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OBAMA COULD TELL JONATHAN, FOCUS ON THE INSTITUTIONAL PSYCHE OF NIGERIA

By: John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D
 Published April 10th, 2010

All is not right with world but good lord, the ever-expanding and highly penetrating complexes in Nigeria is all so revealing that it is now assumed that the globe can no longer contain Nigeria and may likely disappear in 2015. Let’s pray this is not true. Certainly, no one wants to say good bye so soon to a nation known for its great traditions and resources.

As you know in July of 2009, in my capacity as the first American President with Black ancestry, I visited the African soil, Ghana in particular. Why not Nigeria? My there brother, I will tell why. Nigeria have been a major blow not just to its self or to Africa but to the global economy of the 21st century .The level of open corruption amid many so-called leaders, and even among some foreign corporations operating in Nigeria remain unprecedented. As a result the state of affairs in the nation has almost turned up-side down, to the extent that the direction it has being going remain baffling and troubling. Institutionally, one is lost in almost every public establishment in Nigeria. Obama, in this opening confrontation shows why Nigeria was side tracked during in his eminent visit to Africa.

Obama, in his natural element as partly of African ancestry and unlike any other world leader could remind Jonathan that the paths of misplacement continue to crumple almost every way of living and dealing in day to day matters of the Nigerian society. Let’s start with health matters. Even when there have been great advancement and strides in health, typhoid and malaria still remain rampant. It remain shameful that Nigeria continues to be medically neglected by the powerful who are quick to seek medical attention in overseas where treatment is known for high health cost. Even many civil service, pay is suppose to be generally bare also are able to seek medical services overseas, partly with illegally lifted money.

There is the open market of un-regulated medicine and the poorly enforced regulations in the sales and retailing of controlled medications, and also as troubling is in the area of life expectancy for both men and women which is still at 50s, even in 21st century.

On education matters, is not uncommon for many civil servants and politicians have their children attending high fee schools in overseas. What then becomes of many Nigerian schools and universities where some teachers are known to exchange grades for sex and money from students?

On transportation matters, roads remain death traps complicated by poor lighting.

In the areas of security the police, penal, customs, immigration, and the military in particular, improper use of money, abuse of power and extra-judicial killing grows.

On matters of finance, illegal sales of currency in public remain commonplace followed by the unlawful hiding of monies overseas.

In the area of the judiciary, the court’s independence remain tired up with disrespect from public authority figures when called upon to testify. Bribery and assassinations of the heads of court is not uncommon.

On the matter of the nation’s constitution, the rule of law and order appeared crossed between the English/common law and sharia/Islamic law which leave the people confused. What a bewildered judicial system for a society that it defines itself as having adopted the American constitutional-democratic system.

In the area of housing, unfettered real estate activities continue in all areas. Aspiring tenants in urban areas especially, are made to pay roughly two year rent instead of a less stiff system of month by month charge. Also, poor ventilation, poor electrical power supply, explosive transformers, and slow killing lead are not uncommon.

In the area of press freedom, physical assault, fatal attacks, death threats and unlawful detention of reporters continue to undermine the true practice of journalism.

The extreme opposition between ethnic groups, religious factions and oil producing/non oil producing regions remain a serious social threat which continues, to hurt the collective progress of the nation.

The state of capital and economy remain a troubling matter. There continues to be deficit of recent sustainable progress in Nigerian polity and economy despite the pouring of huge external funds and monies. It could be argued that all the money flowing within and to Nigeria through grants, borrowing and printing will not slow down the paths of uncertainty, except the resources flow freely in the economy.

Obama , in a respectable way could inform Jonathan that the political economy of America certainly should not be attempting to dictate or control domestic or internal issues of the most populous nation Africa-Nigeria. But Jonathan could be told some one have to take Nigeria to task, in the area of societal mental status, especially.

Along these indicated worrisome exposures should the Nigerian nation truly wants to practice something near to presidential democracy or a system of executive government here are some restorative steps. Take the matter of the newly sworn in ministers where Jonathan , unknowingly or accidentally sent potential ministers to the senate without publicly announcing their respective and specific portfolios.

In fact, shortly before the presidential swear into their separate portfolios, they should have come to light, standing along with the president for the purpose of initial introduction before the media. This democratic approach could have allowed the public, even days or weeks before senate screening (which should have included specific portfolios and their tie to the respective potential ministers) and confirmation.

All these expectations which are commonplace in free societies usually allow for comments on the nominee’s respective competence, experiences, sensitivities, and even their personality styles.

However, now that these ministers have their mandate to go into their respective offices, Jonathan should be praised by Obama for the presidential warning he sounded to the new ministers, as it relates the need to avoid settling back into the old ways of administering Nigeria.

Obama could suggest the need for executive style crash training which could last three to five days for the ministers. And such instructional training need not be done by going for overseas course or bringing in “oyibo” as there are professional Diasporan Nigerians, known for their multi-disciplinary competence could come to play.

Jonathan could appeal to Obama on humanitarian ground to subsidize of fund efforts to direct a structured arrangement that will allow diaporan Nigerian profession also to aid Nigeria during this changing times.

The singular goal of the ministerial body is to craft various meaningful and up to date policies for immediate reform of their respective agencies. Going by the individual portfolios, beginning with the federal Health Ministry, which is now going to be headed by Alhaji Suleiman Bello? the existing policies in the ministry certainly calls for up dates in all area of developmental, physical and behavioral health.

