End-of-Year Musing: Many Things That I Do Not Understand About My Country….. (Bolaji Aluko)

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END-OF-YEAR MUSING:  Many Things That I Do Not Understand About My Country…..




Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD

alukome@gmail. com

Burtonsville, MD, USA

December 31, 2008


One citizen Idowu wrote viz.:


As Obama is picking intelligent (government officials) and nobel laureates, Yar Adua is picking Northern jingoists and irredentist laureates. Obama went to Harvard to pick people, Yar Adua went to madras schools to pick candidates. Do me I do you, God no vex. Whatsoever Obama can do better, Yar Adua can do worse. The key word is “do”.


Yes, I know that Idowu exaggerates quite a lot here with respect to Yar’Adua and his cabinet, but the sunken feeling that he has is shared by many Nigerians and Nigeria-watchers, for this is probably the most disheartening aspect about comparing the US and Nigeria right now, and contrasting the quality of Obama’s cabinet CONTEMPORANEOUSLY with that of Yar’Adua.  At a time when both countries face probably the greatest economic and social challenges of their national lives, one is so hopeful for one, and for the other hope is like dope.

Of course, many of our compatriots will say that “Nigeria is not America”, and will use all kinds of insinuations and innuendoes to disparage “intellectuals” and ‘PhDs Pull-him-downs” , etcheram, adnauseum.  Then when government does not perform, they wonder why.  There is this notion of anti-intellectual “exceptionalism” about Nigeria, that certain natural laws – of gravity, of economics, of science, of culture, of justice, of preparation and planning,  etcheram, ad nauseum – don’t apply. Pleasures, yes, please come in, but pains stop at Nigeria’s borders.  We don’t plan at all – or don’t plan well- yet we expect excellent results.  Like our soccer teams – with many talented individuals but little esprit d’corps –  we are surprised when we do well at all, and are even more surprised when our outcome does not turn out well.

I don’t understand many things….

I still don’t understand how a President gets elected WITHOUT debate among the contending candidates, and WITHOUT a thorough scrutiny of what he had just done as GOVERNOR of a state in the country.  Would you PROMOTE a person without looking THOROUGHLY at his previous position?  I still don’t understand how you will APPROVE Ministers WITHOUT knowing what MINISTRIES you will put them.  Will you interview bricklayers, and motor-drivers, and medical doctors for positions in a hospital, only to put the bricklayer as Head of Surgery, the medical doctor as Chief Bricklayer, and the Motor Driver as Chief Pathologist?

The thought is pathological.

I don’t understand how four Supreme Court Justices, some the HIGHEST group of learned justices in the land, can READ a LINE in an Electoral Law that says “Thou Shalt Put Serial Numbers on Election Ballots”, and then turn around to say that the lack of serial numbers in the April 2007 elections still yielded results in substantial compliance with the law.  I accept their final verdict but virulently question their judgement. Thank God for the three minority Justices who ruled otherwise.

And I don’t understand state and federal legislatures from Abuja to Calabar, from Maiduguri to Ibadan, who award all kinds of budgetary excesses to themselves and to their respective Chief Executives, and year-to-year approve billions of naira to executives that return year-by-year without telling them what was REALLY done with the money they approved.  No roads, no housing, no power, no water, no schools, no security, no nothing….. …and these “Dis(honorables) ” return to their constituencies?

And yes, I don’t understand ordinary citizens who allow ALL of these people to return to their “constituencies” , especially during this holiday season, and don’t run them out of town.  

I simply don’t understand my country sometimes….many times actually.  These things just can make one want to holler.

The only people that I understand the most these days are the Nigerian Press and the sprouting citizen Internet journalists and I-Reporters who are doing their darndest to highlight the rot that is going on in the country.   Even some of them are dodgy at times – it is difficult to live a completely righteous as a Nigerian, what with all the temptations and – er-er –  intimidations  – but in general,  I commot yanch for them, as Fela would say!  The heat is on.

Anyway, as we enter into a New Year 2009, I am constrained to say “Happy New Year” to everybody.

So there you have it!  See you on the other side of Midnight.


Bolaji Aluko



— In NaijaPolitics@ yahoogroups. com, idowu <idowubobo@.. . wrote:

 Malam Wane:
 As Obama is picking intelligent and nobel laureates, Yar Adua is picking Northern jingoists and irredentism laurates. Obama went to Harvard to pick people, Yar Adua went madras’s schools to pick candidate. Do me I do you God no vex. Whatsoever Obama can do better, Yar Adua can do worse. The key word is “do”
 Ã‚ Idowu
 “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” –Thomas Jefferson
 “The vast majority of the race, whether savage or civilized, are secretly kind-hearted and shrink from inflicting pain, but in the presence of the aggressive and pitiless minority they don’t dare to assert themselves”. – Mark Twain 


From: Salihu Mustafa salihumustafa@ …
 To: NaijaPolitics@ yahoogroups. com
 Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 2:31:45 AM
 Subject: Re: [NaijaPolitics] Yar’Adua and His New Team
 Mohammed Zayyad,

 I have always admired your comments as they are crisp and informative.
 I suppose Yar’aduwa’s current team is still beret of the much needed team of distinguished Nigerians especially those who could move the economy fast. Compared with what obtains in Obama’s cabinet, a Nobel laureate in physics heads the energy team whereas, a former President of University of Harvard is heading the economic team. Similarly in other sectors. There are many extraordinary Nigerians at home and in Diaspora capable of working 24/7 to produce tangible results who could be coopted into the government. So far, we are not there yet and we prefer to do with our second rate, if not sixth rate ( Chinua Achebe) in the name of politics to deal with extraordinary matters especially the impending collapse of almost all key sectors of the Nigerian economy( energy, transport, water, education, etc).

