Archive for the ‘Nigerian Democracy’ Tag

POLICY NG – A REPOSITORY FOR NIGERIA’S POLICY DISCOURSE   3 comments

“The media must be an enlightened purveyor of policy knowledge.” –Oby Ezekwesili

Word Web, an English thesaurus dictionary defines “policy” as “A line of argument rationalizing the course of action of a government” and “A plan of action adopted by an individual or social group”. For our present purpose, if we coalesce the two perspectives above, the result will be that ‘policy’ will mean “A plan that rationalizes and determines the course of action adopted by a government in the pursuit of its objectives.”

From the foregoing, it goes without saying that government policies comprise the framework for a government’s actions and/or inactions. In a democracy, a government exists to transform the people’s aspirations into tangible results that safeguard and promote their wellbeing. For this to happen, there is utter need for the citizenry to make their voices heard on various issues of policy importance and for the executive and legislative arms of government to co-opt that into their policy making and implementation processes. The starting point is always for the citizenry to have outlets via which they can make their voices heard. Traditionally, this has been via the assorted platforms of mainstream print and broadcast media, with the accompanying difficulty to enable stakeholders access many different views and perspectives on policy issues or debates in one place at any given time.

However, the coming of social media has significantly changed that balance for good by providing platforms for citizens and denizens to be heard, wherever they may be, on important policy issues. In our case, in Nigeria, a new Twitter account, @PolicyNG, has taken that prospect one notch higher by providing what can be described as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for the collation of views on topical policy issues. This handle at once serves a four-fold purpose: it will assist the government to have a feeling of what Nigerians think with regard to major policies before their implementation, it will provide a feedback mechanism after the implementation of policies, it will constitute another rich source of data for researchers with interest on Nigerian public policy and democracy and it will enable Nigerians interact and debate with each other on various government policies and aspects of governance. Regarding the last point, it must be understood as, Meir Dagan, a former director of Israel’s intelligence agency, once said, that: “The heart and soul of democracy is the public debate.”

At a media function in her honour last year, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, the immediate past Vice-President of the World Bank’s Africa region and a passionate advocate for a public policy system that guarantees good governance, said: “It does not matter how much integrity some leaders may have, until they find the right policy skills, they are never going to make sound policies…” In fact, Ezekwesili created and uses the Twitter hashtags #PublicPolicy101 and #PP101 to regularly comment on matters of policy and governance. She says: “I love Public Policy. Every citizen must love and follow Public Policy. How else can you be an effective citizen?” Ezekwesili urged the media to up its act on credible knowledge-based reportage, considering that when they do so, they equip the masses with the tools required to better hold their governments and leaders to account and hence, improve the quality of governance and public policy delivery.

It is my earnest belief that the people behind the @PolicyNG initiative are strongly motivated by the above goal and with that, coupled with their ingenuity; there should be no shortage of the will to make the platform sustainable, credible and dynamic. I heartily commend all who contributed to bringing the platform to reality, as well as all who are involved in running it. This is yet another demonstration of Nigerians’ quest for pragmatic political participation.

I am confident that, going forward, @PolicyNG will add plenty of value to Nigeria’s policy discourse and, ultimately, to her governance. Even if the government of the day chooses to not leverage on this readily available repository of policy knowledge from its people, there is no reason to believe that, in this social-media dispensation, the next government or others after it will not do so. In the meantime, the other benefits of the @PolicyNG platform remain incontrovertible.

Long live @PolicyNG! GOD bless Nigeria!

THE STORMING OF THE NIGERIAN BASTILLE   7 comments

The Bastille was a fortress built in Paris in the 14th century and used as a prison in the 17th and 18th centuries; it was destroyed on July 14, 1789 at the start of the French Revolution in what was described as “The Storming of the Bastille”.

I have been keen on drawing lessons for Nigeria from France’s advanced democratic setting especially as exemplified by that country’s last presidential elections. See: https://raymondeyo.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/lessons-for-nigeria-from-frances-elections/

However, our present purpose suggests that Nigeria takes inspiration from the very foundation of that French democratic establishment – the Storming of the Bastille! Without much peering, it is clear the recent Edo State gubernatorial election which fell precisely on the 223rd anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille, constitutes what can be considered “The Storming of the Nigerian Bastille”.

It has to be said that the generally popular resonance with the victory of the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) against the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) stems more from the fact that it dealt a death blow to the PDP’s culture of god-fatherism that more or less has had Edo State as its epicentre in recent times. Indeed, Senator Mudashiru Hussain said on July 14, 2012 that the outcome of the Edo election was going to determine the future of Nigeria’s democracy as I suppose, to the extent that it would demonstrate the potency of people power over ‘god-fatherly’ machinations. The ACN National Leader, Bola Tinubu, shared the same sentiment when he described Oshiomhole’s victory as “a great signal of a new chapter in Nigeria’s democratic struggle.” In the same vein, a political commentator, Taiwo Nolas-Alausa, declared: “May the victory of Edo spread across the nation. Come 2015, we shall cremate the godfathers”.

Also, former military head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida on July 17 said the Edo election has re-enacted the doctrine of ‘one man, one vote’ being canvassed by most Nigerians. In a statement entitled “The Power of the People,” Babangida said the election had further reassured the polity that under a credible and effective electoral system, the people’s power, expressed through votes, would reign supreme. Babangida said: “This ennobling and humbling feat [of victory “against a party that parades hitherto political heavyweights”] is only possible in an atmosphere of well mobilised and [conscientious] voters, who… resolved to sustain the mantra of ‘one man, one vote’ as the fundamental basis of representative democracy.” “The lesson from the Edo election is that Nigeria can truly get it right if election outcomes reflect the wishes and aspirations of the people. Edo State has become a trailblazer in this unique dimension of making votes to count after elections,” Babangida added. Like or hate him, Babangida struck exactly the right notes in his statement above.

By many standards, the Edo election was a huge political battle that transcended the state. The Oshiomhole victory wasn’t just a victory for the people of the state. Edo is the only state being governed by the leading opposition party, the ACN, outside of its dominant base in the South-West, and hence constitutes a major factor in the party’s quest for national reckoning. Similarly, the Edo election was a test-case for the planned merger between the ACN and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) – a development that informed the withdrawal of the CPC’s candidate to back his ACN counterpart. Therefore, Edo may have just created a platform for a possible and expedient opposition merger much needed to provide a credible national alternative to the ruling behemoth that is the PDP!

Indeed, the appeal of July 14 is what must have informed this Nigerian twitter handle @iamBHL to have “July 14th” as his profile name! This handle’s bio opens with “…in pursuit of positive change”. Going forward, it is my impassioned hope and prayer that the gains of July 14, 2012 for Nigeria will ultimately lead to positive change via the upping of our democratic ante just as July 14, 1789 brought about positive change for France!

Follow Raymond on Twitter @Raymond_Eyo