Contemporary standards need to be on course with the assistance of health care professionals. Hospitals, pharmacy centers and health care centers need vigorous monitoring through strict enforcement unit within the ministry. Ii is very significant that in-service training of heath workers (which allows for minimum cost) should be frequent in order to enhance performance measures. Health workers with state of the arts skills in essential for the purpose of generally reducing risk and creating higher improvement across the nation.

The matter of Environmental health, Public health, and Behavioral health need higher priority with preventive goals as the optimal goal. Instituting competent programs in the area of anti-pollution hazards and drug education mostly in rural areas remain vital.

Policies in the areas of physical fitness should be actively implemented. This brings one to the question of the unhealthy habit of many car owners in Nigeria typically seating or stationed in the car while the minimally paid driver occupies the driver’s seat. For both the driver and the “big man or madam”, this assumed superiority comes with high risk unheathy behaviors. Especially, when these unhealthy behaviors could results in physical vulnerability, generalized fatigue , weight issues and other related harms. Let it be known that there are exceptions as it relates to the need for a driving assistant to some high level officials, like the president.

Nigeria historically has for some time now been a try any thing society, so is it time to stop the indiscipline as it run the risk of being directionless. As part of a forward looking approach, health related grant writing skills among personnel should become essential so as to help draw in funds and assist in evidenced –based research. These areas of challenges could be done by highly experienced health care specialists (e. g in psychological, behavioral and physical areas). Here again, Nigerian diaspora Nigerian heath worker matters.

In the area of the Interior ministry which will now come under the leadership of Emmanuel Iheanacho the domestic security and interest of the nations need to be looked at from a more foudational angle. Institutions like the prisons or correctional systems certainly need vigorous revamping for the security of the domestic environment. Behavioral training component should be aligned fully to training centers in order to better reform the system.

To stabilize the prisoners’ basic psychological/mental health , remedial and vocational training will bring the entire system to standard with regard to human rights challenges.

The police Affairs ministry now under –Adamu Maina Waziri should become more reform oriented by actively activating and updating guiding principles in the policing of the nation. A more strategic alliance with current qualifying and competency-making body, which is the Police service commission under the expertise of –Parry Osanyede. This relationship is vital in order to bring in systematic functioning through out the Nigeria Police Force.

The quality of police is much more than just having equipments and resources. The quality of personnel enforcing the laws should be overriding than anything else. Behavioral screening, personality testing and therapeutic services for potential officers, existing officers, and superior officers remain lacking from the point of high quality psychology. The quality of our police officers in terms of their motivation, behavior and ethics becomes more questionable as evidenced by the many-sided issues that continue to weigh down the police force. A positive –driving police force in terms of character make the system less of a social threat than the fear of crime itself.

Governmental strategies in the area of public safety concern mostly in small towns and urban environments will only make public sense if are experts within the ministry to help conduct up to date annual crime reports. It is important to follow up on developed policies by testing them for best practices. These strategies and systems will not only reduce fear among Nigerians but could attract international tourists , investments and businesses.

The current Education ministry under Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, and that of Labour and Productivity come under Ambassador Chukwuemeka Ngozichineke Wogu respectively. There is need to move away from failing the nation and this can be accomplished through educated and skilled populations. Character training and vocational type education within the contest of established quality rules, enhanced access to education, as well as through the enforcement of first-rate school standards. The allowance of high level competition between public and private institutions ( e g universities, Technology and others) will make national response to education more purposeful and broad.

The act of labour and productivity across the nation could improve with better accountability measures and enhanced work insurance. The disability programs and payroll systems for workers followed by rational relationship between the government and workers’ union are central for national up growth and stability. Licensing of occupations and various professions based on questions with up dated research are vital. Also, continued educations through non-overseas seminars as well as the active use of strict rules for violators are needed in order to enhance labour performances. A comprehensive plan to investigate and reduce labour abuse must be reflected in up dated policies. These moves aught to help transit our workers into the 21st century. While the new government is still young the improved outlook of the nation could evolve steadily.

The commonsense person will agree that the general Nigerian condition is not only affecting the wellbeing of the people but interfering with the current state of the global economy given our interdependent and interconnected world.

Therefore, the Jonathan presidency as an extension of Yar’ Adua administration should show a bold and swift commitment to rebuilding our historically great society. This should occur under the cordial aid of Jonathan’s senior helpers which include Mike Ogiadomhe, Principal Secretary; Steven Oronsaye, Head of Service of the federation; Alhaji Yayale Ammed, Secretary to the federation; as well as Abike Dabiri Erewa, House of Representative Chairman for Nigerians in Diaspora . Professional Nigerians in the Diaspora with direction and support from the preceding presidential agents must play their part by returning home and help improve the institutional psyche of a nation that was historically are known for its strength and valor.

Obama aught to let Jonathan know that the great mistake now is to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. For too long, Nigeria have been wrecked and left soiled in its institutional structures. It is time to set a clear line of renewing the society. Some of the answers are notably evidenced in this discourse.

It will be a lost cause of opportunity during Jonathan’s visit to America not to actively push for Nigerian Diaspora professionals, mostly in behavioral and technological fields to come home and assist. He should issue an executive order to set up a new web site aiming to build a database and facilitate the process of homecoming. Jonathan should let any Diaspora Nigerian he meet during this visit that it is not just enough to visit for occasional funerals and remembrance—there are other matters to address as in restoring the national psyche of an unsteady society.


John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph .D, a practicing Forensic/Clinical Psychologist and the Interim Associate Dean of the Behavioral Science Department at the North Campus of the Broward College, Coconut Creek, Florida. Joshodi@broward.edu



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