Nigeria without nation builders at 58
But for the way we are – as a country without leaders who are afraid of the people, I would have borrowed the title of an artful writer, Brett Baker who had on August 18, 2017 said of his country, ‘Don’t look now, but we are a country with no leader’. I mean, I would have liked the title of the anniversary essay on my country at 58 to be:‘Nigeria @ 58: A Country Without A Leader’. Despite the prevailing situation, I am still persuaded as we celebrate Nigeria at 58 that we are a nation with an absentee leader. There is a sense in which we can also look at the 36 states of the federation, 774 local governments and the three arms of government in this convoluted federation and claim too that we are indeed a country without nation builders (leaders)at all levels.
No matter the owner of the assess that bray at this anniversary time, we should still be able to say like Baker that there are certain times when the entire country, regardless of political affiliation, turns toward the president for leadership. There should be no doubt that in times of crisis the office of the president should have the grandeur and gravity to help provide the stability and confidence to help guide us through chaos.
We didn’t need to be Americans to relive the leadership George W. Bush, for instance, provided in the days after 9/11 that his genuine compassion and concern for the victims, and the country in general, were quite helpful. And Barack Obama’s steady empathy every time this country suffered from its most shameful accepted weakness—gun violence—helped bring grieving Americans back from the edge of madness and despair.
Sadly, as we wave our beautiful flags tomorrow to mark our 58th independence anniversary, what can we say of leadership in Nigeria? Can the about 200 million Nigerians look up to heaven tomorrow and thank the God of all grace that we have a leader who can bring us back from the edge of failure, madness and despair we are sliding into?
We can serve the gods of the belly at this time tomorrow and then hide some truth in a grave but will it stay there? Can we honestly look up toward the Nigeria’s presidency tomorrow for comfort, guidance and hope of a better tomorrow? ‘Hope of a better tomorrow, says Ngugiwa Thiong’o, in his classic, Weep, Not Child‘, ‘is the only comfort you can give to a weeping child’.
Will the Nigerian leader be able to call our attention together on this significant occasion tomorrow and tell us with a contrite spirit that he has failed us on so many fronts? Will he apologise for dereliction of responsibility and failure of leadership? Will he talk to us too, blame Libya, Syria and Iraq over terrorism and herdsmen’s atrocities in the country? Will he haul some diatribe at the young ones and the unemployed that will make him seem like a melding of Kim Jong Un, David Duke, and Dirty Harry?
A speechwriter will prepare some remarks for him for Nigeria at 58 tomorrow and he’ll deliver those remarks without ad-libbing. But even if he doesn’t say anything to alienate the majority of Nigerians who don’t share his narrow view of the world, we’ll know that most times, our leader does not mean what he says and therefore does not say what he most times means.
If tomorrow comes,will the leader of the most complex federation in the ‘Forum of Federations’ be able to reiterate his punch line (carelessly taken from Charles de Gaulle’s) on May 29, 2015: ‘I belong to everybody. I belong tonobody’?
This thing called leadership should not be taken as a buzzword as it is fast becoming in management schools. It is a serious matter. Don’t be fooled about the concept of three arms of government. There is only one man who leads the three arms of(the) government in any country. You’ll remember from your high school civics class that Nigeria has three branches of government: legislative, judicial, and executive. The three branches are supposed to provide checks and balances on each other. Or so it seems. But when it comes to governing, none of the three is more powerful than the others. However, when it comes to leadership and providing direction for the country, the president stands alone!
The buck stops on his table. If he cannot provide leadership to get his budget proposals and policies approved by the legislative branch, if he cannot confirm his nominees at the Senate dominated by his governing party, he should stand alone – to take responsibility for his aloofness and lack of engagement skills. He is the president and commanders-in-chief of the armed and unarmed forces.
