“So if we’re going to be serious about race going forward, we need to uphold laws against discrimination — in hiring, and in housing, and in education, and in the criminal justice system. That is what our Constitution and our highest ideals require.”–Obama
In Nigeria our discrimination is always in favour of lower standards. I really look forward to a national federal character strategy that invest disproportionately more in areas where we show weakness, like education in the north with an objective of catching up with the high standards required for national development rather than reducing national standard effectively for the weak to qualify while remaining in their weakness. That is discriminating in favour of lower standards. We need to pursue real performance through our policies not mediocrity inadvertently.
Performance also discriminates and leaves a feeling of being left out. However any form of discrimination not hinged on performance and productive output is destructive to our national aspiration as it celebrates underperformance over performance and removes the incentive to excel from our people. Unfortunately our performance measurement mechanism is mainly not operational. What is the performance expectation for example of the police force and who sets their targets? It is for this reason EFCC goes to court against Adeniyi Ademola with 18 charges and achieves a no case judgement on all 18 without consequence. We spend most of our time on the media to persuade the public of people’s criminality without preparing diligently for our cases. If the only way to prove criminality by our constitution were by the courts, why would we choose media as our channel for justice instead? I believe it is because we as a people are not focused on real performance.
The question is, did we go through all that drama for nothing? Are we only good for media blitz? We seem to have a culture of non-performance. When performance is so bad we blame it on corruption even though in reality it is incompetence on the part of those responsible. How do you explain monumental failure like this except to say someone has been bribed, confusing incompetence for corruption? It is now very possible for your child to come home after failing an exam monumentally in school, and claim that it is because he or she did not bribe the teachers in kind or cash and it sounds believable. Students still pass with first class results without corruption.
The truth is that nothing gets done without measurement and accountability. Competence is required to fight corruption or to win at anything; it is the absence of competence in the fight against corruption that makes corruption seem invincible. What do we really expect in terms of corruption targets from the police force or EFCC? If it is not dimensioned, then how do we judge the agencies of government as performing or not? We must have a way of measuring performance everywhere so we can evaluate our progress as a nation and discriminate fairly while crafting social solutions that take care of those falling behind. This is true of all aspects of our national life; the Civil service, the ministries, the regulatory agencies, the courts, the hospitals etc. focusing on rhetoric is unhelpful. Discriminating on the basis of tribe, religion, state of origin, gender, which is currently our culture is unconnected with performance and capability, is unjust, unfair and therefore injurious to national development.
“But if our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction — Atticus Finch — who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”–Obama
Do “they” have a point of view “we” should consider? Fears that are real, insecurities that torment? “We” are not the only owners of Nigeria “they” own Nigeria equally as well. Who are “they” and who are “we”? No matter what, every one has views worth thinking about and “they” belong to “us” while “we” belong to “them”.
We are a nation made up of citizens when we drive “we” versus “them” agenda, we already cannibalise our strength. If something is criminal let’s call it so. The constitution does not acknowledge criminality defined by tribe, religion or geography.
“…that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness. When they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment but the equal treatment that our founders promised.”–Obama
We all have needs no matter how advantaged we are or appear or even how disadvantaged we are. The level of our satisfaction or their dissatisfaction is measured by how much our expectation has been met or unmet even if we are advantaged. We are all citizens; listening both to “us” and to “them” is right and reasonable.
There is something wrong when the people from Benue protest about herdsmen, or herdsmen protest about cattle rustlers. When those from the Niger Delta complain about the lack of development in their communities and the pollution of their environment, they need to be heard carefully and understood. The Igbos have been historically intelligent people. When they come out and agitate for a form of independence, we should seek to understand what they mean and not assume their agitation is the ranting of ignorance. Being dominant should not belittle the rights or aspiration of the minority. People should be happy to be part of the federation not forced. People should see the benefit they derive from being part of the federation. When people demand for sectional interest instead of national interests, it is because they don’t see Nigeria as home. There are certain citizens’ rights that are removed from you when you transverse geography beyond the land of your fathers, your state of origin. This thinking makes immigrants of citizens in their own country while in locations different from their hometown. This cannot be okay.
We generally need to listen to each other and give deep thoughts to equity and fairness. We cannot use the arrogance of our advantaged position to disregard the ideas of disadvantaged citizens. Everyone has a place of his disadvantage irrespective of your state of origin. Lets not conquer each other in the areas of our strength lets cooperate instead.