By Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed
The only obstacle between our chaotic Nigeria of today and the Nigeria of our dream is good, credible and purposeful leadership. We must as a nation not only cross the hurdles of successful smooth transitions, but we must transition to the right leadership.
The need to break out of the present status quo is a matter of survival for Nigeria. If Nigeria is governed 2015 – 2025 the same way as 2005 – 2015 then the giant of Africa may suffer a similar fate like a sister country on the east coast – God Forbid.
This need is underscored by the fact that Nigeria is trapped in what I call the vicious circle of misgovernance. Looted funds and abuse of power subdue the poor and educationally-deprived electorate in a situation termed ‘bad politics’, which leads to poor and substandard elections in which sentiments override issues, and leaders cannot be held to account; which leads to a situation of corrupt and incompetent leadership where leaders replenish spent funds with profit to prepare for the next elections; which leads to a situation of under development and insecurity the type best described by our present situation; and which leads back to bad politics as the circle begins over again.
Breaking status quo means to end an era, at the least, or to revolt at best. Any of these will come at series of costs to which I beg to raise the following issues:
•Who will personify and lead, and what will his or their philosophy be?
•Who will give up what, and who will not?
•Who will take up what, and who cannot?
•What is the ideal part of the vicious circle to break out, and when?
•What sacrifices are ready to be made, and to what extent will risks be taken?
If breaking out has to do with leadership, then it is pertinent to observe that one generation of Nigerian leaders seems to have perfected the act of succeeding itself. This resulted on one hand from the reluctance of the present leaders to gradually transmit power to upcoming generation of competent and credible leaders, and on the other hand the reluctance of the later to democratically take power for reasons ranging from fear and servitude, to respect and idolization. In both cases, the nation failed to plan, and thus planned to fail.
Throughout history, transitions make and unmake nations. The contextual holistic meaning of transition is beyond elections. Transitions test the political maturity and stability of even the greatest nations. Transitions must be a process and a circle, but not of recycled individuals. And needless to add, they must be constitutional, legal, legitimate, civic, free and fair.
My submission will be unbalanced and incomplete if I do not mention our current situation. Build-up to 2015 was characterised by intense and unprincipled opposition by APC at a time questionable funding and spineless politicians made it roar like a tiger. APC then successfully defeated PDP and took luxury time to form a weak government. Thereafter APC gradually began defeating PDP again in incompetence and misgovernance, and APC looks set to defeat PDP in corruption by 2019.
Everyone is expected to continue to applaud the 2015 electoral victory of APC until 2019 without recourse to its performance. Everyone is expected to continue to think and say PMB is the saint to rescue Nigeria even though he is nowhere as such and returned to power without a vision and without concrete plans for Nigeria. Anything besides these, then one is a rebel, or being disrespectful. And I ask; when and how did ignorant and wanton misplaced desire to glorify a leader supersede the love for one’s country?
After basking in the glory of the peoples’ goodwill and riding on their votes, APC took it for granted that security will restore itself, and the economy will improve itself. These did not happen. Promises have come and gone empty while the nation begs to be rescued, and the world watches in amazement how such a wonderful creation of God Almighty is allowed to waste.
January 1984 42-year-old Maj. Gen Buhari addressed the nation that our hospitals were mere consulting clinics. 2017 75-year-old PMB spends enough time and money in UK attending to his personal health not building a hospital in Nigeria, while the first lady laments the misapplication of funds at the Villa Clinic. Change indeed.
Bearing in mind the theme of the conference, as a matter of justification, I expect the conference to answer the following questions:
•For how long will Nigerian leadership continue to be exclusive to former presidents, vice-presidents and governors?
•Why is the private sector so detached from aspiring to lead Nigeria?
•Why is it for example, because of cash at hand and control of party delegates governors dominate senators politically?
•When will proven competence and true credibility determine elected and appointed leaders?
•When will age beyond the constitutional threshold be just the number that it is?
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I welcome us to break out of the status quo.
– Being remarks by Sen. Y. D Baba-Ahmed, at the occasion of emerging political leaders’ conference in Abuja, recently