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The Pace of Change and Why We Need A New Type of Government in 2019

Our governments are increasingly failing us even with the massive road construction in States like Lagos, Bauchi and Kaduna. Because at the barest minimum, measuring the performance of governments by roads built isn’t enough. The real problem is that Nigerians set the bar too low for government at all three tiers–local, state and federal.

As my heart goes out to the people of Sierra Leone for the massive national tragedy they have had to endure, I am also left to wonder if this is not a warning about something imminent that government, not only in Nigeria but across West Africa are now playing the ostrich with? Could Lagos come under another even more ferocious downpour next year like the rains of 8th July this year? Is climate change even a conceivable challenge to the people that now make up government across the coast of West Africa?

And without pause, don’t these questions elicit even more implicating ones about the people you and I put in office; as to whether they are even fit to lead Nigeria?

Without mentioning names, we have seen many in federal legislative leadership embarrass themselves and Nigeria on camera; many times, uttering balderdash as the country watched their videos go viral-with glee, rather than rage. We should be pensive, rather than tickled by videos of dancing politicians. We should be concerned for ourselves when the people we elected show little depth for matters that truly affect the people that voted them in.

The downpour of 8th July remains an example. Did our leadership learn anything from it? I think not. I have seen no media to create awareness about the hazards that littering our environment and clogged drainages are. And if the Ministry of Environment and their counterparts in Information have refused to do something, what about the legislature?

Could it be that reducing carbon emissions by pushing legislation that support cleaner transportation and cleaner power haven’t even been conceived– because electricity itself, is Nigeria’s single largest economic problem?

Thinking keenly, many more questions come to mind; like how Cape Town, a South African municipality with about 4 million people generates 1900MW effortlessness, more than half the electricity produced in Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa?  For me, the answer is the quality of people that make up government and the things they prioritize.

Priorities tell you a lot about people. But more than this, they tell you about what they are capable of.

When a country’s government subsidizes religious pilgrimages, but cannot pay teachers or furnish classrooms with desks talk less of state-of-the-art equipment, the questions of their priorities come up alongside that popular line from Karl Marx; the thing about religion being the opium of the masses. The priorities of this current political establishment can be perceived to be: keep the people hooked enough on religion so that they overlook how the country is being led. And this could spell doom.

In surmising that we be more attentive to the type of people we put in office, I saw two news items this week that clearly show why the people of Nigeria must vote out the political establishment come 2019. The first had to do with former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke’s umpteenth forfeiture of property; this time, 56 houses valued at N2.6 Billion. The mere effrontery of our political office holders subsists from the fact that our political system doesn’t hold them to account until after they leave office–when the damage has already been done.

The second item was about the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) approving 120 out of 400 marks as the new cut-off mark for university admission in Nigeria. A move backwards, to demoralize the academically advantaged; to deemphasize the existential threat that a knowledgeable population can be to the kind of leadership we have today.

It made me think even more keenly, that if in these times, when leadership across the world is becoming even more accountable, Nigeria’s is still reeling in the doldrums of profligacy; and at a time when competitiveness is going through the roof around the world, Nigeria is bending backwards.

Think about this, there are more Chinese students at Harvard, Stanford, Imperial College, MIT and Yale than any other foreign nationals because their government make it a policy to do so. I do not think that a 120 UMTE score can get you into any of those schools and therein lies our inability to truly compete with the rest of the world.

The pace of change in the world today can’t abide jokers. But many times, in many ways, Nigeria is the butt of jokes across the globe.

Think! And in 2019, we who live in urban centres -Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja-can begin to make the advance to a better society–one vote at a time.

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Nehikhare Omotayo Igbinijesu is an Economist, Poet, and Social Entrepreneur. 'He is the author of The Code: A Simple Story About Raising Great Women' and 'Marriage: 12 Questions You Need To Ask Before You Say, “I Do”'. He lives in Lagos with his wife, Akudo and two sons. He is Co-founder of Stuffsilos.com, a motivational resources company based in Lagos. You can email him via nehijesu [at] yahoo.co.uk

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