Of leadership and 2019 elections

Fellow Nigerians, this is the most appropriate time for us to put on our thinking caps; think deeply and clear our minds of mental cobwebs that have delayed and frustrated our march to nationhood and development. This has become necessary because our action and inaction are direct products of our thought process and our world view. No one rises above their thought process and distortion of that process is responsible for the multiplicity of human tragedies and calamities that have befallen our nation.

Further to the above is the need to understand the pervading herd mentality we have used in determining the governance structures and leadership of the country. Thus, the thinking cap is needed more at those centres of leadership that facilitate the determination of the direction that the various herds move in. The herds of ethnicity, religion, etc. have become very decisive in the determination of who gets what in terms of political power. Yes, 2019 is around the corner and we shall go to the polls to elect leaders across the political spectrum – from the President to the state legislator. Our poor thought process and lack of nobility in our volition have over the years produced very poor leaders. This has been accentuated by myths that we have created about politics and leadership. The focus of this discourse is to attempt to show the lack of depth and credibility in some of the myths.

For leaders in the executive, across the political value chain, who have run a first term and seek a second term, the argument of their promoters and supporters that they are entitled to run for a second term based on their constitutional right to be voted for is empty. At the federal level, there are over 120 million Nigerians who can stand and be voted for. So, the right of the incumbent to run is infinitesimal in the discourse of the rights of these millions. Whoever has been given a position of leadership for four years should be judged on their performance and not on any imaginary right. If the performance is poor, they should be asked to leave. If someone who knows they need the electorate to get a second term runs their first term in a devil-may-care fashion, as if the people do not exist, there is something sinister and frightening to fear about their second term when they do not need to please anyone again. Such a person is not deserving of a second term.

Since we have refused to outgrow our sectional cleavages, whenever it is the turn of any group to produce a president, (North, South, Christian, Muslim, etc.), such a group should ensure that they send their first eleven to the leadership contest. It makes no sense to bring out the dullest and dumbest and pretend that they would do well in leadership. The best and first eleven are not judged by how provincial the fellow is and how they champion the cause of the section of the population. Rather, it should be about ability to build bridges and reach out to all parts of the country.

Leadership ought to emerge from a track record of consistent policy positions and views of a candidate. We do not need a leader who has come to compensate for the losses of the North or South or East or West. We need a leader who comes to compensate for our collective losses as a nation. Those with one score or grudge to settle with others have no business in leadership positions. They should find private and legal means to settle these scores. Therefore, all historical personalities who have been part of the Nigerian story since the Civil War days to the present time must do us the favour of stepping aside. Otherwise, the youth bulge of our population should see it as a duty to retire these personalities from the front burners of our national life.

Anyone interested in running our affairs must have a blueprint of solutions, which they market at the election on how to turn around the economic, political and social fortunes of the country. This blueprint must be about specifics and must not be about sweeping generalisations. For instance, workable propositions are needed in the energy, health, education, industrial, etc. sectors of our national life. The candidate must tell Nigerians how they intend to heal the wounds of our battered nation; address structural challenges and grow our economy. It makes no sense for any party or candidate to make promises, deny them, demonise whoever reminds them of the promises and then set up committees to clarify what is meant by the promises about a year to an election. Announce the findings of the committees as if Nigeria has successfully sent a manned flight to Mars and expect Nigerians to clap. That is too cheap and is evidence of a low and deceitful mindset.

The mindset that Nigeria is a rich country and the leader only needs to sit on top of our oil wealth and share same across the divides is extremely appalling. We are a poor country by any imagination and standard. The best that can be said is about our potential, which if well-managed can turn around our fortunes. It is time to look for farmers, bakers and cooks (of national wealth) and not stewards who have food is ready mindset. And it takes a great deal of creativity and knowledge to be in the baking room in a globalised world where ideas and technology contest for every single space.

Today, Nigeria needs a communicator, a charismatic leader, one who is be able to inspire confidence and acceptable to all shades of Nigerians. We need a leader who can express themselves and come to presidential debates to sell their ideas on nation building. Thus, whosoever shields any presidential candidate from debates is not doing Nigeria a favour. Rather, such a fellow intends to harm the common will.

The idea that time is on our side, and that “we shall get there”, which seeks to create the impression that the world is waiting for us to finish our display of inanity, kill ourselves and show skeletons of hungry persons across the television and private rooms of civilised nations is queer. No one is waiting for Nigeria and very soon, with oil losing more of its value and relevance; no one will be willing to come to our aid if we make the mistake of leading the country into another civil war or deep economic crisis. We are already a people in a time warp, left behind in time and space, and any further attempt to delay our coming back to our senses and begin the task of nation building exposes us to the danger of extinction like the dinosaurs. Again the craters of hate and despair are deepening as more lives are lost every day to governance ineptitude and this may lead to consequences too dire to imagine. We have lost so much time and we need to start the rebuilding process immediately. Thus, Nigeria has no four years to waste simply because Mr. A served eight years before now.

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