Opinion: Why Buhari Should Adopt The Scapegoat Strategy For Rapid Development

Opinion: Why Buhari Should Adopt The Scapegoat Strategy For Rapid Development

By Opinions | The Trent on September 20, 2015
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president politics change Muhammadu Buhari mistake of 2015
File: Muhammadu Buhari (C), presidential candidate from the All Progressives Congress party, speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Gombe February 3, 2015. | Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde

by Abayomi Omotayo

The much noise and mixed reactions about the president’s achievement is his first hundred days in office is understandable. Majority of Nigerians had such high hopes that once President Muhammadu Buhari got to power, everything will be just fine. Automatically. Just like that. Unfortunately, everything didn’t become just fine. Alas! Not automatically

This is the stark reality about governance. Change, which interestingly is the mantra of the All Progressive Congress, is a gradual process. Little punctilious steps concretizing into tangible progress thus engendering a paradigm shift from an ‘anything-goes’ nation to a nation of law and order, where at the very least, common sense guides the everyday actions and reactions of the elected, appointed and the citizens. Change also has another side; it can be sudden, very impromptu. Unfortunately for the president, it seems Nigerians want the latter and we cannot blame the people for wanting a sudden change. Over the years, Nigeria have sunk abysmally into the pit of corruption and lawlessness. The standard of living and quality of life have also dropped to rock bottom.

The older generation (the one who got Nigeria to this poor state) like to describe my generation (who have also learnt very rapidly the ropes from the older generation and continue to infest Nigeria with high-tech corruption and misdemeanor) as the microwave generation – a people that wants everything done at the speed of light. This is coupled with the fact that my generation is fast paced and IT driven – where in 140 characters, my thoughts can disseminate to the whole world in seconds. It is in view this that I will therefore show my true color as a ‘microwave guy’ by offering the president very fast, practical useful tips that will enable him bring rapid change. I call this the SCAPEGOAT STRATEGY. Going forward, I will assume a direct tone of conversation with the president. I tend to give better advice one-on-one but my readers are allowed to eavesdrop.

My dear PMB, seeing the enormity of the task of rebuilding Nigeria that is before you and the many millions of fingers crossed waiting impatiently on you, I have decided to provide a faster route to success so that after four years, the impact you would have made will dwarf that of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, well, maybe not but at least Nigerians will say ‘that man try well well for us’. The secret to success is to adopt my scapegoat strategy. I will explain how this works with one random but nonetheless valid example.

The people have a perception, and rightly so too that the government does not care or value the life of a Nigerian. You can correct that and change our impression that government is very insensitive to the plight of the common man. The Nigeria Police Force gives you a very good opportunity to do this. There have been countless cases of trigger happy policemen who have mindlessly killed innocent citizens over bribe as cheap as twenty naira (although fifty naira seems to be the current benchmark for the men in black and sometimes blue) as if that is the worth of a Nigerian life to the Nigeria Police Force. Let us forget all the ones that happened in the past but not two days ago, 17 September, 2015. Some Nigerian newspapers (http://www.punchng.com/news/bribe-taking-policemen-shoot-at-couple-kill-wife/ – for reference sake) reported the case of one police corporal Aremu Musesiu who shot and killed a woman, Idongesit Ekpo while breastfeeding her three month old baby in a tricycle, her husband, Godwin (as at the time of the report) is also presently lying critically wounded in the hospital (hopefully he survives to take care of three month old baby). The reason for this is that the man refused to bribe the policemen at the checkpoint! This evil act was perpetrated by the team attached to the Isheri Osun police division.

Mr. President, let me advise you on how to deal with this case. Sensationalize this, yes, sensationalize it. Perhaps not directly but you need the help of the media, both mainstream and social media. Let the spotlight be on the Nigeria Police Force. Bring the corporal to justice, see to it that he is charged to court, properly tried, treated with dignity and not tortured, treated with respect because he is innocent until proven guilty. Broadcast his trial like that of Oscar Pistorius, let his face splash across national newspapers and on social media. Make him popular overnight. If he is found guilty, allow Nigerians to watch, like a blockbuster movie, his movement from the courthouse straight to the prison. You may think this is frivolous and unnecessary but you need to do this. Forget what your conservative inclinations tell you.

This trial will have ripple effects; it will put a spotlight on the DPO that sent his men out to mount a checkpoint. If it is an illegal checkpoint, he should also be prosecuted with the same intensity as the corporal. The commissioner of police in Lagos should also bear some brunt and also the Inspector General of Police. You may ask “why?’ but the one whom the buck stops at his table bears the greatest reward or punishment. I didn’t make this rule, that thing called ‘management’ and ‘leadership’ made it so or why do you think it is the coach that gets axed if his players are not performing. If I may ask too, is he the one that is playing the ball on the soccer pitch? Just imagine the DPO, CP and IG losing their jobs because of one ‘small’ incident? Great nations became great because they gave small incidents the greatest attention. Mr. President, can you imagine how effective and professional anyone in leadership position and the entire rank and file of the NPF will be when they know that even the smallest act of recklessness will not go without being punished?

You would have achieved the following at the end of this trial;

It will force the NPF to review their operational processes.

Nigerians will have renewed confidence in your government knowing that their lives matter.

Incidents of trigger happy policemen will become history.

Illegal checkpoints will stop instantly. Recall that countless times this has been stopped from Abuja usually through the IG but it is usually on paper and that instruction is never adhered to nationwide.

Extortion of motorists by the men of the NPF will stop.

Torture and inhuman treatment of people in police custody will be reviewed because of the dignified way the corporal will be treated during trial. The government should use this to pass a message to all law enforcement agents to have a reorientation.

Mr. President, this incident can be a watershed moment in your government if you take the opportunity. Also remember that this scapegoat strategy is very scalable. Adopt it to sanitize the civil service. All you need is an erring permanent secretary. Adopt it in fighting corruption. While it may not be strategic to devote all your government’s energy and resources to fighting corruption (because we need policy implementation and infrastructural development too), just take the most pervasive case and use the scapegoat strategy. You will easily find this in the oil industry.

Let me end with these two analogies; ‘rumours’ have it that our big men politicians all across Nigeria but especially in Abuja indiscreetly frolic with women, whether of easy or hard virtue or university students, it is a status symbol or a thing of pride to them, what should be an aberration for public figures because they are supposed be role models  but in America, no politician will ever display that level of ‘i-don’t-care’ attitude because they have the case of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewisky among several others to learn from. America is a master at making scapegoats. Little wonder they also set standards on governance and public administration.

After so many years of chaotic disposition by Lagosians, I saw within few years of ex governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration how people started queuing for buses, motorists now think twice before taking ‘one-way’ and illegal parking reduced to the barest minimum. Infact, my personal opinion is that now, Lagos drivers are better than Abuja drivers in terms of obeying traffic rules. Although the Lagos I live is not yet a blissful place, we at least have a culture of order gradually being ingrained into us as a standard way of life. This did not happen because of the many fine policies drafted on paper or too much talk and barking of warnings or numerous committees set up, but by simply making a scapegoat of a few erring motorist, other motorists simply fell in line. Isn’t this a cheaper and faster way to achieve a goal? Therefore Mr. President, if your goal is to bring change, then you must be willing and strong to make scapegoats. Whether the big man or the small man but especially the big man.

Abayomi Omotayo is a husband, father, and Nigerian who lives and works in Lagos. He tweets from @abaryummyceo. Connect with him also on LinkedIn. 

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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