ACROSS the world the cable networks are relaying news feels of discontent in many countries. In France for example, the season of discontent caused by the attempt of the government to retool the pension laws has resulted into ugly brawls on the streets. In the United Kingdom, a winter of dishevelment has resulted in paralysing strikes in critical sectors such as health, education, and transportation.
The hard-pressed people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have been commendable stoic in absorbing the shocks caused by the dislocation in many sectors. A currency crisis is now interwoven with fuel shortages and unpredictable electricity supplies. The steadfastness of the calm response is an example of the maturity of the people.
Much of the dysfunction could have been avoided. Better communication, scenario planning and more structured project management will have helped.
The Governor of Kaduna State, Nassir el-Rufai while appearing on a national television breakfast programme on Wednesday correctly stated that the manpower and technical weaknesses inherent in our institutions must be corrected in order to avert future dislocations. He is absolutely correct as he pointed out that the country’s public service must be manned by “the best and the brightest”.
Nigeria’s public service until crippling interventions did have top notch internationally competitive staff. We must therefore go back to a method of recruitment and selection which separates recruitment into the public service from political patronage. In countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada, specialist recruiting agencies recruit for the government in the same way that they recruit for the private sector. No option should be ruled out.
The dislocation has a terrible effect on the country’s economy and indeed if social life must be rectified. The response required will be immediate, short, medium and long term. We cannot go on like this. This is not a partisan issue and certainly not the time for blame trading. On the contrary, it is a time for deep reflection leading to a structured retooling of the strategic institutions of the state.