THE HIERARCHY OF NIGERIAN POLICY

In a previously published series of essays Ayo Sogunro a Nigerian lawyer and social philosopher discusses the state of Nigeria. The Resilient and Cynical Nigerian got his permission to reproduce those essays for her 2016 Maiden Edition anthology. His work can be found on ayosogunro.com

THE HIERARCHY OF NIGERIAN POLICY (Part 1)

By Ayo Sogunro

The best way to understand the class structure of Nigerian society it is to think of the country as a corporate setup. One with several levels of participation and authority in the affairs of the company. This is not just a business comparison; it is also, somewhat, a historical fact.

It is common knowledge — I think — that our country grew from the territories and ethnicities administered by the trading entity called The Royal Niger Company. This company was passed to the British Government in 1900 by the entrepreneur-explorer George Taubman Goldie, the “father of Nigeria.” Like any company based on English corporate law, Goldie’s Royal Niger Company had its shareholders, directors, and employees. And, that demarcation of interests in the business of Goldie’s company is the foundation of the structure of Nigerian society.

The original company that birthed Nigeria started business around the land areas surrounding the Niger-Benue confluence up to the Niger Delta. The territories grew into the current map after the succeeding British Government seized more territories through treaties and “pacifications”. Still, the core of British administration over the territories was based on the template originally developed by the traders (or, looters) of the Royal Niger Company.

Essentially, the British ran the amalgamated territories as a “business” and not for social development. The “Nigerians” who willingly participated in the venture became partners. Those who resisted were “pacified”. Hence, the importance of early “Nigerians” became directly proportional to the level of their participation in the British venture.

And this is how things remain to this day. The Royal Niger Company has merely morphed into the Federal Republic of Nigeria — Plc. As Claude Ake, the famed Nigerian political scientist, stated in a 1981 speech:

“As things stand now, the Nigerian State appears to intervene everywhere and to own virtually everything…. Inevitably, a desperate struggle to win control of state power ensues since this control means, for all practical purposes, being all powerful and owning everything.”

Throughout the rest of this series, I will use the corporate analogy to describe the political class structure of Nigerian society. This may seem a rough analogy, but it helps us easily identify the relationships between Nigerian citizens, the Nigerian government and the subtle segregations in the socio-legal order.

So what is Nigeria’s corporate setup? The direct answer is this: because the State owns everything, we have shareholders, directors and employees of the Nigerian Plc. The shareholders “own” the business of the State and control its revenue-generating policies. The employees service the business.

Nigeria’s directors — that is, the members of the Nigerian government — are the buffer between the shareholders and the employees. As a corporate business setup, it is natural for directors to implement the interests of the shareholders in preference to the wishes of the employees. True, the employees, because of their numbers and ability to “unionise”, may stimulate some reaction, but it is the interest of the shareholders that shapes company policy and actions.

But, you may ask, isn’t every citizen supposed to be a shareholder in a democratic polity? For example, our Constitution guarantees the right of every adult Nigerian to vote at elections, right? Yes, the right to vote implies “shareholding” but it doesn’t translate that way in practice. In reality, the right to vote at elections is diminished greatly by other legal rules that vest policymaking in “special” individuals. Their policies secure “approved” privileges for some Nigerians at the expense of millions of others.

Contribution to policy formation is the most significant right — or privilege, if you prefer — of a democratic citizen. In one sense, this participation is exercised by voting at elections to elect policymakers. But in a wider — and better — sense, it means that policymaking has to be participatory. That is, there are no “special” or “supreme” authorities, commissions, councils or other exclusive body responsible for policymaking not subject to legislative control. It means that elected policymakers should consider the opinions, interests and contribution of every citizen before reaching a policy decision. It also means that, except under supervised conditions, non-elected members of government should only executepolicy — and not be tasked with making it.

This does not mean that every citizen will necessarily contribute to policy. It only means that the mechanisms of government should ensure that the greatest number of citizens possible have access to the formation and development of policy through decentralisation, periodic elections, feedback processes, referendums, legislative fiscal oversight, participation in military and para-military activities and, importantly, uncomplicated impeachment and recall processes.

In short, the extent to which individual citizens are relevant to policymaking is a good rule of thumb in gauging the democratic level of any country.

