We live in a most dangerous moment in a generation. The bitter truth is that Nigeria is less safe today than it was the day President Buhari took office on May 29, 2015 as the 15th President of Nigeria and fourth President in the Fourth Republic. That’s because President Buhari is a leader who treats some group of outlaws differently from the way he treats others.
There are those to be dealt with, with all our military might and those to be pampered. Meanwhile those being treated with kids gloves are those who have killed thousands of Nigerians, raped thousands of women and abducted thousands of school children. These are those with the gall to invade our defence academy, kill some senior officers and abduct some and yet demand a ransom of N200m.
When you pay ransom to bandits, you invariably equip them to further accomplish their mission of killing more of our citizens, abducting more of our people, raping our women and overstretching our military and security forces.
When you allow bandits to occupy any inch of our forest under any guise, you give them room for expansion and much sooner than later they will establish their own state and nation within our federation. When you refuse to designate those that kill our soldiers, kill our citizens, abduct our people and rape our daughters and women as terrorists, it means you are aiding, abetting and enabling them. And that’s wrong. That’s a blatant violation of the constitution and the oath of office taken to defend and protect the nation and her people. By any stretch of imagination, that’s treason.
I have never been worried or fearful about the future of Nigeria as I am today, and I am not the only one in this despondent state of mind who want the current nightmare to be over. This is a moment that requires strong and vision-based leadership, the qualities that former Governor Peter Obi, the Oracle of Experience embodies.
Experience, they say, is the oracle of truth; and where its reposes are unequivocal they ought to be conclusive and sacred. Peter Obi is the Oracle of Truth. When words filtered that Obi was going to sit for a media chat on Arise Television, like many people did, I dropped all I was doing and tuned in knowing that in the end we would receive further lessons on leadership and governance from one of the best oracles of wisdom and experience.
As was expected, he didn’t disappoint. He spoke on wide ranging issues, chose his words carefully and ensured his messages were delivered with clarity. He spoke on infrastructure, which the current administration signposts as major achievement and reasons they have increased our debt profile from $9 billion in 2015 to over $33 billion in a space of six years. And they still had the guts to tell us they wouldn’t stop borrowing from other nations.
Whether the so-called infrastructure exists and at what cost is a debate for another day. But let’s assume the infrastructure actually exists and were wonderfully made as my friend Femi Adesina singled out to comment in his article titled, ‘If not infrastructure, then what?’ Reading through Femi’s article where he actually called out Obi, accusing him of taking partisan politics too far, I wondered if he was referring to the same interview I watched. Make no mistake, Femi is a good man. He is my friend and boss and I respect his professionalism. But I don’t envy him serving a failed and fumbling regime.
Femi was right that Obi as governor of Anambra State for eight years, built infrastructure for the state, but what he failed to mention was that Obi’s infrastructural interventions were guided by a policy frame work known as ANIDS (Anambra Integrated Development Strategy). ANIDS was a novel initiative predicated on the internationally acclaimed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of eradicating of extreme poverty, reduction of child mortality, boost to maternal health, environmental sustainability and global partnership in development. Obi faithfully followed the framework and was prudent in his management of available resources.
The Peter Obi administration invested heavily in education, transformed the educational system of the state, making it possible for the state to become the best performing state in mathematics and sciences, best in NECO, best in WAEC and overall best in JAMB scores. The government attracted direct foreign investment, which provided jobs and encouraged indigenous investments. SABMiller, Orient Petroleum, INNOSON motors etc., are testimonies of his legacies. Need I repeat myself that ANIDS worked because Obi was faithful and prudent in the management of scarce resources available to the state? He didn’t borrow a dime, yet cleared backlogs of inherited pensions, salaries and paid all verified executed contracts. When he left office, he didn’t leave a penny debt but left savings of over N75 billion and millions of dollar investment to secure the future. This is an unmatched record by any state government administration in Nigeria.
Thus, Obi didn’t at any point in the interview condemn the building of infrastructure. Of course, building infrastructure is good, but what is wrong is investing in infrastructure without making commensurate investment in education, human capital development and SMEs. You need to make such corresponding investment if you must stimulate the economy.
With the way the country is turned upside down: ENDSARS, incessant ASUU strikes that disrupt education and impact negatively on the quality of productivity, banditry, criminality, self-determination agitations championed by the youths, can Femi Adesina in his right conscience say this administration has made commensurate investment in education and human capital development and SMEs? It takes a combination of investments on infrastructure, education, SMEs and human capital development to stimulate the economy and assure a progressive future for both citizens and the country. This is Obi’s point, which Femi was missing. If I were in Femi’s position, what I would have done was to pay attention to every word uttered by the oracle, take notes and advise my principal on the missing links. That’s how to be a good adviser if you want your principal to succeed.
Sadly, President Buhari wants to be a great president, he wants posterity to be fair to him. He may mean well for the country but he has very bad advisers, and as such, his meaning well is useless unless he does well. Thus far, he is not doing well and has not done well to be ranked as a great president. If after the trillions spent on infrastructure and the economy remains insipid and poverty is increasing with people suffering more hardship, then the president must ask questions and revaluate his policies.
There’s no argument to the fact that you don’t hope to stimulate the economy by just building rail lines, renovating airports and patching super highways while grossly neglecting formal and informal education and investment in SMEs. Our productivity and population should be our strength and not our weakness.
So far the regime has failed our population. They have left millions of people economically stranded. We must invest in our population or we continue to breed bandits and hoodlums. We must dramatically increase our education budget and expand our educational programmes.
If we make commensurate investment in critical thinking education, research-focused education and teacher-based education, we will most likely produce a new generation of entrepreneurs and goal-oriented managers.
The APC-led government, which has been dogged by incessant strikes by ASUU cannot say it has paid very close attention to the educational needs of the country. A more visionary leadership would ensure teachers at all levels gets desired salaries, money for research, teaching equipment, facilities renovation and investment in laboratories and libraries. Instead of doing the needful, the regime has successfully widened the gap between the educated and the uneducated, the employed and the unemployed. A responsible and accountable leadership should be able to self-evaluate her policies, admit failure where it had failed and summarily rectify the intensifying problems. Making half-baked arguments against facts shows a disconnect from reality and exposes the intellectual deficiency of our leaders who have refused to be both responsible and accountable.
My fervent prayers is for God Almighty (Allah) to help us survive , endure and preserve our nation. May He show His mercy on us and grant us the grace and wisdom to choose and elect a good leader after President Buhari.