 Malam Wane

 On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 2:02 PM, Mohammed Zayyad zaymohd@yahoo. com wrote:
 Yar’Adua and His New Team

 Now that President Yar’Adua has finally put behind him the legitimacy issue that has trailed his government since its inception. And has brought on board his best choices as new Ministers, thus asserting full authority and put a strong personal stamp on his government, but has Mr. President made the right selection that would make a difference? This question was certainly borne out of the fact that, this time around, the President would take full responsibility of any action or inaction of his government; as the doors of complain of imposition individuals on him as Ministers are completely closed. 
 President Yar’Adua found himself in the saddle of responsibilities at a period that Nigerians’ quests for change on how things are done are strong, and their expectations from the leaders are very high. This was because Nigeria has witnessed the near breakdown of most of her systems- high level of poverty, corruption, energy crisis, insecurity and the pitiable miss-rule. Therefore, the remaining years President Yar’Adua has in office are very critical for him, if he is truly determined to make any difference. For Yar’Adua to make any difference, he has to move with speed of the expectations of Nigerians. The first thing Mr. President has to make sure is that; his team is not just a team, but a collection of great thinkers- silicon-valley- thinkers; men and women who can move the government with the speed of the imagination of most Nigerians, and their sense of judgment must centered on the challenges of un-locking the future for ordinary Nigerians. And also bring new thinking and synergy to the public sector’s role in providing the need of all Nigerians.  
 Mr. President’s new team has to be the engine room for greater equality of opportunities for all Nigerians. They must be able to build a system that will swing the government away from the traditional methodology of concentrating on only ‘off-the-shelves’ ways of improving our society- each Minister must see himself/herself not only saddled with the responsibility within his/her portfolio; but  a team player  that would  bring new feasible ideas that would trigger development in all sphere of the Nigerian economy- putting in place systems that would eradicate poverty by uplifting individuals, fight crimes with employments and opportunities rather than guns, axes, bows and arrows and fight official corruption the ways it ought to be.
 This is the time for Nigeria to leapfrog the ladder development by strongly leveraging from the Public Private Partnership- sourcing of funds from both local and global capital markets- especially the issuance of sovereign bonds-to provide broad variety of services to the  people, ranging from health and social programs, to defence, fire, police protection, maintaining a legal system, and the provision of physical infrastructure including the reinvigoration of the  education system, building of small scale industries and farms, roads construction and Human capital development. 
 Mr. President’s new team should and have to do-away with the burden of ‘carrying the camel and the loads’ so to speak, in the education system- the situation where the government is the financier, the administrator of the fund, and the assessor of how the funds were utilised in the Nigerian education, is one of the main problem that has plagued the system. Government should gradually restrict itself to only provision of funds, while private sector, civil societies, communities etc should manage it in a competitive manner, and then other NGOs including Parent-Teacher Associations should serve as watchdogs.
 Another area that PPP can work efficiently in Nigeria is in the road sector.  The Design Build Operate Maintain (DBOM) Partnerships can help to improve the deplorable situation of the Nigerian roads. Private sector can use the combination of their own debt and equity to finance the construction of roads. They then have the use of the toll income generated by the project for a specified concession period and use those project generated revenues to repay the underlying debt, recuperate their own equity, and earn a fair profit. Though motorists and commuters will have to bear the tolls; however, its effects are negligible when compared with the stress, lost of man-hours and lives, Nigerians witness on the roads due to their terrible conditions. 
 The shortage of efficient and reliable energy is a key factor that is also perpetuating low level of development in Nigeria. Nigeria is facing electricity crunch not only in the generation, transmission and distribution but alsoin terms of financing and covering the cost. The main problem of the Nigerian electricity sector was the holistic approach used in its setup from onset; where the old NEPA was given the tasks of generating, transmitting, distributing and marketing of the electricity need of the entire Nigerian State, this led to the official bigheadedness in system which encouraged bizarre corruption and mismanagement. We must admit that, currently there is plan for reforms in the Nigerian electricity sector; but the fear is, the reform planners have in one-way or the other forgotten that the solution to the electricity problem is not merely a matter of generating more power, but adequate reinvigoration and deregulation of the transmission, distribution and marketing sector with enabling environment for strong private sector participation- this is the task that President Yar’Adua’s team has to pursue with vigor. If not, the government may end-up generating the required megawatts the nations needs, but no reliable and efficient medium of its transmission, distribution and marketing to sustain the system. 

 The real force behind industrial and economic growth is the people. Human capital development must be pursue; with soft loans for small scale industries; or government build industries then lease them to the people; Â and also develop small scale farming, support for the movie, music, sport industries and artisans. 

 However, all these mentioned cannot be achieved without true political reform- a political reengineering that would make the leadership to all the times think with the speed of the expectations of Nigerians and gradually institutionalised political, economic and social order in the society. 

 Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo. com, 08036070980 




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