By Chris Agabi
Arc. Nya-Etok Ezekiel, the Director General, First Nigeria Project, has discussed the real issues why good governance has eluded Nigeria.
Delivery a keynote at the Installation Ceremony of Akan-Emah as the Governor of District 9142 held in Uyo, he posited that “there is a disconnect between the government and the people”
He noted that the “government, which consists of elected and appointed leaders and representatives of the people, has not really lived up to expectation. Since Nigeria has been reduced to a theatre of absurd political dramas, the citizens now regard the leaders as dramatists with little or no real value.”
“So, when these people come bidding for patronage during elections, the people are readily disposed to taking whatever they can get from them, believing that they may not have the opportunity to receive any other benefit from government until after another 4 years. The people’s disenchantment paves the way for the operation of a faulty leadership recruitment process that allows ‘the worst of us to rule the best of us’” he stated.
Find below his full speech..
KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY ARC NYA-ETOK EZEKIEL AT THE INSTALLATION CEREMONY OF AKAN EMAH AS THE GOVERNOR OF DISTRICT 9142, AT IBOM HALL ON 29TH JULY, 2023.
GOOD GOVERNANCE: Juxtaposing Government Responsibility, and Citizen Responsibility.
It is my pleasure to be vested with this honour of being the Keynote Speaker at this very important event. There is so much that I could say as preambles, but for reason of time, kindly allow me to go into the presentation. I shall launch my presentation from the standpoint of what I will refer to as ‘Network Governance’.
In contemporary times, the task of superintending over national affairs has become more complex and extremely challenging for so many reasons. The Network Governance approach which has gained international applicability, underscores the importance of coordinating governance through concerted efforts and inputs from relevant actors other than government.
The collective efforts from these non-governmental actors creates a network that provide external support for functional and effective governance process. In this governance network, you will find the private sector, international institutions, social networks, the office of the citizen, and community-based organizations.
When we talk of community-based organizations, a notable and internationally recognized actor is The Rotary Club. At this point before I proceed with my presentation, it is appropriate to commend the Rotary Club. The Rotary Club has evolved to become a global network of about 2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves. For more than 110 years, members of the Rotary Club have channeled their passion, energy and resources to implement sustainable projects and create positive change in critical areas of importance. The Rotary Club has contributed in no small measure to promoting peace, fighting disease, supporting education, providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene, growing local economies, protecting the environment, and more. The Rotary Club deserves great accolades. In recognition of the sterling achievements of Rotary Club around the world, please let us give resounding ovation to the Rotary Club and its dedicated members. Thank you.
As we proceed on this presentation, one thing that I find very fascinating about the Rotary Club is: Rotary members have a shared sense of responsibility to take action on our world’s most persistent issues. It is based on the Network Governance approach and the need for a shared sense of responsibility that I titled my presentation:
“GOOD GOVERNANCE: Juxtaposing Government Responsibility and Citizen’s Responsibility”.
Governance comes to the fore as a major issue.
20 Types of Governments (@Uberfacts)
1. Technocracy: Government ruled by technical experts
2. Autocracy: Government ruled by one individual with absolute power
3. Democracy: Government ruled by the people, typically via elected representatives
4. Monarchy: Government ruled by a single monarch (king or queen)
5. Oligarchy: Government ruled by a small, powerful group
6. Aristocracy: Government ruled by a privileged upper class, often often hereditary
7. Theocracy: Government ruled by religious leaders or based on religious principles
8. Plutocracy: Government ruled by the wealthy
9. Meritocracy: Government ruled by individuals selected based on their abilities and qualifications
10. Kleptocracy: Government ruled by corrupt leaders who exploit national resources for personal gain
11. Matriarchy: Government ruled by women
12. Patriarchy: Government ruled by men
13. Timocracy: Government ruled by property owners and/or those with a love of honor
14. Bureaucracy: Government ruled by state officials in a hierarchical structure
15. Anarchy: A society without a government, or, violently enforced political authority
16. Military Dictatorship: Government ruled by military leaders
17. Totalitarianism: Government that is centralized and dictatorial, demanding complete subservience to the state
18. Socialism: Government ruled by the community as a whole, regulating means of production, distribution, and exchange
19. Communism: Government ruled on a principle where property is publicly owned, and work and pay are based on abilities and needs.
20. Fascism: Government ruled by a dictatorial power, suppressing opposition, regimenting industry and commerce, and emphasizing aggressive nationalism and often racism
In Nigeria, we have adopted DEMOCRACY for our Governance type. Please permit me not to elaborate on this as it could distract from the essence of this address.
