For the followers of my write ups and comments regarding societal issues especially as related to Nigeria, you would notice that one of my cardinal beliefs is the seeking of knowledge by the populace because I believe strongly that such is the only way to get the society active enough to be functional towards being a developed nation. Do not however, mistake knowledge to mean attending schools, but it could stem from simple instilling of family values and mentorship, inculcating a listening culture as well as reading culture.
I had in one of my columns gave a story of a millennial I met who clearly said he couldn’t read anything over 3 lines, little wonder why tweets and fleets are made to not more 280 characters and 30 seconds respectively. This and more is why my article of last week affirmed that social media and fake news had come to stay, the only thing that can be done was for any right thinking policy maker to invest in strategic communication strategy, this can actually best work for politicians and business enterprises but the major solution to effects of fake news is awareness and knowledge on the part of the citizenry.
My research and understanding has shown that even on the social media, those people who are properly knowledgeable are quick to identify a fake post and would simpler swipe past it. You would hardly hear any rancor resulting from fake news in countries that are intellectually developed even though all of the social media platforms are active. Their awareness level have literally made them impermeable to fake news.
Further check on the fake news shenanigans will expose three major areas that are utilized as most potent for its being effective. These areas are religion, ethnicity and slander, and their quick acceptance by the gullible individuals only goes to tell you how negatively inclined an average illiterate mind can be. Some will tell you never to engage in an argument with an illiterate, they will defeat you with negativity and attempt to bring you down to their levels. The question now is, the rate at which fake news takes effect in Nigeria is perhaps a pointer to the fact that the majority of the people including the graduates are not knowledgeable and aware enough? It is a yes for me.
Who has ever told anyone that you can’t learn about the other faith even when you’re not one. How much do people know about the politics of oil, religion, America and Middle East and how controversial they were around the world and differently to different races and regions. How many of the millennials care to read to know about such so they can decipher through political statements they hear relating to certain situations of the past. How much do people know about the history of Nigeria’s politics to know that Pastor Poju was only inviting Elrufai to ‘The Platform’ because of his intellect as well as effort to complete a national character on the program. How many people also know drinking alcohol and certain level of socialism is a way of life for so many that must be respected. What has stopped us as a people from seeking knowledge, are we not seeing how our illiteracy is inching us closer to perdition?
For me, programs like ‘The Platform’ by pastor Poju Oyemade are the way to go for us as a nation so that conversations can be held which could at least make some who don’t know to perhaps see reason to see things differently. For example, those who jump into secession and restructuring debate without having a depth knowledge of what can be obtainable would have obtained a different view from the submissions of Dr Charles Omole and Segun Adeniyi over the fact that we will be worse as molecular units.
It is the likes of the above and more that spurs us to keep writing about topical national issues as well as pointing out progressive tendencies with a view to getting those that get the opportunity to read to have a different view regarding nation building and the complexities therein as well as what and what not to expect and tolerate while we are at it. Such critical information could make a society immune to fake news and misinformation that is capable of creating chaos and slowing development.
May God bless Nigeria
A lot has been said and written about the well-orchestrated trending campaign of calumny against the vibrant Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Sheikh, Imam Dr. Isa Ali Pantami. A fabricated story was shared by a newspaper linking him to terrorism. The same originator of the story retracted it and apologized, describing it as simply baseless and misleading. Yet some fifth columnists saw in it an opportunity to launch a war against the promising minister. Sadly, some became gullible!
The mischief makers used the strategy of selectively picking statements from some of Pantami’s old sermons, making mistranslations and interpretations. But who can escape the trap if the same formula of mutilating people’s statements and mistranslating some their selectively picked sentences were to be applied on him as done in the case of Pantami’s old sermons? How many people and nations should we condemn today if we were to judge them by their past? And, by the way, when did it become a sin for one to denounce his past mistakes, join the path of peace building and dedicate his entire life to fighting what he himself used to perceive to be good? Even if he held the position before, isn’t it plausible that he not only denounced it but also declared a sustained intellectual war against it? Wait! Before anybody supported Al-Qaeda it was the US itself that supported and financed it. The US later became its number one enemy. Should we, then, judge the US based on its earlier position and say it is Al-Qaeda’s ally? Back in Nigeria, who was Buhari in the 1980s: a democrat or a fascist? He despised democracy and politicians. After the collapse of communism and the fall of the Berlin wall, and with more maturity in age and experience, he changed completely, embracing democracy and growing to be the most popular politician in Africa. Many Nigerian politicians and intellectuals, as well as the global prophets of democracy, embraced and celebrated his conversion. Fact is, no matter what he believed and uttered as an exuberant university student, Isa Ali Pantami is now a completely changed person. Time modifies views. Exposure adjusts perception. That has been the case with all great men in documented human history. Pantami should even be congratulated for having grown to maturity so early, judging by the short period within which he swapped from emotion-based preaching to an intelligent, eloquent, progressive preaching approach.
