There’s something about government (#NewLeadership Series with Chude Jideonwo)

Published:21 Feb, 2013

Chude Jideonwo
Chude Jideonwo
Chude Jideonwo

Chude-Jideonwo

My orientation about how government began to change in 2009. Before this time, I had always felt – sadly without any historical or evidentiary perspective – that Nigerians can transform Nigeria, in spite of our government.

It was easy for me to believe this. I came into awareness of my country’s place in the world in at atmosphere of hope in the late 1990s and at the turn of the millennium as we embraced democracy and the opening of many social spaces. There were very many examples to point out.

Some are now cliché, like Nollywood, an industry that has been hailed for rising up like a rose amongst thorns, and had become Nigeria’s biggest cultural export to the world. Or our music industry – also thriving simply by grit and talent. Or it’s youth who from art to advocacy, technology to the media, had charted courses that didn’t depend on government patronage or ‘support’.

Surely if Nigerians could do these, in spite of Nigeria, then surely we could end up regenerating Nigeria – through a network of us empowered economically and by knowledge working to rebuild our country, step by step.

That’s what I thought.

That’s what drove our passion and our work with The Future Awards, and its evolution into The Future Project – and our focus on identifying he most inspiring of our generation as strong, positive role models to motivate others to transcend Nigeria’s difficult environment and do great things.

The idea was – and it is still the fulcrum of our work – that this network of inspired, effective new leaders would create a flywheel effect that will change Nigeria.

A chance comment from a friend got me thinking beyond the box, however. He asked: how far will we actually be able to go in transforming our society before we have to connect those efforts with what government is doing or what it needs to do? How much could we achieve if the government fundamentally remained the same?

The more I thought of it. The more I realised – not far.

My experience over the past few years have made apparent to me what has been apparent to the world’s real change-makers in modern societies over the past few years It’s the same reality that confronts you when you read books like Lee Kuan Yu’s From Third World to First World, Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracles – we can only go so far in changing our world without connecting with or transforming government.

Focusing on inspiring a network of progress outside of government wasn’t a wrong message however; it just wasn’t the complete message. Just like many of us, I was falling into a well-worn trap of the single solution, of the single story.

Of course, when you face a system like Nigeria’s, where successive governments appear to govern by default; where it appears there are no values or visions from on top and all the other clichés about our leadership that you and I are now familiar with it is easy to give in to the temptation to want to desperately ignore that government, to belittle it, to make it seem inconsequential.

With the acute awareness that it is a huge, thankless task to change a government like ours, and the abiding fear of the daunting path ahead transform the way it thinks and functions, it is very easy to hope that we can change our country without it.

Unfortunately, that ostrich needs to bring its head out of the sand. Nigeria is not going to be changed by non-governmental organisations digging boreholes; it will not be changed by advocates pushing for probity in government. No matter how earnest and well-organised they are; their efforts will be thwarted because they are not in charge of hiring competent officials and firing corrupt aides, the maintenance of an independent judiciary through responsible appointments or the judicious allocation of public funds.

In the same way Nigeria won’t be changed by the USAID or any other international do-gooders because that is not what they are structured to do, just as a war will not be stopped by the Red Cross or Amnesty International, but by the governments and their enemies which started the war.
This is the reason, in fact, that many donors and international organisations from the British Council to the DFID, the US government to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation prefer to support organisations that interface with government, or they just partner with the governments themselves.

Where they are not doing that, they are working with organisations that are in opposition to government, or that snip at the heels of government. Either ways, there is an implicit global understanding, honed by years of ineffectual interventions and a vicious cycle of good intentions with little result that it all comes back government.

The reason is simple: none of them have the budget, the resources, the reach, the weight, the capacity to affect all levers and layers of society. Even when they do – which is almost impossible except when one country violates another’s sovereignty – none of them can muster enough required to effect the kind of change that can be facilitated by the full power of the state.

