By Tochukwu Onwuzuligbo
Anambra is on the verge of a revolution. A new sheriff is in town with his whip blazing forth to whip up a new social order.
Historically, politics at its incipient stage anywhere in the world is organized around patronage. Biologically, man’s sociability is built on two fundamental principles; kin selection and reciprocal altruism which is man’s ability to recognize family and friends and his Inclination to dispense of political patronage to people based on kinship and friendship.
Patronage and it’s more pervasive form of clientelism were the basis which voters were mobilized as political parties emerged. Voters cast their votes to candidates who will guarantee them jobs and an unfettered access to uncle Sam’s cookie jar.
This is the reason public office holders feel beholden to hand down appointments to family and the people they feel helped them to those offices. The thing is not that patronage is immoral. It is just the natural concomitant of the absence of a strong state to codify group interests. As a result individuals who make it to offices pursue their narrow personal and sectarian interests and it’s a well known fact that personal or sectarian interests stand in the way of the general group interests.
If patronage government is one of the earliest forms of political participation, we can say it’s archaic, inefficient and is subject to modernization.
However there’s a caveat here. Modernization is not achieved a la carte. Change is not done in one fell swoop. It’s a process! We can have piecemeal reforms i.e ‘small-small’ incremental progress. When I heard of Soludo’s plans to recruit those to work with him on the impersonal basis of qualifications and experience rather than party affiliations and family ties, I leapt in joy but I know such earth shattering change will elicit clap-backs from entrenched interests.
This change may not be as swift but Soludo should be of good cheer because no where in the world did the state achieve modernization of its public bureaucracy at the first time of asking. Japan did not modernize until the meiji restoration in 1868. U.K’s modernization was a series of event along a continuum of a broader cultural reforms that span several centuries from Magna carta to the glorious revolution to the Industrial revolution. In China, when the communists sacked the nationalists, chairman Mao Zedong played a number of policies from the great leap forward to cultural revolution until Deng Xiaoping declared that wether a cat is black or white, it’s a good cat if it catches mouse meaning that policies can be capitalist or communist in character as long as it leads to economic growth.
Modernization was a long time coming in the US because clientelism was more deeply embedded there. All male universal suffrage was achieved in the US earlier than in the UK so the political parties had far more people to mobilize in the US than in western Europe and having more people to mobilize meant that the exchange of political support for material gain ran on a much more complex patron-client network spread across a diverse country but the US eventually modernized it public space. In France, a fiscally irresponsible ancient regime sold public offices to raise funds to maintain a standing army until the French revolution in 1789.
Therefore Soludo must be commended for undertaking this very important reform that runs against the grain of basic building blocks of human sociability. By broaching this idea whereby government will be run on such impersonal criteria such as merit, competence and qualifications as against party affiliations and family ties, he will etch his name on the sand of time.
May Charly nwa mgbafor succeed.
Tochukwu Onyebuchi Onwuzuligbo jnr/FB