Based on this idea, we can, therefore, classify all Nigerians according to the level of their (effective) participation in Nigerian policymaking using our corporate analogy. If we discount the fact that every adult Nigerian can vote at elections, the level of effective participation in policy control can be graded as follows, from the least significant policy influencers to the most significant:

  1. Menial workers: individually irrelevant; and collectively irrelevant
  2. Junior staff: individually irrelevant; but collectively persuasive
  3. Senior staff: individually varied; but collectively relevant
  4. Management: individually relevant; and collectively relevant
  5. Directors: individually relevant; and collectively potent
  6. Shareholders: individually relevant; and collectively transformative

These classifications constitute the Hierarchy of Nigerian Policy. The description of each class indicates its policy relevance, and not its social, economic, or numerical relevance — although these tend to be proportionate to policy relevance.

The Hierarchy of Nigerian Policy is enforced through subtle segregation in the practice and laws of Nigeria’s socio-legal order. These include the limitation on participation in economic activities for most Nigerians, and discretionary tax breaks, waivers and exemptions to “special” businesses and individuals in the country.

The phrase “National Cake” — our colloquial euphemism for legalised corruption — is not just part of our lexicon, it is a part of our reality. If you prefer, you may also call our classification in this article the Hierarchy of the National Cake. This is equally apt.

Originally published on ayosogunro.com

THE MENIAL WORKERS OF THE NIGERIAN PLC

By Ayo Sogunro

Last week, I discussed the classifications of policy participation in Nigeria. You may have identified where you fit in the system. However, if you are reading this, you are unlikely to be in the classification I have called “Menial Workers.” The Nigerians I classify as Menial Workers are the invisible machinery of our corporate political structure. They are the colloquial “masses.” These are the teeming population of uneducated, poor, and often illiterate Nigerians. Going by recent poverty rates, they are up to 70 per cent of the population. That is, about 110 million to 119 million humans.

These Nigerians include the unemployed, subsistence farmers, minute-scale market traders, domestic workers — house-help, gardeners, drivers, cleaners — factory workers, wage earners and daily labourers. These millions lack access to, sometimes primary and very often secondary and tertiary, education. They are unable to afford the full benefits of technology, social utilities, modern healthcare, and all the little comforts of modernity taken for granted by their contemporaries in other countries — and by their seniors in the Nigerian hierarchy.

Policy-wise, government considers the class of Menial Workers as irrelevant to Nigerian policy direction. Equally, Nigeria’s masses don’t understand the workings of the political system, and much less how to navigate it. And so, their political outlook is still very much ethnic, their understanding of Nigerian politics manifesting often only as a support for “our person” in government. Government itself is considered as some sort of absolute monarchy. The masses are grateful for small favours.

Menial Workers have no serious role in the shaping of Nigerian policy. They are represented by, often, absentee legislators who show up only for publicity stunts and election head counts. They are interesting to the government and the Shareholders only as population statistics for election engineering, resource allocations and international relations. For all intents and purposes, Nigeria’s Menial Workers — like the menial workers of most corporate entities — are irrelevant to the policies of the Nigerian business.

Economically, these Nigerians merely “hustle” to survive as best as they can within unsympathetic policies. Because they consider social problems as the work of spiritual agents, not government dysfunction, they are resigned to providence. Inflation, economic recession and, fluctuating currency might as well be Acts of God. They believe domestic and road accidents are witchcraft; sickness and diseases are consequences of sin; business failure is the work of enemies; and poverty is, literally, a curse. This thinking is propagated and encouraged by inefficient politicians and sycophantic religious leaders.

Economic decisions — from structural adjustment programmes to fuel subsidy debates — rarely factor Nigerian masses except as an amorphous “benefit of society” rationale. These Nigerians bear the brunt of every “developmental” policy. They can be kicked out of markets, have their shanty homes destroyed, thrown out of the lands they are squatting on, and have their goods seized by state agents without due process or compensation.

Menial Worker Nigerians are the first-line victims of the legal system. These Nigerians are hauled before courts whose workings they do not understand, to face legal processes whose understanding they lack. They are victims of unvoiced police brutality. They fill up prison cells across the country waiting for indefinite trial dates. They can be locked up on the whim of a state agent or private individual. The only rights they are capable of enforcing are rights earned by labour or contract — and sometimes not even those. They have no “friends” in high places to call on when a legal problem needs fixing.

These Nigerians have no right to life. They are often the unnamed victims of man-made and natural disasters. They are the “Thousands killed by Boko Haram,” the “Hundreds drowned in boat disaster,” the “Dozens dead in building collapse,” the “Several killed in stampede.” They are victims of oil spillages and pipeline explosions. They have no names and no memorials. Their life or death makes no difference to the country’s conscience.

