Vanguard (Lagos)

13 February 2013

Nigeria: Once Upon Governance

The ongoing Good Governance Tour indicates the authorities recognise the importance of good governance to the exclusion of the federal and local government.

Nigerians wonder if anyone cared about things that affect them, basic developments governments can use to make lasting changes in the way we live - for better.

Like in all things government, the indices for rating States during the tour are vague. The people are shouting that their governments are not doing well. The tour so far has shown that governments across the federation are engaged in projects, which they claim are meeting the needs of the people.

Doubts persist. Many believe that the tour is self-serving (to give a national veneer of good health to governments, even if they have abandoned the people) and at best, a major distraction at a time dwindling national resources should recommend prudence in expenditure.

Exactly what is the Minister of Information Labaran Maku expecting to see in order to qualify a State as following the dictates of good governance? How many States are doing these things? How would this tour be different from those Professor Jerry Gana and Frank Nweke Jnr conducted when they ran the Ministry of Information?

Some projects that won governors high marks then have been utterly abandoned or remain sheer drains on state resources. Others were commissioned though uncompleted.

The major complaint at most of Maku's stops is that governments are less democratic than the Constitution assumes. They are distant from the people. They carry on as if the interests of the people are of no consequence.

Anti-corruption campaigns, another big concern of the people, are lost in arguments about the nature rather than the consequences of corruption. Either way, the campaigns have become theoretical and convenient canvasses for private wars against institutions and individuals who fall out of favour with the authorities.

The waste that the Good Governance Tour entails shines through platitudes that issue from evaluation of projects. In awarding the marks, nobody cares about costs, sustainability of the projects and their relevance to the needs of the communities they serve. The number of projects is more important than the relevance of the projects.

More importantly, the States have subscribed to a Peer Review Mechanism. How is the Good Governance Tour different from the Peer Review? Is Maku so unoccupied that a tour of the country is the most important thing on his plate?

Does good governance exclude the Federal Government which ignores infrastructure it inherited while not building new ones? Who would assess Maku's turf, and local governments? The Good Governance Tour serves no useful purpose as its lavish praises on States and silence on the performance of the Federal Government show.

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