The year far transcends the merely ritualistic quadrennial general polls. 2019 is a referendum on whether Nigeria seeks to keep left or to reinvent itself.
The fact that this country is blessed with some all-round excellent leaders cannot be gainsaid. Many Nigerians would scoff at that though, for good measure. The poor showing by an incredibly alarming majority of our men and women of power has forced the citizenry to give up on leaders, resorting in the process to hasty generalisation. Fortunately, its age-old attraction notwithstanding, hasty generalisation is not it; no thanks to its sheer speed, sweeping empiricality and hypocritical judgmentalism.
Last Saturday, I attended an eight-man breakfast meeting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital. Journalists, writers, public analysts and sundry social informers must be exposed to such interfaces; political meetings far removed from the hangover of politics, mediocrity and interest. Meetings like that offer double assurance that there’s hope for Nigeria, politically. The two full time politicians in attendance displayed tremendous selflessness, transparency, depth, tact and another scarce commodity with politicians – understanding.
It was refreshing to see politicians display extraordinary wisdom, diplomacy and restraint. As someone who’s constantly looking for exemplary Nigerian politicians to showcase, that small meeting seemed customised for me. I saw that Nigeria has enough and to spare balanced minded politicians to cure its chronic leadership headache. Apart from the initial delay of just nineteen minutes (Father in heaven, thank you for little mercies!) the meeting was brief as planned; it entertained no stories and above all, properly managing the combustible elements that set it up foiled the expected explosion!
Grade A leaders like National Legal Adviser of Peoples Democratic Party, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem, and Honourable Commissioner, Lands and Town Planning, Akwa Ibom state, Arc. Ime Ekpo, must be encouraged to keep playing their kind of politics as that’s the only and fastest way to lift our society out of this leadership dungeon. Secondly, they must shine the light for their colleagues most of whom drive against leadership traffic every day. On the third of the five times he spoke during the one hour, forty five minute session, the PDP Chief Law Officer allude to something I found quite instructive. He was talking about how approach to love, teamwork and relationship today can be a referendum tomorrow especially for young people looking to become leaders.
That struck me. Youths who bicker over small things now cannot in future enjoy the trust needed to collaborate on bigger stuff.
That must be one fundamental reason the tomorrow deadline for youths to grow into leaders has not been met, tenure after tenure. The goalpost on the takeover timeline would stop shifting only when our young people tire of being the voiceless and powerless majority they have been; when our young men and women learn to bond; eschewing envy, pettiness, greed, disunity and all the other vices that have held them down since 1979!
In many ways, everything that happened at that meeting (the Enoidem punchline being the icing on the cake) dovetails with the potential watershed that 2019 represents for our country and people. For one, the year far transcends the merely ritualistic quadrennial general polls. 2019 is a referendum on whether Nigeria seeks to keep left or to reinvent itself. After what citizens have been through and now know, we would have just ourselves to blame if we vote based on money, gifts, propaganda, intimidation, ethnicity, politics, unfulfillable promises and allied triggers of maladministration.
The forthcoming general elections offer citizens a golden opportunity to use our tongue to count our teeth across all tiers. We must stand up to be counted, we must speak up to be heard, we must look up to be sure only leaders who know the way get our votes. We must reject every latter-day goodness and largesse. Any leader who waits until the eleventh hour to dangle some carrots only deserves the stick -not votes – from followers.
That’s one. Two, 2019 is different because – in my case and for many Nigerians – presidential, governorship and legislative candidates all have an account or two to give since they had held office at one point or the other. For instance, President Muhammadu Buhari and his nemesis of a challenger, former Vice Pres- ident Atiku Abubakar don’t need to regale us with stories of what they would do. Rather, their electioneering should dwell 70% on how they affected our lives the last time we trusted them with votes.
Ditto my home state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel and the NDDC Chief, Obong Nsima Ekere. Seeing the monumental value the former has added to infrastructure, industrialisation, security, unity, livelihood – name it – in just forty two months, there’s growing consciousness among the Akwa Ibom electorate to stick with a bird in the hand. The people are now wondering how the latter has used his current beat to better their lives, and how he fared as deputy governor between May 29, 2011 and October 31, 2012. At a quarter to the ballot, this is the central theme of the political discourse in most churches, mosques, village squares, beer parlours, hospitals, markets, viewing centres and such other public places.
Nigerians are tired of stories of what would be. We now want office seekers to tell us what they had done for us before. Those angling to become senators and members of House of Representatives and Houses of Assembly should first give an account of their stewardship. Even those who have held no public office hitherto should tell us about stuff they did for their community or society.
2019 offers mediocrity no hiding place. It is the year Nigerians should stop playing the ostrich by beaming the searchlight on ourselves. To rescue, reset and redirect our country is a task that must be done and seen to be done now. God bless Nigeria!