Perhaps we can find Egypt a perfect example. While its exemplary people have turned protest into an art form, arm-twisting their leaders into taking responsible decisions and sustaining the tempo of change leading from the Arab Spring, a people-driven revolution has still come back to the character and nature of the new government that they have – and what Mohammed Morsi decides to do (and not to do) in his relations with the judiciary, the military, and civil society will turn out being more important than the revolution that brought the Islamic Brotherhood into power.

Like Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, who is King of Jordan, told participants at the World Economic Forum in January, the revolutions were the easiest part of the work that they have – building a political culture, driven by their elected leaders in government is the major task that lies ahead.

The message is simple: no matter how dirty and slimy we find our government (and maybe we are justified, and maybe we are exaggerating), we are making a terrible mistake to think that we can transform our country without it.

Government is the singular most important force for change in any society – print that and paste it on your day if you really want to do something to change your country.

It doesn’t matter if, with government officials behaving like asses and the deporable behavior that passes for administration, government has become a dirty word; the dirtiness should not obscure that simple reality.

We need a government that works – one way or the other. We cannot, cannot change Nigeria without its government.

The tragedy, of course, is that the clamour for working with government or joining government is usually championed by people whose motives are largely questionable.

So it is important to note that joining government blindly, especially the legislature and executive, is not going to solve our problems even if it is important. And, of course, if precedent gives us any pointers, blind ambition causes more harm than good.

Fortunately for us, there is not just one way to make our government better. What we need to do, like I have mentioned in an earlier piece, is to find our positions in relation to this organ.

We need enough competent and vision-driven people who are transforming the government by working with it and helping it; or we have others working from outside: activists, freedom fighters, opposition politicians, radical lawyers, dogged journalists, progressive clergymen.

But whatever we do, we need the government in our sights. Whatever we do, where we want it to have a lasting impact on the way our society is structured and governed, we have to find the nexus where these efforts connect to government – and modifies its behavior. Either that or we push it aside, and work to get a government that will act right.

In my next piece, I will be sharing the example of two impressive people who provide a signpost for how one can step into those troubled waters and bring calm to the storm. I will also share examples of two people working outside of government who have found effective ways of putting it on its toes.

We will need more people like them, who are self-aware enough to make a step that is selfless and purposive. That job isn’t for each and every one of us – but there are always men and woman made for a time like this. And e fit be you o.

—-
Chude Jideonwo is publisher/editor-in-chief of Y!, including Y! Magazine, Y! Books, Y! TV & YNaija.com. He is also executive director of The Future Project/The Future Awards. #NewLeadership is a twice-weekly, 12-week project to inspire action from a new generation of leaders – it ends on March 31.

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Manchester United’s Mourinho needs to play attacking football – Eto’o

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho needs to keep playing attacking football, his former Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto’o has said. Eto’o played under Mourinho at Inter when the club won the Treble in 2010 and also worked with him at Chelsea in 2013-14. Success in Italy was built on a solid defence — something Mourinho has become strongly associated with — but this week he praised the “beautiful, attacking football” he feels United are playing. Eto’o told Telefoot: “Jose has changed a...

Yemi Alade, Falz, Tekno make Future Awards nominee list. [See Full List]

Ahead of the 11th edition of The Future Awards Africa, which holds on December 18 in Lagos, the organisers have unveiled the 2016 nominees. The nominee list was contained in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES. Top Nigerian music artistes, Yemi Alade(27), Falz(26), Teckno(22), Kiss Danielz(23) and Mr. Eazi(25) will compete...

Ignore dubious adverts, no sale of JAMB forms yet – Official

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, has urged the public to disregard the speculations that it had commenced the sales of its application documents for 2017 UTME by some group of persons. The board’s head of media and information, Fabian Benjamin, debunked the speculations in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, on Sunday in Lagos. According to the statement, the registrar of the examination body, Ishaq Oloyede, has expressed disappointment with the development and called...

Obasanjo’s Challenge Of Buhari By Sonala Olumhense

As one who firmly believes that one Olusegun Obasanjo squandered the finest opportunity of any Nigerian leader since independence, I have often criticized him. Between 1999 and 2007, he could have transformed Nigeria into Africa’s most developed, most productive and most functional economy.  The records show that he compounded the situation, and then handed over to his handpicked successors who made matters considerably worse. That led, inevitably, to the arrival of one Muhammadu Buhari, who had sworn for years Nigeria...

