I have avoided writing anything on Nigeria’s on-going under-development for a while now because of my belief that we spend a lot of time – too much time – on social media analysing policies of government. We seat in the comfy of our homes or offices, blackberry or iPad in hand, tweeting and updating our Facebook profiles and not ready to do anything to actually bring about the change we tweet about. The government knows this and that is why Dr Reuben Abati described Nigeria’s online social advocates as ‘twittering collective children of anger’. Isn’t that all we do? Tweet. And they have learnt to ignore us. Or so I thought.
The recent arrest, and subsequent release, of Seun ‘Egghead’ Odewale in Katsina State and Dr Abati’s ill-fated and counter-productive attempts to douse tension on twitter while this was going on did so much to restore my confidence in online advocacy as a means of getting the government’s attention. Odewale said one of the senior police officers asked him why he was ‘abusing government on the internet’ being part of government himself. Due to the furore generated online about the arrest even the Inspector General of Police had to call the Command in Katsina to find out what was really going on. Maybe the next call would have come from the president himself. Maybe. The danger however, is seeing this ‘elite social media-tion’, as Tolu Ogunlesi put it, as an end itself because of the popularity it brings, and no longer the means to something greater.
So, why shouldn’t Goodluck Jonathan try his luck one more time come 2015? Two words. Peter’s Principle. He has risen to his ‘level of incompetence’.
We all have our ‘levels of incompetence’, that position to which an employee can be promoted which, alas, is beyond his level of ability, provided he does not keep developing himself. Perhaps, Dr Jonathan was good as a lecturer or as a director at OMPADEC or even as a Deputy Governor that will not stand in the way of his principal’s thievery or a Vice President that will not add to a sick president’s many problems. On those levels he was competent and this got him eventual promotion to higher office until he became the President. And his incompetence became all too glaring.
The Peter Principle was formulated by Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull and, according to Wikipedia; it holds that ‘in a hierarchy members are promoted so long as they work competently. Eventually they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their “level of incompetence”), and there they remain, being unable to earn further promotions’. Goodluck Jonathan got to his level of incompetence the day the Senate President, David Mark, invoked that Doctrine of Necessity from God-knows-where and made him Acting President. Since then his minders have been tripping over themselves as they run around daily in attempts to mitigate the damage this man does to the country via his policies, legendary cluelessness and extemporaneous utterances. The earlier Jonathan recognises that Nigeria’s presidency is one shoe too big for him, regardless of whether he had shoes or not, the better for him and his praise singers. His display of incompetence has reached pitiable levels. We don’t get angry anymore. We just shake our heads, and wait for 2015.
AND ONE OTHER MATTER…
Ohimai Godwin Amaize, a Special Assistant to the Minister of Sports, wrote an article recently that created so much buzz within Nigeria’s online community chiefly because of the title of the article (Like It or Not, We Are All PDP). Since then there has been rejoinder after rejoinder after rejoinder. Even rejoinders to rejoinders till it has become a sport. And that, to me, is a representation, an adumbration, if you may, of the Nigerian opposition. Nobody wrote on those issues, at least to my knowledge, until Mr Amaize decided to set the ball rolling. The same way, Nigeria’s ‘opposition parties’ do not take certain actions until the PDP has done something. And then everybody reacts. No recommendations on the direction a policy should take until there is a costly error which makes everybody lose. No national convention until the PDP has had one. No candidates for elections until the PDP has selected theirs and the losers come running to the ‘opposition’. Little wonder we have such despicable quality of opposition as we see in Nigeria.
This was put very succinctly by Japheth Omojuwa in his article Activism 3.0: Activism, Reactivism and the Necessary New Order where he called the actions of the opposition a ‘cat and mouse game between policy makers and activists’. According to him, ‘the latter waits for the former to make policy mistakes, and then goes to town with what is wrong with the policy. This in itself is not wrong but it must not be the default mode of operation.’ He went further to boldly state that ‘there is a necessary need to move from the era of “we no go gree” activism to “this is what we want and this how we want it” proactivism’.
Collins Uma writes for ekekeee.com and he welcomes direct engagement on twitter via his handle @CollinsUma