The Menial Workers barter what they have in order to survive within the socio-legal order and so perpetuate the “corruption of need”. Breaking traffic laws, vandalism, noise and environmental pollution, and other seeming anti-social behaviour are often negative survival habits more than wilful mischief. This is why Menial Workers are willing to trade ephemeral “election votes” for cash, paradoxically, further reducing their policy influence. Bribes are an important factor in economic activity. Nothing is taken as a right, and everything — including life — has to be earned one way or the other.

Yet, their domestic crimes are astonishing to those who don’t understand the level of deprivations. A gardener kills his boss and steals N50,000; a bus conductor stabs a passenger over N50 change; a maid kidnaps and sells three children for a “measly” one hundred thousand naira. For higher-ranking Nigerians, the gravity of these crimes outweighs the sums involved. But these sums are significant to the Menial Workers. The value of one dollar could be the difference between a full stomach and daylong starvation.

Hence, higher ranks in the Hierarchy of Nigerian Policy easily manipulate these “lesser” Nigerians to violence and public disorder. It is from these that religious extremists, terrorists, militants, election touts, lynch mobs, petty thieves, armed robbers, cannon-fodder cultists, inter-ethnic killers and other sociopathic groups are recruited.

And so, what have we learnt from all these? A lot has been written about the Nigerian poor — but few policies have reduced their numbers. Some of them may struggle to educate their children and break the yoke of public irrelevance. But most will hope for some “divine intervention” and the goodwill of more privileged relatives. At best, they will continue to be the beneficiaries of legal aid, poverty-alleviation and community development efforts by non-profit organisations. At worst, trade and labour unions — dominated by unscrupulous stooges of government and the upper classes — will keep pretending to represent them.

As a collective, nothing has changed for the Nigerian masses, and nothing will change so long as our patronage political system is in place. Until the masses can participate effectively in policymaking — as I discussed in Part 1 — millions of Nigerians will never rise above the Menial Worker level of socio-economic deprivation.

Originally published on ayosogunro.com

THE JUNIOR STAFF OF THE NIGERIAN CORPORATION

By Ayo Sogunro

This is the third article in a series dealing with what an issue I have termed the “Hierarchy of Nigerian Policy”, an examination of the parallels between the structure of corporations and participation in Nigerian policymaking. Last week, I discussed the individually and collectively irrelevant Nigerians when it comes to policymaking: the masses or, to use the corresponding terminology from our corporate analogy, “Menial Workers”. Now, we turn to the individually irrelevant, but collectively persuasive set of Nigerians, the “Junior Staff”.

The Junior Staff of the Nigerian corporation are, strictly, the ordinary Nigerians. They are ordinary in the sense that they are not particularly deprived (as the majority are) nor are they specially privileged. They constitute are a major percentage of the educated class, but they are still a minority of the total population. But these Nigerians are quite “visible”. They are the ones seen and heard through social and traditional media. Their visibility, consequently, makes them the international representation of the Nigerian identity. And so, members of the Junior Staff tend to conflate their identity with that of the common Nigerian.

This category of Nigerians is mostly composed of the secondary to tertiary educated, fairly knowledgeable, low to middle-income, and usually salaried, Nigerians. These Nigerians form the core of the civil service bureaucracy. It comprises social workers in health and allied sectors; the “white-collar” workers in small and medium scale enterprises; the entrance to mid-level “professional” workers; as well as the majority of aging, retired and pensioned professionals.

Unlike the, up to 70 per cent overall, deprived members of the population, the Junior Staff have generic access to the benefits provided under commercial, health, immigration, pension, taxation, banking and capital market laws and policies. These Nigerians have the education and income level often required to take advantage of the benefits and protections in laws and policies.

Because of the benefits they derived from the political system — and the risk of these benefits diminishing — Junior Staff Nigerians pay attention to government policy and its consequences, even if only as a passing topic. They are on television and radio to critique policy; they share information and opinion on social media, at salons, offices, and bars. Some write blog articles — or run newspaper columns — to disseminate their latest opinion.

As a collective, the Junior Staff operate the functional aspects of the Nigerian political economy. They hold the keys to the revenue generation machinery of government and, if necessary, they can shutdown government business through strike actions. Their presence in the media, their participation in professional bodies, civil societies and pressure groups makes them collectively persuasive. They are, therefore, problematic to policymakers when they are in unity.

