To a Very Good Man

Source: ekitistate.gov.ng

Source: ekitistate.gov.ng

A basic tenet of a healthy democracy is open dialogue and transparency – Peter Fenn, a Democractic Party strategist

I don’t personally write tributes for serving public officers lest I cross the line when I begin to praise a public officer for doing his/her job, like adulating a postman for handling letters. My recent profession of leading a professional organization does not allow me to do such with so much emphasis. Folks are quick to confuse my personal thoughts and opinion with the non-partisan stance of BudgIT . I had to do disclaimers in certain times. However, I have to do this for John Kayode Fayemi, for the sake of posterity.

I will not whine that tonight is the final curtain of his recent span in governance and the Ekiti people spoke so loudly to reject him in the June 2014 elections. Today, I read Ekiti State half-year financial reports (ending June 2014) in Guardian Newspapers and it left me with giant thoughts about what true leadership is all about.

A leader feels the pulse of the people but his critical role is to also damn the inconvenient and show the glorious way. Truly, he had a weak feedback from those that surrounded him. Possibly, he would have made certain adjustments but I will allow you to think about that in Akin Oyebode’s takeaway.

When Obafemi Awolowo was imposing tax of One Pound on Western Region to fund free education, it was not easy task. Generations have come to cast the ICON in gold for this priceless initiative that gave the West a huge headstart.A leader must lead and most times it ties into building aspiration rather than regressing to the mean.

In these days, dividends of democracy, is tied to roads, schools and hospitals. We quickly forget that this democratic experiment has done nothing closer in terms of infrastructure to Third Mainland Bridge. So, if it is about roads, bridges, hospitals and schools, why not bring the military back? Has any state government matched the feat of the Awolowo/Akintola regime that built Cocoa House?

John Kayode Fayemi was aspirational and that probably his crime. He gave his people a chance to ask questions by signing off legislations in the tyrant in Nigerian leaders won’t allow. I will not talk of Ikogosi Springs, 300-bed hospital nor the Ifaki-Ado Ekiti road. I will pay my respect to him for imbibing the right values of a transparent leadership. Ekiti allowed his financial books to be published online, its budgets were available to the citizens in the simplest detail and the entire contract records were available upon request.Infact, having seen over 25 state budgets, I can conviniently say that Ekiti State budget leads the pack.

Ekiti applied e-tax system, an approach not easy for the middlemen who siphon the state dry. He was there priming the state for tourism, re-working procurement laws, passing the Equal Opportunities Act to fill up the gender gap, legalizing payouts for the elderly and so on.

Imagine how hard it is taking citizens to ask Lagos State to provide information on how public resources are spent? That was what John Kayode Fayemi’s leadership did in easy swoop and that’s what democracy is all about. It might not affect what how Ekiti people decided but that is what leaders do. I do not say that Ekiti State Government of John Fayemi closing down tonight smells of roses but for taking the bold above steps, he gave us an opportunity to ask questions – the reason why we will mostly agree that this democracy is worth more than the tyranny of the khaki boys.

Whatever the imperfections of JKF, he gave the citizens and the civil society a chance to tear down the thick curtain most State Governors wrap around public finance. I did not expect less from someone who came from civil society – a core pillar in a democracy that points the society to the ideal. History will be kind to him for that. I wish him and the Ekiti people the best on the road ahead.

Give It Another Throw

 

Risk is what is left when you think you’ve thought of everything – Wesley Vaughan, Wutang Finance 

Recently, BudgIT failed to win the Civicus Award for Innovation and it felt like an issue that ticked off my mind quickly. Certainly, one will ask why will I just move on so fast when the BudgIT team invested time and energy to ensure that people voted? Why will it be hard to get us to win with over 15,000 followers while I also used my Facebook page on my birthday to harness votes? It feels like a setback. It can’t be.

