Saturday 17 October 2020

Yet Another Naming Ceremony


I was thinking this morning.... following the wave of #EndSARS protest last week, the government finally acceded to the demands of Nigerians on Sunday 12th October announcing the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). While the protesters celebrated the modest achievement, they were still on the streets 48hrs later calling for deep reforms when the IG announced a new unit called 'Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.' It was then it dawned on everyone that what just happened was a 'naming ceremony.' SARS was not ended but renamed.

As I took the 'Oshiomhole sticker' position (arms akimbo), saying 'You don't mean it!' Nigerians began doing what they know best, giving the acronyms SARS and SWAT a performance based interpretation. It started with my young wife saying SARS means 'Satanic Agents Rampaging Society' while someone else said SWAT means 'SARS With Another Title.' Hmm! No be lie. But wait o, how deep is the thinking that led to the creation of SWAT within 48hrs of disbanding the killer squad? How fundamental is this change? What Nigerians want is nothing but a complete turnaround. As I pondered, my wife concluded with this bombshell 'this SWAT is nothing but 'Spiritual Wickedness Against Turnaround (SWAT).'

But our leaders sha! Why are they so shallow and reactive in their problem solving response?' Cast your mind back. As the failure of NEPA became legendary, everyone interpreted NEPA to be 'Never Expect Power Always.' When the clamour by Nigerians for reform got louder, the government in 1999 scrapped NEPA and came up with PHCN after very cosmetic changes. When the hours of darkness did not abate years after, we knew that what happened was a naming ceremony rather a reform.

Twenty years down the line in 2019, it was the turn of Nigeria Prison Service (NPS). Rather than being reformatory and rehabilitative, Nigeria's penal system is punitive, degrading and dehumanising and leaves the prisoners with the least opportunity of re-entry into the society. What was the response of the government? Buhari approved a bill that changed the name of the Nigeria Prisons Service to Nigeria Correctional Service. With the change, questions were asked. 'Has the prisons been changed to amusement parks?' 'Will they no longer hold 150 prisoners in a room?' Nigeria Prison Service (NPS) to Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS), 'Okere High College' (as prison is called in Warri) remains the same. It is not reform but a naming ceremony.

We must learn from our failures as a nation. When things don't work in our business or other investments, just pause. Don't be in a hurry to rename or rebrand. Deconstruct the situation, examining the flaws and seek input from those that know better and have succeeded. Isaiah 1:18 - 'Come now, and let us reason together, Says the LORD.' Don't be cosmetic. Renaming or rebranding is not reform.

Happy Sunday.

....Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

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