Ordinarily, one wouldn’t care to write on this unnecessary hullabaloo. In fact, when a friend asked me to make a rejoinder to one self-important Atlanta columnist called Kperogi, I told him that not all gibberish merit my attention. The guy who falsely prides himself as Dr Pantami’s friend, shamelessly asked the minister to apologize for a crime he didn’t commit. But the same Atlanta noisemaker is someone who for the past six years has consistently bombarded Nigerians with lies, fabrications, unsubstantiated, unverified claims and unprintable abuses in his weekly writings. He has neither repented, nor apologized for that. Preaching what he does not practice!
It is actually disappointing how “intellectuals” could abandon clear evidences in favor of fabrications. How could they disregard thousands of lectures and lessons of person where he promotes peace, and rather begin to judge him on scattered, often misinterpreted statements he made at young age? It is an accepted standard that actions speaks lauder than voice. But perhaps in Atlanta voice speaks lauder than action. That is why the writer sets conditions for the Hon. Minister to do what he claims other preachers did. ut that shouldn’t be a surprise anyway if it comes from paid fifth columnists disguising as objective journalists and professors.
One also wonders how a person who has been recognized globally as a peace advocate, an interfaith bridge builder, a fearless anti-terrorism and de-radicalization hero who has sacrificed his life for fighting extremism through intellectualism and good preaching, is now forcefully promoted as an ally of terrorists? In recognition of his contributions towards fighting violent extremism, Sheikh Pantami has been invited by various governments and international organizations for talks and efforts towards ending violent extremism, including the government of Switzerland. Before joining government, he participated as an invited resource person in dozens of conferences, roundtables and conferences on combatting and preventing violent extremism organized by embassies, regional organizations and so on. He was commissioned to partake in developing policy documents on de-radicalization, and preventing violent extremism. His name reverberates in all meetings and conferences on combatting Boko Haram ideologies as a fearless commander in the intellectual war against terrorism who defeated the founder of the group, saving thousands of youths from extremist tendencies. As someone who has been in the business of interfaith dialogue, de-radicalization, and preventing violent extremism for at least 15 years now, I know this pretty well. I am not analyzing a secondary data here.
But why all the mischief against Pantami? Why the enmity? It is hard to dismiss the fact that one of his major sins for which he is being witch-hunted is his being a Muslim, an Imam, and a Sheikh who occupies a position that some Islamophobes would never want to see a Muslim occupy. The fact that he, in an unprecedented manner, excellently combines ministerial and “Sheikhical” roles is not palatable to Islamophobes. How could a person leave the venue of the Federal Executive Council Meeting only to go straight to a mosque pulpit for Islamic preaching? They wonder! But this kind of thinking represents a typical case study of religious intolerance. As a pluralist nation, we must accept the fact that a Sheikh can be a Minister and an Imam can be a senator just as a Pastor has the right to be a Vice President and a Reverend Father a governor. Failure to accept living with this reality would continue to cause some people hypertension.
But is this the only reason why the vibrant Minister is being hunted? Even though it is one, there are others. Actually more serious ones. I believe the whole uproar needs to be situated in its proper context; as the calculated diversionary strategy that it actually is, by expert criminals who believe that the best defense is attack. They think by putting the Honorable Minister on the defensive, they would succeed in getting him abandon his long awaited project of linking SIM with NIN, which targets to bring an end to their business of criminality. Here is a Sheikh who has refused to dance to the tune of selfish criminals that have always used their privileges to milk the poor. He has refused to succumb to their corrupt offers. As the first and so far the only Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, he has doggedly pursued digital reforms that are systematically killing their crime economy?
