Simon Kolawole: In a Nutshell, Nigeria Can Work

Published:11 Feb, 2013

NigeriaI’ve spent the past few weeks discussing what I call the Nigerian project – that is, our hope of conquering the misery of economic and political underdevelopment to become a prosperous and peaceful nation. I started the discussion with an argument that there is nothing happening in Dubai or Singapore that cannot happen here. All we need is a visionary leader to drive the process. The leader, as the chief architect, will articulate the vision. No country develops by accident. There is always a well thought-out master plan. However, we must accept the reality that Nigeria will not develop overnight or even in eight years. Therefore, the “visionary leader” must build a team of “actualisers” who will continue to run the race after he or she has left the scene. Continuity and consistency are very crucial to the development of any country. India, China, Singapore and Malaysia are good examples of this.

In the follow-up articles, I wrote on the need to develop a workable industrial policy to diversify the economy and create millions of jobs. Our non-oil income can and must overwhelm our oil income. I also took on the opposition, asking them to market themselves as the better route to the actualisation of the Nigerian project. Corruption was the focus of the last two articles. In the first one, I pointed out how corruption is ruining our chances of developing, especially “hyperinflation of contracts” and “outright looting”. I then took on the elite in politics, civil service and private sector. They collude to raid the public treasury, thinking they are having fun – but they are indeed prisoners in their mansions, yachts and jets. It is in their own interest to move from collusion “to loot” to collaboration “to develop” the country, I posited.

In a nutshell, I am confident that Nigeria can make it, in spite of all these daunting challenges. I know I am not as optimistic as I used to be, but I am optimistic all the same. A little optimism is enough! To be honest, our problems appear insurmountable. As you are tackling one, another surfaces. There seems to be a competition on who can destroy Nigeria the most. The executive is trying its best to loot the country dry; the legislature is striving hard not to be outsmarted in the race to the bottom; and the judiciary does not want to be left behind in the sleaze. The private sector is a willing accomplice – sometimes the mastermind – in the game to ruin Nigeria. Politicians are manipulating everything possible to achieve their selfish goals. There are times you ask yourself: who really is genuinely interested in the progress of this country?

In my subdued optimism, though, I would like to make a few points as I round off the series. If Nigeria is going to change for good in a democratic dispensation, something has to give. I will explain myself. One, the “visionary leader” may emerge through an imperfect electoral process. If we are expecting clean elections to produce that leader, we may have to wait forever. My hunch is that the leader will emerge ostensibly as a “stooge” but then develop a mind of his or her own in the national interest. We saw it with Dr. Chris Ngige in Anambra State. He played the fool to get to power but became a “man” once he became governor. We can say that of many governors who ditched their godfathers on assuming office. The only snag, though, is that many of them are not development-minded. They are worse than their godfathers. But the person who is going to lead the change we desire must, of course, be development-minded.

Two, and this is a repetition, Nigeria will not develop overnight. We are never patient with our leaders. We easily write them off. Yet, there is no perfect leader anywhere. Sometimes, good things take time. What we need is to be sure of the leader’s direction, to be convinced that they know what they are doing. Let’s face the fact: we won’t go to bed one night and wake up the following day to discover that Nigeria had suddenly developed! The problems we are facing in education, power, healthcare and roads today did not start yesterday. Decades of neglect and underinvestment led us to where we are now. In other words, we must temper our expectations. With all that Governor Babatunde Fashola has done in Lagos (and I can testify that he has done a lot), he still hasn’t solved half of the problems! The caveat here, then, is that the leader must inspire us to believe in him or her in spite of the enormous problems and challenges. You may choose to call that “credible leadership”.

Three, the “visionary leader” will have to be strong-willed. The Yoruba will say it is not easy to extract the nut from palm kernel. Interests are entrenched. The leader must step on toes to inspire change. Nobody is going to lead change in Nigeria by being a weakling or soft-touch. We need leaders who will take decisions without minding whose ox is beheaded as long as those decisions are in the national interest. This is where former President Olusegun Obasanjo ultimately got it wrong. He was a strong leader who could take decisions and not look back. But he was undone by his own contradictions as he began to use state power for selfish ends. He allowed vendetta and narrow ambition to ruin his work. The “strong leader” is the one that will use power for progress. He will have to take tough decisions. The process of transforming Nigeria is going to be painful. There are plenty sacrifices to be made by all, including the leaders themselves. Nothing is called gold until it passes through fire.

All I have been saying about the Nigerian project for several weeks can be compressed into a nutshell – leadership. I often employ two signs in judging a leader – the quality of the cabinet and the commitment to anti-graft war. We need competent and sincere leadership. A competent leader will assemble a competent team. A sincere leader will tackle corruption headlong to free our resources for development purposes. If we get these two things right, we will progress in geometric proportions. Nigeria can work. Honest.