Seriously, you might heard about Omidyar Network investing $400,000 into BudgIT. That’s part of the story. This is an example of the few pieces that strike the bulls’ eye. A lot of arrows stay outside the target but we can’t stop striking the next throw. Many times I have failed to convert opportunity, applied for grants got no response and sometimes I have cried why did this not just happen to us. An example was when I went to Tanzania to apply for the ANIC grant and after a good time in breezy Zanzibar, pitching hard and finding new partners, we did not win the grant. I have spent nights being hopeful, throwing punches in the air, ran the arithmetic in my head but only to get “we are sorry email”. I remembered how Seye (my younger brother) and I longed for the ANIC grant but watched the list of winners that excluded BudgIT.

I have tried to get support from the following and it has not worked yet – UK High Commission, Tutu Fellowship, Aspen New Voices, Echoing Green Fellowship, Making All Voices Count, Harvard Executive Education, Hivos, USAID Project, Huford Fellowship, App4Africa and many more if I take a proper look at my chain of emails.

 So if we despair at every turn, how are we going to ever hit the mark? We just have to keep striking and keep hoping that we will hit the mark with every strike at the bull’s eye. Gradually, I see a trend that we can keep a small circle of clients/partners .I have seen that in our work with Open Society for West Africa that has supported us thrice, MacArthur Foundation that we are working hard to impress and DFID-FEPAR project currently funding us for the second time.

Here is what I learn. Make the small circle of clients extremely happy and keep striking at other potential partners till you find them. When you find them, be stunning and provide them immense value and make sure they are always delighted to come back.

 There is no reason to despair, being rejected is part of the journey. Likewise, being hopeful is part of the race. When you have thought of everything, maybe why it has never worked or won’t work, give it another try. Risk it. Risk is what is left to proceed from fear to ‘greed’.

29

 

“Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Luke 22:42

Earlier on in life, I quietly noticed that my younger brother Seye was growing taller than me. Why will he be taller? Am I eating less? Will he feel like a boss to me now? When we serve food, I made sure the rations had clear difference, just to emphasize that I am almost two years older. I was worried he was growing too fast. He finally grew taller than me, I stopped to worry.

I take a deep pause into the length of life and count my worries. Then, I will trash them and list my blessings. Will I get a job after school? Can I sleep after seeing a dead body? Later, I had to hug my Dad’s cold body after life left him.

Am I that smart despite not being promoted three years in First Bank? Will a lady ever love me when all my advances to the posh girls of FUNAAB were rejected? Why am I this black, like the ‘unrepentant’ soot of village pot? Why is our surname not “Smith” or “Akande”? Why is it “Onigbinde” loosely interpreted as “arrival of a snail seller”? Why do I write with the left hand? I just hate being taunted as “leftie” with low manners. Later in life, to see Barack, Fashola and Clinton write with left, I exchanged my worries.

Will this startup thing ever make sense? Are we not hiring too fast? Will this startup be fine? Was our last client happy? When will I get married and have a family? Does she love me or is it the glitter that she adores? Am I workaholic or just hardworking? What if I am offered a political appointment, will I take it? What if someone disrupts this idea, what will I do? What if the military takes over and the budget is a state secret? What if donors are shut out of Nigeria?

Worries exchange themselves quietly and as we age on, a little more is added silently and more disappear on the vertical. In essence, the tick of life is between the list of worries and guts for the glory ahead. As people of faith, we are meant to silence them and take the bold move.

 As a person still in search of epiphanies in a stretch of radical revelation, I have come to race ahead of self-doubt and put faith on my breastplate. I just want take a new checklist of my worries and ask why am I not taking action in the direction of faith? Quietly with clarity, I can giggle and watch my these worries crumble.

 I accept new ones and find the inner will and divine stretch to press on for a new mark. I count my blessings in the last one year and I give God all the glory. It’s being a marvelous increment and I have few mind-blowing goals to smash before 30.

 A special shout out to my family, it is still a sober time after our patriarch left this world in May. I have learnt new lessons. Most importantly, being a better listener, trying hard to feel the gaps of loneliness, of memory and uncorked expression of my grieving Mum. I will keep being a better person to everyone most especially to my family. I owe that to God, myself and you. 

28th Birthday Note

These Ones Also Have Daughters.

