March to Freedom Series: How to Hack the Nigerian System

Nigeria is a nation in peril. Every day brings a rising crescendo of negative news that illustrate the perilous straits in which we find ourselves: terrorist insurgency, daredevil kidnappers, rapacious government functionaries feeding gluttonously from the national trough, and misguided youth plunging with abandon into the criminal underworlds of internet fraud, drug trade and human trafficking.

Yet hope springs eternal in the Nigerian breast. Optimism flows in our veins like the fountain of youth, generating irrational euphoria and a sense of well-being that is probably attributable to the surging adrenaline triggered in our system by an ever present endocrine system 'fright, fight or flight' response to fear. We are hooked on this adrenaline, like thrill seekers constantly in search of ever more dangerous experiences.

There is room for optimism, but only because we haven't ever truly applied our multifarious talents to the hard work of building a prosperous nation. We've flown for so long on a wing and a prayer but we know instinctively that if we were to actually begin to think and work hard we would probably record resounding success in no time.

We are blessed with large numbers of brilliant, hardworking, never-say-die, young people. We are sitting on valuable natural resources. But we need to change our lackadaisical approach and begin to apply deliberate strategies to national problems- starting with our dysfunctional political system.

Like with all big, fast moving, dysfunctional systems, the Nigerian political system looks like an unfixable, corrupt mess. But just like any other complex system, you can often reduce it to a few critical elements which just need a bit of tweaking to bring harmony to the whole.

My hypothesis is this: the Nigerian political system can be fixed very quickly if we first fix the political parties and ensure that they function with transparency and accountability.

Key elements that we need to take a look at are:

  • Party Ideology
  • Party Constitution
  • Party Membership
  • Candidate Selection
  • Party Financing
  • Campaign Methodology

I will talk about these issues in the next few blog posts. I will be drawing from my own experience and observations from involvement in party politics over the last 18 years. My goal is to trigger a conversation that will hopefully lead to useful reforms. I don't pretend to know all the answers and so I hope you will join in the conversation. Together we can make a difference.