GOVERNANCE: AN INSIDER’S REFLECTIONS ON THE NIGERIAN POLITY
Professor Tunde Adeniran OFR
Participant-observers are among the most challenged of researchers, social analysts and commentators. They readily stand the risk of having their heads in the clouds, becoming servants of power chroniclers or even victims of cognitive dissonance. They could also turn out to be conscientious commentators, creative counselors and intellectual advocates of change. This publication has come out as a reputation enhancing treatise by a writer and bureaucratic player.
GOVERNANCE by Femi Adelegan, a time-tested bureaucrat and information manager whose technocratic instincts have kept within the precincts of power for several years is a comprehensive review of some fundamental issues in the governance of Nigeria from the perspective of an insider. His form and style do not permit of complete detachment and neither do they allow for a sentimental and racy tour of the issues and the pivotally important periods covered. The author’s versatility and fine analytical mind find expression here and come out quite incisive and largely realistic in his assessment of the Nigerian situation and experience.
Right from the beginning, it is duly acknowledged by the author that the major objective of the “serious mental exercise” which produced this book was to “lift the human spirit to a new pedestal of excellence and performance in the collective effort to construct a new Nigeria.” In his view, based on “the demands of a fluid and dynamic world in which we live these days of globalization, there is an evident and compelling need to identify the banners of the Nigerian society and move the country forward along the envisaged path of progress”. And so he moves on to highlight the opportunities and obstacles to stability and development in most of the chapters.
Without bothering much about any rigid structure, the author allows his views and concerns to flow through the wide-ranging themes and sub-themes of the various chapters. After the introductory chapter which takes us through a survey of the meaning and essence of governance, forms of government and the necessity for new programmes and agencies to propel development, chapters two to five settle for some empirical assessment. They cover a history of nationalism, it origins in Nigeria, the key actors and champions of Nigeria’s independence movements, the latter day advocators of individual and collective rights, the structure of Nigeria, its shifting arrangements resulting from various constitutions, and the special essence of the “Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy” contained in chapter II of the 1999 constitution regarding the obligations of government and the governed. The political class and the nature of political participation dominate his overview of democratic governance in Nigeria while the author’s assessment of the military in government is based on its origins, structure, rationale, lessons and effects.
Chapters six, seven and eight address issues relating to the economy and national development, the Nigerian public service and what the author considers to be the pitfalls and landmines in the polity and political process. Within the economic structure, substructure and superstructure, the system of funds allocation, intervention packages and strategies such as the vision 2010 and the National Economic and Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) as well as late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s 7-point agenda are the key issues. And who is the civil servant? This category of operators within the Nigerian system is located along with the evolution, rules, regulations, the inhibition and dysfunctional forces which modulate the public service. The pitfalls and landmines identified include corruption in all forms, ethnicity, youth restiveness, population census, disregard for the rule of law and the electoral process for which he advocates provision for independent candidacy.
It is from chapter nine that the author begins to address recurring problems of governance more specifically. For good governance he advocates integrated development and presents some tips for states and the Local Government Areas-using an Osun state proposal. He stresses the essence of reforms and draws attention to the anomaly in our bureaucratic set up which I had some years back identified as the dilemma of “presidential parliamentarism”. As a very good communicator, the author’s handling of “Governance and Public Communication” and “The Art of Information Management and Government” is basically recommendatory. The importance of regulation, information technology, communication and good reporting is stressed as he takes us through the contributions of some leading lights in the field, anchoring his viewpoint on fairness doctrine and the need to propagate ideals. This is just as fascinating as “The Art of information Management in Government” in which the author’s emphasis is on the need for experience and how to manage “The boss” and weather the storm of intrigues in the process.
We have in chapter twelve a refreshing perspective on the federalism debate, true federalism as the way forward or tool for national development. This is followed by a useful compilation as “Reflections on the Mission, Vision and Policy Statements of Successive Heads of Nigerian Government since Independence”. A look into Nigeria within the international community follows, through the instrumentality of peace keeping operations like ECOMOG and such organs as the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). Having raised so many issues, some as old as Nigeria and others as new as each emerging dispensation, the author’s rounding up with the chapter “The Old Versus the New” provides an opportunity to buttress the essence of issue-based politics and merit in the suffocating influence of political parties on governments and he failure of the intelligentsia.
