Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stop the Musical Chairs in Oyo State

First as part tax payer in Lagos State I give my unreserved support to Governor Fashola to continue his pursuit of excellence and maintain the role of Lagos as the benchmark for the rest of the country. I however have my eyes set on the other side of the expressway.

Oyo state in general and Ibadan in particular holds a unique and special place in the National consciousness. In spite of recent erosion it is still the capital of research and publishing in Nigeria. In recent times Ibadan and by extension Oyo state has been greatly reduced in the National consciousness to regular political conflicts (not unusual) but also a provincial backwater. Her sons and daughters leaving in droves to record the unacceptable credit of being the only urban metropolis to record a drop in population as urbanisation across the country increases annually by 5.8%.

Oyo State has three front runners for the post and role of Governor. They are the current Governor , Chief Adebayo Akala, Ex Governor Rasheed Ladoja and Former Senator Abiola Ajimobi. Whoever becomes Governor has their job truly cut out for them as politics as exploited the differences amongst people especially pitting those who would zone Governorship to Ibadan people against some other areas. The issue should never be where you come from but the merit and potential that you have to effect change, transform lives and inspire collaboration with the citizens. It is worthy of note that no matter how bad it has been in Ibadan the most neglected part of Oyo state has been Oke Ogun.

The incumbent Governor has had more than the four year term set out constitutionally to make his mark. He at best has tried to conduct targeted management of decayed and decaying infrastructure. He has been bereft of ideas and shown very little capacity to transform the state. His treatment of public servants has been nothing short of irresponsible. The capital city has become a disgusting panorama of hastily constructed, badly maintained, ad hoc shop fronts. There is total lack of any civic authority to manage the excesses of people desperately seeking subsistence in the face of an ’owambe’ government. Mechanic yards strewn major thoroughfares, trailers have their way across the expressway within the city limit, Iwo road is a bottle neck of deep road craters and scrambling motorists without any intervention from any traffic authorities. The markets which are the heartbeat of the city are all in constant devolving cycles. The Government trots out Mapo Hall and roads across the old town as accomplishments. If that is all it has achieved then it is a depressing picture of lack of competence.

Nothing the incumbent Governor has done was done without the active and tacit support of some in the city of Ibadan. In fact Governor Akala became the Governor through the choices of two sons of the City of heroes. The late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu and the Ex Governor Rasheed Ladoja. Ex Govenor Ladoja an accomplished entrepreneur and a proven original thinker enters this contest with an interesting and attractive manifesto. His record in office has been largely transactional and obscured by his successor. His progress in human development in the state is undermined by his failures on infra structure maintenance. However worse he has a record of poor judgement. In his alliance with Alhaji Adedibu, his choice of Chief Akala as his Deputy Governor and now his decision to split the Ibadan vote by seeking office in the face of the opportunity to leverage this largest block of votes so that the state can move on from the legacy that he and Alhaji Adedibu have saddled on its back.

Former Senator Abiola Ajimobi is a proven executive as a former CEO of National Oil (now Conoil). He is also a proven civic minded individual with successful social entrepreneurship through his Vocational centres across the land. He represents a real opportunity to move beyond the musical chairs in Agodi between Chief Akala and Alhaji Ladoja. Like Ladoja his manifesto is ambitious and encouraging. Unlike Ladoja he represents a new way ahead. Some want to vote Ladoja because he paid salaries on time . It is like calling me Father of the year because I paid my children’s school fees. It is my obligation as it is the responsibility of Government to meet its obligation to public servants. It is a mark of how low the standards have fallen in Agodi that this is considered a selling point.

