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Akintunde Oyebode: Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the trouble with Nigeria (YNaija Frontpage)

AKIN OYEBODE

What really surprised me was how much the governor missed the memo. He failed to understand the call for change did not mean his generation should step aside.

I am an unashamed member of the Free Readers Association, and will always cherish those discussions at Man Must Wack’s newspaper stand during my undergraduate years. Over the years I’ve unsuccessfully tried to shake off the habit of reading newspapers, books and journals without paying for them. So, I was not surprised this “shameful” habit led me to the TFA Symposium for Young and Emerging Leaders last week. I could not resist the chance to obtain a FREE copy of Chinua Achebe’s The Trouble with Nigeria. Apart from owning that book without buying it, the event was an opportunity to learn from the experiences of those who managed to work for the Nigerian Government unscathed.

Before I could lay my hands on the book or listen to Aunty Oby’s (Obiageli Ezekwesili) lecture, there was the small matter of an address by Port Harcourt’s First Son, Rotimi Amaechi. The Governor came out with guns blazing, ripping into the young Nigerians present at the event. He suggested the youths who yearned for change only wanted their turn to “chop” and didn’t love Nigeria any more than those in power at the moment.  It was interesting listening to him deride young “elites” for being no different, if not worse than his generation of leaders.

He deployed the oft used strategy of mystifying government, alluding to a “system” unreceptive to change and confrontation. His linkage of governance challenges with the economic struggles of the citizenry was clever, as was his insistence that real political change could not happen with an improvement in our economic conditions. The summary of his message was clear; we were doomed with his generation of leaders, and from what he has seen so far, our generation was only going to complete the obliteration of government coffers.

I agreed with a lot of the points made by the Governor. Many of the young people in government hardly instill confidence in the populace. There are several examples of young people actively redressing the pious mistakes of their parents, and ensuring their offspring would avoid the modest upbringing they suffered. From Alausa to Garki, the trend is consistent; age is not the primary determinant of performance.

Though it is arguable that economic advancement is a precursor to political maturity (stories from Kigali suggest both can be accomplished concurrently), Governor Amaechi’s assertions resonated with the depravity exploited by politicians, especially on Election Day. Above all, I agreed with his point that government cannot be changed from a keyboard, even if I struggled with his chosen platform to effect this change.

But what really surprised me was how much the governor missed the memo. He failed to understand the call for change does not mean his generation should step aside. After all, age is only a biological time stamp, why would it be the primary reason for choosing our leaders?

The call for change is a message for greater accountability from our leaders, not an eviction notice. Rivers State, for example, is bequeathed with over N20 billion every month from the Federation Aacount. We are not fussed about who manages it; if it’s Rotimi Amaechi or Okey Equipment.  Our concern is simply about how that huge allocation is managed.

When the time came to show off projects in Rivers State, he chose to talk about the model schools his administration built. I don’t believe a governor should boast about brick and mortar; such tasks should be left to the foremen who supervised the construction. He failed to understand we were more interested in an educational policy that developed the appropriate curriculum and produced the right caliber of teachers. It was a reminder of our entrenched culture of showmanship, favouring form over substance.

As he stepped down from that stage, I did not need to read Chinua Achebe’s book anymore. Right there, for over an hour, I had just listened to the trouble with Nigeria.

 

 

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Comments (12)

  1. Temi,

    I think the orientation is a simple problem to solve. We need to communicate what matters to us clearly, and the showmen will respond accordingly. In many cases, it is even cheaper to develop policy than those superficial achievements our guys display.

    Whet worries me is the siege mentality dispayed by government officials. From young to old, criticism is viewed as proof of envy. Solutions are welcome…

  2. @Temi: Well said here, "Also, I have listened to a number of governors boast of their achievements whilst in office and like you have nicely captured, they value what can be seen (the buildings-the brick) over what cannot be seen (the policies, which sadly, are the more important considerations)." It is called HYPING.

    It is a shame that in this time and age, our leaders still rate performance in governance based on the provision of basic social amenities (which they still can't effectively deliver).

    However, I do not expect them to give what they don't have. This change process needs transformed minds. We should start getting into Govt from all angles. We cannot remain on the sidelines and our "keyboards" to talk about this change. Like Ghandi and the rest, let's make some sacrifices, inconvenience ourselves if necessary, and walk our talk.

    God bless Nigeria!

  3. Simply brilliant and very well written. Am re-posting dis to all Nigerians i knw wit a change mind set.

  4. You would think such a simple point would be obvious to Amaechi but I guess when you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail to you.

    Rent seekers and extractors are probably naturally suspicious people who think everyone else is just angling for their job to be rent seekers and extractors too.

    When even those in governance are so far off the mark when it comes to how they view the office they occupy on a daily basis, what hope is there for anyone else?

  5. 'Aunty Oby'- famzing:p

    Sad, sad sad. Everything is sad. Unfortunately, Rotimi Amaechi's assertions are not so far from the truth from what I see around me. Priorities are totally misplaced. Also, I have listened to a number of governors boast of their achievements whilst in office and like you have nicely captured, they value what can be seen (the buildings-the brick) over what cannot be seen (the policies, which sadly, are the more important considerations).

    On a not so related note, I hear N1 billion was allocated to Tinubu's 60th celebrations by the Lagos state govt. I really hope to high heavens that this is just a rumour though somewhere in the corner of my mind, I am faced with the realisation that this hope will be shattered.

    Is there hope for Nigeria? Really?

  6. Akin, good piece – it unambiguosly captures and reveals the backdrop for "mediocre governance" as we know it today in Nigeria

  7. Best Ynaija front page columnist. Keep the good work going…

  8. Deftly written article!Kudos

  9. This is the best article that i've read on this platform so far! Succinct and apt! Welldone

  10. "Rivers State, for example, is bequeathed with over N20 billion every month from the Federation Acount. We are not fussed about who manages it; if it’s Rotimi Amaechi or Okey Equipment.

    This quote pretty much summed it up for me.

    Shrewd, witty, spot-on.

    Amazing talent.

    Kudos.

  11. My favourite "non-social/political ranter".

  12. I couldn't even bear to listen to the end of his ramblings. Kudos to you for trying to distill what he said.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail
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