Nigerians have had different sorts of presidents and heads of state in which they can make a variety of comments on their nature, character, sense of responsibility, and style of governance. As opinionized by John W. Gardner, leaders come in many forms, with many styles and diverse qualities. Some found strength in eloquence and could be heard in the next compound, some in judgment, while some in courage.
But come May 29 2023 to 2027, Nigerians will witness another kind of president that has promised not to squander the mandate they gave him because it was a dream he has spent his life perfecting. While some groups are praying for him, others are setting agenda for his government.
Nevertheless, anticipations are high, and they are worth examining given past experience. Hence what kind of a president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces will the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu be?
Of course, a lot has been said about his patriotism, personality, wisdom, conscience, empathy, doggedness, achievements, mentorship, style of governance in Lagos State, and elsewhere. I am sure his core philosophy and principles, pragmatism and skillful political powers that will be deployed to tackle major problems facing this country have earned him the election victory.
Tinubu must be a problem-solver going by some glimpses of his personality and leadership qualities close associates and keen watchers of the president-elect offered.
Action is needed to make his Agenda of Renewed Hope meaningful to the ordinary Nigerians. For someone who has been widely described as a noble manager of human and material resources, Tinubu promises to be a president that will bring his work ethos and influence to bear on the administration and management with a view to make Nigeria great again. Tinubu’s uniqueness means that he would be a president not only in wording but also in substance.
No doubt, he is becoming a president at an unprecedented time in Nigerian history, and also in the context of the shifting global order. His touted exceptional abilities fit for a leader that will be a president over people that are struggling and reeling from the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, daunting debt profile, high rate of unemployment, among others.
All this requires the remarkable leadership qualities that will go not only beyond competent officials but also uncommon public trust and confidence. If he brings his unique style that reflects his character, then it means Tinubu will be one-of-a-kind-president Nigeria has ever had.
Nigeria is changing very fast amid local and global dynamics. Like he has said on the occasion of his 71st birthday, “I have prepared for this moment all my life, I will not fail.”
The steps he takes in his first 100 days in office and to stabilise the economy as soon as possible will indicate whether or not he will put Nigerians at the centre of his administration and renew their hope and dreams.
For a man who has survived in politics, and formed large numbers of enduring relationship with followers is expected to speak truthfully to the Nigerian people who will further support him to succeed.
It also means he will be the kind that will not blame past administrations for his failures or difficulties but be honest with his shortcomings. Once he gives orders or directives to his “competent” officials, he would see through (monitor) the conclusion of their mandates.
The same is applicable to our foreign policy and relations. Tinubu looks like a president that will be resolute with world leaders desirable in this era of multipronged geopolitical rivalries.
Pragmatism should define our bilateral and multilateral cooperation so as to bring back our former glory and respect. In a time when terrorism, human-made problems and recurring crises contribute to multifaceted and complex emergencies nationally, it is suitable to have a leader with a multidimensional understanding of these problems.
Tinubu’s aura of success will be the kind that will surround his presidency expecting to address the escalating insecurity that has been detrimental to Nigerians’ lives and livelihoods.
He looks like a president that will place more recognition to the soft power security approach as against the previous hard power strategy in confronting the menace of the multi-front armed groups.
Adding his voice to this approach last week was Italy’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Stefano De Leo, who said Nigeria’s insecurity, could only be tackled by addressing the root causes, and not by military action alone.
Nigerians hear almost on weekly basis that insurgents are bombed and killed in their enclaves, but wonder why the threat remains unabated. Existing recommendations including the draft National Peace Policy put forward to higher offices to prevent, resolve and manage conflict including the long-term processes of building peaceful, stable communities and societies are the kind of initiatives Nigerians are expecting their president to consider. His assurances mean his presidency would be grounded in a firm foundation of justice, reconciliation and human rights. He will have the courage to fire appointees whose programmes are bungled or conducted unethical or indecent.
The tasks ahead are enormous and daunting, but are doable. Nigerians are highly expectant, but should moderate their expectations. The masses should be open to unexpected detours as Tinubu’s presidency will not be the panacea for all their problems.
Nevertheless, I foresee a president who will instill order and discipline within the nation, and also cultivate a public image of a father figure to get a lot of things done. Tinubu will be a transactional president by connecting with people.
His kind of leadership means he will engage and communicate more with the Nigerian people by speaking truthfully to them. Candour and honesty is key.
Likewise, he would moderate opposition’s concerns as both a moral imperative and a matter of strategic interest for Nigerians. As a pro-democracy activist, and given our democratic experience since 1999 on the persistent acrimonious disputes between the presidents and state governors, it is hoped that Tinubu’s presidency will be restrained in rhetoric and find a common ground with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the National Assembly, so that it will reinforce confidence in people who sometimes wonder if ours is a democracy. Some problems need to be jointly fixed with state and local governments.
As Nigerians have given the man known for building success “the greatest gift” of his life, he should not waver in his promise and commitment to improving their welfare and security. They cannot wait to see the kind of president that promised to rebuild and renew their hope amid layers and layers of national problems.
Babatunde, PhD, is a peacebuilding strategist at the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Abuja