Great PR, Social Engineering Vision But… Bobo Brown

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s mission to the United States is a great PR initiative that offers an alternative leadership and social engineering vision for Nigeria.

It gives hope, based on concrete & positive statement of a “Brand Nigeria” that is marketable to the world because WE THE PEOPLE can identify with it. Truly commendable. But first we need to “shine our eyes”:

(a)          How do we sell this vision to Nigerians at home on questions of access to opportunities for all? Or is it for a few? (b) How do we work to ensure an economic framework that provides equity in benefits from productive use of resources, not from political position? (c) What are the steps to protect the dignity of the Nigerian in this new vision of Brand Nigeria? Or will it be another case of “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop”?

For instance, will government officials, legislators & their business agents continue to share national security personnel as private facilities? (d) Who takes ownership of what aspect of the new “Brand Nigeria” (stakeholder groups) to keep it credible as an identity “we the people” are proud of & want to build on?

This is when different professional groups and trade unions should come forward to debate what kind of Nigerian agenda we want. It is not Buhari versus Atiku. It is our destiny that is at stake.

A significant number of members of the National Assembly stood with Senate President Bukola Saraki to resist various attempts to humiliate his office. Recently the NBA led by 150 SANs went to court to fight for the honour and dignity of the office of CJN. Who fights for the fact that the Nigerian citizen has no dignity? State officials and security personnel make the life of the average citizen not worth writing about.

Even as we read this, some Nigerians today will need to sell their children to be able to eat. Why? It is because revenue allocated to their states have been used to consolidate the personal agenda of their respective state Governors, instead of investing such in productive sectors to create meaningful work for citizens.

 I support Atiku’s attractive business view of Nigeria ( what we can call a credible “Brand Nigeria”). It is the right way to REDEFINE Nigeria. But where does it address the structural lack of access to capital and social equity, inflicted on the economy? It was designed by policy initiatives since 1999 to create a rogue economy (i.e. one where those who become rich are the ones who produce nothing and they defend a disconnection between ownership of resources and building of productive assets. E.g. Niger Delta states since 1999 have become more dependent on Federal allocation to manage a poverty stricken & voiceless population).

It has led to the frustration of professional class, business operators & genuine entrepreneurship. The economy was sold to a few from 1999. Its purpose was to transfer business ownership opportunities to those in government & their agents who own / control our banking & finance sector. So it made the fight for political power the Ultimate Combat sport in Nigeria.

Unfortunately those who gain ownership of the economy have proven largely to be chronic parasites. Only a few can claim business success, while 180 million people can show on their broken backs the burden of growing poverty. Capturing public assets which the politicians convert to parade themselves as heavyweights, has also held them hostage to political power. They can’t step far from those who have political power. The result is that in Nigeria now the main job machine is in politics, with cronies in commercial and religious business ( e.g. church leaders & select imams/ marabouts).

This is the coalition sitting on our national wealth. Each of them can write a cheque of N10m without any headache. It has created a bloated, unproductive & dysfunctional government bureaucracy at LG, State & FG levels. The Civil Service at all levels of government has become the Court Yard of political chieftains. It produces no value to uplift any LG or State. Same for Federal Ministries. Not one can be celebrated as a model of efficiency- norms, enterprise promotion, creativity and rule of law.

When big politicians and governments refuse to obey court orders it is because they have ownership of the state and cannot understand why they should obey what they own. They are made to feel so, because “we the people” do not demand that we must have equal access to opportunities, dignity, efficiency norms and rule of law. Those are issues Atiku’s “Brand Nigeria” or any other campaign programme/manifesto must be made to address by us.

We need to do so through dedicated stakeholder groups which we must encourage to come forward now to defend the agenda of “WE THE PEOPLE “.

  Amaopusenibo Bobo Sofiri Brown, veteran journalist was National President of NIPR.

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