In the choice of a fitting title for this piece, the late Professor Tai Solarin, one of Nigeria’s foremost educators and social activists, readily came to mind. May the labour of our heroes’ past not be in vain!
That said, the title of the write-up suggests an overview of an anticipated journey and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Metaphorically, a rough road suggests an onerous means of achieving arduous set goals. However, the good news is that it keeps the journeying people awake and at alert all the time, because the road is not smooth.
Coming to Bola Tinubu, Nigeria’s president-elect, the current situation of Nigerians necessarily implies that Mr President-elect’s road to the Promised Land must be pretty bumpy. Nevertheless, the requisite and functional input of Nigerians is to be diligently responsible for sustaining the consciousness of the roughness of the journey; otherwise, we may end up going 50 years backward in our historical walk as a country. In other words, agitation for development must never stop so that President Tinubu will keep working, until the time Nigerians are able to proclaim ‘uhuru’. But, if Nigerians find some palliative solutions and they relax prematurely, the aftermath may be a monumental disaster of sorts; and the leader after Tinubu may not have the dexterity and the determination of the ‘Jagaban of Borgu’.
Yes, the roughness of Tinubu’s road is one which will make the Nigerian society to be development-conscious. This no doubt will make it to be demanding for development within the ambit of the law and availability of resources. Otherwise, there won’t be growth. People can only grow when they’re able to conceptualise the vision and the type of development they want. Take, for instance, when the late Martin Luther King Jnr. said he had a dream, he was envisaging a utopian situation which, even the Ralph Abernathys and Bayard Rustins of the struggle never believed could ever come to fruition.
It is instructive to note that, till date, no mortal has rivalled the relevance of King’s ‘I have a Dream’ Speech of August 28, 1963. So, it’s good to say: ‘May Bola Tinubu’s road be rough!’ Well, that doesn’t mean that people should unreasonably – in an unrestrained profile – trouble his government. Since development thrives in an atmosphere of peace, agitations shouldn’t become violent ventures or exaggerated clamours for desires that are not realizable in ten years. Nigerians need not engage or burden Tinubu’s government with reckless agitations or bigger arguments that are only drenched in sheer sophistry.
Taking a trip down memory lane, that Nigeria has been searching for leaders since the attainment of independence without painstakingly probing the visions in them is no longer news. For instance, the thinking of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa when he became Nigeria’s Prime Minister wasn’t how to develop the entire country. To discerning minds, Balewa came with the Northern Agenda a la Premier Ahmadu Bello’s directive.
When the military struck, it also came with its own ideas. For example, Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, who led the January 15, 1966 putsch, was never tested. Upsettingly, his coup soon reflected an Igbo ethnic agenda. Somewhere, somehow, Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi showed up and became the Head of State. Not long after, Yakubu Gowon also showed up as a product of the famous ‘July Rematch’. A Northerner, he, too, subscribed to the Northern Agenda. And, at some point, Emeka Ojukwu came and crystallised the ‘pogrom’ narrative. Is it therefore any wonder that the fractures in our fusion have remained problematic; and that the fault lines have always been pronounced in our day-to-day dealings with one another? Aren’t they fractures that have thrown merit away, all in the name of trying to balance what even nature has not balanced? Regrettably, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) that was established to address the national question ended up merely scratching the surface of the problem!
In this age and time, Nigerians don’t need a novice to become their leader, especially, when it comes to issues revolving around Public Finance and Financial Engineering. If we may ask, would a Godwin Emefiele (as CBN Governor) have gone before a Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (as Nigeria’s president) to pontificate about naira redesign - a policy that has now landed Nigeria in a mess? Again, that’s where the choice of Tinubu makes him more suitable!
“Charity”, they say, “begins at home.” I have argued elsewhere that Tinubu is “not only representing the APC but also has a cosmopolitan worldview!” To put it bluntly, how the president-elect rearranges the face of politics, particularly, in the Southwest zone will go a long way in defining his political life as a worthy Nigerian and Nigeria’s president. While he needs to take a critical look at the ethnic colouration of Lagos politics, for other states in the zone, the feelers in town point in the direction of people being disillusioned. In their view, the resources and political benefits do not trickle down; and people are angry! Anyway, that’s a topic for another day!
Taking in general terms, political leaders in Nigeria have gone rapaciously greedy; and the response of the political parties to the crying needs of the people is grossly inadequate! Since there’s mass unemployment everywhere, party faithful look up to the political parties for survival. Unfortunately, the palliatives from the parties no longer get to the downtrodden but the waiting ‘reapers’ who grab them without caring a hoot about how others fare. Hence #EndSARS!
The tragic truth is that political leadership in Nigeria has not been under the appropriate domestic pressure. It is because there are no consistent agitations for development that our leaders are often into ‘owambe’ mood. That’s why many of them can afford to change known residential apartments and cruise around in exotic cars. It’s also the reason they’re found mostly in the company of women of easy virtue, wasting away executive time and resources. Such stuff can only lead the people into frustration, anger, hopelessness and allied recipes for social chaos! The more reason people must be made to give account of their stewardship. One cannot just be a penniless rat; suddenly, turns oneself into a billionaire overnight and nobody says anything!
If Tinubu is a progressive and revolutionary leader, unless he is able to push his ideology to the grassroots with a view to influencing the leadership style from the states to the local governments, his government will just be ‘a-one-man-show.’ Besides, there should be cultural reorientation of the citizens, irrespective of their socio-political or ethno-religious affiliations. Added to these is that, whatever there is as past luggage that has brought Nigeria to her knees must be removed. That’s when Nigeria can truly progress!
Let Tinubu also know that, at this stage in Nigeria’s chequered history, she cannot afford to be timid amongst the comity of nations. Going forward therefore, dear fatherland must define its interests internationally and pursue same unapologetically. So do the developed and serious developing nations!
In all, the journey for Tinubu as Nigeria’s president may be rough! However, that he’s prepared is also not in doubt! Needless to preach the legend again; for, through his many feats, Tinubu has superseded the legendary! The president-elect is one visionary who has crossed many bundles of hurdles to the amazement of the forces. From his experience in public administration, Nigerians are also convinced that the former governor of Lagos State can handle the naysayers and the sycophants. So, all he needs now is focus; and God will help him!
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
*Komolafe wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ( [email protected] )