 

Simon Kolawole (simon.kolawole@thisdaylive.com)

Read original article via ThisDay

Related Posts

Recent Posts

NAF To Enhance Weapon System Through Collaboration

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Wednesday said it had concluded arrangements to collaborate with the Centre for Space Transport and Propulsion (CSTP) to enhance its weapon delivery capability.   This is contained in a statement signed by its Director of Public Relations and Information, Group Capt. Ayodele Famuyiwa, in Abuja.   The statement said NAF was zealous about optimising indigenous capacity and willing to expand existing frontier of collaboration with research institutions in the country that possessed the potential to enhance its...

Kenyan Army Kills 21 Al-Shabaab Terrorists In Somalia

Kenya's army has killed 21 fighters from the Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia, a military spokesman said on Wednesday. Army spokesman Col. David Obonyo said in a statement that the dead include junior al-Shabaab commander Salad Bart, who is believed to have been in charge of the group. According to Obonyo, Kenyan soldiers on Tuesday clashed with al-Shabaab members in the Somali town of Hawina, where the terrorists were mounting an ambush along a major road. ``No Kenyan soldiers were...

Lagos Govt. Inaugurates N457.3m Mosan Okunola Waterworks

The Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) said on Wednesday that it had inaugurated N457.3 million Mosan Okunola mini water works, located at Abesan, Alimosho Local Government Area. This is contained in a statement signed by Mr Oluwaferanmi Akinmeluye, the Controller, Media Affairs, and made available to newsmen in Lagos. According to the statement, the Commissioner for Housing, Mrs Aramide Giwanson, inaugurated the water works on behalf of Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode. ``This mini-waterworks has the capacity to meet the needs of residents of Abesan,...

INEC To Conduct Bye-Elections In Nasarawa, Kwara On May 28

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has fixed May 28 for the conduct of bye-elections in Nasarawa and Kwara. This is contained in the commission's daily bulletin issued on Wednesday in Abuja. The bye-election according to the bulletin would be conducted into Nasarawa-Toto Federal Constituency of Nasarawa State and Oke-Ero State Constituency of Kwara.   (NAN)

Kaduna Anti-Cattle Rustling Team Recovers 59,515 Animals, Arrests 59 Kidnappers

The special anti cattle rustling team set up by the Kaduna State Government about a year ago has recovered 59, 515 animals in various part of the state, the Coordinator of the team, Yakubu Soja, has said. Soja said the team was under the multi security force, known as Operation Yaki. He said at a press briefing on the one year anniversary of Gov.. Nasiru El-Rufa'i, that all the recovered animals were handed over to their original owners. The coordinator said that...

Flight MS804: Egypt Hires Foreign Companies To Locate Black Boxes

Egypt hired two foreign companies on Wednesday to help locate the black boxes of Egyptair flight MS804, which crashed into the Mediterranean Sea last week with 66 people on board. Egyptair Chairman, Safwat Muslim, said the Egyptian investigators tasked the firms, one French and one Italian, with locating the electronic recording devices, presumed to be sitting on the seabed at a depth of 3 kilometres, told reporters in Cairo. He said the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, known as...

FG Appoints New CEOs Of 6 Information Agencies

The Federal Government on Wednesday appointed the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of six parastatal agencies under the Ministry of Information and Culture. The appointments were announced in Abuja on Wednesday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. A statement issued by Mr Segun Adeyemi, the Special Adviser to the Minister, named Mr Bayo Onanuga as Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria. The statement also named Mr Yakubu Mohammed as Director-General of Nigerian Television Authority and Mr Osita Okechukwu...

UK, Australia Deport 40 Nigerians For Various Offences

The United Kingdom and Australia on Wednesday jointly deported 40 Nigerians alleged to have committed various offences in both countries. The deportees comprising 33 males and 7 females arrived at the Hajj Camp area of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport at 7:25 a.m. with two chartered aircraft. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 36 of the deportees were flown into the country in a chartered aircraft with registration number ZTA -4741. The other four were repatriated through an Air Seychelles...

N400m Scam: Metuh’s No Case Submission Fails At Appeal Court

The Court of Appeal on Wednesday in Abuja upheld Federal High Court's ruling which dismissed Olisa Metuh's no case submission. Metuh, a National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is standing trial on an alleged N400 million money laundering which he pleaded not guilty. In their judgment, Justice Abdul Aboki-led two other justices, held that the appeal lacked merit. Aboki said the trial court in Abuja led by Justice Okon Abang , was right in rejecting the no case submission. ``Having...