Revealed: 40 Reps, 5 Senators Parade O’ Level certificates

A peek into the qualification details of the members of the National Assembly by Daily Trust on Sunday reveals that a staggering number of the parliamentarians got elected with Ordinary Level certificates during the 2015 general elections, a development that leaves doubts on the capacity and quality of legislation in the 8th National Assembly. A total of 45 federal lawmakers who got elected into the Nigerian parliament during the 2015 general elections to represent their various constituencies across the...

Atiku, Tinubu, Makarfi Converge Over Formation Of New Mega-Party

Barring any last-minute change of plans, the proposed mega opposition party in the country will be formed before the end of March, 2017, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt. It was gathered that the Ahmed Makarfi faction of the Peoples Democratic Party and aggrieved chieftains of the All Progressives Congress had intensified efforts aimed at forming the party since the result of the Ondo State election was released. Findings showed that besides the plan to form a new mega party, those involved in the...

Money Laundering: Ex-Lagos Speaker, Aide File Appeal At Supreme Court

A former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Ikuforiji Sabit Adeyemi, and his personal assistant, Olabode Alade Atoyebi, have filed an appeal at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, challenging a Court of Appeal judgment that recently ordered their re-trial on money laundering charges. In their separate notices of appeal, the duo’s lawyer, Barrister Abiodun Onidare, is urging the Supreme Court to set aside the whole ruling of the Appeal Court. In their filings, the former Speaker and...

OGFZA extends regulatory control to more oil & gas FZs

The Oil & Gas Free Zones Authority – OGFZA has begun the process of implementing the provisions of its enabling law and Federal Government directives ceding regulatory control of all Oil and Gas Free Zones in the country to OGFZA. In a letter dated 17 November 2016 to the managing director of Lagos Deep Offshore & Logistics Services Limited (LADOL) and the managing director of Snake Island Integrated Free Zone (SIIFZ), the chief executive officer of OGFZA, Mr Umana...

Police arrest two for allegedly hiding money abandoned by fleeing robbers

The Lagos State Police Command have arrested two men for allegedly stuffing N1.5 million abandoned by fleeing armed robbers into their private parts. Adegoke Adewale and Ganiyu Idowu were caught on Thursday evening by the operatives of the Rapid Response Squad, the police said in a statement on Sunday. The police said they were in hot pursuit of three armed robbers who had allegedly snatched N3 million from a yet to be identified bank customer in Oshodi. The suspects, whom the police...

Nigeria turns to Pakistan, China for war planes, helicopters, others

Concerned about global politics surrounding procurement of sophisticated arms from western countries, Nigerian Air Force is expecting arrival of war-planes and helicopters from Pakistan and Russia to boost its fleets. The Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, made the disclosure at a breakfast briefing with editors of online media in Abuja at the weekend. Mr. Abubakar said: “I want to say that we have been enjoying support from other countries. (Sometimes arm procurement) is shrouded in a lot of politics. Unfortunately,...

Super Falcons stars celebrate 8th African title

The Super Falcons players have continued in their celebrations after they won a record eighth African title in Cameroon on Saturday. The AWCON 2016 top scorer, Asisat Oshoala, Francesca Ordega as well as Courtney Dike have all expressed their delight following the lone goal victory against the Indomitable Lionesses on Saturday in Yaounde. Desire Oparanozie’s solitary strike in the 84th minute was enough to help the Falcons to their eighth African title. Oshoala who won the Golden Boot award having scored six...

SERAP wants Nigeria’s Attorney General, Accountant General jailed

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has commenced committal to prison hearings against the Federal Government; Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; and Ahmed Idris, Accountant-General of the Federation “for having neglected to obey the order of the court made on Friday the 26th of February, 2016, requiring them to provide SERAP with up to date information on the spending of recovered stolen funds since the return of democracy in 1999.” The information ordered to...

