Thursday, March 29, 2012

Re: Season of anomie in Edo

Let the beat go on...
A rejoinder to the Vanguard online publication with the above header of Wednesday, 28th March, 2012.

The political and economic development of society both at the local, national and international levels have been significantly impacted, overtly or covertly by the concatenation of events and circumstances that have occurred since the modern era commenced soon after the second world war in 1945.

These occurrences, playing themselves out at the international level have replicated itself in the lesser populations where structures of governance claim authority and legitimacy in the administration of a people. Hence, as the political-economy of the contemporary global system is mired in inconsistencies, contradictions and corruption, it only behoves that the localised structures that seek to imitate it suffer from the same dysfunction.

Far from being a diatribe on the existing structures of the prevailing international order, the ongoing global economic challenges, coupled with the increasing citizen restiveness that is gradually becoming another consistent on the global scene imply that governance is failing the ones that justify its existence.

With dismal ratings for the most basic indices of human development, over 1 Billion people live below the internationally defined line of poverty, over twice the same number suffer from lack and severe deprivation, and the myriad of accompaniments that mill around the incidence of underdevelopment are all derivatives of failing governments, low quality governance and poor political leadership.

Bad governance has been the bane of Africa’s development, since the flurry of independence activities in the 20th Century, even till now, a dozen years into the 21st.

It is common knowledge that Africa possesses a significant population of the world’s poor. It is also common knowledge that governance in Africa has wholly been an embarrassment in comparison to other regions of the world. While responsible independent States marshalled out plans to engage their resources for development, primitive accumulation became a pastime of Africa’s rulers, and governance was turned on its head.

Unfortunately, Nigeria has not been spared this scourge of bad governance that pervaded the continent, and our history as a nation has been filled with sad stories concerning bad leadership, low quality governance and stagnant development. The labour of our heroes past was all we could see, and there was none to continue from where they left off. The advent of democracy brought great hope in its wake, but such hope was doused as the paraphernalia of State lacked the proactive will and drive to unction the right actions to do the needful things necessary for the wheels of progress and development to turn from the rusted hinges that had held it back for over half a century.

In Edo State, the issue today remains the same, governance. It is an issue that goes well beyond the local politics that is played in the State, or the politics at the national level. It is an international issue and it is a global issue. It is an issue that requires courage and strength of character to confront if one is intent on achieving a quality in governance that is the required catalyst for societies to ascend the rungs of development as we understand the concept to mean today.

Sadly though, people of courage have been scarce in these parts, while strong men of character have wilted after perceiving the whiff of the filthy lucre. The result, low quality and bad governance at all levels where observations are made.

It is a pity that in the case of Edo, a society that has a proud history of the ‘can do’ attitude, the corruption of the system over the last decades majorly rendered the people passive to demand their rights to good governance and human centred sustained development within the same system. This is the reason why up until the final years of the last century, governance within the State reflected the norm at the national level with its inability to translate political and financial power into citizen welfare and improved standards of living for the nearly 200 Million people.

One may not be able to fully grasp the motivation for the opinions expressed by Mr. Ainofenokhai, the author of the piece. However, any attempt at comprehending such would have to take into consideration the prevailing realities of the contemporary international order while juxtaposing it with the more recent happenings at the national and local level of political and economic development. Having said that, we are of the opinion that when matters pertaining to governance are talked about, arguments based on issues rather than the mundane should be the crux.

Contrary to what the author attempted to paint on the situation in Edo, there is currently a breadth of fresh air blowing in the atmosphere of Edo society. It is an air of freedom, a freedom that is borne of the fact that the people truly own governance. The journey to this point would make an inspiring read any day, and it is to the credit of the present crop of political leadership that the State is enjoying what perhaps may be the most frenetic pace of development never before seen since the halcyon days of the Mid-Western Region.

It is a leadership that holds sacrosanct the social contract it entered into with the people on the 28th day of November 2008. Thus far, this leadership has proven that the theory of good governance presents the fundamental pre-requisite that is in itself sufficient for development to occur in under developed and developing societies.

Edo people have been directly or indirectly impacted positively by the responsible action of the State, and the word on the lip of each honest observer is ‘if to say na so e be since 1999’.

Good governance goes beyond petty partisanship, it transcends tribal limitations and politics, and cannot be deemphasised by sycophantic sentiments and opaque opinions. Good governance is seen with the eyes and perceived with the senses, this is why the political sophistication of the average Edo person today has been heightened by the reality being witnessed before their very eyes. Edo is emerging from a cocoon it had been forced to exist within for some while now; the people are realising that perceived impossibilities can indeed become possible.

