My opinion about the upcoming 2023 elections is that it is for the big boys. I knew, back in 2019, that it was going to be the best opportunity for younger people to contest in protest. It was hard to see as far as 2023 but if the management of the society and economy back then was anything to go by. In time, things got worse. Insurgencies stepped up. Separatism became the order of the day. Insecurity like never before came upon us. Inflation plagued the people. The Naira got devalued over and over. The politicians stepped up to grab power in any way they can. I fervently hope that nothing too jarring happens before the 2023 elections that may have existential implications for the country. For I believe that Africa needs larger, not smaller nations. I believe that this great nation can be projected into a great future by solid, visionary, sacrificial, philosopher leaders.
We had the EndSARS in Nigeria, which was akin to a revolution, but in a short while, the leaderlessness – and the non-reckoning with the vast majority of poverty-crazed folks who later came out to loot – proved to be a problem. But if that semi-revolution had a leader, or leaders, then people will put the life of that leader under a microscope and there is no one without faults. So, we would have had a second hurdle… leadership crisis.
- Presidency to get resolution on declaration of bandits as terrorists next week – N/Assembly
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The test of leadership was obvious with two mini-revolutions that we can cite within our environment – the IPOB and Oodua Republic ones. One had a leader whom I personally think is intelligent but quite unhinged. The other had a native orator who probably bit more than he could chew. But they were pointers to the shortcomings of revolutions and a reminder to us that perhaps we are better off trying to make the best of our civilian rule by deploying the power of the intellect, not the gun and not endless disobedience, disruption, dislocation, disorder, which has led into looting, arson, killing of innocent security service personnel, closing down of businesses and even more unemployment and hopelessness, in at least two of the three examples cited above. The Arab Spring of 2010 did not deliver the nirvana that they expected. In a few states – like Libya – it has been a major setback and in others, the change has been tepid. Of course, in Nigeria, we have also tried the military for decades, with disastrous effects.
So, if we agree that democracy should continue to be our system of government and are ready to solve the issues that it may throw up as we go along, my hope remains that we may somehow get an elite consensus going, which will set this country on a path, away from the one of mass looting that we have presently and unto collective development, equity, justice, and profound prosperity that is better distributed among the people.
We hope we will get a leader, or leaders – from within the same rotten lot – who will veer off and do right by the people, while drawing out our best ever behaviours. I insist that only an elite consensus can save this country at this stage.
The country is full of opportunities for all, but we need someone in leadership who will really bell the cat and get people to think differently.
I believe the private sector can pool the funds required to fix our infrastructure and lift our youths without having to continue this borrowing spree. I believe that this economy hasn’t quite started and we should work at really starting the economy. I believe that perhaps we have turned a corner whereby all the upheavals of recent times have actually prepared us for the next phase – real growth, based on unity, patriotism and productivity. But we need a leader, wherever they may come from, that will propel us forward. They will have a past, but they will have to do the job.
It is in this light I consider the top runners for the 2023 presidential elections. I am focused on the presidency because as we can see, no senator or rep member can actually do the job of turning Nigeria’s trajectory. A governor can show an example with his state, but a president can torpedo everything – for good or ill. The president’s position is powerful for turning this country around. I want to hope, that we have hit rock bottom and can only grow from henceforth.
I once met Bola Ahmed Tinubu at Lagos House, Asokoro, Abuja. I had written an article based on some of the ideas espoused in a write up attributed to him. He was fascinated and got his SA to reach out to me. The article of mine was later splashed in pages 2 and 3 of The Nation. I must confess, I read everything Tinubu writes. Some people said his assistants usually write those articles, but I see a streak that goes beyond mere hack writing. From these writings, I see that Tinubu subscribes to a branch of economics that believes a sovereign should leverage its resources and not depend on foreign dictates. I believe he will be hated for his beliefs in international circles. And he also carries a baggage of corruption, plus age is not on his side. Many believe he owns half of Lagos. I cannot confirm that. But what I can confirm is that he is one of the few leaders with an eye for talent and some grounding in succession planning. From what he has achieved in Lagos, and the consistent production of very smart folks to lead that megacity, I should say I have quite some confidence in his abilities. As a strong leader, Tinubu should be able to make a difference if he becomes Nigeria’s president. Will he steal the entire country? I doubt. Again, I need to remind readers that I am talking realpolitik here. I am talking of pragmatism. 2019 was a little romantic, and a number of young people came up. 2023 is a different ballgame and we may have to choose from some of the devils we know. More next week, from another perspective.