By Ismail Lawal
I am not a card carrying member of the APC or PDP, and I do not have a vote in this election cycle. I was also not paid to write this and I am also sure this article will not generate a nationwide traction to determine where the pendulum swings in the February elections. The only motivation is that I take pride in the unity and development of Nigeria and I am nothing sitting on the fence.
In addition to the aforementioned, my father was one the three young men executed by General M Buhari (rtd), the presidential candidate of the APC with a retroactive law some 30years ago. Yet, I HOPE.
The forthcoming February Presidential election is different from all other elections we have seen since the advent of democracy in 1999. The Presidential election has never been aggressively contested, but that has changed in this cycle, thanks in large part to the leaders that formed the APC and a more aware electorate. The electioneering process has not changed much, with the top two political parties relying solely on politicians. The caliber of politician that makes up the Presidential campaign council, for me, is often an indication of how the candidate governs once (s) he becomes President. Mediocre politicians are given the nod to occupy and lead sensitive political and public institutions ahead of their colleagues who understand and know what it takes to govern and deliver social goods to the larger populace.
This traditional way of campaigning and electioneering is partly responsible for the failure we have witnessed in the last 12yrs (with focus on the presidency) but it seems this is about to change.
For the first time in our 16years of democracy, the caliber of politicians I see around the APC candidate, General Mohammad Buhari, gives me hope that something might actually change if he wins.
The chance of a Babatunde Fashola being the chief of staff to a President Buhari excites me because the two term serving governor of Lagos understands the issues and he comes across as a policy wonk. His political experience as Governor of Lagos state will also come in handy in getting policies formulated, passed through the National assembly and implemented to ensure a utilitarian social good. The office of Chief of staff to the President is a very important one because it serves as ‘the power behind the throne’, in saner climes, and the slim chance of a BRF leading that office inspires hope.
I am almost certain that Oby Ezekwesili’s name would pop up when the time comes to fill sensitive Ministerial post in a Mohammadu Buhari presidency given her closeness to Nasir elrufai (The next governor of Kaduna State) and his closeness to a potential Presidential Buhari. The slim chance that the woman Japheth Omojuwa once proclaimed as the ‘Mother of the Nation’ – for her lead role in the noble BBOG movement – leading a sensitive Ministry as the Petroleum or Education Ministry Inspires hope.
EKITI’s loss could be Nigeria’s gain in a Buhari Presidency. I have not seen any Nigerian; military or civilian dissect the problem and possible solution to the boko haram insurgency as Kayode Fayemi did during the interview he granted on 60 minutes with Angela. His grasp and succinct explanation of the different strands of boko haram shows that if given a chance he could make a real impact and formulate a comprehensive policy that can help tame these monsters that have ravaged parts of the NE unabated. His understanding of civil – military relations indicates he is capable of leading the Ministry of Defense with gusto. The slim chance this might happen also inspires hope.
In the words of Babatunde Fashola, President Jonathan fired the hardworking and performing Bolaji Abdullahi as sports minister for political expediency. The slim chance that he could make a return to continue his good work in that ministry in a Buhari Presidency inspires hope.
These individuals and many more I did not mention are not saints but they inspire hope because of their track records in public service and for some accidental reasons majority of them are in the APC. They represent examples of quality leaders Oby Ezekwesili refer to when she wrote thus;
“For each of these countries, the stage was set for commencement of their economic transformation from Low Income Country (LIC) status to Upper Middle Income Country (MIC), MIC or close to MIC respectively by the advent of quality leadership at both their political and public institutions that in turn resulted in high public sector efficiency. At the epicenter of this efficiency was, and remains, the investment in leadership of the kind that drove a national vision which placed education, intellect, values, reward for only strenuous effort and hard work at the centre of their development strategy. Once the public sector was set aright, it freed up the private sector and the rest of society to aspire to perform at their maximum possibilities.
You don’t have to agree with the aforementioned, but empirical study proves it to be very true.
The very first sign of a potentially bad government is the caliber of politicians that surrounds a candidate during electioneering – pay-back time is inevitable and its negates the utilitarian calculation that supports the provision of social goods for millions of my compatriots against the few PCC members and their cohorts and that is what the PDP represented in 2011 and now. I am sure there are quality leaders in the PDP but POTFRON has shown nothing but a lack of will to put such a team together. That in addition to an abysmal performance for 6yrs makes me see hope in the APC presidential ticket.
Political will is a necessary tool for the economic prosperity of every country, democratic or otherwise. A historical analysis of the Nigerian state has shown that the political will that serves as a catalyst for economic prosperity and development has been lacking. Our problems – I won’t bore you by listing them, as well all know what they are – are solvable, oh yes they are!!! To solve them we have to commit and vote for the potentially best team in February.
The majority voting bloc in Nigerian can neither read nor write, hence, the onerous task of educating our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunt and close friends rest on the shoulders of those of us that are educated. We have to inspire hope in them about this team and convince them on the need to vote the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket.
The Buhari/Osinbajo ticket and all the potential ‘technocratic politician’ that comes with them for me is the best team this time around. They represent a recipe that will take us from the brink, and lay a solid foundation for a better and solid tomorrow. We need radical monetary, economic, and political reforms and the transformation agenda of the last six years is nothing but a mirage and joke we must and should not continue with. History is replicate of countries that are prosperous and those that are beginning to prosper. The foundation of such prosperity is laid on; Infrastructure – like the interstate road system that Germany invented but which the U.S have mastered; massive funding for science and technology which has been fingered as responsible for India’s growth; a virile public-education system that encourages the study of science and math. Borrowing from the words of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, we have to download and modify the killer apps that have proved and are still proving to be working for prosperous countries – competition, modern science, the rule of law and private property rights, modern medicine, the consumer society and work ethic. These apps can be downloaded and modified to suit the Nigerian experience and these lads – Buhari/Osinbajo and their team – have the requisite political will, experience and or knowledge to deliver. They simply are the best team and we have to join hands with them irrespective of our reservations to make their dream a reality so that our dreams can be a reality.
The Presidency should be a great dynamo producing fresh ideas; the force of those ideas as they resonate across the nation is a pretty safe gauge of an administration’s intention and vitality.
Ismail Lawal is a Senior Consultant with CSC. He tweets @ismaillawal