The 2019 presidential race is picking up rather slowly with the political parties already playing the game they are used to, war of words and debates on the issues that are of concern to them but may not be conterminous with the yearnings of Nigerians
Unfortunately, the election time table does not give the Nigeria people enough time to exhaustively engage those running for public office on fundamental issues. Sadly, this period in time also witnesses unhealthy rivalry within parties and intra-party movements determined mostly not by love for country but pure personal interest.
However, from what is emerging gradually, it is obvious that we are going back to a rehash of old issues. Issues that will dominate the campaign but die as soon as elections are over.
For instance, the idea of restructuring is so polarised along the North-South divide that it is not likely to come to pass any time soon given that oil dominates our foreign exchange earnings and it is mainly from the South. Therefore, any bill on restructuring, whether from the executive or the legislature is more likely than not to be stillborn. The petroleum industry bill that has been in the legislature for years is a bellwether of what will become of a prospective restructuring bill.
Meanwhile, it is also a waste of time to discuss new entrants into the presidential race who are busy singing about magic-wand economic solutions to problems they don’t even understand.
So back to the question; where is the man that will take Nigeria to the land of milk and honey? To answer that question, we must look back into history and learn a few things.
One country that shared the same economic development challenges as Nigeria is South Korea. They were colonised, had a civil war and military coups. In all three areas, South Korea had a much worse experience.
For instance, at the end of their colonial reign in 1945, the Japanese vandalised some of the heavy industries they operated in South Korea. Whatever was left with which the South Koreans could rebuild their economy was destroyed in the civil war with the northern part of the peninsular. On the other hand, Nigeria’s independence was smooth and its civil war was confined to a small region of the country.
Interesting as well, is that almost all the economic policies Nigeria adopted since independence are the same used by the South Koreans. Yet, the result achieved by both countries is like the difference between night and day. South Korea has joined the league of developed countries while Nigeria remains a developing country with no clear path to join that league.
So, where is the man? In the days leading to the stormy presidential primary in 2011, Olusegun Adeniyi in his latest book “Against the Run of Play” quoted former Vice President Alhaji Abubakar Atiku to have said,
“that governing a country needed a plan and its courageous execution. It requires the capacity and willingness to assemble the best and brightest people to help you get things done”
Therefore, who is that man that has looked critically at the Socio-political and economic history of Nigeria? Where is his draft plan to address the wobbly pillars of the Nigerian state? Is his plan original or a patch work of everything we have seen and heard before? How does he intend to recruit his ministers and aides? Will he be bound by the patronage system that brings up just anyone who has access to the powers that be in the various states or will he have the courage to demand for the best people from each state for his cabinet?
How does he intend to fund his plans? Is it mainly from crude oil export earnings? How does he intend to get value for money budgeted and released for capital projects? Most importantly, what does he intend to do about the country’s pitiable educational sector that cannot address our development challenges?
Where is that man oozing with a vision for a far better Nigeria than the one we know today.
These are some of the questions that should preoccupy the minds of Nigerians who are armed with their PVCs waiting for the 2019 elections. If these questions are not sufficiently addressed by those jockeying to be president, then our night will be very long.