A major capital of these conflict entrepreneurs is modern communications technology. The indefatigable Minister Sheikh, on the other hand, has insisted on practical strategies that would eventually push them out of business. So for them, the fight against Pantami is the beginning and end of wisdom. It is the only guarantee for their survival in business. He promotes digital economy. They promote criminal economy. They are, simply, irreconcilable antagonists. It is worrying how we have failed to understand their game. Most of the discourse on the saga rather focuses on the shadows, doing the wish of these criminals; trying to defend Pantami on an issue that needs no any defense, rather than insisting on the success of the NIN-SIM and other related projects against their wish.
What is expected of patriotic Nigerians from the North and the South, Muslims and non-Muslims, the elites and the masses, is to rally around Pantami by supporting the NIN-SIM and other good policies and ensure that together we work towards a better and safer Nigeria. And if the reward for hard work is more work, then what we should be thinking of is not only how to ensure Dr. Pantami succeeds as a Minister but also how to retain him within the influential political class so he would contribute more in making Nigeria a better place for all of us and to inspire young Nigerians towards joining the peaceful movement for better Nigeria.
Dr. Pantami is divinely destined to be a Sheikh, an Imam, a PhD, an international scholar, a NITDA DG and a powerful, promising Minister in Buhari’s cabinet. This is God’s making. No amount of blackmail can change it. And if God has designed that he would hold a higher rank in the future, this campaign of defamation can only be a facilitator. He is not infallible. He is human. But a uniquely blessed one. Yes, his detractors see him as a man with so many sellable qualities that portend grave dangers to their selfish economic, political and religious interests. He would of course be a subject of envy being a man of faith, knowledge, wisdom, eloquence, hard work, determination, incorruptibility, doggedness, creativity, initiative and “finishiative”, as well as concern for the development of, and creating opportunities for young Nigerians; qualities that have collectively earned him a rapidly growing national political relevance. But those calling for the resignation or the sack of the Digital Boss are deceiving themselves by dreaming that Buhari would expel the Digital Minister for doing exactly what the retired General invited him from Madina to come back home and do. He has only started. Sky is his limit. If not starting point! No amount of propaganda will make him resign.
And for the records, Dr. Pantami owes nobody any apology for statements he made over 20 years ago which have been mutilated and deliberately mistranslated. In fact, what Pantami deserves is a national merit award for being consistent in his fight against violent extremism and banditry. He deserves commendations for being the first person to engage the leader of the dreaded Boko Haram in an organized debate that saved thousands of young Nigerians from the group’s dreaded path. He merits national commendation for his doggedness in making life difficult for bandits, terrorists and kidnappers as well as their financiers in the now highly insecure Nigeria. What he deserves are gold medals for his nearly two decades of consistent engagement in peace building, fighting violent extremism, promoting religious tolerance, and building interfaith understanding and harmony. He should be judged and rewarded by his current unequivocal stance against terrorism not based on isolated cases of mistakes he made during his enthusiastic youthful, student age. Patriotic, well-meaning Nigerians should be thinking of giving awards to the energetic Minister who, at the risk of being attacked from every angle by the godfathers, financiers and accomplices of bandits, terrorists and kidnappers, has remained resolute in using technology to end the insecurity that characterizes our dear nation. The wise doesn’t allow himself to be stung twice from the same hole. We should avoid aiding our foes in fighting our friends. We should shine our eyes. #IstandWithPantami#
So on the faithful Thursday being 24th September, 2020, we set out for the journey to katsina to witness the wedding of Bashir Ahmad and Naeema Junaid Bindawa and it was a journey I will not forget in a hurry. We passed through the state of kaduna through Zaria before landing in katsina at about 6:00 pm, a journey which started around 8:00am of same day. Thanks to the convoy of so many friends and well wishers and the associated slowness in movement and stoppages.
I, Usman Muhammad Ismail and Usman Turaki were in our car and we had several conversations that was capable of improving IQ and awareness. We passed through some of the towns that have been touted to be part of the insecurity problems in Katsina state and the presence of the thick forests by the sides of the road could make one understand such terrains better. Farming activities were however very much on course with almost all the stretches bearing green crops less for the built up areas. This was impressive and more comforting than the much negative and very hyped stories you hear that present a sort of an Armageddon situation.
