By Olumuyiwa Wahab Jimoh
At this time in our history and the trajectory which various forces are pulling and shaping our nation; lucidity and clarity of thoughts are required to be brought on the factors that we believe are necessary to turn the fortunes of this nation around. Making sense of the complex occurrences and events concurrently pervading our land has become very crucial for the survival and progress of our nation.
It is also important that within the context of the massive, extended and deepening cleavages creating newer challenges and exacerbating the various divides within the nation that the need to search for urgent but workable solutions to exit our nation from the developmental morass which it has found itself. Time to reasonably and objectively confront these hydra-headed challenges confronting our nation is now and it can only be done by men and women who would not allow the emotive forces of primordiality distort their understanding of the issues and the proffered solution choices.
Leadership and leadership recruitment processes remains the key to driving the nation out of underdevelopment. Many other nations of the world do have natural disasters and other negative natural occurrences as major obstacles to national development but what we have in Nigeria is the leadership conundrum. This has had a vice like stranglehold upon our nation suppressing its potentials and holding down most of its levers from achieving the critical mass needed to kick start national development.
Our major inability as a nation and as a people to throw off these shackles can only be explained by the fact that we have not been very objective in allowing our leadership recruitment processes the transparency that it needs to produce leaders that are selfless and with the necessary patriotic zeal to lead our nation to achieve its full potentials. We have allowed our emotions driven by ethnicity, religion and clannishness to drive our processes which eventually have all continued producing less than optimal outcomes for our nation.
The development of our nation is therefore a function of the nature and character of its prevailing leadership. Once we are able to get the leadership question and its various processes right, we would largely be in position as a nation to make progress. How can we get it right when almost all of the time, we have kept on throwing up our second eleven instead of producing our best to lead us? How can we peoduce our best when we allow primordial sentiments to drive our choices of leadership so, we kept on putting men and women who do not possess the right capacities and capabilities to lead us out of the woods?
Nigeria since independence has not been able to produce the best kind of leadership that it has the potentials for and this has been its major bane of development. Our choices are mainly ethnic in character and behaviour. This most of the time has produced nepotistic results such as policies and programmes that are inefficient thus incapable in the long run of crystallising development. We cannot continue doing the same thing over and over and expect to get a different result – the saying is that it is only a madman that has such warped expectations.
Leadership at the federal level is very critical for progress and sustainability in a nation like ours. Nigeria runs if not the most but one of the most centralised federal structure of governance in the world currently. It is also important to contextualise this within the understanding of our diverse and multi-ethnic nature with nearly 400 different language groups. We therefore need leaders who understand the implications of this for national cohesion and growth. The challenge then is how do we throw up such individuals within this diversity since politicians would likely negotiate political powers through its prisms?
This explains why some people believe that the character of leadership prevailing in any nation is largely a reflection of the society. It is a indeed a reflection of the choices that we make and truly a reflection of our collective failures or successes in our different persuasions. There is an urgency for us as a nation to build better understanding of how these things work, how nations grow and how nations die. Leadership is capable of causing a nation to go either way – retrogress or develop.
Mao Tse Tsung transformed China! Lee Kwan Yu changed Singapore! Nelson Mandela stabilised his nation – South Africa! Very close to us here in West Africa was the example of Jerry Rawlings in Ghana who ought not to be celebrated because he ran a military government but he changed his nation! They had the right vision and the commensurate energy to drive their pictures of their nation. They also had the capacity to paint these pictures for the citizens to see clearly and be able to follow creating a seamless interface between the leadership and the followers. This created the necessary critical mass internally activating and unleashing citizen’s power for the development of their nation.
One of the basic attributes of a great leader is his ability to vision and paint vivid pictures of abstract realities for his followers to grasp and hold on to. It is his ability to provide solutions in very difficult situations and to make seriously complex situation look so simple that its dynamics are understood even by the lowliest of his followers. Such great leaders have uncanny ability to mobilise and galvanise others consistently towards constructively engaging the challenges and opportunities existing within their leadership matrix. This is the kind of leadership that would make the required difference for our nation and that is what we must collectively pursue as we endure and move towards the general elections of 2023.
