By Akin Olukiran
The second coming of President Muhammadu Buhari presents him and the APC another opportunity to lead our dear country on an irreversible path of greatness and economic growth. All is not well with Nigeria! If anyone, from whichever geopolitical zone of Nigeria tells the President anything to the contrary, then such a person is not only an enemy of the President, but an arch enemy of Nigeria. There is no truth in such a person. Nigeria is bleeding. Nigeria is at a precipice and it is not too late to salvage it from tipping over. It is an open secret to say that the first four years of President Buhari was, to put it mildly, disappointing. His administration in the next four years will fail or succeed, depending on the kind of people he appoints to join him to direct the affairs of our country.
I love Nigeria as much as my President does. To see a country where a devout Muslim man and his family would be kidnapped and be asked to make one of three nightmarish choices of: raping his wife; his 9-year old daughter (visiting Nigeria only for the second time in her life); or he himself being sodomised by one of the Fulani kidnappers who is gay, just readslike a horror story from another faraway planet. Yet this happened here in Nigeria, between Ondo and Ekiti states. I wept, with tears streaming down my face uncontrollably.
This is not an isolated case of a heinous crime by some unprofiled beasts, it is quite disturbingly now a daily occurrence, albeit, with different degrees of savagery, by the same Fulani “herdsmen” (ostensibly from neighbouring countries). The Abuja-Kaduna road has since been abandoned by middle class Nigerian commuters to these beasts. Many with large scale farms around that axis have abandoned their farms for real fears of being kidnapped. Life has never been of much value in Nigeria but the current black cloud hanging over the country just makes it cheaper and nastier than it’s ever been.
Having painted this horror picture of where we are at in our history, President Muhammadu Buhari, without trivialising the seeming herculean task before him, has the solution right under his control – if only he can rise above sectional, religious and even political instincts that almost eroded the massive goodwill he enjoyed in 2015 by appointing people to lead our MDAs based on merit, integrity and their ability to transform our creaking economy, not minding whether they speak Hausa, Yoruba, or Igbo.This is an opportunity to create the Nigeria of our dreams – a prosperous, peaceful and inclusive Nigeria where every one of her citizens has equal opportunities. A new Nigeria where each individual has the right to control their own life and to share in the opportunities, enjoyment, challenges and responsibilities of everyday life.
In ancient Babylonian kingdom that dominated the whole world, it was recorded that King Nebuchadnezzar, in 605 B.C., after the conquest of Jerusalem, placed topmost premium on knowledge, skills and excellence. He did not care that Daniel and a few other Jewish guys were their slaves, he asked that the brightest of the just conquered people be selected to be trained to join his service. His main concern and focus in the choice of leaders were excellence, integrity, skills and knowledge (The Book of Daniels 1:1-5) America did not give a hoot about Albert Einstein’s German roots and citizenship but recognised his qualities. The UAE did not care that the British and Americans who were recruited to build modern Dubai are non-Muslims or not Arab speakers. The focus was on the higher goal of the common good and the development of their respective countries.
No nation ever develops by being clannish. If you have to be, select the best of the best and not simply because of some warped trust argument or justification. China is a good example. Over the last few decades, they identified the brightest students in virtually every academic discipline and offered them full scholarships, shipping them abroad to acquire knowledge and come back to apply them to develop their home countries. Today, China is an amazing success story. Even our cousin across the West African coast, Ghana, decided in 2005 to follow the rest of the world in recognising the unsustainability of free University education. They launched their Students Loan Trust Fund in 2005 and we wonder why Ghana’s education standard soared in the late-2000s and why Nigerians send their children there in droves. I actually wrote about this in 2015 to arrest the steep decline in our education standard (Student Trust Fund, for Inclusive Higher Education, Guardian 22 July, 2015).
There is no denying the fact that the little difference that President Obasanjo made during his time was due largely to the assemblage of bright Nigerians from across the geo-political zones. Nigeria, for decades has been crying to be liberated, be allowed to burst out and develop to the level of her peers in the committee of nations. Nigeria was mentioned as part of the MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) group of world economic giantsa few years ago. That talk, has, more or less, fizzled out, with our economy actually contracting. Enough of talking about our potential. It is now time we realised that potential!
We recognise that Nigeria has not reached that level of political maturity and sophistication that allows her to accept that, as Nigerians, it shouldn’t matter where a particular person comes from as long as he or she is the best candidate for a particular position. For the sake of posterity, Mr President should please, be bold enough to choose the best candidates from each geopolitical zone, if the established quota system must be followed.
It is unthinkable that we do not have enough bright, young and patriotic Nigerians with the requisite experience and international exposure in all the geopolitical zones of the country to lead the various MDAs that are important in driving the change we are all yearning for and to take us to the much flaunted next level.
Nigerians are waiting; history and posterity are waiting to judge you. Mr President, please be guided by the love you have for this country, the security of her future and the prosperity of her citizens and choose well.
God Bless Nigeria and guide our President!
Olukiran, a social commentator, political analyst and solar developer, wrote from London.