We then arrived to the very serene city that was filled with quiet and peace but hot because of the season we are in. We settled in and set out for the traditional event of ‘Kamu’ where the pageantry of the event started to showcase itself, the bride and groom looked awesome while friends from both sides turned up appropriately with no disappointments, this was expected considering the caliber of the couple. There was meet and greet and celebrations until it was time to go and have some rest in preparation for the main day being Friday 24th September, 2020 when the wedding Fatiha proper will take place.
By the way, we had received the news of the arrival of the Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami alongside the GMD of NNPC and his main ally DG, NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi. They were due to arrive Friday afternoon to witness the wedding and everyone was indicating interest to receive them at the airport just so they can have a wave or glance at the Honorable Minister. This got me keen to observe the entire process of the ministers coming knowing fully well that weddings are usually political arenas in this climes and you all perhaps may remember my past analysis about PANTAMI’S political potentials.
The day has come and we’re off to the airport to pick up the Honorable Minister and his entourage alongside the groom of-course. The display of the white garments with matching caps was so colorful I have not seen in a while. Camera clicks became the prominent sounds at the airport and the groom appeared so elated as expected. The cars that came for this activity were uncountable to me and everyone was simply waiting and eager to witness the arrival of the Honorable Minister with his entourage. While waiting a different aircraft landed carrying the Honorable Minister of Defence alongside Garba Shehu and Barrister Ismaeel Ahmed. There was greetings between them and the grooms crew before they left and attention resumed to awaiting arrival of the fathers of the day being Dr Pantami and crew.
Shortly after, behold the arrival of the aircraft carrying the man we had all been waiting for and all roads led to the tarmac to receive the Honorable Minster and crew as they alighted from the aircraft. The place immediately got agog with attempts to grab a selfie or two with the Dr. I have witnessed several encounters with celebrities like Davido and I can tell about how the buzz could look like and what I saw was much more than that you can trust me. There was competition over who to grab a selfie or greet and as usual Pantami was busy displaying his elegance and smile as he waved.
The long convoy of aides, fans and well wishers then proceeded to the Government House in Katsina for courtesy call before finally arriving at the wedding venue and my mouth was wide open in surprise for how the whole crowd got Gaga on sighting the arrival of the Sheikh. Pantami and entourage proceeded directly into the mosque for the Jumaat Prayers after which the wedding took place and Bashir and Naaemah have finally become Man and Wife, Congratulations to them.
Once the wedding Fatiha was over and it was time to depart, I couldn’t stop looking with amazement at how the crowd was all over Sheikh Pantami which even got the security details overwhelmed and if this is not a very much needed political capital, what could ever be.
Scenarios like these require to be put out at a such a time when the APC requires so much political capital for the actualization of their aspirations. Nigeria’s democracy has advanced as much that political capital such as Dr Pantami’s is golden and must be showcased with a view to attracting us all to utilize it for national and political party development. What makes his case peculiar is his intellect and demonstrated capacity.
Finally, congratulations to Bashir Ahmad for attracting such very important personalities at the event and also creating an avenue for bonding and friendships. Dr Isa Pantami has become a leader who attracts credible followers which are mostly youthful with so much energy, loyalty and intellect to cap it. The entire team is a formidable one that is capable to becoming something worthy of admiration in times to come.
Happy Married Life Bashir and Naeema.
Digital Economy: X-Raying The Nigeria Government Enterprise Architecture (NGEA) As an Enabler of Digital Transformation in the Public SectorBy Mubarak Umar
As Nigeria, through National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA), under the supervision of Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy tends to prioritise the use of digital technologies in government activities to streamline and integrate workflows and processes for the purpose of effective data and information management, enhancing public service delivery, as well as expanding digital channels for engagement and empowerment of people, has launched one of its long-awaiting project, Nigeria Government Enterprise Architecture (NGEA).
The government has identified NGEA as a key enterprise and technology best practice to put a full stop into perennial challenges and complexity associated with IT deployment across Federal Public Institutions. NGEA enables Federal Public Institutions to evolve and translate their capabilities into government-wide enterprise change while leveraging digital technologies and innovations. This is coming on the heels of global acceptance of e-Government as a critical resource for maximising value creation for various stakeholders in the political, legal, managerial and administrative chain.
NGEA specifies the principles, practices, standards and policies that guide the way capabilities are evolved over time and continue to deliver results even under a continuous change of political, administrative, and economic activities. It also provides an integrated and long-term view of the Federal Government’s enterprise strategic goals as related to structure, people, finance, data/information, business processes across all lines of businesses/mandates, functions and services and their relationship with information technology and the external environment with the aim of deriving maximum benefits from the use and adoption of digital technology in government.
