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Monthly Archives: October 2010

Nigeria-A Vote For Jonathan,Epiphany And The Banality Of Evil

President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan may be capable of creative and visionary thinking,but so far,that has not been much evident.Leadership is,among other things,basically about setting agenda and initiating meaningful change.It is about mobilizing the resources of the society in a focused effort to achieve the aims of the society.It is about having a vision of where the society should be headed.Especially transformational leadership,which is what Nigeria needs,and lacks.Nigerians need a leader who will rivet and engage them through the robustness of his/her vision,while motivating them to greater effort and sacrifice by the challenge of his/her personal conduct.A citizenry thus enthused about it’s leadership,would willingly partner the leadership in building a greater Nigeria.

President Jonathan has come across as a humble and self-effacing man.But while personal humility is good,institutional humility is far bettter.Nigerians want a leader who will craft institutions that would be dedicated to the objective of serving their interests.They want a healthcare-delivery system that actually works.They want the security services to actually provide security.They want the power utility to provide reliable electricity.They want standard and functional schools.They want a justice-delivery system that does not deny justice,by delaying it.They want a humane and reliable pension system,one that does not dehumanize old men and women.This is what humility is all about,institutional humility,possible only through visionary and responsible leadership.

Of all the declared candidates so far,i would plump for president Jonathan for the simple reason that,given his trajectory to power,he seems to be God’s candidate.As a born-again christian i believe in the concept of divine arrangement,the idea that people can be led to prepared blessings.Now,this can end in two different ways.First,he can perform prodigiously successfully,and to the benefit of Nigerians.Second,he can fail to perform and provide us with the much needed epiphany:opening our eyes to the concept of the “banality of evil”.This phrase was coined by Hannah Arendth to show that evil is possible only in societies,where people esteem and enthrone the dictates of self-interest over and above the claims of  conscience and morality.In other words,in failing societies,the people are as complicit as the leadership,because evil triumphs only if the people choose to remain loyal to the system.

Nigeria-On A Slippery Slope

The aftermath of a car-bomb attack

The Nigerian criminal community has lost it’s innocence.Make no mistake about it.From kidnapping of school children to car-bomb attacks,nothing is ff-limits or sacrosanct.The government has yet to wrap it’s head around  that fact.Nigeria is on a slippery slop:the simplest definition of a slippery slope is that,in a chain of related events,the hardest step to take is the first one.Once the first step has been taken,subsequent steps come easier.Government needs more than moral suasion to combat this scourge,profitably.The genie is already out of the bottle.We cannot hope to re-bottle it.Appealing to the sense of morality criminals works,only if they know that the alternatively is the sword.Because,certainly,these guys have no conscience.

Government needs to remember,that while the basic condition for humanity is a sense of fairness,the basic condition for society is security.People first came together as group,in an attempt to ward off predators; in the belief that society,through a sovereign,would provide them with protection,people forfeited their natural rights to self-defense.It follows that the primary duty of government,is the protection of life and property.When government is unable or unwilling to provide this service,society becomes nasty and brutish.A descent into the rule of the mob and vigilante disorder beacons.Government should not underestimate or discount the ability of  the people to take the law into their own hands,in an attempt to re-claim their original rights of self-defense.

To tackle this problem,government needs a mix of police measures and social dynamics.One without the other would not work.First,the government immediately needs to boost it’s security capacity.The police,as it is presently constituted,is under-armed,under-equipped and under-motivated.They would struggle to deal with the depredations of  semi-illiterate armed robbers,not to talk of internet-savvy graduate-criminals.We need a police force that can do the business,in a knowledge-based  society,in the global village.This is the immediate step to be taken.Now

Second,government must take cognizance of the dynamics shaping our society,as it changes negatively.Government must address economic growth,by meeting the needs of it’s branches: education,health-care and infrastructure.This would promote economic growth and increased productivity.Government must address the need for a social safety-net,for those who are unavoidably unemployed.A measure of re-distribution is necessary to maximize the gains of increased productivity.The dehumanization of young people can only equip them for a life of enforcement.If they are outside the employ of the security services or the ruling political party,they would still employ these skills where ever they can.Regardless.

Government needs to fight corruption.We need to bring corruption to heel.As long as the “feeding frenzy” amongst politicians continues,an ethos of impunity and greed would would continue to be promoted.This is the basic propblem.Kids are growing up learning that society cares about only “success”;how you “succeed” is irrelevant.We need to punish criminal behaviour,regardless of the people involved.A society that rewards the meritorious rather than criminal or rent-seeking behaviour,will find itself ,by and large,making due progress.We should not be super-stitious,one plus one will always get you two.If we want a different result,we need to change the equation.