INJECTING MAKINDE WITH MESSIANISM

INJECTING MAKINDE WITH MESSIANISM

By Steven Atogi 


No doubt, Governor Makinde is a successful businessman, but with Oyo peoples' mandate, he has a task ahead, a target and a platform to prove his place in public service. As a newly elected first term governor, a lot of curious eyes are on him and according to the present Nigerian standard of governance, he has exceeded expectations and captured many hearts, in the midst of ubiquitous ineptitude, nonchalance and impunity, by both elected and appointed government officials, at Local, State and Federal levels of government. He is in the mentions on social media, at the news stand and on air. Presently, he is enjoying the best of goodwill and burgeoning political capital in and out of Oyo State. The chorus of praises is rising to a crescendo. This is not unlikely of Nigerians, especially in the current abyss of despair. What is unsettling is the possible projection of messianism in Makinde and what the effects of such poses for him, citizens of Oyo State, and governance, for the most part. 


Mr. Makinde's political prelude is just like that of any other Nigerian politician. In 2007, he contested for Oyo South Senatorial seat under the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and lost to Kamoru Adedibu of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). In 2010, he cross-carpeted to the PDP, and in 2011 aspired for same Senatorial seat but lost in the Party primaries to the incumbent (Kamoru Adedibu). By 2014, he was gunning for the PDP's gubernatorial ticket to stand as the Party's candidate in the 2015 elections, but was denied the ticket. He cross-carpeted to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in pursuit of his ambition, and contested in the 2015 gubernatorial election as Oyo State SDP candidate. He lost. By 2017, he returned to the PDP, still pursuing his ambition. In 2018, he finally emerged the PDP's Oyo State gubernatorial candidate. Mr. Seyi Makinde emerged victorious as winner of the 2019 Oyo State gubernatorial election, beating the incumbent governor, Mr. Abiola Ajimobi of All Progressives Congress (APC), whose Party structure was pulverized by internal fracas and self-inflicted politicking. 


Given his political prelude, it is not out of place to be expectant of a technocrat-in-governance, ready to work. Early post-election actions of Governor Makinde suggest readiness to govern than the usual 5-month honeymoon in search of righteous kleptocrats for cabinet, as practiced by some members of the political class. Usually, post-election time for members of the political class is for basking in euphoria of victory over enemies (political opponents) and testimonies of victory in alters, followed by profit-sharing mechanism infused into cabinet. To that end, at least 4-5months is spent (wasted), to afford better profit-sharing scheme among various class of profiteers. Unlikely of Mr. Makinde, he so prized his early actions that he made judicious use of it in cementing some ground, courting goodwill and maximizing political capital. After all, he is a new entrant into the seat of power and should he start on a wrong foot, there will be barely any hand to pat him in the back or give him a break. 


So, what did Mr. Makinde do? He went to work, keen on putting the records straight. He published his declaration of assets, valued at 48billion Naira. This caused an uproar with mixed reactions from two different sections of the populace. First, the mind-induced patrons of poverty porn, who salivate at the irony of “poverty is integrity” narrative as advanced by the APC, pre and post-2015, went on to yap rabidly. The second category is peopled by folks who actually see a messiah in him. In education, Mr. Makinde reviewed the education budgetary allocation upward, from 3% to 10%, approved payment of 1.4billion Naira gratuity to 1,000 teachers' retiree of between 2010-2012. He abolished Basic 6 to 7 (Primary 6 to JSS1) entrance examination fees, to encourage enrollment as Oyo has 400,000 out-of-school children. He also cancelled the 3,000 Naira school fees for Public Secondary School students.


What stirred another uproar was his donation of 2million exercise books to 450,000 students in public Primary and Secondary Schools. To this, the folks in the second category mentioned above went into frenzy, singing the chorus of how the man donated exercise books without his face and Party logo on the cover page. One can only imagine the ridiculous level that governance in Nigeria has been brought to, for people to actually eulogize the ordinary as extraordinary. This is what happens to the unfortunate citizenry whose humanity has been browbeaten by misgovernance for so long. The soul of the Nigerian citizenry, indeed, needs redemption–redemption from decades of dehumanization by poor governance and chaotic environment that has formatted and reprogrammed the brains of the masses to worship what is normally ordinary in sane societies, since it is elusive in Nigeria and hopes are hinged on a celestial messiah who will come down to resolve the prevalent systemic failure, leadership and governance failures.


