Nigeria needs no hero. We have no use for the Farouks, the El Rufais or the Buharis. What Nigeria needs is an empowered followership…
Consider this: “Every system is perfectly designed to achieve exactly the results that it achieves.”
DM Berwick introduced this idea in 1998 and I have been struck by its profound simplicity ever since.
If you agree with Dr. Berwick then one can apply the same concept to the Nigerian governance system. Ergo, Nigeria was created and designed perfectly to achieve terrorism, high cases of maternal and child mortality, atrocious educational system, 70% living below the poverty line, massive unemployment and efficient corruption.
We spend massive amount of intellectual fuel thinking and writing about ways to find just a few good men and women that will save Nigeria from herself. Blogs are dedicated to it. FrontPage and Back Page writers expound and lament the dearth of good leadership every week. If one spends time on social media, and I do, one is subjected to a barrage of tweets and facebook posts dedicated to the very same concept. I cannot count the amount of time I have read statements to the tune of “Nigeria’s problem is lack of leadership.” It is however obvious that Nigeria’s problem is not leadership nor is it the government. The Nigerian government is efficient in what it was created to deliver, which is to give to the elite all power and resources and to find clever ways to pacify the majority of Nigerians who aren’t so lucky. Government after governments, civilian administrations and military administrations, the progressives and the incompetent, they all do this well. The powerful elite share the cake and the rest of us make do with crumbs, suffering and moving on, albeit with sporadic show of dissent when our backs get pushed too far to the wall.
Corruption is easy. The Nigerian system makes it easier still. No one man can resist the siren call of private jets, Swiss bank accounts, and holidays at the Riviera. Before a Farouk Lawan happens, there would have been very many small bribes that slipped into the blood stream and before he knows it he is driving to his disgrace. My favorite Chinua Achebe book is “No longer at ease” and Obi Okonkwo is all of us. He is all the men who ever collected a bribe, ordinary men with too many expenses and too little resources. Even the beautiful ones must swim in the pigsty in Nigeria.
So what works?
Nigeria needs no hero. We have no use for the Farouks, the El Rufais or the Buharis. What Nigeria needs is an empowered followership; this is what has worked all over the world. Every system led by people who are not terrified of the will of the collective ends up corrupt. Leaders need to be scared of the led and this is the only incentive and guarantee of good governance. There are signs all over the place that the elite simply do not care what we all think. The president allegedly took with him to the Rio20 conference in Brazil 116 people. This dismissal of public opinion shows that they are not scared of us. The government needs to be if anything will change in Nigeria.
We must leave the leaders and government alone, because they are doing efficiently what they were designed to do. If we want to change Nigeria, we must not look for heroes or good men, but we must empower and give 160 million people an incentive to be active citizens. You can bribe any man or woman, but you cannot bribe 160 million people.
Our challenge here is to find efficient strategies to irrevocably connect the purses of 160 million people to good governance. We have to force the government’s hand to do what is in our best interest and the only way is to make them scared of us. Direct cash transfer of resources to citizens is the way to do this. India, Ghana, and Mexico have shown that it is doable.
Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.