Rebuilding the Nation
On Wednesday, August 30, 2017, Nextier Advisory, with support from LEAP-PERL, organised a public policy dialogue themed “Rebuilding the Nation”. This event, which is the first of a series of policy dialogues, was organised under the auspices of Nigeria’s Governance and Policy Reform Network (GPRN). The GPRN is a network under the Roadmap Nigeria initiative. The event was held at the Chelsea Hotel in Abuja. Participants at the roundtable included senior level scholars and policy makers, senior government officials, senior policy entrepreneurs as well as representatives of civil society and the media.
The roundtable aimed to decipher Nigeria’s fundamental development challenges as a precursor to developing strategies to tackle Nigeria’s governance challenge. The objectives include:
- Achieve consensus on the fundamental challenges to Nigeria’s development and the hierarchical cause-and-effect relationship between these factors;
- Provide input in defining the themes and specific topics for further research that would be required to develop pragmatic solutions to the identified challenges;
- Provide input on the types of actors who should be invited to a “coalition of change” to ensure a representative policy community that would lead to sustained public service reforms.
The Roundtable achieved consensus on the need for a platform that would bring together technically competent individuals to seek ways to tackle the governance challenges in Nigeria’s public sector. However, these efforts towards discourse and the eventual reforms should not lose sight of average Nigerians. These efforts can only claim to be successful if they positively impact the livelihood and well-being of the average Nigerian.
The went through some dialectics on the thesis and anti-thesis around the issues of legacy policies, identity politics, weak institutions and governance structures as they relate to Nigeria’s development. Some key questions were raised at the end of the discussions:
- The sources of some of the ideas underlying the core governance structures and systems with which Nigeria’s democracy is run can be traced as far back as colonialism. There is a need to interrogate whether Nigeria is moving along the same path of dependence or whether Nigeria is truly transforming.
- The dearth of good political leadership was a recurrent theme in all the sessions. This leads to a question of whether there is true egalitarian leadership in Nigeria or if it is merely state capture by a class.
- Are Nigeria’s institutions fundamentally extractive, or are they inclusive institutions that lead to production?
- The nature of the social contract between Nigeria and its citizens was discussed extensively as it is core to spin-off issues such as corruption and identity politics. This leads to a key question of whether there are true Nigerians, or whether all Nigerians are simply ambassadors of an identity group.
- Is Nigeria as a nation obsessed with peace without justice? This may explain why Nigeria is currently in a state of restive calm, given the pursuit of peace at all costs.