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By PAT UTOMI

WHEN a video showing the ranking of Police organisations in Africa, vis-a-vis their global rankings, listed the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, the worst in the world I expected a hair-raising mix of terminations, change of structure and strategy, and some bowed heads from shame, at the Louis Edet House HQ of the police. Nothing happened.

The swag of the big men of the Police even went ballistic. It was a huge statement about the normalisation of the outrageous in today’s Nigeria.

To be sure, the police is not walking a lonely path. When 27 Nigerians were dispossessed and their bus torched so that they roasted as cell phones recorded graphic video images, a sign of depraved humanity, we carried on very matter-of-factly, and our president got on the presidential jet and went off on another foreign gallivant without as much as acknowledging this blow to our human dignity. The outrageous has become so normal that we do not express a sense of outrage at the shredding of our humanity in the burning light of high noon.

Poor leadership and bad politics have made us an unshockable people. Sadly, it is hardly acknowledged that this culture has been making us poorer and pushing us down the road to anarchy. We must now say enough is enough by retiring the politicians that have poisoned our humanity and reduced our country of great promise to the butt of jokes around the world. How did we get here? Many years ago the world experienced several tragedies on a particular day. One was in Austria and another was in Nigeria.

The Nigerian tragedy came from a petrol-laden tanker trailer that crashed into cars in a long queue at a police checkpoint in Ibadan. Nearly 200 people and dozens of motor vehicles were incinerated. Aso Rock issued no statement on the horrific incident. In Austria, a cable car accident claimed three lives. National mourning was declared and flags were lowered to half-mast.

How much is a Nigerian life worth? Today if you live in Kaduna State or Zamfara or Borno what will your state of mental health be as you anticipate the worst possible encounter, any moment? How do politicians who allow for the conditions that breed such mindless violence, by their actions and failures to act, manage to sleep at night?

Surely even the seared conscience must suffer trauma from such. Should these politicians and policymakers not be held accountable for their stewardship? It is obvious, as we start these Harmattan season Fireside chats, that the harmattan season of 2021/22 does not appear as severe, an apparent effect of raging climate change matters that our traditional politicians seem not to understand, but our polity is in the grip of a sandstorm.

It is a state of emergency that calls on all with a stake in Nigeria to act, not talk. Failure to do something is as grave as causing a Tsunami from which none can be absolved.

 As George Orwell warns us, we will not be seen as victims but as accomplices in our own ruination. We cannot continue to be the complicit middle and pretend to have no blame in this massive failure of politicians lacking in love for their people and anxious only in the quest for booty to share.

Citizens must rise to excise from our anatomy this cancer of bounty sharing as the prime motive of public life, as has become the case in Nigeria. From seasons of impunity during which they raided the treasury and made the Central Bank an extension of their private bank accounts to the failure to be pricked in conscience by the consequence of Nigeria becoming the poverty capital of the world, a political class that is degenerate has clearly lost the support of the people.

This has resulted in a loss of legitimacy in a way that makes governing extremely challenging. Deriving from here and the level of unemployment that has made misery the lot of a generation that feels betrayed by their parents are imperatives.

Not to organise to end the extant order is to suffer a fate worse than death. This is why the shadow government is being offered as a vanguard of the will of the people and exemplar of government as a vehicle for the advance of the common good rather than state capture and corruption of governmental processes for the unmerited benefit of individuals who abuse the system.

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I am gratified to see the quality of input on how to tackle the problem of these festering sores, from the shadow teams of the shadow government of the coalition of political parties and civil society organisations which I have been asked to lead. As a general approach, the teams place a premium on compassion for the people. Public policy has teeth only when the love of the leaders for the people is palpable and evident in their willingness to sacrifice in service and hold each other accountable for high-performance levels benchmarked on countries we desire to overtake.

I was pleased that the last meeting of the leaders of the team suggested a ‘super OMB’, an agency responsible for strategy, performance management and values orientation for both public officials and citizens.

In such an organ, if the talents of people like Fela Durotoye, Pascal Odibo, Hayward Yabani and Abiola Salami are put to the task we can see the rebirth of our country. Our goal on the team of teams is to simultaneously deploy a strategy for educating and restructuring the Nigerian citizen, as decentralisation of functions, like the police, and reintroduction of merit and appraisal against global benchmarks becomes the basis for reinventing institutions is to push for a Big Bang. There is too much anger on the streets and among our young to pussy foot and waste time.

Should there be a need to go to the private sector to find the next IG of Police, we must have the courage to do so as the South Africans did in going to the Breweries to get a leader for their police. If something troubles you about policy or governance in Nigeria please send me an email at dinachiutomi@ yahoo.com. Till we come your way again next week keep the smile and trust Nigeria will rise up again.

Utomi, a professor of political economy and management expert, wrote from Lagos

Vanguard News Nigeria

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