Monday, 4 December 2017

Article: Scrutinizing The Self Adulation Of A Dysfunctional Government

President Buhari

By Jaye Gaskia

Where do we begin from? Let us start with the conclusion: This government is the most dysfunctional government in the recent history of our country, and certainly since the 1999 return to civil rule.

And as a matter of fact, this self-proclaimed ‘governing party’, is turning out to be the ruling party with the most intractable level of internal discord in our recent history as well.

The scale, scope and intensity of mutually antagonistic levels of internal strife within the ruling APC, since it so spectacularly won a popular mandate in the 2015 general elections, is not only second to none; it is also the reason why the dysfunctionality associated with governance in Nigeria over the past three decades has become so accentuated, as to become the source of paralysis in governance that has characterised governance since June 2015.

The current ruling party, as we recall was formed as result of the breakdown of the national ruling class consensus which was the basis of the dominance of the PDP since 1999, and which breakdown precipitated the implosion of the then ruling PDP.

This breakdown of the national ruling class consensus and the resultant implosion of the PDP, was then seized upon by astute dissident ruling class strategist who saw an opportunity to utilise the process of renegotiating a new ruling class consensus to put together a new broad-based party, capable of unseating the then ruling party and defeating it in general elections.

This was the context within which the then opposition, but now ruling party, the APC was hurriedly put together.

Thus, it was that three and a quarter hitherto existing opposition parties – ACN, CPC, APP and APGA [contributing the quarter] -  dissolved and merged to establish the APC.

A major, and perhaps the majority faction of the then ruling PDP, after the party had suffered persistence haemorrhage that had seen several power blocks leave the party in the previous year or two; then formally broke from the party as New PDP and proceeded to enter and merge with the APC.

The new party, the APC was announced with fanfare, without a manifesto, and without a program, united only by the scent of blood, perceived by well-trained hunting dogs.

Without a program, without a manifesto, without a set of agreed principles, it was obvious that although this new party could unseat the ruling party, it was not established on the basis of any articulated and shared vision of governance, but rather was bound together by the flimsiest of reasons – to unseat the ruling party, grab power, and gain control of the treasury.

This is the underlying reason for the continuous intensely contentious fractitous nature and character of the mutually antagonist internal strife within the party over how to share the spoils of office.

It is also the fundamental basis of the ill-preparedness of the party and government to govern upon inauguration; the subsequent inability of the party and the regime to govern; and the now clearly demonstrated incapacity of the party and regime to govern more than two years since inauguration, and less than two years to the next general elections in 2019.

Why was this detour into recent history important? Because it lies at the root of all the crisis of strategy, vision, mission, purpose and performance that continues to bedevil this ‘Governing Party’ and the administration that it has constituted.

Let us now take a critical tour through labyrinth of this historic levels of dysfunctionality. First the anti-corruption war. Here as with other instances with this government we find the glaring lack of synergy and absence of coordination among the various anti-corruption agencies [ACAs], as well as between and among the ACAs and other relevant law enforcement and security agencies.

The most recent example is that involving the botched attempt by the EFCC to arrest the retired DGs of both the DSS and the NIA.

Acting on a warrant of arrest issued after the failure of both Ex-DGs to honour invitations with the EFCC, the ACA had made an attempt to execute the warrant of arrest which also included a search warrant to search their residences. The EFCC operatives were however prevented from executing the warrants by DSS officers, a situation that led to a standoff which lasted more than 10 hours in broad daylight.

This is not the first time however that similar scenarios will be played out. We had something similar happen when the EFCC raided the homes of some serving judges, and arrested them, with both the EFCC and the NJC trading accusations as to who was to blame for the lack of cooperation which prompted the EFCC to act the way it acted.

Again, the unfolding Mainagate drama speaks volumes as to the absence of coordination within the government. Not only are the two most senior bureaucrats of the government – the HOS and the COS pitted against each other, but so also are several organs of the government, including the ministries of interior and Justice, as well as the Federal Civil Service Commission [FCSC].

Going further, we can also cite the recent public disagreement between the Minister of State for Petroleum Affairs, and the Group Managing Director [GMD] of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] over acts of insubordination and alleged breach of statutory limits for contract approval by the GMD.