The Aggressors: The more dissatisfied members of the Junior Staff would often rally other Nigerians in the guise of student union leaders, youth leaders, social crusaders, human rights activists and other “troublemakers” and “rabble-rousers”. These ones eagerly lead or organise protests, write scathing articles, produce rebellious music, art or literature, promote antagonistic NGOs and civil society organisations. The more cynical ones simply withdraw from socio-political interaction in acknowledgement of their inability to defeat the machinations of the political system.

The Apathetic: Less dissatisfied members of the Junior Staff are not so interested in upsetting the Nigerian political system. They simply want to carve a good existence within the allowances of the political system and lead satisfactory private lives. Some of them may even promote NGOs and projects that cooperate with or complement government policy. Still, they are more concerned with their private comfort, taking inspiration from the utilities available to the middle-class in developed countries: generators to replace public electricity, boreholes for water supply, sport utility vehicles for bad roads and shoddy mass transit, private guards for security, and luxury estates to insulate themselves from the symptoms of system dysfunction. These set of Junior Staff acknowledge that the Nigerian political system is dysfunctional, but they also think it is unassailable. For them, the prudent course is to get on with the programme, or otherwise risk the private comforts they have managed to attain.

The Opportunists: The most ambitious members of the Junior Staff are happy with the political system so long as they have personal opportunities to participate in its processes. These ones can see the prospect for advancement through the Hierarchy of Nigerian Policy and they exploit it. They understand that, to get up in the Nigerian political system, a person has to be smart, hardworking and possess an infinite capacity for self-abasement. These are the educated bootlickers and bottom-kissers. For them, there is nothing wrong with the political system; there can only be something wrong with the people who control it.

Of course, these are not sharply divided or mutually exclusive lines. People change their attitudes to the political system over time, or even exhibit different views simultaneously. However, needless to say, (other than the emergence of the educated elite in the 1920s to the 1960s when participation in Nigerian policy was more amorphous) the Junior Staff have not successfully penetrated the policy making process. This is not just because the autocratic aspects of the political system has a solid socio-legal base, but also because not every member of the Junior Staff is dissatisfied with the political system. Some simply want a higher level of personal participation as appointees of government (the “Management” — if we are to continue our corporate analogy) or elected members of government (the “Directors”).

Hence, participation in policymaking — the most significant right in a democracy — continues to elude most Nigerians. The Junior Staff — the direct bridge between the underprivileged masses and the privileged elite — are often more concerned with their own advancement than with the empowerment of the majority. Nigerians in the Junior Staff category prefer to safeguard their comforts through loyalty to, and affiliations with, the political class.

This is how things stand today. The Junior Staff of the “Federal Republic of Nigeria Plc” are too easily dismissed, impressed, “settled” or intimidated by an official show of strength. When a collective of Junior Staff, whether as a virtual group on social media or in reality, is infiltrated by government influence, the individual members revert to their original irrelevance: and the collective persuasion over policymaking is lost.

Originally published on ayosogunro.com

ON NIGERIA’S INFLUENCERS AND MANAGERS

By Ayo Sogunro

In a democracy, every citizen participates in policymaking through decentralised systems, periodic elections, feedback processes, referendums, legislative fiscal oversight and, importantly, uncomplicated impeachment and recall processes. But, as our continuing discussion on the Hierarchy of Nigerian Policy shows, the Nigerian policymaking template is more analogous to a business corporation than to a democratic entity.

Today, we discuss the Senior Staff of the Nigerian Plc: those Nigerians who, by luck or determination, have become individually relevant to the policymaking process. They are societal leaders or “influencers”. They include entertainment and sports celebrities, super-professionals, accomplished religious leaders, high-ranking civil servants, top CEOs and the high-end income earners of most industries. But these people don’t participate in policymaking. They merely act as a socio-cultural crowd control for less-privileged Nigerians.

In fact, members of this category will often steer clear of divisive policy issues: their economic status being too valuable to risk by incurring official disfavour. For, although they seem influential, they are in fact very powerless against the political system. Senior Staff Nigerians are also liable to have their businesses ruined by deliberate government action or policy if they step way out of line.

The less satisfied — or more conscientious — members of the Senior Staff tend to self-exile and build their influence from outside the country. Or, they may craft ways of earning income outside the patronage system — a very difficult objective in Nigeria. Still, some seemingly rebellious Senior Staff may simply be waiting for a favourable opportunity to step into positions in the political system.

In any case, economic independence enables dissatisfied Senior Staff to “make noise” without risking a loss of livelihood or reputation. They may become the international face of social movements, advocacy campaigns, and constitutional change. But, so far, the political system has firmly fixed the extent of their relevance to Nigerian policymaking.