The Governor also established a Due Process Office, sent a Financial Crimes Bill, and Oyo State Investment Promotion bill to the House of Assembly. He provided 500,000 Naira bursary payment to Oyo State indigenes in Law School, and instructed salary payment of Oyo civil servants to be due each 25th of the month. These early actions coincided with his 100days in office. Let's look at the concept of “100days in office” in Nigeria. Don't worry, we are not going into definitions because there is nothing philosophical about governance in Nigeria. Governance is more of perchance in Nigeria, it is not philosophical, least ideological or inspiring, it works according to the whims and caprices of who is in power. 100days in office, in Nigeria, is the first 3-month period in the 4-year term of an elected official. It is a concept that is practiced by Nigerian politicians to review progress in governance in the onset. It is a time invested in boosting political ego with commissioning of projects. Even the most inept elected Local Government Chairman, Governor or President, looks for something, anything to commission and cut ribbon, at the end of third month. It doesn't matter if it is borehole. It could be a 1kilometer road, or even a staff toilet, the ribbon cutting ritual is observed with so much fanfare and media presence. Nigerian politicians in this 21st century, take pride in listing news-unworthy actions taken within the first 3months in office, in the full glare of the camera. A horde of SSAs, SAs and PAs takes it further with embarrassing press releases, and wanton celebration. If it isn't shocking to a sane mind, what else will? The humanity in the Nigerian is in coma. 


On a lighter note, Mr. Makinde has started on the right  foot. Albeit, it is too early to state his scorecard, and very detrimental to inject him with messianism, as Nigerians are wont to do, as indicators in the media and public space points. If the people truly learn from history, they shouldn't be too swift to make out a messiah in him. Past experiences are there for the taking. We've seen the crass failures and uninspiring leadership of the so-called scholar-in-governance category of the political class. Most of them are governors, ministers and whatnot. It is still recent when one of such boasted of Nigeria's target to be a pencil producer by 2019. One in Cross Rivers, pays salaries before the month ends, it doesn't affect poor public infrastructure and a suffocating economy neither does it create economic prosperity for citizens in that State. There is one in Abia State and governance is almost rocket science there. As the cacophony of praise rises, rational minds are asking; who pays for the education declared free? Has Oyo State suddenly expanded her revenue base and diversified her economy? It is not novel, seeing first term governors making certain policy decisions to either meet up part of campaign promises and building political capital. We've seen this in the recent past. Imo State under former governor Rochas Okorocha (2011-2019) and Rivers State under former governor Rotimi Amaechi (2007-2015), just to mention a few, are a quintessence. The former declared free education from Primary to Tertiary level. The latter transformed the face of Primary education in Rivers State, built new classrooms, renovated old blocks, printed and distributed new textbooks to schools (of course, without his face or Party logo on the cover page), gave free uniforms, built and stocked e-libraries for Primary school kids. The big question mark has been on viability and long term sustainability. These policies have the shortest lifespan, at best, they begin and end on or before the exit of the initiator in government. Why this unfortunate norm? It seems most of such decisions are executed based on political expediency than pragmatism. While Mr. Makinde has reeled out free education policy in Oyo State at Primary and Secondary levels, two critical questions must be considered; how sustainable on the long term? And; of what quality? Surely, quality of education matters. 