Given that in this specific instance, the President is also the substantive Petroleum Minister, it begs the question, how this could have happened under the watch of the President. And it also raises the question as to what the Federal Executive Council [FEC] actually really deliberates upon during its weekly midweek meetings.

The recently approved National Policy on Justice released by the Ministry of Justice, one of the most recent policy documents prepared by this government, is also perhaps one of the most honest and frank and stating very clear, just how systemic and pervasive this dysfunctionality is within government.

The policy highlights that no one can state accurately the number and type of treaties that this country has entered into and signed on to, just as there is no accurate record of the number of these treaties and conventions that have been domesticated and incorporated into our body of laws.

This situation it attributes to the fact that line ministries who lead on negotiating specific treaties and or conventions seldom involve the Ministry Of Justice [FMOJ], nor do they then take the mandatory statutory step of depositing signed treaties and conventions with the FMOJ.

Perhaps nowhere else is the impact of this historic levels of dysfunctionality as significant as in the situation with internal security and the economy.

We continue to have a situation where with all the plethora of security outfits at Federal and State levels, all by their legal mandate performing policing and therefore internal security roles and functions; we still have huge and significant gaps with internal security.

Kidnapping, armed robbery, gangsterism and cultism, as well as rural banditry and the now seemingly intractable conflict between Herders and Farmers; have all continued to grow in intensity and fester like untreated sours on our body polity.

Compounding this as a significant driver is the unprecedented levels of poverty, inequality, and unemployment – particularly youth unemployment.

The police and other security outfits performing policing and internal security duties including Road Safety, Civil Defence, VIO, and all the retinue of paramilitary units and neighbourhood watches established by state governments; lack adequate training, facilities, equipment, welfare conditions, and all the necessary infrastructure required to support effective policing and provide adequate internal security cover.

So yes, there are structural capacity and infrastructural problems and challenges facing the Police, nevertheless a huge and very significant part of the problem is the lack of capacity and the inability to effectively coordinate.

When the authorities are challenged on the seeming failure of internal security and policing they come back with the worn-out mantra, taken wholesale and repeated without reflection that Nigeria is under policed. And to back this up, they reel out the figures with respect to the ratio of one police officer to the population, without taking note of, nor factoring in the figures for the personnel of all the security outfits performing essentially policing duties.

A more accurate reflection of reality will require factoring the combined total number of personnel within the police force, the civil defence, the road safety, the VIO, and the retinue of security outfits established by state governments.

So, it is on the basis of this combined total that we can work out realistic average ratios. And the fact that these have not been factored in, is the most significant indication of the fact that policing and internal security is not practiced on the basis of recognition of the existence of different policing outfits, and the consequent necessity for coordination, joint planning, joint operations and joint deployment of available forces.

A core and central part of the problem however is thus this absence of coordination, and the inability to effectively deploy in a complementary manner the available internal security resources in the country.

A government and administration that is torn apart by internal strife, a regime bedevilled with mutually antagonistic internal disputes cannot however be well positioned to provide the political leadership and strategic oversight required to achieve this needed level of coordination to improve internal security situation.

Rather than address the fundamentals, what we are seeing this regime do like others before it is to commit and draft the Armed Forces more and more into internal security duties and operations. The result is that according to the Internal Police Service Association, our own Police Service is the worst performing police force with respect to internal security among 127 countries whose internal security situation was assessed.

This continuous resort to drafting the military in to perform policing and internal security duties, only weakens and continues to undermine the police, while also significantly compounding the challenges with coordination. And what is more? It also potentially heightens the risk of increased human rights abuses.

On the economic front, we have a situation where several sectors have developed, and or are developing sectoral strategies and Roadmaps, that are not linked with and or connected with one another.

The thrust of the agriculture road map for instance is towards export of raw materials in crops to earn foreign exchange, and not towards meeting raw material needs of local industries, and as such not towards feeding industrialisation. And where it is inward looking at all, it is towards achieving self-sufficiency in some crops like rice so as to reduce food import bills.

Similarly, Solid Minerals road map is also not integrated into local industrial needs. The transport sector presents an even more challenging picture. First Road transport and road construction is not under the Federal Ministry of Transport, instead it is situated within the mandate ot the Works component of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

Thus, the road transport road map is not in synch with the rail transport, water transport or air transport strategies and road maps. That is why the road, rail, water and air transport networks hardly complement one another, and why they do not complement agricultural and or industrial needs either.

