Shortly after the inauguration of the ministers last week, the newly sworn in minister of information and communication, a friend and colleague in the political struggle of 1990’s, Comrade Labaran Maku, showed the press a copy of, From Third World to First: a book written by Singapore’s former leader, Lee Kuan Yew. He said in that invent that the President, Goodluck Jonathan, gave out a copy to each and all ministers present. The intention was for them to read it, think it and borrow from the man’s ideology.

First, I was shocked, and began to wonder within myself that I hope the president read the book and understands it before given it out to these ministers. The book is a revolutionary one, the author, a radical interested in change. It was in the study room of my oga, Olisa Agbakoba, way back in the late 90’s that I first saw the book, flipped through it and concluded I must buy and read this book. I continued to search for it anywhere I go, of course then, it was not very popular in Nigeria, as even my oga bought his copy abroad.

I later bought the book at a religious bookshop near my estate in 2005, and began reading it immediately. I finished it and like after reading Why We Struck, written by our own Major Adewale Ademoyega, one of the five majors of the January 1966 coup, and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney, I wept for Nigeria, my beloved country. I asked God in my tears why He has decided to give us the kind of leaders that has governed Nigeria since 1960 till date.

This book chronicled how a sincere, visionary and determined leader can change his country positively. A leader with clear focus and determination to lead his people out of squalor, poverty and underdevelopment, agreed that corruption especially among public servants must be fought frontally, moved his country and people to a developed world. Does it mean that President Jonathan is going to make the story in this book his guiding principle at governing Nigeria? Oh God I pray.

From Third World to First talked about the patriotic and nationalistic zeal of the leadership, how leaders governed by example, the people were led with respect for human dignity. Emphasis was laid on discipline, national orientation, the people with pride hence commonly owned everything in and about Singapore, they all must get involved to make it great.

Today, there is no doubt that that country is one of the great Asian tigers to be proud of. Because the leader then, Lee Kuan Yew, rose to his feet, silenced selfish interest, patriotism was highly considered over and above all considerations. He and his team looked inwards more than they did outside. They ate, drank and wore made in Singapore to prove to their countrymen and women that they meant business revamping their country’s comatose economy. Kuan Yew team were men and women, if any, who were interested to belong to the right side of their country’s history whenever, wherever it is told.

If President Jonathan is using this as yardstick to guide his performance and achievement, it is a welcome development. What he is practically telling Nigerians is to expect speedy development that would anchor on discipline, rule of law, patriotism, national orientation, respect for the people and our diverse culture, promotion and support for Nigerian made goods. The Singapore hero fought corruption within government quarters irrespective of who was involved because he understood perfectly that it is a cancerous disease that terminates life no matter the speed.

In the next six months we would know the direction Nigeria is heading to, either to First World or remain where we are presently, fourth. Nigeria, in truth does not deserve its present position, considering its enormous human and economic resources. We are richly blessed, but bad leadership, mismanagement, and corruption and of course, without shying away from it our political, ethnic and religious differences have not helped us to move forward.

Nigeria indeed is a country in dare need of Lee Kuan Yew, to take it to greater heights. No magic, no spirit or god will do it but a man committed like Lee Kuan Yew. I do believe most sincerely that a president as leader number one can lead his people out of the doldrums. Any Nigerian president with patriotic goal, corruption free mind, detribalized, bold, prepared to lay down his life if need be for his country can take Nigeria to its greater glory.

The Nigerian masses are prepared to follow such a leader but, where is he or she? Is President Jonathan about to unleash Lee Kuan Yew philosophy on Nigeria? Can he? Is he prepared for such? Certainly, Nigerians will in 2015 judge him with this singular action.

Uzodinma Nwaogbe,
Community Defence Law Foundation,
Thames Street, Ministers Hill,
Maitama – Abuja.

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