The author’s patriotism shines in this book. Some of the unsparing assessments mitigate selective escapism to make the treatment of the core issues even-handed. One of the lessons derivable from the author’s effort however, is that Nigerians need to care more about democracy, raise fundamental questions about it, re-assess our performance from time to time and strive to leave a worthy legacy. The book is being published at a time the polity is characterized by serious challenges of development, a damning display of astonishing wealth of few and the misery of the many as the system continues to be fettered by the diminishing patriotism, declining productivity, selfishness and greed. The corrosive forces of primitive patronage, compulsive compromise and complex corruption are being compounded by the gross deficit in internal party democracy to pose serious challenges to the consolidation of democracy and good governance. It is hoped that other intellectuals will be inspired by Femi Adelegan’s feat and tackle these crucial issues with a similar sense of purpose and in the national interest.
Professor Tunde Adeniran, OFR
Former Federal Minister of Education
Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany
Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola
Governance is an intricate art of presiding over the affairs of a society or corporate organization. The responsibility thrust on those engaged in this activity is enormous and is undoubtedly loaded with a considerable measure of high expectations. The responsibility of the government to hold itself accountable to the public and their rights to know how they are governed in a democracy, have combined, to make transparency and accountability the key watchwords of the government and the governed, all over the world.
I came to be closely associated with the author, Femi Adelegan shortly before commencing the year 2003 governorship campaign, during which he functioned as the Director of Publicity and Research of the People’s Democratic Party in Osun State. Femi had previously served as the Chief Press Secretary to four successive chief executives of the Government of Osun State between January 1994 and January 2000. During this period, he displayed commendable professional excellence in his assignment of reflecting the principals (Heads of Governments) in the public eye through the mass-media.
On assumption of duty on May 29, 2003 as Governor of Osun State, I appointed Femi Adelegan as my Chief Private Secretary. In this capacity, he, apart from being the head of the Governor’s Secretariat functions as my Adviser on Programmes, Policies and Plans Implementation. A level headed and dedicated hand, Femi has proven to be a reliable and efficient aide. Where duty called, he has always been available to perform his assignments faithfully and with great vigour, zeal and enthusiasm.
Curiously, people tend to view political offices as high profile jobs. It could, to a reasonable extent, be so. However, the job of harnessing human and material resources is not all glamour and goes beyond what people imagine or see on the surface. Femi Adelegan should be commended for sharing his perspectives with the public. He has, in this publication, been able to unveil the shroud of secrecy surrounding what the government does.
This compilation has provided an illuminating insight into the workings of government while also highlighting constraints and solutions. The author should be commended for throwing more light on the inner workings of government, particularly issues dealing with transparency, accountability and the rule of law which are essential ingredients of good governance.
I consider it a great honour to be requested to write the foreword to this publication
Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola
Governor, Osun State, Nigeria
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2. Nationalist Struggles and the Emergence of Democracy in Nigeria.
3. Political Arrangement and Development
4. Civil Democratic Governance
5. The Military in Government
6. The Pitfalls and Landmines
7. Federalism as a Tool for National development
8. The Economy and National Development
9. The Imperatives of Good Governance
10. The Nigerian Public Service
11. Governance and Public Communication
12. The Art of Information Management in Government
13. Some Personal Experiences
14. Maneuvers is the International Community
16. The Old vs The New
In the first instance, I must express my eternal gratitude to God Almighty, who has continued to chart the course of events in my life. He has been too gracious, merciful and benevolent to me. All adoration and glory go to God for this divine enablement.
In the second and most profound sense, I should acknowledge the very worthy role played by my parents, Chief S.T Adelegan and Chief (Mrs.) E.O. Adelegan, foremost patriots and humanists who though deceased, still live in my heart today. In particular, my father, an influential First Republic politician who was Deputy-Speaker, Western-Region of Nigeria Legislature (1960-1965) and also a reputable educationist very much remains my role model.
Thirdly, immense gratitude is due to my successive bosses, Navy Captain Anthony Udofia (rtd), Colonel Anthony Obi (rtd), Colonel Theophilus Bamigboye (rtd), Chief Bisi Akande whom I served briefly for seven months, before retiring from the public service; and my current boss, His Excellency, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola – a genius with sterling leadership qualities, adroitness and an unusual