APC wins Lagos by-election

Nurudeen Akinwunmi, candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Saturday defeated his opponents to emerge winner of the Ifako-Ijaiye Federal Constituency bye-election in Lagos. The returning officer of the election, Clement Aghatise, made the declaration at the INEC office in Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government, minutes before midnight. Declaring the winner, Mr. Aghatise said that Mr. Akinwunmi polled 7640 votes to defeat his closest rival, Babatope Akinyele, candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who polled 1771 votes at the poll. According to him,...

CBN denies allocating dollars

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has denied reports from some quarters that it allocates dollars unilaterally. A statement by Isaac Okoroafor, Acting Director, Corporate Communications on Saturday in Abuja, decried the way some Nigerians chose to disparage those in leadership at this time in total insensitivity to the larger interests of the Nation’s economy. He added that the CBN had set up an inter-bank foreign exchange market where anyone who wishes to buy foreign exchange could bid for and buy...

About 500 Nigerians die of HIV/AIDs daily – NACA

At least 500 Nigerians die of HIV/AIDs daily, with an average new infection of 600 people every day, says Sani Aliyu, Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDs, NACA. Mr. Aliyu gave the figure during an interview with the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, about HIV/AIDs, aired on Saturday night. He said although the country has achieved great heights with the support of government and the international community, a lot of help is still needed from private individuals to address...

NEMA takes food to Nigerian refugees in Cameroon

The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said on Sunday that it has conveyed a total of 1,460 bags of assorted food items to the 80,709 Nigerian refugees that were forced by Boko Haram into Cameroon. NEMA had said that at least a documented 240,000 Nigerian refugees had fled into Cameroon, Chad and Niger in the wake of Boko Haram insurgents’ rampage and seizure of communities. The relief agency had last week said in a report that it has recorded the return...

Borno records 512 new HIV cases in IDP camps

The Executive Secretary, Borno Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, BOSACA, Barkindo Saidu, says 512 new cases of HIV infections have been recorded in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps in the state. He spoke on Sunday in Maiduguri while briefing journalists. Mr. Saidu said that the cases were recorded after voluntary screening in some IDP camps in the state. He pointed out that two out of the 512 persons were children. “We are currently conducting voluntary screening on HIV/AIDS in IDPs’ camps across...

Gowon, Obasanjo, Shonekan, Osinbajo grace Villa Chapel thanksgiving

The Aso Villa Chapel on Sunday organised its annual end of the year thanksgiving with former Heads of State, Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ernest Shonekan in attendance. The service which took place in the chapel was also attended by former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, former Chiefs of General Staff, Ebitu Ukiwe and Oladipo Diya, and host Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Vice President Osinbajo said the service was an exciting time to thank God for all he had done for the...

Nigerians in U.S. celebrate Trump’s appointment of Bayo Ogunlesi

The Nigerian community in U.S. has lauded the appointment of Bayo Ogunlesi by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump into his Economic Advisory Team, saying it could signal a positive trend for Africa. The Nigerians told the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria in New York, that Mr. Ogunlesi has been an excellent ambassador for Africa and Nigeria in particular. Michael Adeniyi, former President of a Nigerian U.S.-based group, the Organisation for the Advancement of Nigerians Inc., told NAN that “Bayo Ogunlesi...

Buhari to attend security forum in Senegal

President Muhammadu Buhari will attend the Third Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa in Dakar, Senegal, from December 5 to 6.   The Forum, convened by President Macky Sall of Senegal with support from the African Union to discuss security-related challenges on the continent, will be attended by African leaders and representatives of regional and international organisations.   President Buhari is scheduled to participate in the Panel of Heads of State on Tuesday, December 6.   The President, who has identified improved...

Two Nigerians Create Epic Fight Game Based On African Mythology

There has never really been a space for African mythology in fantasy realms, and that’s why projects like these – ones that tap into Africa’s rich culture – are always welcome.   Creative artist, Akdogan Ali, and programmer, Umusu Samson Iruo, decided to embark on a journey in creating a video game that will showcase Africa to the world: Throne of gods.   (Photo: Throne...