Friday, March 5, 2010

2011: Nigeria Needs a Strong President

What is the cause of the current messy political situation in Nigeria? The answer is anybody’s guess- the absent of strong leadership in the presidency; perhaps, a leadership that could have produced spiralling domino effect. It appears both President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Acting President Jonathan Goodluck are not on top of issues of statecraft when it comes to critical political situation; especially the one Nigeria is in today. This is not an attempt at casting aspersion on them, or suggesting that they should have applied iron-hands in their styles of leadership, but it seems they have allowed their subordinates to dictate their course of actions or inactions.

Though, some school of thought may argue that, it is Nigeria’s peculiar political environment and the prevailing political situation in the country that forced the two leaders to appear too submissive to their subordinates. However, political pundits are of the view that, strong leadership know no particular situation.

There is no doubt that, both Yar’Adua and Goodluck are gentlemen of no refute and their stints as Governors have offered them some kind of training on quality leadership. But, since November 23, 2009, when President Yar’Adua left Nigeria to Saudi Arabia, to the day of his return on February 24, 2010, there is strong belief in Nigeria, that some people around the President are the ones dictating the actions or inaction of the President. On the other hand, Acting President Jonathan Goodluck’s actions and inactions from day-one of the current political crisis portrays him as too simple. Some commentators are of the view that, before his confirmation as Acting President, had Dr. Goodluck from day-one of the President’s absent, shown to Nigerians that he is in-charge, the country could have avoided the untidy political situation of which has brought confusion as to who is in-charge of the nation’s affairs, as well as prevented people from taking advantage of the situation. , we must although, admit that, Dr. Goodluck has to tread carefully to avoid plunging the country into a big political crisis. The big question here is, does Yar’Adua really know what is happening in the country? Taking into consideration that the Nigerian public has not seen Yar’Adua since September 23, when he left Nigeria and neither was he seen on the day of his return- making his whereabouts remains speculative.

Assuming the current situation was during the Obasanjo/Atiku, Buhari/Idiagbon, IBB, or Gen. Murtala administration, it would not have become this messy despite their shortcomings, because these were strong men. For instance, if it was Obasanjo, no one could have caged him from seeing or to be seen by people, not even being bungled back to the country when he is not prepared to. In addition, had it been that it was former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, from day-one, no one would need to be told he is sitting-in for the President

The current messy political situation in Nigeria has taught Nigerians a political lesson. In the up-coming 2011 elections, the country must vote and insist for a strong leader. Though, the Nigerian political environment has so much been polluted with issues that lack political progressivism, especially when it comes to who occupies the seat of the President.

It has now become rule within the Nigerian political class that who occupies the office of the President of Nigeria must fulfil some bizarre conditions- the north-south dichotomy; Muslims–Christians difference, the Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani, Igbo unhealthy race and the most disgusting issue is, one has to belong to a certain clique.

Though, Nigeria being a heterogeneous society and also an ethno-religious sensitive country, balanced power structure is desirable. It can also be said that the north-south issue especially as regards the presidency of Nigeria has been in existence for long time in Nigeria. But Nigerians have proved that all they need is good leadership, MKO Abiola won throughout the country despite the fact that he ran for the presidency on a Muslim-Muslim ticket, Gen. Murtala is an indisputable Nigerian hero and Nigerian throughout the country are today celebrating Gov. Fashola of Lagos State.

As earlier said, Nigeria being a heterogeneous society that is sensitive to some issues, balancing of power structure between the federating units is good, but it shouldn’t be at the detriment of good leadership. However, the disappointment is, it has now escalated to a dangerous path; the rule has been extended to states, local government and even wards elections. Today, ethnic, religious and geographical divides are louder than competency and good manifestoes in the Nigerian political sphere.

Few months from now, Nigeria will elect a new President, there is hope that Nigerians can turn things around and insist and vote for a strong President regardless of ethnic, religious or geographical considerations. A president with the ability to inspire enthusiasm in Nigerians with just a wink of an eye, an individual with vision for the future , who can go extra mile to get things done, one that can differentiate between reality and smokescreen and also remain positive in the public eye, no matter what the situation may be. When Nigeria has such a president development issues will quickly replace mundane ones in our polity. Though, for Nigeria to have such a President come 2011, we need an environment that breeds success. Electoral reforms and strong institutions are the keys needed to create such an environment.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 08036070980.

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