Agenda for the incoming administration – Part 2
Law and Order: Law and order is very important to provide appropriate standards and regulations for everyone’s behaviour. The challenge of law and order is huge in Nigeria. Modern society requires the strict enforcement of law and order. The security and criminal justice system exist to enforce law and order. But it requires the support of all others in society to effectively enforce law and order and punish those who breach the laws to serve as deterrence to others. The incoming administration must prioritise law and order.
Those who break the laws should be brought to book without selective justice. The administration should avoid the situation where the Federal Government will ignore its own laws as it has done with the Public Procurement Act by the Yaradua, Goodluck and Buhari administrations since 2007 by refusing to inaugurate the Public Procurement Council. It should ensure that the relevant authorities (Police, Federal Road Safety etc) bring order to our roads and anyone without exemption that commits traffic offence is fined in a transparent and accountable manner as it is done in other countries. There must be order in policy making, project execution, recruitment of personnel etc. Indeed, there must be law and order in all sectors. The incoming administration must deal with increasing cases of executive lawlessness and impunity.
Execution capacity: Nigeria is today experiencing arrested development characterised by low economic growth, criminality, corruption, poverty and poor governance. It has been established that for many developing countries especially in Africa, decision making and policy formulation appears to be the easier job and moving from policy making to policy execution and providing public goods and services is the tougher task.i
It has been pointed out that the factors that are significant in policy execution include characteristics of implementing agencies, predisposition of implementers, level of interest, commitment and support by principal actors. Scholars have identified the challenges of policy implementation in developing countries to include unrealistic goal setting, lack of clear definition of goals, political patronage, neglect of target beneficiaries, lack of consideration of policy environment, lack of continuity in government policies, lack of appropriate technology for implementation, lack of synergy and co-ordination.ii In order to improve execution, the incoming administration must appoint capable people into various positions, prioritise strategy and planning in order to have clinical execution.
Public Service Reform: The Public service represents the machinery of government through which public policies are formulated and implemented.iii Public Service achieves this by converting government policies and programmes into tangible goods and services for the consumption of the citizenry. The normal process of doing this is for a country to develop a national vision which encapsulates a long-term national development plan (usually about 20-30 years) to guide the political, social and economic development of the country.iv
From the national vision, a country is then expected to draw a National Development Plan usually medium term of about five years to give expression to the national vision. The National development plan will contain strategic direction for sectoral plans (e.g. Education, Health, Agriculture, Infrastructure, Security etc). Every sector is then expected to develop a medium-term sector strategy usually 3-5 years to link planning, policy and budgets. Similarly, every sector is expected to produce a Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) usually 3 years to contain the estimate of the current and medium term costs of existing policy and ultimately matching of these costs with available resources.v Finally, the country now prepares annual budget drawing from all these documents.
The public service provides the system and process through which the machinery of government operates.vi But there is a dysfunction in the public service in Nigeria necessitating reform in the last thirty-five years. The problems include poor ethical orientation, poor communication, bloated staff, poor planning, unstable polity, lack of institutional integrity, archaic infrastructures, lack of an efficient capacity and readiness, erosion of public confidence in government, and the all too pervasive problem of endemic bureaucratic corruption.vii
Unfortunately, most of the reforms to address these problems have failed because they were undermined by vested interests.viii There is therefore the need for a fresh attempt to overhaul and reform all public service institutions of government reconsidering purpose, mandate, organisation, capacity, performance and endemic bureaucratic corruption.
Open Government Partnership (OGP): One of the challenges facing governments all over the world is to make governments more open, accountable and responsive to citizens. This is what led to the launch of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2011. As at today, 77 countries have signed unto the OGP. Nigeria signed in 2016 and have completed two National Action Plans focused on the issues of fiscal transparency, extractive transparency, access to information, citizens engagement and empowerment, inclusiveness and service delivery. Nigeria has an approved third national action plan. But the government is not giving the OGP process the priority and commitment that it deserves. The incoming administration should give priority and commitment to OGP.
Restructuring: One of the recurrent underlying issues in Nigeria is the need for restructuring. Right from the first republic, scholars and commentators have pointed out the challenge of the unbalanced nature of the federation and the asymmetry in size and power among the constituent units of Nigeria. There is therefore the need to restructure the structure of Nigeria and redefine the roles, responsibilities and resources available to the Federal Government, States and Local Government Areas. But in addition, there is the need for restructuring of leadership and the selection process, restructuring of institutions, restructuring of plans, policies and budgets, restructuring of the mindset and restructuring of politics and the economy to ensure free and fair elections, production of goods and services and incentives for hard work and elimination of trading on influence.
Promotion of Justice, Equity and Fairness: The institutions of government for the distribution of wealth and opportunities in Nigeria such as taxation, social insurance, social protection (including conditional cash transfers), public health, public school, public services, labour laws and regulation of markets have been unfair and skewed against the poor, youth and women.ix Deliberate policies and concrete programmes should be put in place by the incoming administration to address these issues.
Nigeria is at a critical juncture. The way that the incoming administration will address the challenges facing the country will determine the development trajectory of the country. The challenges facing the country are known. What needs to be done is known. We expect and hope that the incoming administration will address the challenges and change the narrative of our country and produce a just, peaceful and prosperous country.
Igbuzor, PhD, is founding executive director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD) E-mail: Otive.Igbuzor@centrelsd.org