I know that some will be quick to respond that the government is taking us out of recession, which the incompetence of the previous regime laid the foundations for. Well, granted that the previous regime laid the solid foundation on the road to recession and crisis, the inactions and policy contradictions of this current upon coming into office also played very significant role in hastening the slide towards recession, rather than mitigating and or slowing down the rate of economic decline.

And what is more, that we are getting out of recession is dependent more on external factors beyond our control [the price of crude], than on internal factors and the efficacy of our own internal policies.

For instance, Manufacturing and Industry, the engine room of any economy continues to contract recording -10% growth in Q3 of 2017.

The implication of this is that we are still import dependent, while still grossly dependent on export of crude oil, gas, and agricultural produce for our revenue. This isn’t diversification of the economy. This is consolidation of our dependency period!

And of course general unemployment and youth unemployment in particular continue to grow astronomically in tandem with rapid increases in the gap between the rich and the poor.

It is important to state clearly, that dysfunctionality in government did not start with this regime, and that it is an inherited abnormally. The problem however is that a party and administration that promised change, have gone on to compound, rather than ameliorate the problem.

Here a little discourse around governance becomes pertinent. There are three dimensions to governance; the Structure of Governance [including the MDAs, the three arms and three levels of government in Nigeria for instance; the Process of governance [that is how these organs of government function and carry out their activities]; and the Content of governance [that is the policies and programs being implemented by government].

What one would have expected to see will be marked differences between the actions of a government of change in these three spheres, and the previous regimes.

One would have expected not only reform of the structure of governance, but also a situation where the process of governance is marked more and more by enhanced levels of synergy and coordination, resulting in a more visible ‘whole of government’ approach to doing things.

So, for instance, the budgetary process would have been more on time, and more in accordance with, and not in breach of the extant law, the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 for instance; while on the other hand it would also have been based on strategic planning driven by pragmatic and empirical needs assessment and prioritisation.

At this point let it be noted that coordination, and a whole of government approach means much more than constituting inter-ministerial task forces, and the subsequent meetings of this task forces etc.

After all, we do have the economic team chaired by the Vice President, including key ministers, and which meets regularly; just as we have the Anti-Corruption Task Force, as well as other task forces, yet the lived experience and the outcome has been increasing levels of dysfunctionality.

The only sane and strategic conclusion to be drawn, is that coordination, and building synergy is not synonymous with coordination meetings.

Coordination means, and can only happen, when government agencies and organs plan together and take action jointly, with the responsibility of each clearly spelt out. There can be no coordination without join planning, joint implementation, and strategic joint deployment of available resources, human and material.

And of course with respect to the content of governance, we expect far much more from this government than it has been able to give, and even more so, than it is capable of giving.

It took it two years to develop its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan [ERGP], and although it claims its 2016, 2017 and now 2018 budgets are investment plans to realise this ERGP, nevertheless, beyond statements of principle and declaration of intent, there is as of yet no Operational and or Implementation Plan to guide implementation of the plan.

The ERGP itself had stated that implementation plans will be developed and articulated for each of the priority areas, to guide implementation. Less than two years to 2019, and with only the 2018 budget left as the full budget before the next general elections, no such implementation plans have been developed.

The nearest we have gotten to the development of these implementation strategies for the ERGP is the hint from the 2018 budget proposals that N458m will be spent to engage the services of some Malaysian Experts to come and help us develop this implementation strategies.

So people who do not know our context, who played no role in developing the ERGP, will now be saddled with the responsibility to develop realistic implementation strategies and plans for the ERGP?

And why not rely on home grown experts? Is this an acceptance of the lack of capacity within the country? Within and without the Civil service/public service, private sector, academia, and civil society? Is this an admission of the failure and collapse of the education system of the country?

Or is this simply the panicky act of jittery regime incapable of putting its house in order?

What we shall offer, what we are offering, is responsive, responsible and effective governance based on and driven by a comprehensive and radical reform of the Structure, Process and Content of Governance.

What we shall ensure is a whole of government and whole of society approach to governance, the reversal of the dysfunction in government, and reliance on national expertise and national capacity to utilise in the public interest, national resources.

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