Governance comes to the fore as a major issue in human development globally. It been said that after God, governance is the next most important influence in human development. Governance entails the systematic process of administering over the affairs of a country through established bureaucratic structures and managerial protocols. Governance in Nigeria seems to be losing its steam. Considering the myriads of anomalies that plague our country today, it is safe to conclude that Nigeria is still many miles away from good governance.
As I discuss my perspectives on Nigeria’s governance from a networking approach, I am speaking within the context of government responsibility on the one hand, and citizens responsibility on the other hand.
John F. Kennedy, in his inaugural address, was quoted to have said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,”. Many people have misconstrued and misrepresented Kennedy’s statement. Some people take it literally to mean that government owes the citizens nothing, implying that the citizens are responsible for themselves. what then would be the essence of government if government does not exist to carry out major functions geared towards the delivery of democratic dividends? In Nigeria, the Constitution makes it extremely clear, and without any ambiguity, that “The security and welfare of the people, shall be the primary purpose of Government” Chapter 2, Section 14, Sub-section 2b.
As a Patriot, a Democrat, and Progressive-minded Ideological Visioner, let me categorically state that both GOVERNMENT and CITIZENS have responsibilities. Having studied the democratic systems in many countries around the world, I can say authoritatively that achieving good governance comes from the effective interplay of: GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBILITY and CITIZEN RESPONSIBILITY.
The Reality: Why Governance has effectively failed.
There is a disconnect between the government and the people. Government, which consists of elected and appointed leaders and representatives of the people, has not really lived up to expectation. Since Nigeria has been reduced to a theatre of absurd political dramas, the citizens now regard the leaders as dramatists with little or no real value. So, when these people come bidding for patronage during elections, the people are readily disposed to taking whatever they can get from them, believing that they may not have the opportunity to receive any other benefit from government until after another 4 years. The people’s disenchantment paves the way for the operation of a faulty leadership recruitment process that allows ‘the worst of us to rule the best of us’.
As opposed to SERVICE, as I have always posited, being the essence for seeking public office, the political actors’ skewed understanding of this essence of seeking public office (government), results in ‘state capture’. It explains why the ruling class in Nigeria is largely composed of people with egocentric postures and unbridled appetites for wealth accumulation. As government gets farther away from the reach of citizens, patriotism declines.
Unfortunately, PATRIOTISM CANNOT BE LEGISLATED.
AS AN IMPERATIVE, both the GOVERNMENT and the CITIZENS have important roles to play To Engender Good Governance. Even the social contract that forms the basis of democracy, presupposes that GOVERNMENT and THE OFFICE OF THE CITIZEN have a symbiotic relationship and each has functions that must be carried out to make the governance system, functional.
On the part of citizens: Political Enlightenment and Citizens Involvement .
In order to have good governance, Responsible and Competent individuals must be elected into governance offices.To achieve the above, there is need for citizens to have adequate political enlightenment. Many citizens (ESPECIALLY THE SUPPOSED ELITE CLASS), are either ignorant of, or nonchalant about the implications and consequences of their actions of exhibiting apathetic attitude to politics. It is laughable that many people stop at pontificating on social media and radio. They do not go beyond that, even to the extent of not casting their votes during elections.
Citizens need political enlightenment in the right quality and quantity so they can engage robustly in the political space. As citizens, we cannot afford the risk of turning a blind eye to politics, especially during elections. We must be involved in the leadership recruitment process. Let me quote Socrates, an ancient Greek Philosopher who said, (I quote) “the consequence of not participating in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors” (end of quote). At this point, having recognized and commended the good works of Rotary Club, may I urge the organization and its members to do more. Rotary Club should deploy measures aimed at capturing the youthful population in Nigeria, especially those of voting age. The people should be oriented on citizen responsibility, and on the importance of performing salient civic duties, one of which is voting. In this regard, the National Orientation Agency also has a responsibility to perform.
On the part of government: Ideological Consciousness, Institutional Reforms, Rule of Law
As the Visioner of the SOCIAL GOVERNANCE IDEOLOGY, I am unrelenting in advocating ideological direction in governance and political leadership.
Social Governance Ideology is my political ideology that rests on 7 Fundamentals as follows:
Fundamental 1: Social Governance is a bottom-to-top approach to governance and development with the primary objective of bringing the citizens out of poverty.
Fundamental 2: Social Governance seeks to recrate and expand the middle class; not by gringing the rich down, but by pulling the poor up through the provision of accessible and affordable Education, Healthcare, Housing, and other social infrastructure.