It could be recalled that NITDA presented the NGEA framework around March 21st, 2019, a document conceived out of necessity to address government-wide ICT challenges that are hindering the realisation of expected values from every ICT investment. It provides a clear road map for Government Digital Transformation (GDT) in the public sector.
The Agency embarked on a series of reforms to bring efficiency into government use and adoption of Information Technology systems in accordance with its enabling law, NITDA Act 2007.
Feedbacks from the stakeholders’ engagement revealed that implementation of the framework cannot be effective without data on the current state of IT deployment in the Federal Public Institutions (FPIs), i.e. Ministries, Departments, Extra-Ministerial Departments and Agencies of Government at Federal, State and Area Council levels.
Accordingly, NITDA surveyed One Hundred (100) FPIs to collect a baseline data that will adequately establish the current state of IT in government AS-IS (resent state of the organization’s process, culture, and capabilities) and provide insights into closing the existing gaps hindering attainment of Government Digital Transformation Agenda TO-BE (how the organization’s process, culture, and capabilities will appear in the future.) In addition, the outputs of developmental policies and programs targeted at closing existing gaps and improving the inefficiency of IT systems in the public sector were gathered.
President’s Muhammadu Buhari in his speech during annual eNigeria Conference emphasised the need for the public service to be highly competitive, innovative and digitally-enabled to deliver public services and effectively drive government programs and policies.
Buhari directed that Digital Transformation Technical Working Groups (DT-TWGs) be established in Federal Public Institutions (FPIs) as e-Government Champions and part of the digital governance structure for the implementation of Nigeria e-Government Master Plan (NeGMP) and National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS).
This is in line with Presidential Executive Order 005, part of the present administration’s deliberate efforts and strong commitment to strengthening the role of Science, Technology and Innovation in the country’s socio-economic development.
Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), FNCS, FBCS, FIIM, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, is championing this long-term strategy and road map for restructuring government processes, through the deployment of IT processes efficiently in the public sector with the goal of achieving Whole-of-Government for effective public service delivery and attainment of Government Digital Transformation in Nigeria.
Last week, he (Pantami) inaugurated the Digital Transformation Technical Working Groups (DT-TWGs) and the Nigeria Government Enterprise Architecture (NGEA) portal (www.ngea.gov.ng) aimed at institutionalising governance structure which will be responsible for coordinating the implementation of National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), National e-Government Master Plan (NeGMP) and any digital transformation-related activities in the public sector at the Federal level.
Pantami asserted that the DT-TWG will be an instrument to the implementation of four pillars in NDEPS. The pillars are Developmental Regulations, Service Infrastructure, Soft Infrastructure and Indigenous Content Promotion and Adoption.
In his words, He said: “Service and Soft Infrastructure are critical to achieving appropriate deployment of government digital services and to strengthen public confidence in the use of digital technologies and services. Digital Transformation Technical Working Groups (DT-TWGs) are to support the Federal Government to develop citizen-friendly digital platforms in support of service innovations and digital transformation for digital Nigeria.
It is worth to note that at the beginning of framing the implementation of NGEA, the Nigerian e-Government environment is in a Silo State where there is a barrier in communication, information exchange and interoperability of IT systems between and across Public Institutions. The result of the survey conducted at the Strategic Capacity Building Programme for Chief Executive Officers of Federal Public Institutions on August 09, 2018 revealed this. The scenario made it difficult for Public Institutions to collaborate where cross-portfolio services are required. It is also making IT deployment and solutions costly in any attempt to initiate seamless communication, interoperability and integration of IT systems between government institutions.
According Director General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi CCIE, Digital Economy requires adaptive policies, strategies, regulations, standardised infrastructure, globally competitive workforce, carefully orchestrated and coordinated digital governance structure. Without appropriate digital governance, it becomes difficult for digital investments and implementation to meet strategic objectives and expectations.
To address these difficulties, the NGEA proposed an operating model that has two value propositions – One Government (whole-of-government) and autonomy of each Federal Public Institutions (FPIs) to make certain decisions around business processes, digital services and applications. The 7 layers of NGEA which are Business, Service, Data, Application, IT Infrastructure, Security and Performance are centred around people, processes and IT. Each layer has high-level expectations for FPIs and as well specifies best practices, standards, tools, reference models and recommendations that will help achieve the value propositions and citizens’ expectations for government digital services.
