Why do we seek angels in the realm of humans? There are no messiahs, angels or a Doctor Strange to magic our problems away.
We are all humans – fatally flawed but blessed species. Politics is not a game of piety and leadership is beyond moral sanctimony. We have to get down to brass tacks and deal with the real issues of leadership as regards the personalities we throw up for elective office.
The real issues of leadership as it concerns Nigeria are the capacity to bring about positive change in the system; initiate structural growth and development; build citizens’ confidence through transparency in governance; foster unity by inclusion and sensitivity to diversity; showing empathy; knowing the right things to say on the right occasions; understanding the economy; having the gravitas to take tough decisions; personal sacrifice and a sufficiency of character and patriotism.
As I have always said, Nigeria needs a unifier and healer as president in 2023. It also needs a sanitiser, a vacuumer; one who is not afraid to dare the undared. It needs a dauntless leader who is not afraid to be unpopular reforming the country. The good news is we do not have people of such constitution in short supply here. They abound.
No single government can fix all of Nigeria’s problems. We have to be realistic and measure our expectations. What we need is successive corrective leadership. One government addresses some fundamental challenges, and the next comes to build on the successes of the other as well as solve some prevailing problems. Governance should be a progressive continuum.
The Buhari administration like all other administrations before it has its failings, but it will be thoughtless to say the government has done nothing for the country. Clearly, there are some accomplishments in the area of infrastructure. The government did not abandon the projects of the previous administration; rather it completed them and initiated more developmental projects. Today, Nigerians can travel from Lagos to Ibadan by rail within a few minutes; they can now travel through the once tortuous Enugu-Onitsha Expressway; the second Niger Bridge is nearing completion – as well as many other infrastructural projects.
Are Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo defective leadership specimens? Well, their antecedents say otherwise. At the risk of lending myself to hagiography, Tinubu as Lagos governor showed his mettle. He worked out a roadmap for the state; had a diverse cabinet; in fact, he is reputed to be one of the few governors who appointed non-natives, including Igbo citizens, in their cabinet at the time.
Against a federal government allocation blockade, he governed Lagos with internally-generated revenues and was able to steer the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to dominance in the south-west and then midwifing a merger with the Congress for Progressive Change and the All Nigeria Peoples Party for the parturition of the All Progressives Congress. We cannot ignore Tinubu. For what it is worth he has shown an uncanny ability to build consensus and mobilise consciences towards a cause.
Osinbajo is a fine gentlemen; a refined politician. He is brilliant, temperate, expansive, renascent and disciplined. He is an example of what the avant-garde Nigerian politician should be. Against all odds, he has remained loyal to his boss – a rare quality in these parts. Osinbajo appears to have the right words for every occasion, and he has a copious understanding of the issues of governance.
People with the capacity for governance are not in short supply here. But if we are seeking some flawless individuals or celestial beings to turn Nigeria around we will only be chasing a will-o-the-wisp. Again, we have to be realistic and measure our expectations.
In the phylum of Nigerians with proven capacity for governance, we have Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti state, who has been rumoured to be interested in running for presidential office in 2023; Akinwumi Adesina, Buba Marwa, and many other distinguished Nigerians. Fayemi is perhaps one politician whose integrity and character has remained unsullied over the years.
Adesina, president of the African Development of Bank (AfDB), was first elected as the Bank’s president in 2015 and re-elected in 2020. He is an astounding economist. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree (first class) in agricultural economics from the University of Ife in 1981. He went on to earn
a PhD in agricultural economics from Purdue University in the US. He has won many awards, and received global recognition and appointments. He also has sterling records on integrity and leadership. He came into the reckoning of most Nigerians when he was appointed as the minister of agriculture in 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan. He was named Forbes ‘African Man of the Year’ for his reforms in the agricultural sector.
But in practical terms, Tinubu, Osinbajo and Fayemi are in a better political stead for the top job. They should run. All should run.
Run Tinubu! Run Osinbajo!