Monday 29 June 2015

#MustRead: The Change We Are Seeing - by Setonji Koshoedo

The massive turnout by the voters during the last general elections, particularly the presidential elections, was revolutionary and marked a new political evolution in Nigerian democratic experiment. 

The ruling political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, was defeated by the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress. But every revolution promises great hope and expectation to confront and deal decisively with the problems plaguing the society. The end of a matter can be presumed by the occurrences in the beginning. It is in this context that the ruling party APC will be critically assessed, if indeed it should be regarded as a true change agent in Nigeria.

The APC was an amalgamation of several political parties. The parties came together to form a united, purposeful and strong opposition party to the then ruling party, the PDP. The party, from its inception has shown for all good intents and purposes its determination to confront and correct all perceived social-economic problems facing the nation. But a thorough observation and critical analysis of the new government so far shows no signs of a potential change agent for the country. Some Nigerians are already nursing doubts if the present government really has any road map to deal with the issues of developmental challenges confronting our dear nation. After all, a child that will be great in future must start showing some elements of greatness from childhood.

That Nigeria, like any developing nation in the world, is faced with monumental developmental challenges is a fact that is not hidden either from the ruling party, the Nigerian populace and indeed the entire world. Though genuine and sincere efforts were made by the immediate past government of the PDP led by the former President Goodluck Jonathan, to tackle some of the critical challenges to no avail, the Buhari-led APC government presented itself as a credible alternative and the messiah of our time to take our nation out of the woods. Nigerians, however, are yet to see the signs of any good times ahead.

The lack-luster approach of the APC government, on take-off, to some sensitive national issues should be of serious concern to discerning minds.

It is a normal occurrence for any new government coming into power, as a matter of fact, to be confronted with challenges, but a true change agent must however be proactive enough in dealing with and proffering solutions to these challenges, drawing from its well-articulated strategies and programmes of action. Many of us are doubtful if the APC does.

The impression given to Nigerians by the APC leadership before the last general elections was that the party had already designed a blue-print to deal with the country’s numerous challenges. More so, when the government is being led by a former head of state, who had had the rare privilege of presiding over this nation in the past, contested for the presidency on three different occasions and before the last general elections had traversed all the nooks and crannies of this country promising and whetting Nigerians appetite for ‘change.’

Any true change agent like Muhammadu Buhari is expected to bring his wealth of experience and reputation to galvanise the available human resources to spur the nation to greatness and live up to that expectation in planning and action.

Regrettably, the actions of the APC led administration at the centre have not in any way shown any appreciable level of preparation or readiness for the roles expected and anticipated of a ruling party in Nigeria. The party has not in any way justified its so much flaunted mantra as a change agent.

For a true change to occur there must be a clear vision that is different and better from the past vision if only by the road map of achieving the old vision. After all, change is said to be the attraction of doing things differently to achieve the desired results. Let the APC government challenges Nigerians with its clear-cut vision and the road map that are different from the political illusion or mere promises of stable electricity, infrastructural development, security and employment generation.

There must be clearly defined ways or methodology of performance measurement. For example, tell Nigerians how many megawatts of electricity they want to add to the National grid per year and how that will be achievable; tell Nigerians how many kilometers of roads they want to construct within a specific time frame and their strategy in achieving it. They should tell Nigerians what specific approach on wealth creating employments they have to offer and so on.

However, what happened in the National Assembly during its inauguration had shown a poor management of political power and electoral success by the APC leadership, which resulted in crisis because of lack of consideration for every region and interests. A true change agent must be able to align forces, aggregate various political interests and articulate fresh ideas of dealing with all these characteristics. Regardless of its implications to APC, the National Assembly has exhibited democracy at its best. What played out has further strengthened our democratic values and creates checks and balances in the legislative arm and other arms of government in extension.

Drawing from the flaws of APC, the first requirement of any true change agent is to understand the workings, the systems and the dynamism of its environment. To proactively identify, analyse and decisively tackle perceived problems or challenges in the system. It is the understanding of the problems that will give room for the right solutions. Nigerians are concerned if the APC truly understands the workings of the Nigerian governmental system.

It is also important that a change agent must provide adequate incentives to pacify every segment that makes up Nigeria and to reduce grievances that could erupt from various interests and cultural differences. Incentives in this case come in form of positioning and distribution of power across the various interests. APC, so far, has not shown a sign of fairness in this case.

Looking at some of the steps taken so far by the present government, it is clear and obvious that the APC as a party in government lacks the credentials and potential of a true change agent. It does not possess the required skills and knowledge of the change process.

It is highly disappointing that the ruling party does not understand neither has it come to terms with the complications and complexities of governance at the federal level. This lack of understanding and cluelessness has led to the failure of the government to identify and appoint competent and experienced people into sensitive positions in government that should not be left vacant for too long. This has also led to the chaos and apparent confusion created by the party in its bid to assuming the leadership of the 8th National Assembly in the current dispensation.

Kudos must therefore go to the PDP that has shown swiftly, the capacity to seize any available opportunity to enthrone democratic stability, independence of the legislature and all-inclusive government in the country.

In conclusion, the change Nigerians are getting, if there is any change at all, is not the change they voted for.

- Setonji Koshoedo is the former chairman of the PDP in Lagos State

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