Why have we chosen to talk about leadership at this time? We believe that it is important that we begin to proffer solutions to the current challenges confronting us which are getting more complex by the day and if not addressed may lead our nation hopelessly into despair. We cannot close our ears to the strident voices of secession and disintegration being raised in all parts of the nation. The calls have become worrying and raise an ugly sceptre for the survival of our nation into the near future and as patriotic citizens; it becomes our duty to seek an understanding and attempt at finding solutions to protect our nation from the forces trying to tear it apart.
We strongly believe that at the heart of these clamour for separation lies citizenship dissatisfaction thus leading to their seeming disavowal of their loyalty to our nation Nigeria. When a people continues to be surrounded by years of abject neglect and abandonment by the nation, they begin to withdraw their allegiance to that nation. This is simply very psychological and easy to understand. Anything that happens to us at every given point in time has the capacity to either elicit commitment or cause a withdrawal. Positive experiences elicit COMMITMENT while negative experiences causes WITHDRAWAL. This largely explains why our nation is being pulled apart because the people have been going very bad experiences all these years. This is the failure of leadership!
Our wish is that the present powers occupying the various corridors of power understand this and the urgency for action that it heralds. A deep appreciation of the role they need to play in driving our nation out of its present predicaments will be a good beginning. Beyond that, crafting the right policies, programmes and actions becomes the next most logical thing to be done but this unfortunately is founded on their quality to envision and act appropriately with the required passion and vigour.
It is clear that there may be something wrong with the nation’s governance at the federal level that needs to be done differently. It is true that our nation has never been this divided and that we have not experienced this level of rancorous clamour in our history as an independent nation. What is more worrying is that the events that led to the unfortunate three years civil war in Nigeria seem to have become child’s play to what currently goes on in our nation which has been defending itself from various wars of attrition by Boko Haram forces and other Militias and bandits that have found serious grip on our nation.
We have not lost hope with the government at the federal level but it seems as if there are forces that presently have some kind of vicious grip of it thus have not allowed it to prosecute most of its noble ideals and deliver benefits to the citizens. Are we giving up on it? No but we have to learn from its strengths and shortcomings as we march into 2023 so that a national consensus is built around those things that will move us forward rather than pleading to the old primordial demons that have held us down all these years continually and perpetually repeating our mistakes and errors.
Having identified leadership as our bane in our quest for national development and having identified our retrogressive romance with the wrong attitude towards leadership recruitment driven by clannishness as the genie producing wrong leaders especially at the national level, it becomes important that as a nation desirous of getting it right, we must do away with all these pleadings to ethnic and primordial sentiments in our leadership recruitment processes. This is the time to change our thinking. This is the time to act differently and this is the time to allow our nation experience its best at this point in time. This is the time for men with the right qualities and capacities to serve and weld our nation into a cohesive whole to emerge. The work must begin now!
It is this sense of duty and civic responsibility that drives our commitment to sound the alarm that it will not pay Nigeria and indeed Nigerians to at this time insist that as power shifts back to the South in 2023, it should not go to particular section of the South believing that it has had its turn in power but we should allow the whole South to be the constituency for that candidate to emerge. It is by having an expanded south that we can have the opportunity of choosing the right person for the job at this time. Our nation remains at crossroads and it can only take men and women of uncommon vision and will to propel us forward and that choice to us is easily available to us right now as a nation. What is needed are the ones capable of playing at the centre stage and capable of leading nationally.
It was the same pandering that denied this nation the services of the great nationalists like the revered Pa Awolowo the patriarch of South West politics. Imagine what would have happened to our nation if he had served as the President of the federation. It was this same pleadings that made it difficult for Dr. Azikiwe to ascend the throne of the highest office in the land. Imagine what would have happened if he had served in that capacity as the President of the federal republic. Ahmadu Bello decided that it was better that he served in the North than at the centre sending his protégé Dr. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. This also denied Nigeria the governance savvy of the Sarduana at that particular point in time. We can then begin to imagine what would have been possible if we had a system that throws up our best at all times devoid of the individual’s ethnic presentations and religious beliefs.