Source: @ogundamisi

Source: @ogundamisi

I went to Sun Newspapers last week in company of fellow citizens touched by the plight of missing Chibok girls. At the entrance, I saw two middle aged men bring a press release with the title “Contest or Go To Exile“. This is a threat to the President to ensure that he puts his name on the 2015 ballot.

How thankful should we be that our portion is not of those who are perpetually ‘youths’ even at 40 and are sweating in sun pressuring a candidate to run? I mean I will be 29 in the next few days and I am not into that fold of those who come with this beggarly attitude of waiting for the ‘transport fare’ of the politician. From NANS endorsing the President as Grand Commander of Students and to mothers screaming #BringBackJonathan2015, it is clear that we have a different kind of people in this space.

Just imagine that over 8,000 groups are rooting for the re-election of President Jonathan and also the Transformation Agenda of Nigeria have collected 1.6m signatures to convince the President to contest for 2015 polls. When you look at this demography, it is plain that they are mostly youths. These are young people, the present and our tomorrow. This is the new business in town as Stella Oduah was well rewarded after the Neighbour-to-Neighbour campaign. Ifeanyi Ubah is on the same path with TAN. Who knows if its an oil mining licence, ministerial appointment or chairmanship of a board? He will get something back from the public trough, the people pays for this.

 Peer at critical mass that vote in elections and you can see them in National jerseys branded with TAN lighting up the stadium like a crusade. For a N5,000 payout, they won’t mind standing in the sun.

Source: Paradigm Newspapers NG

Source: Paradigm Newspapers NG

 This is the new bane of our democracy – an unsophisticated electorate. We have electorate not pushing issue-based agenda but interested in the ethnic dynamics that a thieving elites has propounded. We have mothers who are not interested in asking questions about missing 219 girls but with double wrappers sit out and make mockery of a hashtag at the same venue where citizens demand for government to stand up to its responsibility. It comes with my recurring question. What is the value construct of most Nigerians?

A Tweet by @elnathan showing priorities of Nigerians

A Tweet by @elnathan showing priorities of Nigerians

 

With a country ridden with poverty, it is so easy to gather people into a square and put a price tag on them. These are the issues that make transparency and accountability difficult in this space. Everytime you raise a voice, an unschooled electorate thinks you are of the opposition. They feel you are waiting for your turn to ‘eat’ despite you not being hungry.

That’s why politicians find it easy to bring a sense of servitude to unschooled electorate. They are only responding to the demand factors that reeks of a cheap electorate. In the mind of a politician, this is what are I hear:

“Let those who gave us power, now worship us. We give them crumbs and ask them to chant our names. Lets break their voices to ask questions because they want to be like us”

The day we have our critical mass getting it that the elected official is a Public Servant, I mean every word SERVANT. That an elected official is hired to manage public resources and derives his legitimacy from the people, then we have changed the narrative. But will poverty, ethnicity and a perverse sense of dignity allow us? Those are the  key factors that discount our progress. We can’t afford to dry our tears.

Source: cnn.com

Source: cnn.com

Sweetie, Lets Relive Europe

RobertDoisneausailorphoto
Where do we start this journey? If we start from the ages, where everything was without form, we realize that we are placeholders in the long span of this terminal universe. If we truly have to begin, to see Europe, in the previous length of 200 years, we should start from Greece, the cradle of Western Enlightenment, where democracy was carved out. We should see the ruins of Athens and how vulgarity paled her into the present, holding on to life support of Germany.

We should transit to see Berlin and hear marching sounds of the Prussia and behold the horrific remnant images of the holocaust, the ruins of the World Wars and also the crumbling pieces of the Iron Curtain. We should have that kiss, the new kiss of freedom seen around the world.

In Vienna, we relieve the antique of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now cut in chunk of states deciding their destinies. We should not forget Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo of Serbia, the villain who sparked the war by assassinating Archduke Ferdinand. We should stand where he stood and marvel how the rolls of the tanks roared after those shots.

