By Mubarak Shu’aibu Hardawa
Nigeria is on borrowed time at the moment and not just because of an awful leadership it is experiencing, but for having that ‘onerous’ task of finding the marquee leader that would be her saviour. This arduous mission has become inevitable after many years of failed attempts that defied belief, much less explanation.
The leadership problems in Nigeria are structural and systematic, while the crisis at hand is long-lasting and accelerating. The system has become so overwhelmed by anger and frustrations that even the most basic task of any government, which is securing the lives of its citizens, is becoming increasingly impossible.
While good leadership is essential – especially in a country the size of Nigeria- the anticipation, grit, and determination to inspire the citizens to be there, unfortunately, that looks like a distant hope. Despite the arrays of potentials and the abundance of resources, which, if properly harnessed, would transform Nigeria into an unmatchable place, this runs contrary to reality. The result obtained is a satiric giggle. The reason may not be unconnected to the fact that our leadership group lack the requisite qualities to take Nigeria to a greater level of ceaseless progress and prosperity.
To put it simply, Nigeria has the capacity and nous to be as rich as the United Arab Emirates. Still, due to its poor choice of leaders, it is now as filthy as pigsty moving on India in the pecking order of countries with the highest number of citizens living in extreme poverty. This situation is avoidable. How? By not allowing ethnicity, religion, region and party affiliation to cloud our judgment when choosing the right leader.
Thus, by eschewing leaders of a good character, grand ideas and strategy, we are restricted only to a bunch of clowns whose leadership style cannot inspire even a cheap hope in anyone. And what is obtainable from such leaders is a failure that we are now seeing as it has metamorphosed to a greater extent that most Nigerians no longer have faith in the government.
As it is now, it will only take the starriest eyed optimist to make a case for believing in Nigeria at the moment. The dailiness of wanton killings, kidnapping, stealing of public funds, the meteoric rise in poverty index, corruption, and so on say everything about the kind of leaders Nigeria has. With what is obtained today, Nostradamus himself will hesitate to bet that wrecked Nigeria will be great in the near future. (I’m optimistic, though! As optimism oils the wheels of everyday living.) But such a level of demoralisation and crestfallen require a strong antidote whose composition is character and strategy combined to turn things around.
Since the return of democracy in 1999 to date, those touted with the leadership of this country come with asterisks—either of corruption, poor economic management, health challenges, ethnicity, ageing, nepotism, etcetera. Although there were numerous pros with President Yar’adua’s short shelf-life, the hopes were soon taken away by the inevitable finality which laid him and his famous anthem of “7 Points Agenda” to rest. The rest doesn’t have much to write home about.
The point where Nigeria looked set to hit the proper course was in 2015 when President Buhari came with his ‘Change’ mantra, but that ultimately goes to show that he is not the finished article based on his sheer lack of strategy. This imbalance left Nigeria without a vertebra in her spine for a couple of years. Although we had the chance to change the narratives in the 2019 election, with character (Buhari) coming up against strategy (Atiku Abubakar), Nigerians failed to the wisdom in the saying “A leopard never changes its spot” thus persisted with Buhari thinking that things will change in the second term. The majority of Nigerians at that material time held the view that his character, which fetched him the public appraisal of “Mai Gaskiya”, would wave wands and make things magically better. A dogma that is fruitless at best and hazardous at worst.
Some Nigerians even went vigorously beyond delimitation and common sense, arguing that Atiku was plotting to sell Nigeria (NNPC). While some purported that President of the Senate Bukola Saraki, Speaker House of Reps Yakubu Dogara, Senator Dino Melaye and co are the saboteurs of Buhari’s government in the NASS and must therefore be cleared off the deck to allow Buhari an enabling environment. These are publicly sold opinions and thus became very hard to change even when most of the evidence suggests that they should.
This premature decision under predicated conditions of illusionary belief backfired heavily as his weakness for lack of strategy has been laid bare even in the second term, with Nigerians paying the premium price to date.
Today’s Nigeria is unrecognisable from halcyon days, and her golden generation passes. However, some ethos is sacrosanct, such as having the leadership group to look up to, such as Tafawa Balewa, Dr Nmandi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello (the Sardauna of Sokoto). Even without the crude oil, they left Nigerians every reason to be optimists. That was a sheer display of character and strategy.
While you would hope to see a similar Nigeria sooner rather than later, the choice to be made should be factored into character and strategy. Nigeria is in a store for hectic decisions to make. However, the cold, hard reality is that Nigeria, like never before, needs a leader whose character will help unify the country through healing, dialogues and not by polarising the recent past.
A strategic leader will find a way to midwife the return of peace to Nigeria, grow and maintain our economy, asphyxiate corruption, fix our education to be able to stand on our own, and cut down the unnecessary government expenditure all the recklessness we are known for. Meanwhile, a character will help that leader follow the right path in seeing through the above tasks. All these sound plausible, right? Theoretically, it does. However, in reality, given the constraints of apparent options, debates were ignited on whether we could find such a man in our political arena (that’s a pulsating debate!).
Nigerians must challenge and X-ray anyone who throws his hat in the ring to avoid falling foul of past mistakes.
Finally, I insist on a person who embodies these invaluable assets (character & strategy). We hope our leaders and Nigeria itself are going to be alright! And reeling out the rationale for pitching tent behind such a person, Prof Zulum of Borno will suffice.
Mubarak Shu’aibu Hardawa wrote from Bauchi State via firstname.lastname@example.org.