New Telegraph

President Nigeria needs

 

As Nigerians itch closer to the 2023 elections, BIYI ADEGOROYE looks at the type of president the country deserves at this critical time, especially with issues dominating the political space

Every election cycle presents an opportunity for Nigeria to produce leaders across national and subnational levels in the country. The expectations have since reached a feverish pitch as candidates comb various parts of the country selling their programmes.

For a country with over 200 million population, more than 133 million of which are living in varied stages of poverty, spiraling inflation, massive youth unemployment, the 2023 elections provide a rare opportunity for Nigeria to make a significant choice in electing a leadership capable of getting her out of the woods.

Other contemporary issues affecting the country are disunity, sectionalism, agitation for succession, insecurity, rising global inflation, poor supply, recession, high debt burden, massive corruption, ineffective governance and deteriorating public utilities.

Former Minister of Interior, Senator Abba Moro, in a recent interview with Sunday Telegraph bemoaned the state of the economy. The senator currently representing Benue South in the National Assembly said: “During President Goodluck Jonathan era, Nigeria was the fastest growing economy in Africa, and 26th in the world. Today, look at where we are. Look at the exchange rate of the Naira to the Dollars – N740. Naira now has become the CFA Franc of those days, meaning nothing. You can have a quantum of Naira in your hand and they don’t contribute anything to improving your life.

“So I think that again we are drifting very far into a terrible situation in this country. I don’t want to say Banana Republic; I don’t want to say a failing State, but that is exactly where we are drifting to. No matter how we are running away from it, something, something drastic has to be done. We just have to stand up and acknowledge that we have problems because that is the problem that we have, people not acknowledging that we have problems. So how will you find solutions to our problems?”

The magnitude of the litany of problems becomes more apposite in view of the fact that the country has suffered leadership failures in the last few decades, hence the search for a new leader, a Messiah of sort that would turn the misfortunes of the country around.

Ahead of the elections commencing from February 25, this choice has become very imperative when one takes into cognizance the fact that Nigeria, according to development experts, has not only been far from lucky with good leadership in the past few years, but also writhed with the large absence novel aspirants among the whole lot.

At the last count, the 18 presidential candidates, namely former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Peter Obi are oiling their guns both locally and internationally to govern the country. Others are Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso, Al-Mustafa, Dumebi Kachiukwu, Omoyele Sowore, Adewole Adebayo and Kola Abiola are also contending for the coveted post, and have not failed to itemize their plans for Nigerians.

But the state of the nation, some believe, has a bearing on the leader who should emerge at this time. Some analysts believe that currently, Nigeria is classified as a failed state going by the standards of the US Council on Foreign Relations (US CFR). This may be accurate given the following facts, said Chief Martins Onovo, a former presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party, (NCP).

“One, Nigeria is still ranked ‘very High’ (the highest category) ahead of Mali in the Global Terrorism Index 2022; two, 133 million Nigerians living in ‘Multi-dimensional Poverty in 2022, three Nigeria has about 20 million out-of-school children currently. The next stage after the “Failed State” status on the US CFR template is “Complete Collapse.”’

While some might pander to sentiments, ethnic or sectional and primordial considerations in their choice, others are constructive regarding the kind of leader Nigeria needs as it prepares for the elections. Yet a few but powerful Nigerians have chosen to work behind the scenes for candidates of their choice.

On his part, former President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed the view of many Nigerians about the imperativeness of threading on the side of caution about the choice of next president. In his recent letter, written this time with huge restrain, on “the gravity, responsibility and implications of the collective decision Nigerians, both young and old, will be making within the next two months.”

The former president codenamed the factors “TVCP: Track record of ability and performance; Vision that is authentic, honest and realistic; Character and attributes of a lady and a gentleman who are children of God and obedient to God; and Physical and mental capability with soundness of mind as it is a very taxing and tasking assignment at the best of times and more so it is at the most difficult time that we are.”

Onovo, quoted earlier, in an interview with Sunday Telegraph, submitted: “Universally, the key requirements for leadership are vision, integrity and competence. Comprehensive competence requires moral character, mental sagacity and physical fitness. Therefore, the President Nigeria needs now must be;

“A man of outstanding personal integrity; a man with a realistic and brilliant vision for Nigeria; a man with a strong moral character; a man of shining mental sagacity; a man that is physically fit.”

In addition, in order to mitigate the current ethnic and religious divisions, Onovo added that “the President Nigeria needs now must be acceptable to all major religious and ethnic groups in Nigeria. In this way he can easily promote peace, unity and synergy which are required for rapid development.

“When Singapore was run down, they elected Dr. Lee Kwan Yu who, a man of high personal integrity and clear vision, with a strong moral character and shining mental sagacity. Dr. Lee Kwan Yu was pragmatic, he promoted merit and checked corruption. The result was that Singapore went from a third-world country to a first-world with his leadership. Malaysia similarly had rapid development during the time that Dr Mahathir was Prime Minister.“

 

A public policy expert and ex-Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) Dr. Joe Abah, chose a rather quixotic but critical approach, wrapping it up in 10 questions on the kind of President Nigeria needs at the critical moment.

“Will you (the next president) stop spending money on unproductive ventures that produce nothing, like Turn Around Maintenance of refineries and Ajaokuta? Do you have the courage to stop oil theft?

“How will you fund Security, Infrastructure, Education and Health without borrowing more than you can afford to repay? Do you have the courage to eliminate multiple foreign exchange rates? Will you lead by example and cut government waste before demanding sacrifices of citizens?

“How will you tackle insecurity? “What can you achieve with a Constitution that focuses on sharing rather than production? How will you get NASS on the same page? How will you ensure

“Will you lead by example and cut government waste before demanding sacrifices of citizens? How will you tackle insecurity? What can you achieve with a Constitution that focuses on sharing rather than production?

“How will you get the National Assembly (NASS) on the same page? How will you ensure that we stop doing crazy things like creating new agencies with every law passed?” To Abah, Nigeria’s economic situation is dire straits due to policy decisions that do not benefit the majority of the people and the government’s lack of courage to change them.

The large number of Nigerians who registered for the 2023 elections, over 93.5 million, most of whom are youths, it has been said gave credence to their discontent with the kind of leadership foisted on the nation in the last decades.

Noteworthy, therefore is that most of these Nigerians across the country lay emphasis on the capacity and capability of the candidates, and are therefore clamoring for a change. However, this group is apprehensive that another mass of electorate who may have been benefiting from the corrupt system would hardly see any reason to vote differently in the next elections.

The issue of insecurity, hoarding and mopping of voter’s cards and sabotage by some unscrupulous politicians, have also been identified as subterranean pre-election bottlenecks created to subvert the will of the people. Since INEC’s introduction of BVAS has prevented rigging, recent reports have shown that some desperate politicians have resorted to the former to compromise the elections.

Needless to say, the aggregation of views now is that Nigeria must get it right with leadership this time, by electing transformational, intelligent, energetic, progressive, patriotic leaders who will emancipate the country from the shackles of bad governance to the zenit of global recognition. Otherwise, the next eight years would be disastrous.

 

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