I was having a conversation with a journalist colleague yesterday morning over the trending report on the alleged involvement of the Vice President in Ibrahim Magu’s alleged corruption largesse. I was asking his opinion on why the sudden surge in such kinds of baseless allegations especially following the just past one on Dr Isa Ali Pantami the penultimate week. We both wondered about it along with a few people present and concluded it to resemble blackmail on the duo and certainly for political reasons. Just today, again same people have turned on the Attorney General on a baseless allegation over purchase of a house for his son who had just gotten married; the Attorney General had since debunked the allegations as had the duo of Osinbajo and Dr Pantami.
The journalist colleague of mine was then lamenting over how he was becoming discouraged about the profession and such could lead to him quitting for other ventures. His reason was anchored on the infiltration of the profession by quacks who are daily not agreeing to understand how journalism must contain a lot of investigative additive. Fake news and slander had taken over the industry and were capable of discouraging serious professionals from increasing their appetite for the profession.
I however, brought him to speed about the realities of the current times where not only the journalism profession was experiencing such kinds of challenges. Take a look at the political class where for a long time the supposed intellectuals and credible people have refrained from participating. Such has left us with albeit opportunistic nobodies and street touts taking over the sector. Till today, majority of the youth see participation in politics as a disadvantaged or less privileged venture wouldn’t it then be fair for us to continue to manage those we have left with the monopoly of the ownership of the venture?
So I informed him that having an impression of leaving the profession because of the prevalence of fake news and what not’s was akin to the political scenario I painted in the paragraph above. I informed him that the sector needs their likes now more than ever assuming that he is as credible and capable as he is portraying himself to be. You know in Nigeria, people who complain become even worse when given opportunities to serve.Even if the National Assembly were to embark on a journey to control the social media, there was going be needs for professionals with the appropriate know how to help arrive at a workable legislation. Therefore, there was a need for more thoroughbred professionals as against quitters.
But to even break down the issue of Fake News further, it was very needful for all to recognize that the only functional sector of the economy of Nigeria was the political sector and they are in control of all other sectors who must act in their whims and caprices. However, these sectors are tilted to as much knowledgeable as the political class was thus the seeming bastardization of so many sectors including journalism. It was a long time some of us have been shouting about the need to embrace intellect and strategy in politics, however, the greed of the politicians coupled with fear of involving intellectuals by the largely dull political class has resulted in very less strategic politics and a very much myopic one.
Take a look at what happened to the Judiciary lately when in the build up to the governorship primaries of Edo State there were barrages of court cases been churned out like the hilarious Mike Asukwo portrayed in his cartoon to appear like an auctioning of injunctions where the highest bidder goes home with the juiciest judgment. This is what the largely myopic Nigeria’s political class can do to an institution.
In view of the foregoing, it was very important for Nigeria’s to note that Nigeria’s democracy is indeed growing albeit at a slower rate and the need for strategy in politics is increasing due to the increased interest. However, the veterans in the political game who have amassed enormous wealth but lack strategy or strategists prefer to use the funds to compromise institutions as against employment of critical strategists. This has resulted in fake news and blackmail becoming a political strategy for such people especially in bringing down intellects who have chosen to join the political space. They are at least wise enough to know that majority of the voting population are gullible.
Don’t even assume that all those who spew these stories are quacks in the industry; some of them are just not strong enough to resist the inducements that come from the clients. And the earlier we understand how long we will live with such the better because until the political class has been sanitized through the infiltration of sane and intellectual individuals, the current political class will continue to utilize their heavy chest to influence all sectors to their advantage.
As for the new entrants into politics, those who come in with integrity and intellectual capital, they should recognize that the fake news and blackmail strategy will not stop against them, if they are seriously interested in remaining in the game, they must invest heavily in a robust strategic communication team who can beat the spreaders of fake news at their game!
God bless Nigeria.
The importance of bureaucracies cannot be overemphasized in the workability of any nation, this is even as highlighted by President Muhammadu Buhari in his democracy day speech of Friday, June 12, 2020 wherein he said “ The Public Service of Nigeria remains the bedrock for the formulation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects in the country. This accounts for why it continues to evolve especially as new socio-economic challenges emerge for Government to address”.