If one pays close attention, you can hear the conversation on the street, ‘we’ve been there before, and it’s definitely not where we want to be again’. It provides pleasant satisfaction when more informed persons share this view, a view that has been corroborated albeit unsolicited by a number of revered personalities in the State and beyond.

From the language and spirit of the author, it is not too difficult to discern that the he is rather being short-sighted or thrifty with the facts in his analysis of the events that transpired on the March Thursday in question. The ambiguous thrust of the writer’s arguments begs the question of whom he was aggrieved with or what must have caused his grievance. Pointing fingers at organised labour, labour personalities, the political leadership in the State and the civil service, the article reeks of an obvious smear effort, one that was poorly conceived and ill executed. The reportorial of the events smacks of crass dishonesty and open bias. The Labour movement worldwide advocates good governance, and where good governance is being witnessed, it should therefore lead to neither gasps of disbelief nor feigned surprise that the labour movement in the State chose to openly celebrate good governance.

On the issue of civil servants participating in the rally, it only goes to underscore the non partisanship of the rally. It would very much be interesting to learn of any civil servant that has been queried or sanctioned for not participating in the rally. Although many civil servants identify with the positive trajectory of the ship of State, not all were able to make it to the rally much as they would have wanted to. I guess quite a number of those whose names were not on the phantom ’list’ as proposed by the author should by now be facing disciplinary measures in their respective MDA’s; but then again, I think not.

We would deliberately desist from descending into the depths that the article provokes, but we must be mindful of the fact that there are well established human freedoms that are salient and supersedes any statute or rule as prescribed by political and social systems. As part of the human society, each individual possess certain inalienable rights, and when or where these rights are in question, human freedoms presuppose that society react in the action(s) of individuals, whether organised or spontaneous. No one at that point possesses the right to question one’s rights to express oneself in a peaceful manner. These are principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and these principles define the commonality of our collective humanity.

I am not competent to speak on legalese, which I admit. But I’m pretty well sure that the Judiciary, whether at the State or national level are very well capable of sorting themselves out. They always do, rekindling hope in the process.

Okay, there’s gonna be elections in July, must we degenerate to slime and mud politics just because we want to be seen to be putting up a fight? Articles like these would not help in swaying the decision of the undecided voter; what might help is telling the people how one can improve on the status quo and the strategies and plan that would see to a successful tenure if given the opportunity to assume the reins of leadership in the State. But the opposition seem intellectually incapable of successfully achieving that task based on the thrusts of their campaigns over the past few weeks.

Now, Edo’s know what they are capable of achieving and require one that has the guts to want to do more to genuinely bring the greater good to the greater number. Who have got the guts? All we see today is cowardice on the part of the opposition, a cowardice that is borne of a disoriented conclusion of ‘if you can’t beat them, pull them down’. It shows that the campaign team of the opposition is totally bereft of ideas, and from the benefit of hindsight, a lack of ideas does no good for social and human development.

Legacies are being created before our very eyes, paradigms are being attained and surpassed; new stories are being woven and we’re all being witnesses to the emergence of new heroes. When success stories of governance are being counted in today’s global village, the Edo case study would rank among the number.

There is neither anomie nor acrimony in the entire Edo, rather there is an emergent synergy that was hitherto absent, there is a harmony that was previously lacking, and there is a beat that that has found its rhythm. This prevailing mood is felt from the urban centres of the Benin Metropolis to the rural communities spread all over the State; it is felt by the little kids who now find the motivation to attend schools due to the comfort and ambience of their school and classroom environment; it is felt by motorists and pedestrians alike who enjoy the rapid infrastructural transformation of the intra-state road networks; it is felt by the thousands of youths who have been economically empowered via the variety of new jobs and wealth creation measures and the network of dependents which they have subsequently empowered;

This mood is felt by all Edo citizens who have rediscovered their dignity in a society that hitherto paid no heed to the welfare of its peoples. The Edo person today stand proud once again with a new orientation, a new attitude and a renewed sense of belief, not just among fellow Nigerians, but among the many other citizens of the global community.

Let the people continue to lead is the resounding mantra in Edo State, from the market traders to the bus conductors, from the rural farmers to the urban workers, from dining rooms of the local eateries to the hallowed halls of the ivory towers. Let the people continue to lead; and in the State that is known as the heartbeat of the nation, let the beat go on.