Chasing corrupt politicians is not enough

President Buhari needs to take on another role: We need to be assured of his capacity for service delivery.

Anytime the president catches “a bad guy,” he is applauded by a section of the masses, the press, and his die-hard followers leave us drenched in saliva as they brag about town. But one thing these blind followers fail to understand is that approval of this kind generates powerful incentives to do more of the same. His party continues to dwell in this “compliance monitoring,” to the point that it has more people “watching and doing nothing.”

I am not about to deny the value of catching the bad guys; although I have never been a president, I don’t even know if I’d do a good job of it. But the mission of a president also should include “capacity-building.” Capacity building across all sections of government in the country — either by creating more jobs, expansion of the economy to attract investors, or building of infrastructures – which requires more taxpayers money. It appears that the president is being encouraged to stick to catching bad guys and discouraged from providing basic amenities for the people.
What the president has failed to understand is that, catching bad guys and provision of basic amenities should be intertwined. The president should also put into consideration is that you don’t chase after bad guys and subject the rest of the citizens to unspeakable hardship with his unnecessary austerity measures.

President Buhari must discard his 1983 mentality and learn what modern governance is about. His hardened posture and stance on simple issues will only serve to destroy the country. In this era of advance technology, Nigeria will not evolve with the rest of the world by recycling the same old and spent politicians. if we don’t start involving the youths with modern ideas into governance we are doomed. I am sure most of the president’s cabinet, including Buhari himself can’t easily navigate through the functions of a smart phone.

I truly don’t understand how raking out all the money in the system will revive the economy. How do you empower small and medium scale businesses by raking out all the money in the system? For Christ sake our smelling and criminal banks don’t even grant loans to anyone.

We have had several cases where ministries had to cry out for lack of funds to finance projects. Whoever advised the president on that should have considered among other facts that when you refuse to provide sufficient funding for ministries to do their jobs properly, the ministers get discouraged and become afraid of ever achieving the noble goals of public service for which they are appointed in the first place. And they may eventually decide to focus on feathering their own nests or gaming the system to make it appear that services are being delivered that in fact aren’t.

So the cycle continues: The president discovers more wrongdoing; the press reports that another dishonest or incompetent government official has been caught; trust in government declines further; pressure on the economy increases; the economy collapses further; general morale plummets.

To restore the country back on track; Buhari must look further than chasing corrupt individuals.
Someone should tell the blind supporters of the president that Buhari himself and his Jagaban sponsor and those other very rich individuals that can’t be probed, can avoid reliance on public services. They can live in gated communities for protection if the police force is inadequate; send their children to schools abroad if public education is inadequate; take private airplanes and limousines. And when the Jagaban and friends abandon public services, the political support for those services diminishes, so funding and the quality of those services further declines. The prospect for most of the public will be subjection to public services of wretchedly poor quality. Even the better-off will eventually suffer from poor environmental quality and other ills that cannot be contained within the ranks of the less-fortunate.

Here is where new a role for Buhari is so important. Of course, he must continue to catch the bad guys. It will continue to win him public approval. This also means, however, that he will have unusual credibility with the public.

But Buhari must accept a new and very difficult mission, to spend part of his “moral capital,” or credibility, in ensuring that the masses are given the services they value — from education to health care to security of lives and property to transportation — all provided through taxpayer support.

Buhari must become the Jeremiah of our era, warning that failure to pursue the common good — defined in very real terms as unwillingness to severe his pact with the Jagaban — will destroy Nigeria forever. Yes, he will face a long and uphill battle, but protecting and defending good government warrants the struggle.

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