 We should go France – Paris and Normandy –  and see Le Louvre, Eiffel Tower and its signature of its classic past. At Normandy, we should peer at the brave soldiers who smoked their blood in the hail of gunfire. We should kiss their tombs and listen to their chuckles dipped in freedom.

We should go the Poland to see the horrors of Auschwitz and how the beast in man raged so loudly. We should gaze at Constantinople of the Ottoman Empire and its reign that reached the Mediterranean Sea. Dearie, we will take sights on Brussels right from the footprint of King Leopold to the administrative center of ailing Europe. We should never forget the beast of the East and leap to St Petersburg and relive the October Revolution – how the Lenin rolled the tanks in Winter.

 We should fly to Moscow, sober at the fiefdom of Stalin, behold the paragon of modern belligerence and adore the Red Square from where Yeltsin winked at the rolling tanks.

We should see good old shopkeeping London, and ask how this island once controlled two-thirds of the earth. Lets find the steamy coal plants of Newcastle, the cotton-loading ports of Liverpool, the royal palaces of WestMinster shining across Thames and the abiding legacy of Rothschilds. Lets ask the cyclists of Amsterdam how the ancient finance left their floors to the glassy walls of the Swiss.

 We have seen everything but we have not seen Europe. What’s being in Europe without seeing Rome, Milan, Turin, Florence and Venice. We have not seen the obscene creativity that litter the streets of Rome and the enduring magnificence of Michaengelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. We should not miss Barcelona, we have something to learn from the Catalans and their forlorn dream of separation.

It is time to go home dearie, back to Africa, but we should feel some breeze and where else if it’s not in the playground of the rich – Monaco.

Maybe down the road, this our sojourn is an opening chapter of a book to come.

First Term Governors: 4 Things to Note

RaufThis post is part of an interrogation from within and views are subject to change with a superior argument. Actually, it is not linked to my firm principles but only a conversation with current reality. 

Recently, I have been ruminating on what kind of leadership thrives here. I am still thinking about it and I assume only a mix of populist and visionary leadership can actually work.   Nigerian voters are not that sophisticated to stay on policy issues and if politician arrives with a grand plan typical of one bred in the West, it will be shocking that nothing will be achieved. A politician has 2.5 years to work. The first six months to settle down and the last one year to prepare for another election.

Here are some of my recent thoughts though with frail conviction on how to be Governor that wins the second term in Nigeria. The only person I think may disrupt this formula is Governor Ibikunle Amosun who applies reverse approach that will ‘bully’ voters to vote him in 2015. He has made a ‘wreck’ of the state in pulling down structures and at that grand scale, I doubt if the electorate will take chances to replace him. Here are quick four steps:

1. Forget FAAC, Go & borrow: The reality is that if you are not in Lagos, Kano nor in the Niger Delta with a bucket of derivation funds, you will hardly impress anyone in four years. There are salaries, pensions, government overheads, existing debt service payments to be paid and when a Governor makes all that payments, you might have less that N500m left. Grand scale thinking on improving IGR is a medium term approach and don’t forget that you have just 2.5 years to rule. So find quality projects that can dazzle the public – roads, schools, hospitals – and borrow against it. No one remembers that Aregbesola in three years raised N11.4bn bonds to build model schools nor Jonathan regime has doubled national debt using borrowed funds to refurbish airports, Abuja-Kaduna rail, raise counterpart funding Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and 2nd Niger Bridge. They will sing your praises, you are really performing. The data is obscure to most people. Oyo State has been planning N30bn bond for two years, looks like they wont wake up.

2. Let the people ‘eat’: Don’t be too elitist and remember that N10,000 monthly wage has a cascade effect on the society. Look at Aregbesola, he was ‘A’ at his populism game which is not a bad tag, he is only responding to his environment. He did OYES, set up a mass sewing school that employs at least 3,000 people, gave free school uniform and free daily meal to pupils. Mimiko has used the Abiye programme to endear himself to the Ondo people. PDP also in that mode has SURE-P alerts for the most vulnerable and agric subsidies for the farmers. It’s nice that you are building roads, schools, hospitals but the self-interest in quantitative terms that people can latch on or aspire to also matters.

