A shortlist for fix-Nigeria 2019

Martins Oloja

I am fully persuaded that it is time to step aside from the distractions that the unprepared presidency and other gubernatorial absurdities in the states touch off daily. Again, they have distracted us with the news of Kachikwu-Baru affair. The distraction is curiously shifting to more clarifications about who approved what in the presidency when the lion king was ill.

They always distract us with frivolities of their unpreparedness for the high offices they occupy from Abuja through Calabar to Katsina. They pre-occupy us (in the media) with issues in the news that do not add value to the 57- year country that is also annoying an expectant world every year with its stories of only potentiality of its greatness. They distractedus the other day with the mouth-watering story of how a whopping three billion naira worth of budget for a state house clinic could not produce even syringe andparacetamol, let alone an x-ray machine. After all the questions to the people, where are the answers and who has been queried or suspended?
I think we have been staying for too long on this side of the mountain where we are daily distracted by frivolous news items that feed our rickety democracy. It is therefore time to focus on the theme I mentioned the other day here that, “elections have consequences” as former U.S President Obama once warned. I mean here that we should begin to encourage people who want to lead at all levels in 2019 to get cracking now, lest we will end up with unprepared leaders who do not have cognitive resources to lead us again.

It is time to begin to identify young and purposeful leaders who are already angry about the fact that even in the nation’s capital; the First Lady could only find an hospital owned 100 per cent by foreigners to treat minor ailments. We need therefore angry leaders like the biblical Nehemiah, who are readers and are prepared to rebuild Nigeria’s broken walls. We need young thinkers and tinkers who would not know about when the week ends. We need leaders in the legislatures across the country who can amend their rules to work on most weekends because of the urgency of the work to develop Nigeria. No, we do not need dealers, sorry leaders who would spend most of their time abroad in search of foreign investorswhen they know that they do not have electricity in the country.

There is no question about our terrible today: we dozed off since 1966 when some principalities and powers abandoned their calling to buy expired correcting fluids with which they established what General Chris Ali in his (2001/2014) classic calls, “TheFederal Republic of the Nigerian Army”. In their bid to establish a strong federal government that would not talk of secession again, they entrenched a unitary system that has solidified Nigeria’s underdevelopment framework we are struggling to dismantle now through heated debate on federalism. Now, we need disruptive leaders at all levelswho can dismantle the dysfunctional existing system that has sustained underdevelopment. We need young, resourceful and organised wizards who have what they call in management school “discipline of execution”. The ruling class’s rotational presidency nurtured by quota system has bred and institutionalised unintended consequences, notably mediocrity, incompetence, nepotism and parochialism. There are too many big men and only few great men who are now too old to lead.

We need a set of leaders that can break sectional barriers through superior performance index at all levels. Nigeria urgently needs bridge builders, not bridge destroyers through sectionalism that breeds agitation for separatism. We need leaders that can lead his team members straight from federal or state executive council meetings straight to inspect a national reproach called Apapa Ports and Oshodi-Apapa roads, Nigeria’s most strategic economic routes no leader has visited in 16 years of democracy without economic development. We need leaders who will build a knowledge-based economy. Nigeria has the people who have brainpower to develop the country from a third to first world. And these resources can be harnessed from all parts of the country. We have them but the power elite principalities who have been conspiring with the powerful operators of Ali’s “The Federal Republic of the Nigerian Army” to under-develop us since 1966 have not been strategically challenged. They are always prepared to seize the brainbox of any republics. They always distract and disarm us with some sleeping tablets called money – stolen from us.

The power elite operatives are organised for themselves against the people. They are the oil thieves who also sustain the pen robbers in the state oil corporation where they always distract us with stories of missing billions of dollars. They are the ancient, analogue thieves who always call skilled, electronic thieves to come over and steal and they at the same time alert the owners – the people that stealing has taken place. They are the investigators from anti-graft agencies to the ‘legislooting’ assemblies. Results of their corruption investigations and all that stuff – from Pius Okigbo to Justice Ayo Salami now –will never be implemented to punish offenders and criminals. Some of the indicted principalities always get cleared for high profile offices in our fantastically artful Senate.

Really, we are stranded at the moment in the world’s extreme corner of poverty, no thanks to failure of leadership. And so, if Nigeria should fulfil destiny of leading the black race and indeed Africa, we should listen to one of our most credible prophets, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah who has been crying alone in the wilderness that Nigeria needs prepared leaders. The cleric and a great scholar, has been saying repeatedly that we have been having emergency leaders who never prepared for public office for our common good. No one has taken him seriously. This is the time to understand the depth of Obama’s thesis that, “elections have consequences” after all. And so those who desire to lead us should begin preparation now. Reason: From Jill Conner Browne, The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love, we learn that “preparation is everything”.

Besides, Max Brooks, author of “The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead”, warns about procrastination and lack of preparation this way when he notes:

“If you believe you can accomplish everything by “cramming” at the eleventh hour, by all means, don’t lift a finger now. But you may think twice about beginning to build your ark once it has already started raining”. Come to think of it, Benjamin Franklin too warns that, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

My own modest contribution to this “search warrant” is that as a reporter, writer and editor in this failed system and wasted generation in the last 29 years from Lagos to Abuja and the North and back to Lagos, I would like to identify some of our leading lights that should be encouraged to step forward for leadership at any levels through any platforms. If I confess that I do not know many of them as personal friends, in this country where integrity can be easily overrated, “all the perfumes of Arabia cannot wash my hands clean”. But the message should be considered more important than the messenger. So, my shortlist of those to be screened for leadership from my “Reporter’s Diary” cannot be exhaustive:Here is the shortlist not in order of significance, anyway:

Peter Obi –He has shown himself approved as a leader who can read and study what it takes to lead people. He appears to have gathered data that today’s leaders need to succeed in public office. He has also shown the courage, tact, knowledge and discipline needed as governor of Anambra state. He can be useful in any of the two political arms of government: the legislature and the executive. His weak point: Anambra power elite he refused to settle as governor.

Nasir el-Rufai – The governor of Kaduna state, often misunderstood as an arrogant bigot, is quite knowledgeable as a leader; an excellent strategic thinker and planner. He is very bright and still ready to read up anything. He, like Peter Obi, arms himself anywhere he goes with his notebook. As FCT Minister, he showed that he could commit class suicide when he took on the power elite who violated Abuja’s original plan. I watched him at work, a great researcher on public policy, works better in his office on weekend. His weak point. Some politicians in Abuja, Kaduna and Christians in Nigeria.

BabatundeFashola – This man is not my friend too but I have seen him as a great listener who also takes notes wherever he can learn whatever will assist him on his job. He has discipline to read up whatever he can’t find. He is also a courageous leader who can say ‘no’ to even his employers. He too likes to gather data on issues of leadership. He is underutilized in Abuja now because he is unequally yoked with some unbelievers in the discipline of execution in a government that is not so serious about public service. Obi, el-Rufai and Fashola can be difference makers in any arms of government. His weak point: Some powers in Lagos. Mrs.ObyEzekwesili – She is always angry about public service anomalies. She is passionate and can go to any length to gather data she needs to succeed. The former World Bank vice president is a leader you can trust. Like Obi and el-Rufai, she is ready to step on toes as a disrupter. We need a lot of disrupters in public sector. Disrupters rule the world now. She will be useful in in the executive and legislature.

As we continue, let me make it clear here that you don’t have to be president or governor before you can make some difference in public service. The best place really in a functional democracy is the legislature. That is the real policy source through provisions of (enabling) laws.
**To be continued…

In this article:
Martins Oloja


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