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 and 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 to many how a president could score 50% on education or 60% on health or 50% on the economy without a consistent robust and accessible benchmark for any sensible work done by his government. Spontaneously made up or uncritically believed performance ratings are at best misleading or even delusional but facts and figures are hard to find in a nation where they are made redundant by routine governance choice. A rule of thumb benchmark that accurately determines the ethos, vision and energy expended by an African government or leader on domestic governance is sufficiently expressed not by a great book, great paper or great teaching. It is to be found in a terse, insightful and unequivocal musing of George Ayittey in The Strange Case of Xenophilia that can be very easily supported by metrics.
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.
They will destroy their own health care system and then seek medical attention or die off in foreign hospitals.
They will destroy their own educational system and then send their children to foreign schools.
They will destroy their own banking system and then stash their loot in foreign banks.
They will harass, jail and even assassinate their own local experts and then spend billions of dollars on foreign experts.
They will destroy their own domestic industries and then lay the red carpet out to foreign companies.
They will hound and persecute their own domestic investors and then draw up elaborate codes to attract foreign investors.
They will destroy their own agriculture and then spend $25 billion to import 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 Muhammad 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 brilliantly 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.