By Umar Ardo, Ph.D
First, let me seize this opportunity to congratulate Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his well-deserved victory in an unarguably about the most keenly contested presidential election in Nigeria’s history. For me personally, I feel fulfilled in that the incipient seed of this outcome was sown by my humble self way back in January, 2012, when I conceived the idea of the merger between Buhari’s CPC and Tinubu’s ACN, premised on the former being President and the latter Vice President. Aware of the previous failed attempt for such a merger, I sold the idea to Buhari in such a way and manner that I was confident he would accept. Even though he had then publicly announced that 2011 would be his 3rd and final attempt to contest for the presidency if he lost that year’s election, it turned out easy for me to get his buy-in to the idea as within three hours he consented and promised me of approaching Tinubu with the plan. I then knew my job was done as I was certain Tinubu too would consent to it.
And lo and behold, about five weeks later, Buhari called me to a meeting in Abuja at which he briefed me on his meeting with Tinubu on the merger and that the man had accepted the proposition. I felt elated, knowing there and then that change had come to the country. The rest, as they say, is now history. (The details on this concept and how it was worked out are contained in chapter 7 of my book titled “Court and Politics: Chronicling my Experience in the Nigerian Theatre”, published by Sungai Books; New Jessy, USA, 2020. Both the president and the president-elect have copies of the book).
2. THRUST OF THIS ADVICE
Now, having won this hard earned victory against so many odds, it is important for the sake of the country and the President-elect’s legacy that the regime succeeds. And this success is largely dependent on, among three other things, thorough implementation of government policies.
The campaign manifesto of the President-elect has no doubt enunciated laudable core policy initiatives capable of resolving the teething problems facing this country. But this will depend largely on one thing – i.e. diligent implementation! In practical terms this means that:-
➢ No matter how good a policy maybe its end product lies in implementation;
➢ Citizens assess governance by what is implemented on the ground, and so citizens interact with public policies only at implementation level;
➢ As the regime starts its term in office, it must ensure that its policies are fully implemented; and
➢ Without fully implementing its policies and making a difference at implementation level, the regime also risks ending up a failure like previous regimes.
Yet, the major recurrent concern of governance in Nigeria over the years has been the failure to successfully implement policies as conceived and formulated by governments.
The fact that successive governments, not excluding the outgoing one, would come up with laudable policy initiatives, well-conceived and elaborately articulated, but eventually fail at the implementation level, to the disappointment of the public and discredit of the government itself, calls for new approach to public policy implementation in Nigeria. To this end, it is important to highlight that:-
➢ The primary reason for this gap between excellent policy initiatives and pitiable policy implementation is mainly lack of [or poor] monitoring and evaluation mechanism;
➢ Even with a strong will on the part of leadership, it has always been difficult to get things happen in government organizations because of endemic vested-interests that create resistance, inertia, discouragements and even sabotage to such policy implementation attempts; and
➢ Good ideas and will of government to implement same are not sufficient; drive and follow-through are equally important, yet often insufficiently appreciated and applied.
Against this backdrop, so as to help government overcome these challenges and make a difference in performance and achieve set policy objectives, I respectfully make this open advice for the kind consideration and approval of Mr. President-elect, please.
4. ACTION STEPS
➢ Establish a Policy Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation [PIME] Unit under the Office of the President by means of an Executive Order; and
➢ Appoint a Special Adviser to the President on Policy implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation as head of the Unit. Such a person must be knowledgeable, patriotic, trusted and of impeccable character.
5 STRUCTURE, FUNDING AND MODE OF OPERATION
➢ The PIME Unit is to be a policy Monitoring and Advisory Outlet constituted by an Executive Order to operate within the Office of the President;
➢ The Head of the Unit should report directly to the President;
➢ The Unit’s budgetary funding is to be within the budgetary provisions of the presidency; and
➢ Hold monthly 1hr Update Briefing Session with the President on the activities, findings and suggestions of the Unit for any further necessary actions.
6. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE UNIT
The PIME Unit should have the following aims and objectives:-
➢ To ensure full implementation of government policies, designs, projects and programmes for efficient delivery of expected results;
➢ To device and drive new national policy-performance-design capable of reversing the endemic failure syndrome in policy implementation by government; and
➢ To create and sustain positive image of government in terms of policy and budgetary implementation attitudes nationwide.
7. SCOPE AND FUNCTIONS OF THE UNIT
The PIME Unit should have the following scope and functions:-
➢ Design, develop and implement a systemic monitoring and evaluation framework to track, monitor, assess and report on performance of all entities in relation to government’s plans, activities and timeframes so as to improve the quality and quantity designs in policy, programme and/or project implementation relative to government interests;
➢ Monitor, assess and evaluate the performance of ministries, agencies, institutions, departments, projects and programmes of government to ensure compliance with policy intentions, outputs, outcomes and impact to the polity;
➢ Organize, undertake and provide [if, where and when necessary] training and technical assistance to implementing entities and partners on specific policy implementation initiatives as maybe required for the attainment of government goals;
➢ Produce and submit monthly Reports and prepare presentations of the Unit’s activities, findings and recommendations to the president;
➢ Advice the president on all issues relating to the full implementation of government policies, programmes, projects and obligations; and
➢ Perform any other scope and function as may be assigned to it by Mr. President.
8. EXPECTED BENEFITS AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE UNIT
The PIME Unit will yield the following benefits:-
➢ It will ensure that government policies, programmes and projects are fully implemented as conceived and government’s goals are achieved;
➢ It will end forthwith the failure syndrome of government in policy implementation and ensure a rapid and visible development of the country;
➢ It will establish and maintain inter-agency coordination in policy implementation and provide consolidated source of information showcasing policy implementation progress, highlight lapses where they occur and devise necessary corrective measures forthwith, hence allowing operators to learn from each other’s experiences, building on expertise, knowledge and synergy;
➢ It will generate written reports that will contribute to transparency, accountability and efficiency, allowing lessons to be shared more easily, and experiences and templates used as bases of steering decision-making processes;
➢ It will establish and deepen the culture of transparency, accountability and efficiency in public institutions and public services; and
➢ It will provide the presidency with veritable measurement tool of the performances of public institutions and public servants.
The rationale for this open-advice now is that I feel Nigerians are actually tired of the unending cycle of failures of successive governments of the country, and that we need to put a halt to it. The sole objective of this memo therefore is to help create the needed momentum from the start of the incoming Tinubu-led regime that will make it succeed in breaking this failure syndrome in the most critical area where all other regimes had failed – policy implementation; to positively enhance the developmental fortunes of our country, and as a result at once mould public opinion favourable to President Tinubu and his new regime, both at home and abroad. This way one will feel more gratified that one’s efforts in trying to bring positive change to our country and society have at last yielded fruits.
Dr Umar Ardo is a historian and public servant based in Abuja. Dr Ardo was the SDP Governorship Candidate in Adamawa State for 2023