United in grief again (4)

Headline: “Incompetent people in government reason for failure –El-Rufai.”

“The Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, has said there is governance failure because there are so many incompetent people in government.

He spoke yesterday at a plenary session of the Nigerian Economic Summit.

“We need competent people in political and public service, but this is not the case in Nigeria, and things will not work. Unless the best and brightest hands are in the political system, the outcome will be sub-optimal and terrible,” he said.

“I have seen a level of disconnect between the political and economic elite. We discovered that those in the economic class just want to do their business, make their money, and live at Banana Island. But however strong your business is, without a functional political system and competent public service, that business will collapse.”

The Chairman, Africa Initiative for Governance, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede called for synergy among both political and economic players.

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“Therefore, if there is a failure in the system, it is a collective failure. Nation-building is a very deliberate exercise, which involves great risks and sacrifices. And that is the path that we must take.”

Meanwhile, Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State, at another panel session said the state remains a very suitable business and investment hub because the government has vigorously addressed some of the major security challenges by tackling their root causes.

Lalong, in a statement by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr. Makut Simon, also advocated for a review of the revenue sharing formula and state police which must accommodate adequate funding, checks and balances, and a very strong mechanism against abuse.”

Perhaps I should add that in 1957, I was in the same dormitory (F9, Harman’s House) at King’s College, Lagos as Claude Ake who was in the Lower Sixth Form, while I was in Form One. Our beds were next to each other. Even then it was clear that he was destined for greatness. He held very strong views about virtually every facet of life and beyond.

As for Mr. Ajumogobia who was both a science teacher and housemaster, he and his family lived in one of the flats above our dormitory. He was Acting Principal (Headmaster) before joining the Ministry of Education from where he went off on international posting to Nairobi, Kenya. He took his wife and four children with him. That explains how his two boys – Soboma and Odein (former Minister of Foreign Affairs; and former Minister of Petroleum Resources) missed out on becoming old boys of King’s College.

He also had three daughters, Dr. (Mrs.) Emi Renner (a medical doctor), Ambassador (Mrs.) Nimi Akinkugbe (who is currently Nigeria’s Ambassador to Greece) and Ibiai Ani.

One of Professor Claude Ake’s most remarkable interventions was his disdain for military government. He famously slagged off “Those who are in office but not in power. They lack the moral authority to change anything.”

In other countries, on an occasion such as this, the government would organise remembrance activities to commemorate two outstanding souls that perished due to incompetence and also ensure that the duty of care is never again compromised by recklessness. Even after twenty-five years, the latest tragedy is the collapse of a twenty-one storey building within shouting distance of my office in Ikoyi, Lagos. At the last count, forty-four souls had been pronounced dead with many more unaccounted for.

Permit me to conclude by commending the Ajumogobia family for the annual classical musical feast in honour of their patriarch.

Similarly, I must thank both Professor Adele Jinadu (ex-King’s College and Oxford University) and Professor Tunji Olaopa for their unrelenting efforts to keep the formidable intellectual legacy of Professor Claude Ake alive.

The last word belongs to the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi who is like Mr. Ajumogobia and Professor Ake is from Rivers State. Frontpage of “ThisDay” newspaper of November 1, 2021:

“Do not forget that what most ministers like is this kind of situation, where contracts are expiring intheir time. I could have just renewed it (the INTELS contract) and collected some of the money for the contract.”

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