Nigeria & the way forward (9): The Mandelson/Tony Blair paper at APC’s ‘Policy Dialog’ – Tola Adenle

May 21, 2015


Nigerians’ general apathy to Tony Blair’s submissions over the recent APC’s  “Policy Dialog” which is widely-reflected in comments over the web should not be dismissed as rants by a public always out to find faults with those in government. Dr. Jonathan had Professor Adamolekun give an “Inauguration Lecture” four years ago, followed by a more talked-about paper – hate to use the word ‘lecture’ – by famed British journalist, Richard Dowden, during the 51st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, a few months after Adamolekun’s paper.

My person-in-the-street comments on ‘The Dowdem’ paper drew a very analytic response from Dr. Abdsalam Ajetunmobi, response which was also carried here.  Links to both essays are at the end of the excerpt below, one of the responses to Ajetunmobi’s essay after the one earlier submitted by this blogger.  It, and the other submissions are as relevant today to the Blair Paper [which I personally find contains very good proposals that are not, however, new to the president-elect, his vice and Nigerians ] as they were to the papers submitted to Jonathan’s [then] future presidency in 2011.

They are worth a look-see if only to let APC leaders know that their intentions cannot, nor should those being led take them as sacrosanct as the way to hell, as that old saying goes, is often paved with good intentions. After all, by February 2013, even Dowden seemed to have started seeing things the way those who experience impoverishment at the hands of their leaders have always experienced it.

My February 9, 2013 post opened this way:

“… a feel-good paper for President Jonathan for Nigeria’s 51st anniversary, a paper I described as “dancing a little to the left and then to the right” for which I wrote “Dowden did pay for his lunch – pardon me – his air tickets, a VIP treatment which he acknowledged and, we must not forget, a cheque – must have been a fat one.”

“In Africa, the middle classes call for revolution” this time, he had no such obligations.”

It is noteworthy as Blair’s paper points out, not only that Nigerian governance has always “gone into the habit of driving process rather than outcome” – which I dare conjecture is too much reliance on technical (academic) route, but that Buhari must “BE TRUE TO YOUR MANDATE. ”  TOLA. May 21, 2015.



 “That Dowden Lecture – Another View” by Dr. A Ajetunmobi

Comments by Tola Adenle, 8:53 p.m. November 3, 2011.

Scholarship is a great thing and none can discount the place of this in governance. Inviting academics and very knowledgeable people, especially those with experience in/on Africa is a new and even commendable thing but it starts getting worrisome if this becomes a parade rather than an occasional thing, especially when it seems apparent that nothing has been done or gained from previous grand ideas in these papers that must have taken the presenters quite substantial work. If a high-caliber lecture happened in May, why would another one be needed so soon in September? Is appearance not replacing substance?

For example, how long would Nigerians have to wait for President Jonathan to declare his assets and those of his spouse as this was one of the suggestions in Adamolekun’s paper? What are the president’s plans about other contents of both lectures?

Secondly, even those of us outside academic circles do respect well-read individuals but being well-educated and having extensive experience in a place like The World Bank does not translate to being a good administrator. Of course I’m talking about Dr. Iweala’s appointment. Witness her stand on the so-called “removal of oil subsidy” which would weigh down very heavily on most Nigerians.

After all, not too long ago – pardon my inability to quote names and dates – an employee of The Bank was reported by a Nigerian newspaper as making an outrageous suggestion which he claimed represented his own feeling: Nigeria should divide annual oil revenues up and give out to each family as citizens had not [and still have not] benefitted from the oil bonanza!

As I’m neither an economist, a political scientist nor even an acada, I rest my case but suffice it is to say that while a Bill Clinton Lecture would be viewed with great interest and attention and portions could even be integrated into policy, I have my reservations about what would befall Adamolekun & Dowden’s papers: shoved away after the public backslapping and rhetoric. Even within the public service, I bet tons of materials abound and are still being presented that could serve as guiding light to a better-governed Nigeria.



THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2015.  5:25 p.m. [GMT]


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