Modern states all across the world are distinguished by the traditional four functions they discharge as part of their administrative responsibilities—security i.e. securing the sovereign territory against lawlessness, policy formulation and implementation, governance regulation and service delivery.
With these functions, we have the metrics to differentiate between high-performing states like China, India, the United States, Botswana, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirate, Germany, Rwanda and the Asian Tigers (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea), and low- or even under-performing countries like Nigeria that is still cluelessly stuck within a dysfunctional vicious cycle within her arrested development.
From the perspective of governance, there must be something these states are getting right in the connection between leadership, politics, and policy articulation. Their developmental circumspection paid off!
Since we cannot argue that Nigeria has been stumped by the lack of vision documents, development plans and blueprints, or even policy expertise, the locus of the new administration’s focus must be directed at the possibility of mustering the political will to undermine the mystified Nigerian Factor, and face the global neoliberal consensus in order to begin the crafting of an enabling policy architecture to drive development. And to achieve this translates to creating the delicate balance between ‘doing the right things’ (a function of decision making quotient) and ‘doing it right’ (project and change management effectiveness).
Reports of Oyo school invasion by herdsmen fake news – Police
Buhari renews two federal appointments
There is first the conspiracy of elitist interest that ensures there is a poor resource allocation that focuses on elite bargain than development calculations and taking care of the national interest. Other constraints follow: (a) the disconnect between policy design and implementation due to weak implementation planning, risk assessment and incompetent change management strategies; (b) unstable and poorly managed macroeconomic policies; (c) policy and project discontinuity; (d) public service low capability readiness; (e) political interference; and finally (f) deep-seated political and bureaucratic corruption.
Let me outline what we can regard as the “politics of policy implementation” that Nigeria has played for many years, a politics the new administration must take into serious consideration if it does not want to fall into the category of failed administration right before it commences. This politics throws Nigeria’s development and policy non-performance right into the frame of the 2005 World Bank review findings about policy and development projects in Africa.
According to the finding, 29 per cent of development projects ever get completed, 45 per cent of on-going projects are rated as satisfactory, while 26 per cent of such projects invariably get cancelled. The politics of policy implementation in Nigeria is founded on the following assumptions and practices.
One: there is that dangerous presumption, that the new administration must resist, that once policies and development plan are designed, they are automatically implemented by the public service. And such a presumption is against the background of a scant investment in implementation analysis and planning, as well as the failure to facilitate the capability review, determine public administration system’s capability readiness, and strengthening of the MDAs as the powerhouse of government administrative functionality.
The MDAs, that is, are not working according to any specific theories or praxis of change that can guide the functional integration of blueprints or paradigms. This kind of policy inattention draws attention to the policy contradiction: launching a national development plan and strategy that are not implementation ready in terms of adequate capability review of the MDAs integral to ensuring implementation success.
Two: this presumption is compounded by the uncritical reliance of past governments on policy experts and consulting firms who are tasked with designing high-end policies that are then dumped on MDAs whose capability reviews and implementation readiness have been neglected in the first place. The extroversion of the policy design is then compromised by poor functional integration.
The truth is that most of these consulting firms lack the appropriate deep content and solution frameworks that are in tandem with the context of policy dysfunction they are supposed to work with.
Three: governance policy or project are hardly subjected to feasibility test determined in terms of scope and expectation that are captured by their framework of time, cost and risk assessments before they are pushed into implementation.
This makes it very difficult to benchmark funding projections for these policies and projects against revenue estimations, as well as facilitating in-built flexibilities that enable the policies and projects to adjust to volatilities and contingencies.
The foregoing, constitute binding constraint that will undermine any governance possibilities the new administration require to make a success of democratic governance. Undermining the binding constraints demands returning to the fundamentals.
The first and most significant is that the new administration needs to interrogate the framework of how government business is currently being conducted. And that entails undermining the structural gaps between policy objectives, development strategies and policy outcomes.
This demands second, setting the public service on a performance curve with the institution of a performance management system. This means that the public service must, for example, unfailingly now deploy KPI-based metrics to replace the cumbersome annual performance evaluation report (APER). And at the backend is a monitoring and evaluation system supported by databases programme continuous assessment, human resource development rooted in iterative performance gap identification, supervisors-staff dialogue and multisource feedback mechanisms for policy tracking and reporting.
The governance mantra must be on getting the balance between doing the right things and doing it right. What is needed is sequencing the blueprints into a coherent and feasible implementation programme, with the right amount of political will behind it. This gives the success of democratic governance a 95% chance of succeeding. The new administration needs that fighting chance!
Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary & Professor of Public Administration [email protected]
Nigerians can now earn US Dollars by acquiring premium domain names, most clients earn about $7,000 to $10,000, all paid in US Dollars. Click here to learn how to start.