Archive for the ‘Public Policy’ 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!