in this arm in Abuja and most states of the federation have been collecting notes from traditional rulers, governors, national assembly’s big men and party officials to employ judges. This is part of the foundation of judicial corruption in this country. Lawyers of questionable characters and mostly offspring and spouses of serving judicial officers have been insufferably recruited without thorough screening.

It’s Redemption Time – And so in the new Nigeria we should plot to build from 2019, good lawyers who still love their country after a successful private practice, should organise and network to take the judiciary too back from merchants in the Bench. Here is the lesson: in most developed societies, when people have made good money from professional services, the only place to serve thereafter is their country. They show up, spend the money to get elected and show interest in the political processes to serve in relevant capacities where they can be difference makers. For instance, the office of the Attorney General of a State in a working federation is a powerful one. In some societies as in most states in the United States, they are elected. Most of the officers in the Federal Justice Department/Ministry begin from the states or even districts as attorneys. They want to serve the state or country. Just check this: the current Attorney General of Texas, United States since January 2015, Mr. Warren Kenneth Paxton, 55, served in the Texas House of Representatives from January 2003 – January 2013; served in the Texas Senate from January 2013 to January 2015. This is his story: he was dissatisfied with the state of things in the Texas justice system, resigned from the state legislature as a senator and contested election as Texas Attorney General where he is said to be doing a good job.

The time has therefore come for most the good Bar men to respond constructively to a recent clarion call of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter S.N Onnoghen on senior and good lawyers to join the Bench. The timely call is to the Gadzamas, the Olanipekuns, the Falanas, the Mahmoods, the Sagays, the Keyamos, the Ozekhomes, the Agbakobas, etc to brace up to serve their country now. The consequences of their failure to heed this call will be disastrous tomorrow when the mediocrities and scoundrels in the system get to the top.

My shortlist is simply a symbolic call on all good Nigerians to freeze complacency and show interest in the service of this country. I mean if good and competent people who also fear God do not want to come out and serve because they have made good money, they should know that their children will still eat the bread of sorrow tomorrow again when incompetent people take control of the three arms of government. Lamentation is not a strategy to develop this failing country. The first thing we need to conquer is fear of failure. I have been doing my shortlist, please, come up with your own and sensitise good and knowledgeable people in your domain to rescue Nigeria from the Federal Republic of the Nigerian Army since 1966…It is not working. This week’s shortlist:

DR. OTIVE IGBUZOR:
This development expert of Urhobo extraction, trained as a pharmacist. He has invested in himself as a development and public policy expert after acquiring post-graduate degrees in Public Administration, Political Science and International Relations. The pharmacist holds a doctorate degree in Public Administration. He has been a major player in the civil society organizations and human rights movement for years. The public intellectual, Otive, rose in the development sector to be Country Director, ActionAid, International, a global organization working with people, communities, partners and associates in 53 countries to eradicate poverty.Otive, a good man, who launched a book on development and leadership last week in Abuja will be an asset even in National Assembly and National Planning Sector. In good countries, political parties headhunt such experts to develop their ‘brand equity’.

DR. AKINWUMI ADESINA:
Dr. Adesina, 57, a development economist, and president of African Development Bank, is already well known as one of the few difference makers in the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Most of his never-do-well colleagues in the cabinet then were always calling him “Mr. Value Chain” because of his regualr emphasis on the value chains from agriculture as the real wealth maker. The former Vice President (Policy and Partnerships) of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Associate Director (Food Security) at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York is a good Nigerian on any platform again to fix the broken walls of this country.
There are more Nigerians. Please, make your own shortlist if you want Nigeria to develop.

We continue next week with issues in“Fix-Nigeria 2019”.



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