For people like us who have traversed both the private and public sectors in Nigeria, we have been able to appreciate the fair understanding of both sectors that we have obtained. The private sector has been able to obtain much more skills owing to the more access for transfer of knowledge and skills from expatriates to locals and this has been responsible for the emergence and development of critical professional skills in the country. Even though, the private sector also has its own issues of non regulation, non appreciation and proper placement for local professionals and workers as well as the exportation of locally available skills.
However, my venture into the public service thought me that the problems that existed in the private sector were a resultant effect of the lack of sound regulatory frameworks and expertise from the public sector that was in charge of those various private sectors. Who would blame any investor who has seen opportunity for optimization of profits.
Looking further into the workings of the public service, I got to understand that the effect of the military rule for which Nigeria experienced for a long period of time had penetrated deep into it and was responsible for many misconceptions and anomalies. The public service players have not woken up to realize that Nigeria had since moved into democracy and is also clearly consolidating on it. By this, it was expected that the Public Service Rules were meant to be understood vis a vis the Constitution of the country and which will culminate into a more robust, participatory and functional service.
For example, the various councils of professionals in Nigeria like the COREN, CORMEG to which I belong, ARCON etc keep churning out practice and professional seals to their qualified members including public servants but there is this law that the public servant is not suppose to do anything other working and receiving salaries and farming, some will even argue that the farming could only be for feeding purposes and not commercial. If this is not a retrogressive practice and understanding, what could ever be more?
Even though the CCB Act is clear in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the 5th schedule as follows:
“1. A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.
- Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph, a public officer shall not–
(a) Receive or be paid the emolument of any public office at the same time as he receives or is paid the emoluments of any other public office; or
(b) Except where he is not employed on full times basis, engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade but nothing in this sub-paragraph shall prevent a public officer from engaging in farming.”
It leaves a lot of concern as to why the various councils of professionals who are also government funded will continue to issue instruments of practice to individuals including the public servants. Common sense should also check to see how many solutions to so many critical problems the government could be loosing because certain top notch professionals have been held back from practice by the provisions of the above law. I thought the basic principle should be the protection against conflict of interest as against total prohibition. Perhaps, the various Professional Councils, Labour Congress and the National Assembly could look into the matter with a view to fine tuning the Public Service for excellence.
There is also the misconception about the participation of a civil servant in politics or having a public opinion and other related matters. Justice Agboola of the Supreme Court has clearly ruled that the Nigerian under a democracy is entitled to a right to association and mingling as enshrined in Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), which, in section 40, provide: “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.” Under section 45, this freedom may be restricted by “any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society a) in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.” However, the Civil Service Rules are not a legislation per se as provided by the Constitution or subsidiary legislation, as they are not made under any enabling Act or Law.
Regardless of the foregoing, the public servant is expected to be a professional in the discharge of their duties regardless of their opinion as anything other than that will be a clear conflict of interest and which is also not supported by the constitution.
Therefore the moral of the submissions of this article are that there was a need to start a sensitization of the public service in a democratic setting and an evolving world where speed is most needed than too much rules. The military mentality that has followed the service has made it difficult for superiors to establish a harmonious working relationship with their subordinates regardless of how much progress they have to bring to the table. A lot of the rules of the service run in contrary to the provisions of the constitution of the Republic while the constitution is the guiding principle in a democratic setting. The Master and Slave mentality still applies so much in the Nigerian Public Service and that cannot be healthy for productivity.
Furthermore, the was a need for the public service to recognize how much skill and professionalism it requires before it can stand above the private sector talk more of regulating it. And once there is appropriate skills and professionalism, the issue of acting in conflict of interest will give way regardless of personal opinions and affiliations.
Finally, Democracy allows for freedom of expression as long as it does not threaten national security. The public service has to be reformed to key into the ideals of democracy now that Nigeria is celebrating 21 years of interrupted democracy. The service has to be seen to be a space that allows more engagement and freedom of expression. This way ideas could be collected and incubated for national progress. Nigeria requires more and more of robust engagements which are capable of changing earlier retrogressive mentalities.
