(By Charles Onunaiju)
“A prospective Nigeria leader cannot afford an inanities of serial birthday cakes against the background that Nigeria is perhaps the only country in the world without a national air carrier and whose flag is conspicuously missing in the international maritime industry. There is no country in the world with key iron ore deposits like Nigeria that does not have a functional steel industry. Yet the current leadership and their hangers-on grow chubby cheeks, pretending to busy in the daytime while over indulging in wild parties of wine, etc in the night.“
IF the issues were that simple and straight forward as it is made out by those who have encountered President Goodluck Jonathan and his supporters, then he would have ultimately been the best man for the job, although he would have to vie with other simpleminded humanists who are actually not in short supply in our clime. The virtues of humility, prayerfulness and God-fearing, forgiveness and large heartedness would generally input to what one would call the passion of leadership but would hardly define the imperative of leadership for a country at a historic turning point, where in spite of official rhetoric to the contrary, stands at a cross- roads of make or break. Even for the slow and dysfunctional drag, the cost has been too huge for the majority of Nigerians who are wondering if the burden of bearing a huge malfunctioned machine is worth it, in the first place.
It is doubtful if any at all, among the privileged elite sitting in high offices and pocketing disproportionate share of the national wealth, are swapped to a position of ordinary Nigerians, would shout at the rooftops, of the inviolability of the Nigerian unity. In fact, should Jonathan be allowed to preside beyond his current tenure he would most likely in his neo-humanist simple style overwhelm the already thin line that holds any last prospect of functional socio-economic and political category. He will most likely smile away from the scene and there will be no shortage of religious rants of how the Almighty has used His anointed to break up an accursed and unviable project.
Jonathan in a nutshell does not have what it takes to administer the profound shock therapy desperately needed to return the country to political viability and realise its potentials of great economic and social promise.
His demeanour of almost a permanent broad smile and the customary cherry banters that characterised his weekly cabinet meetings as captured by media lens does not reflect the grim situation in the country nor any determination to re-launch the country.
Against the backdrop of the existing socio-economic atrophy, a Nigerian prospective leader must be sufficiently angry and even vindictive to begin any serious attempt to redress the anomaly. Angry, that a hugely endowed country should have its key infrastructures in complete ruin. Angry at Nigeria’s most laughable paradox of not having a functional refinery to produce fewer than 800 barrels of refined petroleum products for domestic use out of nearly three million barrels of crude. The paradox is further accentuated when one takes into cognisance that Nigeria’s crude oil, called Bonny light is about the easiest to refine, without the thick sulphur of the Venezuelan and Iran crude oil. Yet these two countries refine their crude through a cumbersome process and have enough quantity they use locally and even export some refine products.
A prospective Nigeria leader cannot afford an inanities of serial birthday cakes against the background that Nigeria is perhaps the only country in the world without a national air carrier and whose flag is conspicuously missing in the international maritime industry. There is no country in the world with key iron ore deposits like Nigeria that does not have a functional steel industry. Yet the current leadership and their hangers-on grow chubby cheeks, pretending to busy in the daytime while over indulging in wild parties of wine, etc in the night.
Nigeria does not look in any way like a country, whose leadership devout time to serious thinking and reflections. The mentality that leadership or positions of authority is God’s buttering of the bread of the lucky and patient ones is so pervasive that it obfuscates any responsibility that leadership brings along.
Any prospective leader that does not have sufficient fire in him and does not have constructive vendetta to bring those who have made the country look big for nothing to justice will not get it right.
Essentially, the analytical and rigorous mind to formulate policy, distill and refine it through the simple trappings of emotions, sentiments and such other considerations are keys to leadership success. Nigeria travails are even less on the crises of routine governance than the profound structural and institutional dysfunction that feeds into the crises of routine governance.
A meaningful and purposeful leadership likely to apprehend the depth of the problem must possess an appreciable and considerable depth of thinking beyond the conventional to understand that the routine crises of governance cannot be seriously tackled unless the fundamental questions of structural and institutional process is set on course. A mind that is simplistically fixated to the routine stereotypes of our bankrupt political practice of the past half a century will not make any significant mark in polling the country out of the cesspool. Even in far older nation-states in Europe and North America or even Asia, cyclic governance crises naturally trigger question of fundamental institutional and structural reforms.
In the UK, at the turn of the current century, it became obvious to the leadership that the explosive tide of national irredentism could not be contained by mere routine governance but that a deeper ambience of structural and institutional innovation is required. Within the same period, the Scottish Assembly in Edinburgh and Welsh Parliament in Bangor, along with self-governing mechanism, including executive self-government in Northern Ireland, were instituted. These critical institutional reforms created a local political window for the ventilation of much of the toxic nationalist vituperations.
Clearly, Jonathan’s administration is too wedded to inanities and ludicrous shenanigans to be concerned with the fundamental lacuna in the polity.
Their economics administered by Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the economic mismanagement team, is incapable of thinking out of the box. It is as such so drawn to orthodoxy and received wisdom.
That democracy is not an end in itself but a means to an end, which is the happiness and well-being of the majority of the people, is the reason why those who hold democracy as the quintessential end, are themselves the greatest danger to democracy.
• Onunaiju is a journalist based in Abuja.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”