Monday, 30 May 2016

Fixing the big problems of a tired country that's tired of the way things work

"If you are going to make big change, it often cannot be successful if you have a whole group of people who are invested in its failure"- Prof. Warburg

Today Nigerians are expected to mark Democracy day; to reflect on the promises of change made by its political leaders especially the new government.

 Sadly there is a palpable loss of confidence in our institutions across the country.
The country and younger people in particular seem to have lost confidence not just in government and politics, but all of the big institutions of our collective life.

Till date the country is still battling the challenges of Diversity, Democracy and Good Governance: the three promises of federalism and decentralization; 56-years after independence.

Existing structures are insufficient to address our collective challenges giving the future a very bleak face.

 According to the Central Bank Governor, the country will be in recession in few weeks due to poor executive/legislature relationship in executing its 2016 budget.

 There is this talk of devaluation needed to spur investment, The country has just cut petrol subsidies lifting pump prices by up to 70%.

The country is looking for loans to help fund its $30 billion budget for 2016 due to slump in oil revenues.

Niger-Delta militants are cutting oil production in the South-South, Boko-Haram is holding the North-East hostage, Ethnic/Religious conflicts in the North Central and Middle belt, 'Biafra' wants autonomy in the South-East.

 There is lack of infrastructure, no adequate electricity, no broad-band/Internet, poor road networks, in-effective transport services, inadequate housing facilities, huge unemployment, poor education and healthcare services, non-existent LGA's to drive the essence of decentralization and devolution, no citizen engagement, widespread insecurity, non-payment of wages and pensions by some state Governors, increase of food prices, weak agricultural institutions, challenges of climate change, fulani herdsmen etc.

 I don't want to go into the controversies of corruption war which must be won ofcourse to move forward. There is the issue of inconclusive re-run elections, election violence , skewed political appointments, non-equitable budgetary allocations fuelling mistrust in government, etc having mentioned them in my previous blog entries.

The country is not looking to adapt to today's change driven by technology as the three tiers of government seem to demonstrate.

President Buhari promised to fix the myraid problems that the rest of us have created and failed to fix, but the more we have seen , the less confidence we have ,

 Sincerely, the president has to figure out not only how to solve the problems, but how to restore people's confidence in our collective ability in government and particular collective ability to do that.

 Accountability requires that public officials have the political will to make citizens needs and intertests a priority. This is often difficult, since many politicians and public officials are accountable to other centers of power, such as political party leaders, financiers, tribal leaders or an enthrenched elite.

 The president should be seen as the leader of the entire country not just a leader of a particular group and reach out to wider audience to enable him solve our multifarious problems. I remember his famous speech during his inauguration: "I belong to everyone"...

 Finding common ground and listening especially to our great think-tank organizations richly endowed to contribute to finding solutions to our collective future would be of great help.

 According to Prof. Warburg; the most important aspect of leadership is listening: People need to feel like they are heard in order to be part of the conversation and to feel invested in the solution. Even if you don't always agree with them, and they feel like you have listened to them and heard their perspective; they are much more likely to join you and support you even if they are not 100% with you..., he concluded , where one side wins and the other side loses can often be short-term..., if you're going to make big change, you cannot, it often cannot be successful"

We can't wait for the president to fix the big problems of a tired country that's tired of the way things work. It's our collective desire for him to succeed.

Uche Okeke
The LEAD Project Foundation
Independent, Non-partisan, Non-Profit Organization

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