It is arguable that both Alhaji Ladoja and Governor Akala will benefit from the Constitutional immunity from EFCC prosecution in cases that are still going through the court system but we need a clean break. We need a competent executive in Agodi and the choice is Abiola Ajimobi.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Power over or Power with

Nigeria will vote into power over the next few weeks and the key determinant of people’s choices will be based on analysis of the fundamental challenge of this greatly loved and often vilified country. For many who believe her problem is corruption and indiscipline they will choose General Buhari retired, an honest and strict man who oversaw the worst drop in the countries economic history and ran one of its most authoritarian dictatorships. For those who see the key challenge as generational they are most likely to cast their vote for Mr Ribadu , a post independence poster child who ran one of the most successful intervention against corruption even though many saw him as just a political attack dog. For those who want to end the irrational and badly engineered hegemony of tribal as well as sectional majorities well the current President is their choice. Then you have the articulate performance of Mallam Shekarau who seemed to have captured those who wanted someone with the Presidential command of an audience or subject.

As we look at the rest of the world days before this election however what lesson is the challenges and standard raised and flying across the Middle East teach the Nigerian voter? What lessons is emerging at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century? What is clear is that the 21st century abhors hierarchy . It is also through that it is not impressed about the size and range of your hardware. What emerges is that the challenge of the 21st century is power with; rather than power over. so how do our Presidential candidates fare as 21st century leaders who can enable the best angel of Nigerians so they can transform their country. Make no mistake about it the transformation of Nigeria will not be done in Aso Rock or even in the respective state houses but in the shacks, face me I face you , bungalows and duplexes of the 28 million Nigerian families. On the key issues that Nigerians have raised as priorities which are employment/economy, Power and education.

On Econmy

The Buhari/ CPC manifesto is the most specific and detailed on the economy and has key highlights especially integrating the informal economy as well as reform of the Land use Act both of which can be transformational. The Ribadu principle of creating macro economic discipline is similar to the Jonathan approach both are broad brushed and appear transactional however therein lies the challenge. The Buhari principle assumes that government has power over the economy rather than creating the climate for enabling the private sector. On the other hand lack of greater specificity in both the Ribadu and Jonathan are more focussed on the enabling environment.

On corruption

The Ribadu manifesto is the most transformative recognising implicitly the issue of equality of opportunity and the need for a system of creating value over concentration on the efficient and transparent distribution that underpins both the Jonathan and Buhari outlooks. The Ribadu manifesto looks at Corruption as challenge not just in Government but in all sectors of society and commits to enabling a value creation culture that will open up responsibility. In fact Ribadu of the three has the real not imagined track record for the best intervention against corruption in Nigeria.

On Power

The Ribadu manifesto is by far the clearest statement, setting out an agenda for capacity improvement and the increase in energy sources. It specifically engages the longer term and sustainable needs of Nigeria. The Jonathan manifeto is short on facts but maybe relies on the Energy Policy of the Government which recognises the role of the Private sector as does the Ribadu position. The Buhari or CPC manifesto is focused solely on increased capacity with a broad statement on alternative energies.

All the manifestos ignore the most sustained and profound trend in the Nigerian landscape i.e. the issue of urban migration or urbanisation and its implications for the future. It currently grows at about twice the rate of population growth ie. 2.8% per annum population growth and 5.8% Urban population growth. They also ignore the unsustainable nature of the population growth and its effect on the ability to provide quality life. Far more revealing is their position on Women’s development. Jonathan’s plan is totally silent on Women’s issue or their special role in transforming the country. In the Buhari/CPC manifesto it appears Women are an afterthought . It essentially guarantees that women have their constitutional rights and representation. The Ribadu Manifesto puts the women’s agenda at the top of their list setting out the implementation of all international commitments to the development and transformation of the lives of women. It is also the only Manifesto that gives specific focus to the majority of the Nigerians, the young people.

The Presidency of the Federal republic of Nigerian is not a place for temper tantrums. It is a sacred role to enable the dreams of nearly 150 million Nigerian for a society in which they can pursue prosperity. The challenge is to find the leader who recognises we need authoritative engagement, not authoritarian pronouncements, that inspires ownership not encourage dependency, one that understands that it is ultimately to share in our power not have power over us.