 3. Beware of Civil Servants: The context matters but don’t play with civil servants especially if they are a power bloc in a state. In most societies they are the enlightened few and grassroots seek aspiration with them. If a politician wants to reform the civil service, wait till the next term. If there are bad old teachers, send them on a training to improve them but have tighter controls on the new recruits. Small raises such a leave bonus, 13th month, have workers’ solidarity rallies, you need them on your side.

4. Religion & Traditional Institutions: Never tamper with these institutions, it raises a whole of emotions. Don’t touch traditional rotation structure nor come close to being labeled an extremist on the divide. Dont descreate religious institutions, remember Ohakim. It could be the single reason why a politician is going down.

 In all, be a noisemaker. Make sure everything you do is amplified and your party members don’t stop singing your praises. Make sure you consider your perception at all time because half-truths become the reality. Don’t listen only to those you employed as your assistants so often, soar and hear from the streets to always tweak your perception.  No matter what you will still have to campaign hard.A comeback is never easy.

Chibok Girls: Two Nights and 110 Days

bring-back-our-girls

It was a night. It was in 2006, sometimes in March. It was close to 11:45pm and I was cracking jokes with friends. There is a stocky woman who sold food on Awoyokun Street. She sets her wares around 11:30pm, mostly for the tired bus conductors. Most times I go there for a late night meal before I finally go to sleep. I love dinners a lot. I thought without eating one, it’s an sign of poverty. While we argued on football on the whispering night ready for that short walk to the roadside restaurant, I heard a voice.

“Seun nnnnnnnnn”

It was my father calling. He spoke only once. Once was enough. It was of a man soaked of in tears within but controlling the outpour. My soft-spoken father never called me that way. He spoke so loud only in cases my disobedience reached the brim.

My sibling was yet at home and the clock raced toward midnight. We sat in the room on bended heads. Phones rang from Lagos to Ibadan, where my mum and other siblings lived. No one, no single soul could sleep that night. With my suspended head, I dozed off waiting for dawn as he got ready waiting tirelessly for the clock to complete every hour.

Before Lagos woke from its deep slumber, he was on that first bus to Ibadan. The next morning I was to take a test with Phillips for my internship. My Dad encouraged me to go. It was with mixed feeling and an unclear head. My sibling walked back to the house in the morning. What a night – of tarnished souls full of dread and imaginations of any possibility.

******

The next scenario was while in the University. My lovely mum with endless ocean of care, heard we just had a riot a in school. She learnt it was ‘bloody’ with soldiers shooting rapidly. She was always suspicious of my activism but she never knew I was so deep into  it, that I aimed to contest for Student Union President.

She left Ibadan to find our where I was. She came to Abeokuta. She asked where I was yet no one to tell. My neighbours knew I was in my engineering compatriots’ house in Eleweran but no one knew the exact address. It was an epileptic phone with tall straight receiver but with low power to receive signals. That night, my mum slept in my room. For my Mum, that night, walls turned to fences, fences to gates and gates into borders. She could not sleep still not convinced of my location. I came home that day by noon only to hear the tale of her misery. I called her and left for Ibadan immediately. She had no cool words for agony I put her through. She had no cool words till dusk.

***

On two occasions, my parents doubted where my sibling or I was. It was nothing to delight about. Imagine those without their daughter for 110 days. Those who have been caked in dusty swirl of hope waiting for when they will feel the embrace of their daughters. Imagine seeing a terrorist and a psychopath lay behind armoured tanks dress daughters and sons in long satin using them as tools for negotiation. Imagine the unimaginable – of what insurgents weary from a battle can do to hapless girls. Imagine the trauma of those who count days into months and time has lost its essence. It is a cruel world where humanity seems like an activist tag and the government with the all the resources seems helpless to protect its own. How long shall we wait? How long shall we tarry with long faces for the Chibok Girls? We want them back NOW & ALIVE.

