Our beloved country Nigeria, a nation in dire strait, wombling and fumbling at 63 in a critical moment; Nigerians are hungry and angry. Hunger is in the land…we are living dangerously on a keg of gunpowder, driving more people into poverty through unfriendly policies poorly and thoughtlessly implemented or bad policies and no policy at all. Nigeria is at a precipice; its future is at stake. Conversely, the need to pull Nigeria from the precipice of economic decline, disunity, internal insecurity, social insecurity, and ultimate disintegration has become imperative.
Therefore, there is a need for cautious optimism about phantom accomplishments.
To many Nigerians, especially the hapless citizens of the country, the previous administrations of Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan, and Muhammadu Buhari actually were a metaphor for misery and frustration, especially in their economic life and that of the country. It was a period of locust swarm when hunger became a native in many homes and unemployment became another national flag. The million-dollar question is; can we, as a nation, survive another round of ineptitude, incompetence, nepotism, cronyism, and corrupt tendencies typically characterised by poor governance and bad leadership over the recent past two decades? The answer is rooted in the ability of the present leadership to be different from the previous maladministration, nepotism, cronyism, and ineptitude.
Before I continue, I would like to share with us the profound words of Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, a Nigerian military officer and politician who served as President of the Republic of Biafra from 1967 to 1970 during the Nigerian Civil War. Emeka Ojukwu, in a tribute, described Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Oyeniyi Awolowo, a Nigerian nationalist, and statesman who played a key role in Nigeria’s independence movement (1957-1960), as the “Best President Nigeria never had”. This is a mind-blowing testimony of good leadership in the black continent of Africa.
Additionally, Emeka Ojukwu, posited that in political terms, he would be considered an adversary of the Igbo given the intense rivalry between him and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe. As a leader of the modern cast, he has left Nigeria standards which are indelible, standards beside which future aspirations to public leadership can be eternally measured. He was, for a long time, the only Nigerian leader who enunciated principles and played down personalities. He was a brilliant political administrator and a most erudite teacher.
“He not only identified himself wholly with the aspirations of the Yoruba people of Nigeria but also he was able to convince the Yoruba people of Nigeria that he, only he epitomized the highest point of their political aspirations and consciousness. He was loved, he was feared but above all he belonged to the people he professed to lead. At his death I had the singular honour of proposing for him this epitaph that has endured – ‘he was the best President that Nigeria never had.’ Many have wondered what I meant by this, but I believe the statement was clear.
“Nigeria would have benefitted from his presidency because of his innate presidential qualities. Nigeria must continually regret that he never, for many reasons, had the opportunity to serve at the presidential level. Awo was a leader of great stature. He was a leader who was eminently successful. That he did not fulfill a presidential ambition cannot detract from his leadership, and us, poor us, who were not his people, must continue to regret that our own leaders had not led us as he did his people or achieved for us as he did for his people.
“He perceived his job as leading his people and God bless his soul. He did a lot for them. Whenever he saw an opportunity for his people, he went for it. He had a dream for the Yorubas and was steadfast in the pursuit of that dream. He knew where he was going and he took his people with him without deceit. That is why he will remain immortal in the area of his influence.” Put differently, the prognosis underpinned the essence of selfless leadership in a critical moment as we forward march in equanimity.
I am aware, for example, that millions of our citizens are groaning and going through the toughest time. Some even describe our campaign mantra “Renewed Hope” as “Renewed Shegee” meaning the continuation of the unholy era of the Muhammadu Buhari style and its predecessors – shameful abuse of privileges characterized by squandering of riches and plundering of resources. Our democracy, a presidential system of government fell short of the acceptable global standard by which the Judiciary, Legislative, and Executive arms enjoyed independence without encroachment from either side. This is the sad reality of our beloved country Nigeria – when are we going to be blessed with the next sets Awo, Zik of Africa, Balewa and the great MKO? Or is it going to be Jerry Rawlings and Thomas Sankara before we get it right?
In conclusion, permit me to encourage us with the biblical definition of assurance: Exodus 6: 5-7 (NIV)
Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. Therefore, say to the Israelites: “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians”.