We have kept on walking the same path that has kept yielding less than optimal result and we are about to make the same mistake again in 2023 from every indication. We posit that the time has come for us to begin to gradually withdraw from this primordial persuasions as the foundation for our negotiating political power. Where to begin is now that Power is shifting back to the South. The leaders of the South must provide leadership to the rest of the country by insisting that the whole of the South will constitute a single constituency in choosing and presenting a southern candidate for the 2023 general election.
It is unimaginable that we would at this time deny our nation the services of our great son, visionary leader and one of thte most impactful leader of our present generation. He is our Awolowo, Zik and indeed Ahmadu Bello of this generation. A man who has single-handedly stood his grounds against the onslaught of the destructive powers then resident in the PDP and like a hurricane – Phoenix-like with other great leaders risen in defence of our fatherland to craft the greatest progressive and people-based revolution of the Ballot box in the 2015 elections that ushered the APC into Power at the federal level.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a quintessential politician who has continued to demonstrate the required vision for the nation both in his utterances and his actions. He has calmed many storms that threatened our nation since 2015 while riding the crest of many to pursue the interest of our great nation transcending the mundane and becoming nearly ecclesiastical in pursuing national assignments. At this time of great distress, the Jagaban Borgu is what we need.
In Bola Tinubu, Nigeria has fortunately found a man with the qualities of a great leader who has continuously demonstrated both in words and indeed that he will be the man to deliver this nation from the clutches of backwardness and poverty. A man who has remained unwavering in protecting the interest of the downtrodden and the working masses of this nation is exactly what we need going into 2023. A man who turned Lagos from being a slum to becoming the renewed and great city which it has become today cannot but be a great leader. We believe he can replicate this at the national level and this has amply shown by leading the charge that saw the exit of the dinosaur – PDP from the seat of power at the national level.
When you understand some of the fundamental attributes of a great leader which we have mentioned, you cannot but be propelled into a discussion of the leadership enigma which the Asiwaju – Bola Ahmed Tinubu has come to represent within the nation’s polity. We have written so much about this personality and are not tired of writing about him because he keeps metamorphosing and consolidating his ideas and basic life philosophies generating new and exciting positions continuously that have not only kept the polity re-inventing itself but creating solutions proactively to interrogate governance issues within the nation’s socio-economic framework.
It is important that at this critical juncture in our quest for national development that we enthrone frameworks that would allow us to put our best foot forward by fielding our first eleven especially as we seek to solve our leadership question at the national level. Tinubu remains to our minds the best possible choice available to us a nation given his qualities as a unifier and a deep networker who is willing at all time to let the nation win instead of pursuing personal goals.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu stands out amongst the pack to the extent that if the nation fails to have him as a leader in 2023, we would have suffered a great loss but having him is a great gain for our nation and will assuredly set this nation on the path for national development.
Time without number, he has shown clearly that he is willing to spend and be spent for the cause of this nation. He has also demonstrated that he is not just a bridge builder but a bridge. He is always willing to lay himself on the line for others to use him as a stepping stone to their successes never – minding the insinuations that he is a weakling that can be shoved aside easily. In him, we see those qualities that are necessary for building nations especially the ones at crossroads like ours.
2023 beckons! Bola Ahmed Tinubu is our best foot forward. Let us put it! Allowing the puerile and self-serving argument of turn by turn politics at this time will take us further backwards! May we make the right choice for 2023 and may we allow the best to come forward! It is time to stop the step backwards. Nigeria must make progress!
The North is comfortable with him, The West is in bed with him. The South-South honours him while the East partners with him. A man that is comfortable working with the entire geo-political zones in the country cannot but be the best thing that happens to us at this time when mutual suspicion and distrusts amongst the ethnic nationalities have become deepened. We need him to heal our wounds and heal our nation. We can do it and he will deliver!