INEC Wants SIECS To Adopt Technology In Elections

Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has advised states’ Independent Electoral Commissions to emulate the commission in the deployment of technology for conduct of elections. Yakubu gave the advice when he received the Executive of the Forum of States Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) led by its Chairman, Mrs Gloria Ukpong, in his office on Tuesday in Abuja.   He said that the time had come for SIECs to adopt the use of technology in conducting elections, saying that...

FG Begins Process Of Appointing Ambassadors– Onyeama

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, yesterday  said the Federal Government had begun the process of appointing a new set of ambassadors to represent Nigeria in various countries of the world. Onyeama stated this at a news conference to mark one year anniversary of President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration Twenty-six  non-career ambassadors and ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary on tour of duty abroad were recalled in June 2015. They were among the 93 envoys...

Power: We Are In Very Bad Situation– Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says Nigeria is facing a very dire situation on power supply. He was speaking in Lusaka, Zambia, yesterday at the commencement of the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual general meeting, with the theme "Energy and Climate Change". According to Osinbajo, 45 percent of those who lack access to power in the world are from Africa with "almost half of that African share are in Nigeria." "We are faced...

Kaduna To Install CCTV Cameras To Fight Crime

The Kaduna State Government is to install closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras across the state to fight crime. Coordinator of the state security outfit,  “Operation Yaki”, Col. Yakubu Yusufu Soja, disclosed this at a news conference marking the first anniversary of the administration of Governor Nasir El-Rufai in Kaduna state. He said work on the installation of...

43,000 Ghost Workers Uncovered In Nigerian Security Agencies

The Head of the Continuous Audit team of the Federal Government, Mohammed Dikwa, on Tuesday said N50 billion was saved so far through the audit of security agencies payroll. Mr. Dikwa said this in Abuja at a meeting between the Continuous Audit team, Minister of Finance and Heads of Para-Military agencies. President Mohammadu Buhari had set up the Continuous Audit team to look into the payroll of all Federal Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

Court Rejects Metuh’s Request To Travel Abroad For Treatment

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday dismissed an application by the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Olisa Metuh, asking for the release of his passport to enable travel to the United Kingdom for medical treatment. Justice Okon Abang in rejecting the request in a ruling, held that the court lacked jurisdiction to order the release of Metuh’s passport having earlier directed that it should be deposited with the...

Nigerian Genital Cutters Give Conditions For Ending Female Genital Mutilation

The Circumcision Descendants Association of Nigeria have advocated the provision of alternative means of livelihood for their members as a way of curbing Female Genital Mutilation practice in south-west Nigeria. At a Summit? to End FGM in Nigeria held in Ibadan, Monday, the group said the FGM agenda would be difficult to achieve without the “full involvement” of their members. “The practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) has generated heated debates in the international development...

Buy From Street Hawkers, Go To Jail– Kaduna Govt

The Kaduna state government has enacted a law that makes it a criminal offence for any person that buys from a street hawker, making both the hawker and buyer liable for prosecution. The Spokesman of Kaduna State House of Assembly, Nuhu Goro Shadalafiya, who made this known to newsmen in Kaduna yesterday said, Governor Nasir El-Rufai should be credited for new act passed last month. The member who also spoke against the allegation that the...

Court Jails Man For Stealing N3,060

A Lugbe Grade 1 Area Court on Wednesday sentenced a 22-year-old businessman, Kingsley Okoh, to three months imprisonment for stealing N3, 060. The Judge, Mr Garba Ogbede, however, gave the convict N 20,000 option of fine. Ogbede said that: “I have no option than to sentence the convict accordingly since he had pleaded guilty to the charge.” He also ordered the convict to pay the complainant N3, 060 restitution.

FG Confirms Six States Hit By ‘Tomato Ebola’

The federal government on Tuesday confirmed the six states hit by a pest called the Tomato Leaf Miner or Tuta absoluta, commonly referred to as ‘Tomato Ebola.’ The states are Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau and Lagos. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, revealed that the pest responsible for the massive destruction of tomato in farmlands had currently invaded six states of the federation.

World Leaders Gather In Japan Ahead Of G7

US President Barack Obama arrived in Japan on Wednesday for a Group of Seven summit, kicking off a historic visit that will also take him to the atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima. Obama was joining other leaders from the club of rich democracies for a gathering set to be dominated by the lacklustre state of the global economy. Heads of state and government from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and host Japan were also making their...

Niger To Hand Over Scores Of Boko Haram Militants To ICC- President Issoufou

The Niger Government has arrested scores of Boko Haram militants and will hand them over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for trial, President Mahamadou Issoufou, has said. This is contained in a document from the World Humanitarian Summit, ongoing in Istanbul, Turkey, made available to reporters in New York. The document said Mr. Issoufou made this known on Tuesday during a high-level leaders’ round table titled “Uphold the Norms that Safeguard Humanity”. He...