Dr. Agboola and Lesson of Small Steps

1498772One of the lecturers that I can’tquickly forget  is Dr. Agboola of Mathematics Department in my alma mater – FUNAAB. This man strolls into the class already with cynical thinking that everyone here knows nothing except first class “hustlers” who take the front rows. Those at the mercy of constant disgust are the Engineering students. He wonders if we can ever piece together all that he’s trying to explain. Yet, we want to get away with a Bachelors Degree in Engineering

So what does one as a student do? It is to act like one knows nothing because Mr Agboola faces the blackboard whiteboard solving complex equations leaving you to fix the loose ends. When the exams come around, one does not ask for an “A” – except the First Class chasers. 40 marks out of 100 will be fine; anything that makes one escape a re-sit is fine.

So, I had a cool understanding of how to pass Agboola’s exam. It is about forgetting the answer and focus on the steps. The likelihood that you will get the final answer in Agboola’s exam is very slim, why disturb oneself? All I do is to try hard, to go far and when the road forks and I get confused, I abandon it and find another question. So if I attempt the four questions and I half-solve them, I will be fine. Interestingly, by God’s grace, it worked. I got lost in one recurring Laplace Transform which I was already bragging about, I quickly left it and move on.

At times in life, business and relationship, we underestimate steps/actions and focus on the answers/outcomes and results. The aspect of trying, giving it your best deserves a pat on the back. We like to focus on the result and discount the steps that one needs to get there. This how a society plays itself, never taking account that those that even failed made an attempt. To most people it is all about the result, but we need encouragement at every turn of action.

If you train yourself to be emotionally rewarded for actions taken rather than outcomes you may be able to lengthen the time you can spend in active “failure” and increase your chances of success.

When it is not working, never discount that you are at least taking action, mounting steps, it is part of the story. It is part of the outcome. It is part of learning and it the story that will be told when everything good comes. Keep walking. Keep trying.

Recommended Reading: http://getpocket.com/a/read/625732738

The Act of Listening

Ear-Listen-iStock-680x406

 

The life of a business does not read like a strategic plan. It unfolds as things are discovered along the way. – Bill Barnett, Stanford Graduate School of Business

In the school of business especially when you run a start-up (a business or civic experiment tested on a small scale with potential to rapidly expand), one must learn to listen. This is because an entrepreneur is unknowingly juggling many balls in quick speed.

How to keep costs low; how and when  to expand volume; how to turn profitable; how to ensure that impact is sustained; when to scale and not scale; how every customer will be happy and become one’s unpaid evangelists; and also to meet aspirations of donors and investors and excite them to keep doing more.

Life itself is never stagnant, it is moving relative to a position. So if entrepreneurs or businesses are not really moving, others are moving ahead and keeping them in the backward position. For instance, a business can sit on a pile of cash happy that it is the key to the future. However, what if its business model is disrupted and new revenues cease? What if after the disruption by a newcomer, it has to start spending fast to catch up? What if all the cash is gone in a twinkle?

However, either in that speed of life or sense of comfort, an entrepreneur must take time to listen and examine everything that counts.

 I got a mail last week from one of BudgIT perennial impact investor. It was not the type of mail you get that serves you ice cream or makes you revel in those grand ballrooms of Windsor. It was a long mail that makes you think deeply what exactly are we doing.

  I came to that question, what really are we doing in BudgIT. Yes, we are trying to educate the people on the budget. Yes, we are thinking if citizens become more aware of public finance that can ask intelligent questions from their leaders and demand accountability. Yes, that we can gradually through sustained citizen demand, reform government and make it work for people. But built into this gospel of ours are lots of assumptions. There is also the wide scope we are tinkering with. We must consider what are we changing – the entire government? Who are we reaching – 170m people?

 Where are we in that long stretch and how many people do we need to raise their awareness to force government to reform and change? Will government ever change? Can we do this all alone? Should we settle for a small dent and slip into that traditional NGO mode of communiqués, press releases and workshops?

I believe that after building the enterprise, engineered through rigorous thinking, an entrepreneur must pause, listen and reflect it all. Lest you laugh to your joke, listen to your dying song and in the end drink your Kool Aid.

