Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Open letter to all winners of the 2019 elections, by Abdullahi Haruna Haruspice

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Congratulations! Nigeria’s Democracy swells an inch thicker! Our Hope & faith becomes a swirl deeper. And now, you have all won, remember you are a Public Servant – Take Note of One Thing You Ought to Do In 2019 Going Forward.

This is an open letter of congratulations and encouragement for all our winners of the 2019 general elections in Nigeria on Feb. 23rd and March 9th2019. It is informed by an analysis of broad public will, not just the likely few percentile of registered eligible voters who cast ballots.

Dear Public Servants,

Congratulations on your undoubtedly well-deserved election, or re-election. Savor for a while this affirmation of esteem your community holds for you. You are by definition a leader whose position demands respect. And you deserve credit for stepping up to do this hard work and for taking the inevitable heat and criticism that come with public office.

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Likely you and your opponent said some unfair things about each other, and it’s even more likely that outside interest groups said some nasty things in your behalf. You ought to send your opponents a note of regret for that, and appreciation for their sacrifice and willingness to step up too, but let that note be rather reflected on your ability to marry interest together with your opponents for the benefits of the masses on either sides of the support train.

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Now please try to stay humbleYou are a leader but also a public servant. Be wary of assuming you have the “will of the people” behind you, or that you fully understand that will. A rather amazingly small percentage of the people you represent actually voted for you. Some people may have “spoken,” but not nearly enough of our most vulnerable people, and too small a percentage for you to claim a “mandate,” especially if you represent the 1/100th of the Local Governments/Constituencies/State’s/the country’s population in the various capacities you were elected to represent.

Further, because you’ve won in an election in which the voter turn-out rate was marginally lesser than the previous 2015 General elections, in which tens of millions fewer Nigerians and hundreds of thousands fewer Constituencies/States’ vote, your level of support is quite thin. In 2015 compared with 2019, for instance, a whopping 12-15% fewer Nigerians voted, roughly 42.73% compared to over 55% percent. One thing you ought to do in 2019 is to provide new incentives to vote and to clear away the various obstacles our system puts in the way of participation. Research shows that people who vote are more productive and engaged citizens.

Because of this off-year slump, the winning base of support typically amounts to less than one-third of eligible voters and perhaps a fourth of the people in your constituencies. And a dis-proportionate number of those voters are poor, rich, employed, un/under-employed, more affluent, older and more/or less productive than the population as a whole. But you now have the responsibility of figuring out how to best serve the interests of all the people in your constituencies/states, including the children, the poor, the unsuccessful and disconnected, the ex-criminals, those of other tribes/& religion, and those who seldom vote or are yet to attain the age of voting.

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As you prepare to legislate and govern, your political party’s agenda and your personal philosophical ideology should be tempered and adjusted. The agendas of your rich sponsors (God-fathers) and the interest groups who supported you will no doubt have influence. Difficult as this might be to explain to those fine people who may have directly or indirectly given you thousands of Naira, and who expect you to answer their e-mails/phone calls first, their agenda is not necessarily your agenda.

Here’s a case for what the larger percentage of Nigerians want, generally and specifically. These are general goals and specific policies around which there is considerable agreement, from business and labor, philanthropies and foundations, mainstream religious leaders, civic improvement groups, and even those groups with balanced/objective and un-objective views. You can’t go wrong by focusing on these basics:

Nationally – As President M. Buhari on the basis of one-brick-at-a-time model builds the ‘foundational work’ to trudge up the stairs to the ‘next level’, his efforts have only amounted to helping the country out of a ‘depth of decay’ and then a foundation, which, would serve as a basis for a stronger country if you all elected officers can lend one-brick-at-a-time equally to add-up to what the President will be doing at the national level while yours anchors strongly at the LGAs, States and Constituency Levels. It is by this model, a stronger nation will be built based on the people and less of an individual. 

The President at the center will be seeking your supports to pursue five-pronged agenda as already outlined in the government development plan documents anchored: Jobs, Public InfrastructureBusiness & Entrepreneurship Development, Human Capital Enhancement Services – Healthcare, Education, and Political Inclusion

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Finally, when you take your oath of office in January, you might notice how simple and spare it is about discharging the duties of your office and supporting the constitutions of our country. The constitution is filled with explicit and implicit obligations to serve the broader public good — not just to serve individual interests.

The Preamble to Nigeria’s Constitution calls for our government and the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation, under God…,

So there it is. Public good. Do that, please. And again, congratulations!

 Abdullahi O. Haruna Haruspice is the founder/president of The Musing School of Thoughts, a good-governance, research and advocacy organization focused on a broader and more inclusive prosperity for Nigeria.


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