We are responsible for the government we have and it is on us to start collecting information that will get us better men to lead us.
While the executive branch is preoccupied with palace intrigues and ministerial power plays, the lives of the people they were hired to ameliorate remains unpredictably horrid. The legislatures busy themselves by playing hide and seek with the information of their earnings that rightly belong to those who hired them, the Nigerian people. Meanwhile, LUTH burns, and Boko Haram has allegedly infiltrated the State Security Service, if the AP report is to be believed. Young people are dying of preventable and easily treated diseases, and instead of turning to the health system and the National Insurance Scheme, they turn to their peers on twitter to help pay for their treatment because while millions of public resources have been thrown into universal health insurance, the scheme does not work.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jonathan is busy firing and hiring toothless, corrupt and generally incompetent policy makers, and creating useless committees to spend public money with no apparent results. So if the government in its infinite incompetence insists on permanently playing with the lives of Nigerians, how can we, whose lives gets derailed by the bad roads, bad airports, bad schools, death camps that Nigerian hospitals are, no jobs or bad jobs, and no security, demand better governance?
I am privileged that I get to have rich conversations on policy and good governance with my amazing friends on twitter. Last week I had a brief conversation with Oby Ezekwezili, the former world bank vice president on Africa Affairs. She shares my conviction that the only way to change Nigeria rapidly and permanently is to get most Nigerians to demand from their government, good governance. She believes, like I do, that access to information play a role in improving demand for good governance. It was James Madison that said, “A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a tragedy or a farce, or perhaps both.” The tragedy of the Nigerian experience is perhaps hidden in this timeless quote. We are responsible for the government we have and it is on us to start collecting information that will get us better men to lead us.
I have written about this topic extensively on this platform. The FOI Law helps in other contexts but ever since the law was passed in Nigeria, one is not aware that any journalist in the country has used it. The law, like many others like it, seems useless for the mean time.
So what will work?
A project that I have the privilege of leading might be useful in solving the above-mentioned issue. The project is called Circle. Circle encourages African Communities to create advocacy groups around news events by building a platform for self-organization. Information should lead to action and a platform that encourages and simplifies the process is indispensable in the long run. Circle aims to build communities around news items in other to create new ways of sharing, discussing and taking actions based on news. The platform also allows ordinary Nigerians to start project to do extraordinary things. The recent #savenigerian projects that has captivated the attention of young people on social media will get structured on a platform like circles.
It is a simple idea that seems to be generating a lot of interest in the African technology circle. It is being reviewed now for the African News Innovation Challenge and the more people who comment and suggest ways of making the idea better will make it likely that funding for the project will be provided. So if you believe in good governance, please go to this site and let Google know what you think. It might just work.
*Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.