Grimot Nane, PhD

If Stephen Keshi Was the President of Nigeria

Grimot Nane on 2015 Elections: Your Vote is Not Enough

The 2014 World Cup Finals saw Stephen Keshi as coach of Nigeria led his boys for the tournament and its knock-out stages. Keshi’s Team Nigeria had done better than some usually prodigious teams that boasted the most prodigious footballers in the world, but most Nigerians had derisory respect for his achievement and little tolerance for him continuing as national team coach. If one compares Keshi’s performance with that of the leaders of Nigeria using any kind of measure one will wonder why the displeasure.

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The simple question is how can most Nigerians passionately hold Stephen Keshi stringently accountable for the performance of his team on the pitch and, in the same breath, perpetually absolve the Nigerian leadership of all responsibility for their stark and embarrassing failures regardless of the constitutional provisions of governance? To the observer, football and sports are far more important to most Nigerians than living in a flourishing society.

2014 marked the furtherance of ineffectual approaches of the Presidency in handling crucial state affairs. From illiterates to intellectuals, they have all defended President Goodluck Jonathan en masse to the point that he no longer has any responsibilities he can be held accountable for under the constitution, not as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces nor Chief Executive of the Federation. Being There is his only job. In 2014 we witnessed the licentious ‘Chibok Girls’ abductions and the brazen Boko Haram insurgency that regularly drove even army generals to fleeing frantically into the bush for fear of their lives. It also led to a double confiscation of Nigerian money by South Africa, totalling $15 million intended for illegal arms deals that involved a ‘Man of God’ and a one-time most wanted ‘enemy of the state.’ The embarrassment was revolting and the excuses made were at best ridiculous.

2014 witnessed a governor-elect of Ekiti State used thugs to beat and chase a sitting high court judge out of court. No prosecution, no conviction. Similar incident is now occurring around Nigeria between lawyers, it will soon extend to lawyers against judges. There was never going to be any action on the matter from President Jonathan, his defenders would say that is not his ‘responsibility’ or ‘jurisdiction’ except when interfering with the Ekiti legislature. How about the Chief Justices, Attorney Generals, Presidents of Nigerian Bar Association, for Nigeria and Ekiti State? Such a debacle and the impunity guarding it provided clear evidence that the Judiciary officials have been reduced to wig-wearing poiklots that do nothing more than decide election winners and losers and handle a few corporate formalities. Whatever happened to the sanctity of the court, the honourable profession and the role of the judiciary in the separation of powers in Nigeria’s democracy?

2014 recorded melees occurring among state legislators in Rivers State with scenes flashed around the world that were tantamount to, among other things, attempted murder. Were there any prosecutions or conviction? Other state legislatures faced “planned” chaos usually from above. Last week it was unspeakably embarrassing to see duly elected and inducted legislators having to scale the fence at the National Assembly complex because the Inspector General of Police sought to use his men prevent certain legislators, especially the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, from entering the building. Nigerian leaders still keenly seek foreign direct investment from overseas; one may see why they never have much success. The message to investors by their unaccountable actions is: executives can violate your investment, the judges will do nothing to redress the violation and legislators cannot help either.

2014 produced a miracle, Nigeria eradicated Ebola. Which pastor is taking the credit?

Stephen Keshi is responsible for all aspects of Team Nigeria’s management: player selection, strategy, tactics, training, fitness, injuries, facilities, rules, curfews, provisions. When he loses games he takes the blame, when he wins well he is a hero. That is how leaders should be judged. President Jonathan, governors, chairmen of LGAs, national/state legislators, court judges (high, appeal and supreme). Military leaders have no responsibilities in governance they can be held to account for. They are heroes when they fail badly and legends when they defy the ‘laws of their own natures’ and do something laudable for once.

I suppose Nigerians do want sporting success, but do they also want political, economic and social successes in their society? 2014 will be a good year for judging such collective desires and expectations of Nigerians.

  • PERSPECTIVE is published every Monday. Dr. Nane is an errant scholar and economist. Follow him on Twitter: @Grimot

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