After three years and four months in office, there is a sense in which we can claim that the president of the most populous black nation on earth lacks capacity to run a complex federation like this. He has shown throughout his campaign and his term in office that he lacks the judgment, temperament, patience, humility and broadmindedness required to run Africa’s largest economy – that is not a member of G-20 and the six biggest emerging markets –BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
This is more than just a difference of opinion on policy, such as people experienced during the Jonathan presidency – they always compare with theirs. We have gone beyond that. Nigeria at 58 and Buhari at three plus should be a platform to tell the present administration that they are at the moment gambling with the destiny of about 200 million people they don’t respect.
Now, we know better why they first demonised growing and robust ‘free speech’ as emerging ‘hate speech’. The president’s men have continued to pursue media trials of selected suspects mainly in the opposition party as fighting corruption.
Now we know why no process under the law was followed before the current Inspector General of Police who did a good job in Kano in 2015 as Police Commissioner was imposed on the nation. He has become the Inspector General of President’s Police Force. The same goes for the anti-corruption arrowhead. Only the president knows the law that keeps in office a nominee (as EFCC Chairman) the Senate has twice rejected. A federal court has even ruled that the Senate had powers to reject or keep him but the president has kept the only man who is trusted to fight corrupt people who want to buy votes.
What will the President say to the nation tomorrow about fighting corruption? Will he tell us that he even encouraged his Finance Minister with a fake NYSC certificate to resign? What will he say about the remaining fake certificate holders one of whom is in the property wing of an anti-corruption agency? What will the president say tomorrow about the lying lawyer in his cabinet who lied that the political office hehad held at 25 was was a substitute for the compulsory national youth service corps (NYSC) scheme?
What will the president say he will do to the minister now that NYSC management had said the minister lied and so had been disqualified by his party as a governorship candidate in Oyo state?
Where do we go from here? We were made to believe that we rejected today’s main opposition, the PDP because the country was drifting under them and then we voted for a change today’s governing party promised. They promised security, transparency by fighting corruption, true federalism and economic progress, among others. But along the line, they promised to overhaul education and promised to declare an emergency on it (education) in April this year, But as several analysts have mentioned, they have changed the promise. It is sad.What will the president tell the nation tomorrow about his journey so far on the anti-corruption war? Do you come to power to record conviction of only two former governors out of 23 charged since 2007? Will he tell us about how the civil service has been reformed to curb official corruption?
Can we be proud of the National Assembly too at 58? Their lack of thoroughness, reckless and secret remuneration package in a struggling economy, has tainted their parliamentary record. The president too has failed to use the ruling party’s clear majority to reform and instill discipline in the system. Sorry, Nigeria doesn’t have a strong and reliable parliament at 58. Yes, there are some redemption songs only from the Judiciary that seems to be reinventing itself and regaining some lost grounds.
In the main, it is unfortunate that at 58, Nigeria’s leadership does not have any basis to invite the rich deposit of its brainpower in the diaspora to come over to Nigeria and help. There are so many of them in Europe and North America.
Can the Nigerian leader tomorrow call on Dr. Benneth Ifeakandu Omale, a University of Nsukka graduate who has become a Nigerian-American world-class neuro-pathologist in the United States and Dr. OluyinkaOlutoye, an organic product of University of Ife who reportedly performed a successful operation on an unborn baby with tumour in her mother’s womb, in the U.S, the other day to come home for nation building?
Is there any room in today’s Nigeria for Adebayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian lawyer and investment banker, of Global Infrastructure Partners now in charge of Gatwick Airport in U.K, to take oversome Nigerian airports management, for instance?
At 58, where are the leaders in Western Nigeria, which used to be a pacesetter region in education, healthcare and critical infrastructure? Where are the northern leaders, followers of Ahmadu Bello, who can lead the North to look beyond the oil in the South South and economic assets in Lagos?
This is a time to tell President Buhari that at this moment, he does not inspire too many people beyond some parts of the core North. He is just good at making people afraid. He’s good at shirking responsibility and deflecting blame. He’s good at attacking others, and starting fights. He’s good at parochial appointments. I believe he is an absentee leader who cannot continue to lead this country. He should tell us tomorrow why he has changed the promise of change. I hope we can find someone else who can do the job of nation building as we clock 58.
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