Nigeria’s governance process should wake up to future challenges, writes Victor C. Ariole

…the youth have their heads clouded with worries… government should as its obligation demands provide not just jobs but basic human necessities for the people… Ozah in The Guardian

Everything about governance is mostly in the realms of strategy as those governing are meant to think of the past, today and what tomorrow holds. And, when tomorrow comes, when the youth take the baton of leadership, they reflect on the past and work towards a better tomorrow than they had seen or lived. However, when the operational performance, where the youthful zeal is based, mocks the designed strategy where the elderly occupies, those in governance ought to question their own worth. The poor operation’s component of the SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) is taking the bash of what the strategists failed to conceive and to re-position for long, so as to avoid tomorrow’s disaster, seen in the current protest. That is, hunger and conflicting self-esteem worries of both the youthful SARS’ operation segment and the Nigerian youth that want to live a better life beyond what the governance process expects, are clashing. They are both youths and either deprived or poor segments of the Nigerian society. Don’t throw out the baby and the bath water as if both are useless. That, also, was the quick “step-retracing” of a German idiom Yakubu Mohammed used as the title of his article reflecting the SARS’ protest incident. The Germans at a time lacked water and, so, for bathing process, the father was allowed to take the first bathing dive, followed by the mother, then the children in order of seniority till the last – the baby. The thinking then was that the seed producer must be protected, but the strategy had to be reversed, as of today, that water cannot be said to be lacking, and that indeed, the baby cannot be the last, as to think of throwing it away with the already dirty water.

That is, indirectly or contingently, what the global world is suffering as even USA, in many spheres, seems to be reversing its own established order. The political elite are receiving the bashing as Trump leans heavily on the youths of all divides who have lost hope in the past established order. If not for Trump’s daughter who would have imagined that human trafficking, basically youth, thousands of them in a year, go missing and never detected in the lead country of the world? That, alone, is sufficient to call humanity to order; and she is raising funds to tackle it, even when it has not led to protest as elite enjoy the trafficking.

When you translate that to Nigeria and Africa as a whole, harbouring the greatest number of youths in the whole world, you know that it is high time Nigeria’s governance process reversed its strategic plan of “greatly patriarchal bent”. Those who came out to protest against SARS’ protesters, from Borno State or Zamfara, seen on the TV said it all. Father or elite image boys; well taken care of and out of the worries of the great number of Nigerian youth.

When the father seems to know all and decides all is gone. The profiling strategy SARS adopted was anachronistic and archaic and typically feudalistic aka “dankoba”. Quoting Yakubu: “in the eyes of SARS members, it is a crime for any youthful Nigerian to drive a nice car or carry a sophisticated phone set or for a man to have dreadlock. It is worse for a boy to wear imitation ear-ring like a girl. If anyone falls into this profile, he must be a yahoo-boy indulging in cybercrime to dupe unsuspecting people”. What Nigerians did not observe when one of the children of the elite carried out a one-man suicide operation that landed him in USA prison, was also a protest against the governance process that spends a lot on him as per his father’s wealth but left greater number of almajiris suffering. To that youth, everyone in that plane is like a failed elite. His interview with his incarcerators gives that out. To him, he was protesting against immorality that makes the majority suffer in the means of plenty and did not care dying for it.

When someone refers to you as dankoba, it means you are barawo – minded. It is, also, a proof that you are an alien to his cause, either good morals or “be like him”.

I went to buy ginger at the market. The man selling arranged them at N100 per pack and I asked him to pack all for me and collect his money, about N1000, all. He retorted and called me barawo, dankoba. To him I was a thief because he does not expect me to buy all his market and allow him to go sleeping. In effect, the strategic planner he had not seen, did not tell him that the supply of ginger is elastic as long as the planner makes the production base conducive; not in the form of “cutlass and hoe” farming; antiquity.

SARS, aimed at armed robbery, ought to be antiquated and irrelevant. It is like asking the ginger seller, that forever he should remain in waiting for people to come for N100 portion only. It is also like asking SARS operation’s unit that profiling yahoo boys is the same thing as smashing armed robbery operations. In civilised world, armed robbers are picked in their homes or in their hiding places, if ever they exist; not in exchange of bullets or in an open show of muscle flexing.

If only the governance process had known that 1992 when the military was the only governance process Nigerians knew and that for over generations now – about 30 years, the world has changed and that even in some countries, armed robbery does not exist anymore, as most people do not see any reason in robbing homes or banks, as plastic currency becomes the norm. Just like farming process of yore requires a father having many children to attend to the farm, today’s farm does not need that as no fewer than one million people work towards feeding almost over 300 million people in USA. Nigeria’s governance process needs to wake up to tomorrow’s challenges.

Ariole is Professor of French and Francophone Studies,

University of Lagos