by Christiana Gokyo, Jos
PLATEAU STATE – The National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) Kuru, near Jos, has just graduated dignitaries from its “Course 42” over the weekend.
While speaking at the event, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by Plateau state governor, Barr Simon Lalong, categorically asserted that, “If the national condition is the aggregate of the actions or the inactions of the elites – and these elites are anonymous ghosts – then then, our problems will seem paranormal and irresolvable except by means of magic or miracles.
“And yet, our developmental challenges are not cosmic at all; they are understandable and unexceptional, common to many countries across the world, and they are eminently solvable.”
He enumerated that, “The elites must bear responsibility for the state of the nation and for fixing it; the accurate assignment of this burden of responsibility is impossible without arriving at an understanding of precisely, who these elites are.
“In the context of a nation in which the majority of citizens are poor and illiterate, the educated and the accomplished, the wealthy, of those in positions of authority in government and its agencies, the legislature or judiciary clearly belong to a privileged class, and they are the elites of the society.
“In the context of our nation, the elites are found in the academia, in religion, government and business, across formal professional cadres and, of course, the arts,” he noted.
The President noted that, “The elites, are better off than the vast majority of their peers, in many ways. In our individual or collective capacities, we determine not only formal rules but also informal rules and trends.
“What we respect is what is respected, and we shape in many profound ways the fate of our communities and, ultimately, the culture at large,” he stressed.
Accordingly, he said, “The institution was founded to empower decision-makers and executives across the public and private sectors and enable them to bear this burden.
“The selection process is deliberately competitive and the course-load is intentionally rigorous. Indeed, the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies is an elite institution, and there are few emblems of elitism in our society as credible as the designation, ‘MNI-Member, National Institute,’ which have those letters following their name, is an indicator of their considerable status; so, there is no point attempting to downplay it.”
According to him, “No society can endure where the majority is poor and a privileged minority monopolizes access to opportunity or in which justice and security are perceived as the preserve of the powerful or where the majority, confounded by the asymmetries of wealth and power in the society, it become unable to see legitimate pathways of self-actualization and success.
“That is why this administration has set its sights on lifting 100 million people out of poverty over the next decade, and calls for the expansion of access to opportunity and investment in human capital development on a scale that is unprecedented in our history.
He urged them to make it their mission to dismantle all such roadblocks of rent-seeking and impediments in doing lawful business in their spheres of influences in their respective ministries, department and Agencies.
He also implored them to equally see the widespread perception of government, as being corrupt, as a personal affront, adding that, as officers of authority in the public bureaucracy, this perception reflects more on them than on any other cadre of government.
The President stressed that, government’s role is to create an environment in which enterprise and industry can thrive; only as this industry economy expands can the revenue available to the government in the form of taxation also increase.
He assured that, while this administration will continue to pursue the course of digitization of governance processes, it is important to point out that, neither laws nor technology can totally eliminate the role of discretion in bureaucracies.