The rest of the Senior Staff tend to be silent during periods of mass disquiet, hibernating until the political climate is settled. They are, therefore, the friends of “any government in power”. They are the ones who pay for media adverts congratulating public officials and the system’s Shareholders; the ones who publicly praise the latest policy direction of government. And, as a reward for their loyalty to the political system, they attract political patronage and enjoy the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

As with most corporations, the members of Nigeria’s Management (that is, the unelected members of government) are recruited, almost exclusively, from members of the Senior Staff who have proved their loyalty to the political system — and to a class of its Shareholders — over time.

Nigeria’s Management includes the federal ministers, the state commissioners and all the “special advisers”. It encompasses the heads of policymaking or policy-enforcing ministries, departments, agencies and the hundreds of other statutory commissions and councils. The infamous “Oga at the top” interview aptly captures how policymaking differentiates Senior Staff from Management. The Oga can solely determine policy, sometimes in so arbitrary a manner that those at lower levels have to hesitate before speaking.

And so, as a legacy of colonial and military rule, being a part of Management is the first entry into policy participation as a Nigerian. Members of Management have both collective and individual capacity to determine policy, although to a limited, and often temporary, extent.

Because, like a company, their authority is derived from the Directors above — and not the people below — it is unsurprising that Nigeria’s Management has little concern for the Menial Workers, or even the Junior Staff. Managers are inclined to treat the underprivileged and ordinary Nigerians with contempt, sweeping them out of the way like common dirt. The Managers do not consider themselves as public servants, but as public masters — blessed with legal power by the graces of the country’s Directors and the Shareholders.

Corporate culture suggests that staff would reflect the values of the directors. This is true of the Nigerian corporation. Members of Management emulate the character of their appointing CEO. A nonchalant CEO will result in an inefficient and corrupt management. A no-nonsense CEO will stimulate Management into efficient action. And so, because the political system is designed to reflect the will of the Directors (and the Shareholders), there is often no institutional process in Management, just the current personality of the policymaker.

Of course, a managerial position is also a precarious one. It excludes the public official from the non-committal safety of the Senior Staff, and requires a commitment to a particular class of Directors and Shareholders. In case of a system refresh, only the skilfully loyal Managers that bounce back to power.

The danger of being thought disloyal means that Nigeria’s public officials tend to play safe. Innovation can be a dangerous sign of political ambition. And so, unless the President expressly gives an order, the people that constitute Nigeria’s Management prefer not to upset an existing protocol. There is, therefore, an abundance of insipid, public officials who lack the will or inclination to effect a necessary change to an aspect of the political system. Most members of Management prefer to lubricate the existing political templates and fade back into Senior Staff passivity when out of office.

True, there have been some really “great” Nigerian Managers, but even these cannot guarantee lasting change to the political system. No sooner are they gone than a less rebellious character replaces them and, deliberately or inadvertently, resets the template to “normal”.

And there lies the lesson for us, members of the lower ranks in the Nigerian Hierarchy. We have to look beyond the appointees to public office and examine the nature of the political system if we want change. Nigeria’s Management have been, and will continue to be, unable to develop the country principally because we operate a patronage political system. In the final analysis, public officials do not serve the people through institutionalised and participatory processes. They are, instead, merely glorified employees of the Directors and Shareholders of the Nigerian corporation.

Originally published on ayosogunro.com

THE NIGERIAN SHAREHOLDING ARRANGEMENT

By Ayo Sogunro

The Nigerians I compare to corporate Directors in our continuing discussion on the Hierarchy of Nigerian Policy are the elected members of government. These are federal legislators, governors and deputies, the vice-president and, of course, the president. These “Directors” can make policy and appoint sub-policymakers without consultation with, or input by the Nigerian masses.

The president is the most influential individual policymaker. The president can independently form policy and execute it, even if unpopular. The president can unilaterally deploy the army (against requisite legislative approval) to back his policy. The presidency can lock the premises of the National Assembly, or withdraw police protection from principal members of government without any real consequence. All these are possible because our socio-legal order has been constructed to make nearly everyone answerable to the president. The only Nigerians who can pressure the president — sometimes constitutionally — are the people I call “Shareholders”.

Some Directors are also Shareholders. But most Directors represent the interests of sponsoring Shareholders. In any case, the template of government works independently of the wishes or agitations of the Nigerian masses. For example, while citizens can theoretically recall or impeach their representatives, the process is as unrealistic — in practice and design — as employees of a Nigerian corporate entity voting out a director.