Fundamental 3: The driver of Social Governance must have passion for social justice, and work to reduce socio-economic inequality.
Fundamental 4: The focus of Social Governance is the welfare of the most vulnerable; being the poor, the physically challenged, the rural dwellers, students, workers, women, the elderly, and children.
Fundamental 5: Social Governance Ideology lays more emphasis on Micro, Small, and Medium scale enterprises above the big industries.
Fundamental 6: Social Governance manifests I massive investments in the rural areas for their development and transformation.
Fundamental 7: Social Governance is therefore the effective actualization of the core mandate of government as clearly stated in the constitution that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government” Chapter 2, section 14, sub-section 2b.
Lack of ideological direction is one of the main reasons government functionaries and political leaders have failed to deliver on their responsibilities. Bad governance persists often because the drivers of governance are not led by any meaningful ideology. Government should not act like a ship without a rudder. Social Governance comes handy as an ideology that ensures government functions at its best; such that, the security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government. There is need for ideological consciousness in government.
Furthermore, we must look at the institutions of government. Institutions are vital facilitators of governmental functions. An example is the Independent National Electoral Commission. INEC is a very important institution not just because it conducts election, but also because its electioneering activities are responsible for leadership succession as well as democratic consolidation and progression. Most of the outcomes of INEC’s electoral process have been met with condemnation, public outcry, and disapproval. It is time to change the music – our ears can no longer be serenaded by unpleasant melodies of rigged elections. It is high time Nigeria had an effective body driven by patriotism to conduct elections in an unbiased manner through an efficient process that produce credible results. To start with, INEC must undergo reforms. Reforms should apply to all institutions of government.
Again, I solicit the involvement of the Rotary Club. The Rotary Club should engage government in areas of reforms. From its pool of experts and problem solvers, Rotary Club should conscript members into a Think-tank. I will address this further in my closing submissions.
Lastly, the rule of law should prevail in Nigeria. The rule of laws operates on two broad democratic doctrines:
(1) Supremacy of the constitution (2) Equality before the Law.
There should be an end to cases of infraction on the constitution. This applies both to government and the citizens. The supremacy of the constitution also means that government must obey judicial rulings. In addition, the law is binding on everyone; both the rich and the poor, the government and the governed. People who break the law, in spite of status, should be punished. The heavens will not fall.
Bing a Keynote Speaker at a function of this magnitude, provides an awesome platform and opportunity not just to enlighten the people, but moreso, to drop major issues for National Discuss.
It is in the light of the above that I wish to make two major suggestions:
Rotary Club should constitute a Political Think-Tank, Engagement And Enlightenment Unit.
This Unit will have, amongst others, an enlightenment wing that targets our Primary, and Secondary institutions particularly to enlighten them on Civic Responsibilities. One key target objective of this unit should be the production of the JUNIOR NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION. This will be the distilling of the major aspects of our Constitution to a format that the Primary and Secondary students will understand. The unit will also interface with INEC to ensure that every political office seeker is availed proper knowledge and demands of the office they seek.
Details are available.
Let me state here that being a Paul Harris Fellow, I am very aware of the position of Rotary Club with respect to being apolitical. The above suggestions need an extremely non partisan bodies to effectively coordinate. One can hardly think of a more non partisan body than Rotary Club.
Also, for Rotary Club to remain relevant, it must be willing to adjust to COUNTRY PERULIARITIES.
The number one problem of Nigeria today if POOR LEADERSHIP RECRUITMENT.
INEC must, as a policy, register Leadership and Good Governance Institutes to provide TWO WEEKS INTENSIVE TRAININGS FOR ALL POLITICAL OFFICE SEEKERS.
At the end of satisfactory completion of the trainings, the certificates issued will be a requirement for clearance at screening, and one of the items that INEC will require at their documentations.
Bodies like SPPG, and GOTNI will be strategic development partners with INEC on this.
IN CONCLUSION, Albert Einstein’s Parable of Quantum Insanity posits that, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results”. We have done things a certain way for long, and the results have been negative. Enough of doing things the wrong way. By this address, I seek to activate a paradigm shift as I hope that moving forward, both GOVERNMENT and CITIZENS will perform their responsibilities, and network closely to engender good governance in Nigeria.
As I said, political enlightenment, citizen participation, ideological consciousness, institutional reforms, and the rule of law are key requirements for the good governance that we envisage.
Finally, and once more, I salute the Rotary Club and its members for this privilege, and for a job well done. I enjoin members to forge on with the vision of this noble organization and do more for the society, for Nigeria, and for the world at large.
You have the assurances of my highest esteem.
GOD BLESS US ALL!!!.