Our democracy and lack of continuity in governance

One of the major problems bedeviling Nigeria and which is inimical to her growth is the lack of continuity in governance. It has been an integral bane of our development as a country. The successive government we have had had taken hold of the mantle of governance with its own policy to be implemented thereby rubbishing the achievement of its predecessors. Why should a government not consolidate on the progress and strides recorded by the preceding government? The answer is that the leaders always come on board with conceited mindsets and a vengeful heart albeit competitive and rivalry-oriented ostensibly to outshine the preceding leaders in performance on the scoreboard.

If there had been continuity while personal grudges had been put aside, our dear country would have gone beyond her present state. If there’d been a policy in place yet to be implemented or it’s been implemented but with some seeming inevitable lapses and inadequacies, what could have been done by the succeeding leaders is to creatively and ingeniously rectify and make it fit into their own policies that will liberate the suffering of the masses. It shouldn’t be rejected in totality. No matter how bad such program might be, there will still be some elements of favorable ones. What should be considered is the reason and the economic situation during which such programs were drafted. If the programs were drafted as at the time they were drafted, the eyes of the new government should be wide open enough to see that it’s subject to correction, withdrawal, consolidation, reversion, explanation and other factors of changes except of course such was made for self-aggrandizement and pleasure.

One great discovery I made is that personal grievance has been responsible for this. Even if the plan the past government had was lofty and the succeeding ones saw its credibility, they refused to implement it owing to personal grievances. The policy was not implemented due to the constraint of time and the lapse of tenure or it was not yet time for it. But what did the successive ones do? They rather stripped it of its credibility and loftiness and gave a false report either during a media chat or stakeholders meeting. I always wish a representative from one of such government will be present at such forum to dispute such claim. That is only if there was anyone at all and he/she is ready to defend its nobility and potential. But our environment is such a funny one where the voice of the minority and the powerless is inaudible to effect any change let alone enjoy some public belief in what it voices out.

Some white papers were not even found in the archives at all when a new government comes in. Many things are responsible for it, too crude to believe. One, when the last leader of whatever portfolio was moving out of the government house albeit ingloriously, unceremoniously or ignominiously because of his sudden and unexpected ouster at the polls, he will order his aides to pack the white papers along so that the new one will not take the glory if it’s eventually implemented. It still borders on political grudges but this time around, against the people. Owing to the kind of environment we all hailed from, such glory will not be attributed to the government that drafted it. Personal gratification and glory overriding good governance.

Another case is that some persons were asked to do the packing without specific directives. (In the case of the Federal legislators, I think the NYSC members were engaged to do the packing. Since they have no knowledge about the “officiality” of some documents including those that studied Political Science in the university, they just adhered to the “unspecificity” of the directives). The politicians never expected they will be rejected so soon at the polls, so the relocation of their belongings became subject to unpreparedness.

Another crude factor for the lack of continuity in governance is when the succeeding political office holder doesn’t want to see the footprint of his predecessor. He will start erasing his predecessor’s footprint by first removing his portraits from the wall. How does that disturb his discharge of duty? Maybe it stares at him too much. He will then evacuate everything that bears his signature and writings. He also changed the outlook of the office and a new set of furniture was ordered. Such money could have gone into paying for some students’ school fees. He also stylishly evacuates his fine plans unknowingly.

Some people might say the leaders who owe allegiance to the same political leanings are bound to abide with the tradition of continuity. It is not true. Due to the fracas that ensues during such party’s primaries and a consensus candidate emerged to the chagrin of others who equally have the right to contest, discontinuity will play out if eventually the ones that stepped down under duress get to the government house. The pain he bears will still be brought to the fore. If this can happen within the same political party, how much more when it involves other parties? The only thing that guarantees continuity is when everybody is burdened with the task of delivering dividends of life to others irrespective of personal clashes and individual’s divergent philosophies.

The only place where I’ve seen continuity in governance in effect is Lagos State which has taken her pride of place among the States of the Federation. That is why it has become the reference point to other States including the FCT. If the same gesture can be replicated in the rest of the States,  our development will be so rapid. Many unfinished projects litter the length and breadth of the nation because of this problem. All the sectors of the economy are direct victims of lack of continuity. The only thing that cannot and must not be continued let alone be implemented are policies that will take a heavy toll on the citizenry.

Author: Olajide Oluwafemi