Most of the presidential aspirants prancing all over the place today do not really have specific, practical and implementable policy ideas, actions and proposals with which they intend to save Nigeria. It is not enough to speak in general terms about “What” you want to do as a leader. The “How” of it all is important as well. It is only with such details that we can say whether the leadership template is reasonable, feasible and realistic. Otherwise, we shall keep celebrating the epidemic of aspirants, all of whom are “threatening” to save Nigeria from drowning under its current rudderless leadership.
Take the rowdy talk about restructuring, for instance. What does it really mean and how do the various presidential aspirants intend to deal with it? The restructuring discourse is variously couched as confederation, regionalism and resource control by different sections of the polity. The clamour is simply the demand for equity, for greater autonomy of Nigeria’s federating units and for the full expression of our national character with emphasis on unity and not uniformity; or subservience of one section to another.
These are the missing details, or “little things” missing in the conversation of most of the candidates. These missing details are also the issues raised by Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal in his ongoing consultations with delegates all over the country, in preparation for the PDP party primaries. First, he pointed out to them that restructuring does not, and cannot, mean that we should start carving up and re-dividing the physical space and land mass called Nigeria. He explained that we are to look into aspects of the Nigerian Union that make some sections, or regions, to feel uncomfortable, cheated or not fairly treated in certain respects. Then he showed the delegates that the foundations for the inequities on the table at the moment were laid in the existing provisions of our current constitution.
Taking the conversation further, he showed how the simple matter of moving things like power supply, railways and so many other things from the Exclusive Legislative List to the concurrent list would address more than half of the issues fuelling the call for Restructuring. He pointed out that he would prefer to run a government that enables the federation units to decide what they want in such things as membership of institutions like the Federal Character Commission, Boundary Commission, etc. He believes that the Federal Government should not determine for the states, who should represent them in such institutions.
On what motivated him to join the race, he said it was the desire for service to God, through service to humanity. He told Delta delegates: “I want to create sustainable jobs and use responsible citizenship engagement to address the insecurity in our land, because no amount of arms and ammunition can secure the nation if most of our youths are restive, unemployed and even unemployable.”
In Yenagoa, he was at pains to explain to the delegates that there is no great nation that did not face challenges on its path to greatness and that it is the struggle with such challenges that “gives a nation its authenticity and affirms its right to stand tall in the comity of nations. Hear what he said to the PDP delegates in Jalingo: “Do not lose hope yet. Stand with me to enthrone a government that would protect every citizen of our beloved country via a better national security architecture”.
Let it therefore be said here that what is before us in Nigeria today goes beyond mere politics and elections. The situation is desperate. Our collective survival is threatened, going by all global development indices. National survival in times of dire national crises calls for serious thought, focused action and close attention to sustainable national values and good governance. As governor Tambuwal said, “Nigeria has never been this polarised at any other time in its history.” We need a leader who has the ability, understanding and willingness to unify Nigeria at the level of values and bring back the peace and genuine community life that has been destroyed in our body politic.
And the fight against corruption? It must go on, but with a better understanding of what corruption means and how to fight it. The person who is always looking backwards will continue stumble in his forward movement. There is the corruption of national values in the violation of provisions of the constitution in appointments and other key government decisions. It is also corruption of Service Rules to give unmerited promotions, as this destroys esprit de corps and fuels distrust of the system. Such distrust only further strengthens corrupt practices, including fiscal irresponsibility that sometimes manifests as fraud and outright embezzlement. Focusing on the past, or focusing on perceived enemies of the government of the day, cannot address such ills.
That is the Tambuwal template for a 21st Century Nigeria. It calls for that wise, realistic, socially reassuring and economically viable and sustainable mix of ideas and actions that would birth the 21st Century Nigeria that the rest of the world has been waiting for – perhaps for too long.
Ikechukwu is spokesman and head, Media and Strategic Communications, Tambuwal Presidential Campaign Organisation.
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