Ayittey Benchmark: Performance of Presidents. How else do you measure it?
There are many able Nigerian analysts, commentators, pundits, academics and journalists who have rightfully earned a say in the Nigerian political arena. Most are insincere. Some swing. But a few are truthful in their evaluations of the state of political realities and performances of governments and their principals. All performances of governance do need to have standardised or unique benchmarks for their measurements to be valid.
It is then amazing how several pundits and loyalists could score a president 50% on education or 60% on health or 50% on the economy. Well, without a consistent, robust and accessible benchmark for any sensible work his government undertook. Spontaneous or uncritical assumptions of performance ratings are misleading or even delusional. But facts and figures are hard to find in a nation where such are redundant by routine governance choice. A rule-of-thumb benchmark that accurately determines the ethos, vision and energy expenses of an African government or leader on domestic governance is available. Not by an influential book, great paper or great teaching. You can find it in a terse, insightful and unequivocal musing of George Ayittey in The Strange Case of Xenophilia that metrics can easily support.
The complete content of Ayittey’s musing, just 137 words long is;
They will destroy their own domestic trade and then fiendishly promote foreign trade.
And they will destroy their own health care system and then seek medical attention or die off in foreign hospitals.
Or they will destroy their own educational system and then send their children to foreign schools.
But they will destroy their own banking system and then stash their loot in foreign banks.
Since they will harass, jail, and even assassinate their own local experts. Then spend billions of dollars on foreign experts.
For they will destroy their own domestic industries and then lay the red carpet out to foreign companies.
And they will hound and persecute their own domestic investors and then draw up elaborate codes to attract foreign investors.
Plus, they will destroy their own agriculture and then spend $25 billion on importing foreign food.
Where is my “Sledge-hammer”?
It is a valid benchmark of government and leader performance (sector by sector) and is almost an axiom. Look at all heads of state of Nigeria, From Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa to President Muhammadu Buhari today. How many would pass Ayittey’s examination of performance? On domestic trade, domestic health care, domestic education, domestic banking, domestic expert tolerance, domestic industrial activity, domestic investment, domestic agriculture and food security? Very many Nigerian eggheads can name North / South American, European, and Asian nations and their leaders that pass Ayittey’s benchmark with brilliance. But certainly not Nigeria. Fail and fail would be the outcome of such performance ratings if applied to Nigeria. Let us not even delve into the brazen hypocrisy of some presidents concerning the benchmark.
I too choose to be terse about Ayittey’s benchmark. The sledgehammer shall land one day. Our reality demands it. Good governance may come in strong in the aftermath.