Happy Democracy Day Nigeria
ONE HEART INITIATIVE FOR EQUITY AND GOOD LEADERSHIP
Youth organizations around the country converged in Abuja on Saturday 16th May, 2015 under the auspices of #30PercentOrNothing program. The meeting was summoned on the back drop of the 2015 elections and the way forward. National coordinator for #30PercentOrNothing Mr. Suleiman Hashim who hosted the youths explained that the program was created to ensure youth participation in Governance through constructive engagement with public institutions thereby encouraging a generational shift in leadership in both the political and economic institutions across the country. Some of the organizations that participated in the meeting include:
- Amalgamated Northern Youths
- IkonAllah consensus foundation
- Goal Getters Foundation
- Green Spiders Network
After the meeting the following communiqué was adopted:
- There should be legally backed classification of youth in Nigeria to refer to persons between the age 18-45. This could be through constitution amendment or an act of parliament. This could enhance equality.
- That there should be 30% representation of youths in all structures, positions, Committees and congresses of political parties
- That the Incoming government should approve an affirmative of 30% for youths in all sectors be it public and private. This could mean setting out clearly the recruitment of expatriates in Nigeria.
- That ministries and offices for youth development at all levels should be filled appropriately.
- That the National Orientation Agency should brace up and live up to its responsibility of orienting Nigerians about how best to act.
- That whichever youth is appointed or empowered at any level should protect the youth constituency as much as possible
- That we shall not hesitate to mobilize appropriately should we notice any bias to the youth constituency
- Finally, we will voluntarily enlighten the youth constituency about the government policies if we notice an implementation of the above mentioned demands.
Suleiman Hashim. Folusho Awosanya
National Coordinator #30PercentOrNothing. FCT Coord. #30PON
Akuro Igah. Alasiegha Cookey-Gam Julius
For: Goalgetters Foundation. For: Green Spiders Network
Buhari Bugema. Presley Akhigbe
For: Amalgamated Nothern Youths. Deputy Nat. Coord. (South) #30PON
AFTER ALL SAID, IT IS ALL OF US THAT SHOULD DO IT!
BY SULEIMAN HASHIM
Going by the writings, the speeches, increased youth participation in politics, post election analysis and expectations, as well as opposition which has started, it appears that there is an increased awareness in the land and the number of people who have identified the problems have increased tremendously from probably GMB and a few in 2003 to GMB and almost all of the people. This in itself to me is an achievement the nation should be proud of and must therefore be consolidated.
Because we all now know the problems, it is high time we stopped lamenting and reminding ourselves things we already all know but rather begin to formulate and practice the solutions of which a large chunk of it has to do with sincerity of purpose and tolerance. Some voted for APC and some did not but we don’t need a rocket science to explain that a better Nigeria will benefit us all. This means that even though we should have an opposition, we must be civil and considerate about it because even GEJ himself was fully supported at some point until he frittered away the goodwill by himself. I am not also saying that GMB should not be condemned if he does wrong but I think for the first two years what he needs most is support after which if the policies set that far are not satisfactory then the change of change could probably begin to spring up. Imagine a situation where we have all identified religion extremism and bigotry to be one of our major problems and some greedy and silly individuals are trying to reintroduce it all in the name of opposition. This type of opposition is a venom and must stop. Same people who called GMB a bigot are today trying to portray him as being a sociable person because he shook Oshiomole’s bride. This will only bring back same stuff that divided us so much that it clearly showed itself in the voting map of 2015. It is our responsibility to make Nigeria great and we must learn from our mistakes to move on. Opposition should be a sort of a research so as to come up with intellectual arguments to activities of the government rather that issuing cheap propaganda that will be more injurious to the nation than doing any good.
We have also began to see some of the APC people exhibiting some pride and running away from people. This is not what was said during the campaigns, we all moved and rolled together to achieve this victory and so it should continue to also make Nigeria greater. I was speaking to a friend the other day and he told me that he read a newspaper publication where GEJ said his friends had abandoned him, he said that it was not true because in the true sense it was GEJ that abandoned his real friends and made new friends in Abuja who are actually not his friends but were there to fill up their pockets which they have done and are moving to another level. In essence what I am saying is that APC have to keep their people close, they should pick up their calls or better still respond with text message when busy, they should create avenues to meet with people and they must ensure they treat their party members rightly especially the original party members.
The above said are the most critical ways of us all doing what we have all being saying we know are the problems of Nigeria and if we could practice it appropriately then we have a situation where we would all say: “After all said and done” APC has succeeded.
God Bless Nigeria!
Suleiman Hashim wrote from Abuja. (firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @oneheartnaija)