 As an entrepreneur, listen to the customers, peers, mentors, veterans, failed people in your field, investors and critics of any hue. The lifecycle of a business is that of continuous evaluation lest it stops to exist. Rigorous examination that agrees to dissent is needed to every functional segment of life. Those who accept criticism or listen to dissent are guaranteed an efficient lifecycle. An entrepreneur must both be a rigorous thinker and a listener and ready to sprint to action upon conviction.

Listening (not reading) to that email forced me to call for a strategy retreat for BudgIT. This will not be a stock-taking exercise of past glories or dancing in the klieg lights of new dreams but how we rethink why we are here. Why we need to rework our scope, our beneficiaries, our approach and impact model. It is part of the lifecycle – a moment to listen, pause and reflect.

 Loren, thanks a lot for the email.

 Image from http://impact.blog.thepattersonfoundation.org/

2015: NURTW Chairman & Us

Lagos-busstop1

 When it comes to deciding during elections, does the online crew or the social media gang really count? If we are to have an election today, can our opinion really swing the votes? I mean how much premium does the politician place on the votes of socially urban young Nigerians? Who matters more – the NURTW chairman, Iyaloja, Chairman Association of “anything informal”” and me?

I mean these are the ones who for a bar of soap, late night meal, employment in LASTMA, bus stop chairman, free bus rides for their children, yard of Ankara decide who they vote for. They are numbed to issues of accountability and with the politician in sight, all you hear is loud obeisance like “Baba Tuale”.

The politician is also in this cult mode as he makes his/her responsibility a privilege for the citizen. No one see that lens of how a politician was hired by the people to manage our economy and polity. In the same manner, a master can sack his house- help in cases of incompetence, theft or breach of agreement, we have the same power to ensure that elected officers should be booted out.

A screenshot of a piece by my former boss Ifeanyi Uddin http://goo.gl/39QrHj

A screenshot of a piece by my former boss Ifeanyi Uddin http://goo.gl/39QrHj

As a group of enlightened Nigerians, can we really enforce change when votes of a large group are so vulnerable to petty issues? Is it that we are so outnumbered and doing not enough that we can’t really tell the facts for these people?  I mean the vote placed in the hand of someone will decide who controls allocations, raises debt, writes laws on our behalf, represents us in international spaces, decide if we need nuclear codes or not, decide fuel prices and the manpower for public institutions. How come we leave such trivial matters to the large army of folks that trade it for a meal or choose which dividing lines to believe?

This how we are kept in the tangle of chicken and egg problem. This is how we wonder what really is the problem – the leader or the led. We must understand that this is a market with demand and supply sides. The politician is at the supply end and will only respond to forces of demand. If the politician knows that folks at the other end have their votes at a price and he/she can carry on without the enlightened few, the incentive is there to follow what works.

If the politician knows issues of ethnicity resonate with the voters, he plays the tribal card beclouding the majority as regarding his/her incompetence or disregard for transparency. If it is about a Christian Governor or Muslim President, the politician plays the religion card by posturing to be a good Christian visiting churches and asking for the prayers.

We are the ones at fault. We wax abstract approach on changing Nigeria like we can finance logistics for a local councillorship election.  We don’t actively join political parties thereby making meaningful impact. We don’t stay on the other side of the market to keep amplifying our voices.

In 2015, we need to explain what a vote means to everyone because the politician is just following the trend – poverty, ethnicity, inferiority complex etc. The incentive of the politician is to grab power and if he/she finds a gaping hole to be exploited, he/she thrives on it.

So its left for us to creatively think how will people of the streets understand that voting is a decision that vests their authority on an elected officials and they are also making such decision on behalf of under-18 population who can’t vote. It is left to us to disabuse those that label us Christians, Muslims, Northerners or Southerners.

How do we meet them at the half way? Get Saheed Osupa and Alabi Pasuma to do a track laced with a viral slang on voters education?  How do you get them to understand the roles of vigilance and untiring demand of accountability? This is our role. We are not doing enough and nothing will rapidly change as keep typing away.