My thanks for getting me back into the thick of things go to Yemi, a long-time supporter of this blog through insight, contributions and visits. The first in this series on former Anambra’s governor, Peter Obi, was forwarded to me by him.
It came at a time when my dissatisfaction with the way things had turned out with a president who had the winds at his back from majority of Nigerians – except the looters – who wanted for him total success, had grown to a feeling of near-hopelessness. I had decided the only Nigerian issue that would be given space here would be on Yoruba “nation” & restructuring – written by me or others.
Budget padding – from “Ministry People” (a new description I just picked up that refers to civil/”evil” servants) or the pros in politics, appointments that pay no heed to federal character at “federal” level, selling off all assets to the Dangotes of Nigeria … would be no longer areas of interest. Why? I had reached a stage of running out of new ideas beyond all I had written just as the Buhari Administration appear to have run out of ideas without having implemented, or put in motion any of the main promises that propelled the former General to the country’s highest office.
Yemi’s mail and the attachment of what became 1 of 7 made me decide to [sort of] go back on my promise to myself just a little bit, and not only share the video but look for others – I discovered many – and share with my readers. It does not mean I will go back to crying myself hoarse on the subjects mentioned but I’ll continue to make this blog available for ideas that should illuminate the way forward. These videos offer one of such paths.
Whether Nigerians’ Ọgas at the top – from local government level to “federal”- would take whatever contributions from this blog as well as thousands of other writers in newspapers and on online media sites, would be for History to judge.
Now, for the second installment in Peter Obi’s eye-opening demonstration of what dividends good leadership can yield, and how Nigeria’s fortunes can turn around without the chaos that has arisen in pursuit of how to solve dwindling oil revenues, showing thats solutions can be found within our borders. With just tweaking government’s wasteful ways, there would be no need to sell the family china, no need to keep on borrowing and no need to handle looters with kid gloves – a situation that most Nigerians thought would not come from Buhari, a man they believed they knew and voted for.
Those monies alone – from looters – if pursued should be able to form a sizable part of the $15 billion for which the government is running and throwing semantics around – if figures bandied around in newspapers in the last year are anything to go by.
Peter Obi’s leadership in the state he governed for eight years with a -‘scuse me – little break when he was impeached for doing what a good leader should do: lead from the front, is a clear example of a leader who knows what needs to be done and goes ahead and finds ways to achieve his goal despite “ministry people.” In Yoruba, the expression used for civil servants – Peter Obi’s apt “ministry people” is awọn èrò ministry – an expression that carries more than a little cynicism; awọn òṣìṣẹ́ ìjọba would be a see-no-evil translation!
How I defeated “ministry people” is a short video that gets to the heart of perhaps, more than 50 percent of Nigeria’s problems; may not be 50% of the corruption.
Except for a short stint at the University of Ife as a secretary and the Daily Sketch where I served the National Youth Service as a graduate and later as a member of staff, I had a total of less than five years working for government in Nigeria, but as anyone who has had to transact business with government at any level in Nigeria would volunteer, it is one of the most stressful, cruel and corrupt engagements one would ever have to face.
Peter Obi, governor or not, met a little more than what he expected. He must have believed that his and “ministry people” – henceforth, simply Mp/mp – had the same goal: turn things around for the state, and in this particular case, the state of education in Anambra.
Not really, Nwannam! No, I do not speak Ibo but like millions of Nigerians, I do know some appropriate words that I can throw around as needed. In this case, I’m addressing you, my reader, as my brother/sister; used ‘a’ rather than Nwannem because I consider Nigerian visitors to my blog are all brothers/sisters to me through my fatherland. The Ibos use Nwannam for brother/sister for paternal line. Nwannem, however, is for brothers/sisters on the maternal side.
Mp‘s goals – actually, a single one – is only money; their focus is always on The Money: a workshop? How ’bout taking it out of Abuja to Lokoja? “Computer training”? What of that outfit at Ibadan instead of having a guy or two from Ibadan bring their laptops to Abuja to teach … Right now, it’s October and the frenzy of “Supplies” is already on when hundreds of millions will go towards getting chemicals (chlorine to state level), stationery … big and small things … over-padded, many never supplied … the chemicals, pumps, et cetera will later be hawked off to outsiders by mp till they are almost all gone.
When Peter Obi became governor in 2006 – Ngige and Obasanjo’s PDP had deprived him of his mandate for three years through election abracadabra – Anambra placed “26th; Oyo was 25th” as he tells it out of the 36 states in secondary school leaving exams, a result he found unacceptable and was determined to find the reason and see how it would be changed.
His goal and that of Mp should be the same, and at a meeting with the Executive Council, he announced he planned to visit all 227 (two hundred and twenty-seven) schools in the state, talk to the principals … One could almost imagine alarm bells ringing because of you-know-what:
Biko, Oga, how U na go get time, o!!!
Please, Your Excellency, Sir – Mp are not just polite but are very sycophantic – “when will you have time”, Peter Obi says he was asked. He simply told Mp that there was nothing he was doing!
Uh-oh, wàhálà dé; His Excellency kò ni jẹ́ k’a rí àbáyọ! – Yoruba translation: we have trouble on our hands; this governor would block money-making paths! Actually, I picked up that last word – àbáyọ – in my late 60s from the person I knew who worked with a donor agency who prevented another set of Mp from dipping into donor fund.
Peter Obi did visit EVERY SINGLE ONE.
He told Execo Meeting – name for such in Nigeria – that he wanted Anambra to move up to Number 10 from 26! This would prove a bit more difficult than the visits. After three years, he decided the schools must be returned to the Missions and whoever used to own them.
I remember Oyo’s Ajimobi was trying to return schools to the former owners recently at Oyo and, not unexpectedly, there were hues and cries. Although I’m unaware of where the matter is right now, here is the last para of an essay in support of the move to return schools to original proprietors. The link to that essay is at the end of this post:
“It may even be more cost effective if accurate census of all pupils are taken so that per/head specific amounts are paid for each child to each Mission as the state’s contribution, which cannot and should not end with the return of schools. The remaining public schools in each state should benefit greatly from much-reduced school populations which would become easier to handle financially and logistically for each state government.”
Peter Obi went on to achieve his goal because by 2011, Anambra was first in the two final examinations of secondary education in Nigeria, and the excellent record continued to the end of his tenure.
It came after what was nothing less than a war with Mp who were ready to sabotage him at every point. What did he do, and how? Schools were even shut for three months.
- He switched to giving money (used to be called subventions in an earlier era) directly to the missions and others who got back to their schools despite opposition by Mp.
- Check out the leeway he allowed a Catholic Mission School under Nuns.
- He did not ignore elementary schools – of the 1,004 primary schools, there were 750 mission and the rest, govt.-owned. He divided the N1 billion between mission and govt, giving Mp N650m and N750m to mission; he ignored “you are giving government money to missions” hysteria.
- He answered “federal” queries about his plans and ignored teachers who complained about Rev. Sisters who monitored the school gates “because many of them never really showed up at work”.
The rest is history.
Whatever problems Peter Obi faced, they abound in Oyo and perhaps other states. There are teachers at Oyo public schools with shops where they spend a lot of time. No wonder, they were up in arms when Ajimobi announced he was returning schools to former owners.
Watch the short video and see what focus, determination and creativity can do when a good leader decides enough is enough.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2016. 7:10 a.m. [GMT]
- #Peter ObiAndTheChangeNigeriaNeeds