From our origin as the Royal Niger Company to date, the main objective of Nigeria’s Directors has been to sustain the business of the Nigerian corporation. This means ensuring the continuous flow of revenue into the coffers of government — and licensed private pockets. The composition, style and powers of the Directors are not as important as their willingness to perpetuate the political system. Thus, a change of Directors does not affect the basic political ideology. For example, military and colonial rulers enacted most of Nigeria’s laws, yet these laws are implemented in today’s seeming democracy without much difficulty. The political philosophy is consistent despite changes in the style of Directors.

The only Nigerians who benefit from this consistency are those who own shares in the country’s business. Richard L. Sklar, a political scientist, termed them “the Political Class”. This is not because they are politicians — many of them are not — but because their social and economic dominance is derived from their positive relationship with political power, rather than from any productive capacity. Nigeria’s Shareholders not only control policy through opaque and unsupervised “executive” bodies entrenched into the Constitution, but these individuals and their businesses also derive exclusive benefits from the socio-legal order. These include tax breaks, policy waivers, and exemptions from laws at the sole discretion of a minister, governor or president.

Who are these Nigerian Shareholders?

The first Shareholders were the British but we can safely rule them out of the current business. The current Shareholders are, logically, the individuals and families who inherited the business from the British. They are the Nigerians who — as individuals or families — can claim special privileges as policymakers and policy influencers under the various economic, political, social templates in the political system through the subtle segregations embedded into our socio-legal order.

In the next paragraphs, I identify four categories of shareholding since 1900 (the year George Taubman Goldie transferred the territories “owned” by the Royal Niger Company to the British Government). These categories overlap in their relationships, and have varying degrees of influence on policymaking.

One: Traditional Rulers. The paramount traditional stools and titles were the first partners with the British in the Nigerian project. In the early days of the Royal Niger Company, titleholders were forced or cajoled into cooperating with British commercial interests. Today, through land use polices and various Chieftaincy Laws, their relevance to policymaking is assured. Their children and families are privileged, and only in rare instances are they subjected to notions of democratic process.

Two: The Nationalists. The so-called “Nationalists” — and their direct descendants — constitute the second stage of participation in Nigerian shareholding. These were the immediate beneficiaries of British education and training. They successfully agitated for shared policymaking powers with the British, but only few of them tried to extend this power to less privileged Nigerians. The Nationalists were also the first industrialists. They quickly controlled factors of production and gained shares in the economy through their access to government. Today, their direct family members and protégées are still effective Shareholders in the Nigerian business.

Three: The Military Politicians. The Military hegemony is the third entry point into Nigeria’s shareholding. From 1966 to date, the military brass (whether bestowed by rank or grabbed by coup) has been fully involved in Nigeria’s policymaking. Like the Nationalists, members of the Military hegemony have ingrained their influence into the socio-economic templates. They own universities, oil blocks, agricultural businesses, and sit on the boards of several commercial enterprises. We owe the continued existence of the Nigerian business today to the corporate unity enforced by the Military hegemony.

Four: The Pseudo-Democrats. These are the main policymakers in the current stage of our Shareholding evolution. They are the Nigerians who inherited power from the Military, both in 1979 and 1999. The bulk of these Shareholders are a mix of the family members of traditional rulers, the Nationalists, and the Military Hegemony. “Outsiders” are admitted into this level of policymaking through the screening mechanism of political parties. Considering that the political class controls almost all economic sectors in Nigeria, it is difficult for any political party to gain the resources required for power without the participation of major Shareholders.

Thus, the only way to get into public office in Nigeria today is to go through a process under the control of existing Shareholders. Nigeria has a political template structured to prevent those desirous of dismantling the existing political system from acquiring the legal means of achieving this. There are no spaces for structural reform.

Unfortunately, the evolution of public opinion on Nigerian politics and government has focused more on the abilities or integrity of each passing set of Directors and Management, rather than on the exclusionary political system.

Today, we the ordinary Nigerians — encouraged by agents of the political class — are in the ridiculous position of employees arguing over which director is the best; or which shareholder is least corrupt. We are mostly oblivious to the fact that we are incapacitated in our own political system: our opinion is irrelevant; and we have no voice in policymaking. This will not change until we dismantle the Hierarchy of Nigerian Policy and fashion a democracy where every willing citizen can participate in policy formation without the shadow of patronage.

DISCLAIMER: This piece represents the views of the author and the author only. The Resilient and Cynical Nigeria gives creators the right to do whatever they want on its space but mandates that they and them alone be responsible for the consequences of their expressions.

Originally published on ayosogunro.com

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