Having immense goodwill is good for elected official. But what counts is how it is spent. Mr. Makinde has opportunity to do great things for Oyo State. When the media frenzy is down, the relevant questions will remain. Until policies are given critical thought on value, viability, pragmatism and long term sustainability with a guiding blueprint, they will fizzle out quickly. Though we are yet to see the extraordinary in Mr. Makinde's policy actions so far, what seem to be interesting is the mention of a 20-year Development Plan for Oyo State. For what is worth, a proposed two decades development plan raises curiosity, what does it proposes? How pragmatic is it? What is the economic scope? What mechanism would see to its continuous execution? How is the State bureaucracy that will manage such development plan? Bureaucracy is the engine room of governance. It is why government is a continuous process. So it begs the question, how effective and efficient is the Oyo State Civil Service? Will the State Civil Service be reformed? Making an inefficient bureaucracy work in present Nigeria will take a lot of work. It will take more than reshuffling MDAs, a Financial Crimes Bill and a Due Process Office. This does not invalidates the above initiatives of the Governor, rather it merely suggests more crucial work to be done, perhaps a meticulous systemic approach based on scientific data and pragmatism. A 20-year Development Plan may be feasible, but to materialize, the foundation must be strong. Ibom Air, as seen in Akwa Ibom today was envisioned in the tenure of Obong Victor Attah, as governor, 1999-2007. Mr. Makinde talking development plan for Oyo, reveals the State is likely to have a blueprint for development, pursued throughout his administration. It is left for the citizenry to interrogate the content of such a policy document, when, and if made public, and debate its viability. Also, what strategy will be implemented to avert subsequent policy somersault, the bane of littered uncompleted and abandoned projects? 


This brings us to the question, why the deafening cacophony in the public for the ordinariness of Mr. Makinde's administrative actions? Before we attempt the above, it is pertinent to state, or perhaps refresh our conscience and consciousness to the fact that it is demeaning to hero-worhip and sing unending praises to the Governor for paying pension and gratuities to retired Civil Servants. These are old people who worked hard for the State for the better part of their lives, for 30-35years, paid taxes and pension. The State should be grateful for their services, effort, dedication and sacrifice. It is they (retirees) who should be thanked for their service and not the number one citizen of Oyo merely discharging his constitutional responsibility. The Governor is paid by the State to carry out his administrative duties. Why should he be worshipped for carrying out his duty, like it is a favour being done the retirees, than what's due them? It is sickening, witnessing the height of glorification of elected public officials in Nigeria, each time they don't renege on performing less than complicated administrative duties. It is preposterous, that paying salaries, pension and gratuities is rocket science, I hope Nigerians will soon land on the moon with that. 


It is neither surprising, hearing the howling on the Governor's gestures, seen by many as magnanimous than ordinarily administrative. It is apparent the bar of governance in Nigeria has been reduced to the lowest and most dehumanizing level, that statutory functions of government like payment of salaries, pension and gratuities is seen as a favour, and any governor who lives up to this responsibility should be appreciated. And not that it is a wage for the labour of the civil servant or retiree. This abnormality and abominable culture of praising elected officials for carrying out government functions was not this high, pre-2015. With the infusion of buhariapsychosis in the consciousness of many Nigerians, celebrating the ridiculous and trampling on the humanity of workers is an ever increasingly religiously practiced norm. Unfortunately, this mental disease seems to have infected the minds of both Buharists and non-Buharists, consciously and subconsciously. Buhariapsychosis (personal coinage) is a mental disease that induces the mind of victims in accepting failures, rationalizing it, lulling the conscience to believe regression, poverty and suffering are normal and a sort of virtue while devaluing humanity. This syndrome was injected into the consciousness of Nigerians post-2015, deeply romanticized and advanced by the national ruling Party, to the poor, middle class, educated and uneducated alike, in their sustained effort to continuously cover and justify the crass ineptitude of Buhari. The level and reach of this mental illness is alarming.


The psyche of the Nigerian, constantly subjected to abuse, assault and daily nightmare, in personal space, public space and all round the environment, the effect of bad governance staring like a mirror, as the system at best survives by injustice, cruelty, vested oil interest and a gift of generational unpatriotic bad leaders, he is subdued by the unending system failure and therefore surrenders, seeking solace only in celestial beings. This is one of the most subconscious cravings and strong inclination towards religiosity of the Nigerian. The discrete and subconscious yearning for a messiah to save his situation. The Nigerians' cravings for a messiah led to the emergence of the 2015 historic electoral monumental disaster. Many dwell on individual leader's character in hope of a messiah, when the problem is grossly systemic. Nigerians make messianic projections on any public official who seem to do a bit of his job, because failure has been in the system for too long and presently at an unprecedented level. While these mentally conflicted crowd go on hero-worshipping and howling praises, attempting to inject messianism in Mr. Makinde, it will be catastrophic should he expose his mind to such vanity.

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