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Column No.6: As Tinubu steps in, here’s what Nigerians should do

The trouble with Nigerians is, quite simply, our own darned selves. Yes, we are a passionate and colourful lot, especially when it comes to –…

The trouble with Nigerians is, quite simply, our own darned selves. Yes, we are a passionate and colourful lot, especially when it comes to – in no particular order – religion, football and politics. Sometimes the passion invested in these three sectors is positive, even yielding results that are beneficiary to all. But sadly, a lot of the time, we know how the story goes. In literally a couple of days, a new president is going to be sworn in, and along with him a vice president. After eight long years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the BATon (pun intended) is being passed to the next person who will steer the affairs of our great nation. With a nation currently quite divided by a myriad of factors, it is the perfect time to look at the times, and consider what one should do.

As we collectively look forward to a new era of leadership, Tinubu has emerged as a prominent figure, poised to take the reins of the nation. It is already clear, even in his ‘body language’, and a whole lot of his activities leading to his inauguration. We all have choices to make, and one of them is to remain forever a critic who sees nothing good in what government does, and possibly even bark at the smallest falling leaf. We could also choose to be introspective about our critique, offering it with respect and empathy, bearing in mind that ours is a country bruised and battered and in need of repairs. I mean, when a mechanic is fixing your car, bonnet open and all, do you scream at him in the name of critique? Not very useful, I’m sure you will agree. We could also choose to take to social media and become toxic (or more toxic) trolls spewing hatred. All of these don’t sound too palatable, do they?

Other choices we have include recognising the potential benefits of allowing Tinubu to exercise his leadership in an unhindered manner. By exploring his political background, and key qualities, we can gain insight into the type of president Tinubu may be, and why it is crucial to provide him with the opportunity to fulfil his mandate unencumbered. He has, at various times, said his economic vision encompasses policies designed to drive sustainable growth, foster private sector participation, and create employment opportunities. His track record in Lagos State reflects his ability to attract local and foreign investments, thereby stimulating economic activities. Shouldn’t we, personal politics aide, at least give such a person a chance?

To aid us give that very chance, we need to recognize the vital role of infrastructure in national development, and also to understand that a well-developed infrastructure network is essential for economic growth, social cohesion, and improved quality of life. Now, as Nigerians, we know all that, true. In fact, it’s almost a racial memory, having suffered near-total lack of delivery of these essentials in the past. Even before he vied for the presidency, I have viewed him from afar as someone who has demonstrated the ability to build coalitions, fostering partnerships across political and ethnic divides. Such a governance style will encourage citizen participation, promote transparency, and strengthen democratic institutions, ultimately paving the way for a more stable and prosperous Nigeria.

Lastly, it’s as much about what me must do, as much as what me must not. We need to do away with the whole my-messiah-is-greater-than-yours shtick that seems to define most of us. For now, though, the best thing to do is to allow Tinubu to exercise his leadership without undue interference. Maybe faith is all our leaders need to succeed, not the garden variety type of blind followership so prevalent today on what passes for our ‘political landscape’. By providing him with support, maybe we could actually get in return a future (heck, present even!) characterized by sustainable economic growth, improved infrastructure, and inclusive policies. That doesn’t mean zero knocks when he falters, either. But it shouldn’t mean zero kudos when he delivers, either. The point is, bitterness is pointless.

Yes, I know, the natural Nigerian scepticism is kicking in. That’s fine. But what’s also fine is giving someone a chance to perform what they said they would, and how. Now, it could be that someone is reading this and misconstruing my piece as trying to invalidate other issues, like court cases, petitions, et cetera. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only am I not qualified to make such a declaration (or insinuation, even), I am a dyed-in-the-wool advocate for democracy, and for the people’s rights getting exercised. Hey, protest if you want, but do it within the confines of the law, with no violence or tension-causing elements. Sue your heart out, too. Who knows? At the very least, it could prove to be cathartic. And after the past hellish eight years, I’m willing to bet on anyone.


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