Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Being Slow Or Being Clueless? By Kenny Oladipo
A nation’s destiny anchors largely on the quality and substance of its leaders. Nations that have achieved greatness in the 21st century have one thing in common; the system works. These nations are endowed with selfless leaders, who exhibited exceptional intelligence, courage and vision at every turn, to chart the best course, define the right path, and make the citizens believe in the outcomes.
At our nation’s founding, these leadership attributes were present throughout the regions of the country, with each region growing at its pace and capabilities. Our nation’s standing in the international community was remarkable until we began to lower the minimum requirements of responsible leadership. A phenomenon which was caused by creating a monster of a system, that kills our best, suppresses our votes, silences our voices, ignores our welfare, squanders our fortunes, blows our chances, breaks our will, chokes our hopes, and limits our dreams.
After a promising start of a great nation, could it be said that the Project Nigeria has slowly become mission creep? Ethnic loyalties, religious sentiments, and wanton greed, have seized the political landscape, and successive administrations have made vendetta the core of their policy direction, with settling political and personal scores at the core of their leadership style.
In 2011, Providence and the people brought the current administration to power. The president had good luck as well as the good will of the Nigerian people to steer the ship of state to the Harbor of Destiny. The groundswell of support enjoyed by the administration at the early stage of the current political dispensation, probably unmatched in recent history, has given way to popular criticism and cynicism. Actions lagged words, visions lacked direction, intentions betrayed trust, and all these mismatches sent a jaded people, who wanted to give hope one more chance, back to relapse.
The conventional wisdom in many quarters before now was maybe when we get a college graduate as our president, things will begin to look hopeful. As the Chinese proverb says “be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.” As we speak a reassessment of such expectation, and rightfully so, is ongoing in the hearts and minds of many Nigerians. Have we lost our moment again? Could it have been a lost cause, or should we just give up on hope all together, these are the kind of reasonable conversations many Nigerians are undoubtedly having.
A statement credited to the leader of the most populous black nation in the world is most puzzling, “By human thinking, our administration is slow; I won’t say we are slow but we need to think through things properly if we are to make lasting impact. If we rush we will make mistakes and sometimes it is more difficult to correct those mistakes.” Curiously, the president must have learnt his lessons from the knee jerk reaction displayed after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when he nearly dissolved the FA and banned the country’s participation in any competition for two years before FIFA flashed the “do not attempt” signal. Series of policy reversals by the administration in the past two years, suggest a mist of cluelessness at the very least.
There is a marked difference between being slow and being careful. The simple idea that slowness equates carefulness is false, and the president and his team should begin to accept that reality. There is a saying in my part of the world that “As we learn work, we learn speed with it.” If a student is smart and can answer all the questions in the exam correctly, but because he/she is slow only 25% of the questions get done before the allotted time lapsed, he/she will surely fail the course regardless of the student’s ability. In another scenario, the student might just be slow because he/she is clueless and does not know what to write.
So, the administration should cease giving pedestrian excuses to cover glaring lacuna in public and economic policies. Nigerians are a lot smarter than our politicians give them credit for, they can see through all the political footwork. More than 2000 people have died for cheap due to senseless religion-related violence, a prominent lawmaker walks free after a damning evidence of corruption, more Nigerians are now living in poverty than at any time in our history, there is record level unemployment, yet our politicians count their money in billions. It is time for the administration to stop talking and start doing.
The truth is, when presidents dither and fail to seize the moment, the people are left at the mercy of events. When presidents withhold action, the people, even the strongest of them remain helpless. When presidents sleep at the wheel, the people derail. When presidents project weakness, miscreants test their resolve. When presidents lack gravitas, they belittle the highest office in the land. When presidents are part of the mixed multitude, and their record on corruption is tainted, they are always scared to fight corruption with sincerity for fear their own cover could be blown as well.
Our challenges as a nation are structural and numerous; therefore, our solutions must be both organic and uniquely diverse. The wholesome adaptation of some economic and political models from countries with totally different set of circumstances and values would barely work in a country as diverse as ours.
If the leadership and the people would commit to nation building and good citizenship this year and beyond, then there is a good chance for turnaround in the horizon. Our political and economic systems should be measured using these metrics; input, output and outcome. If any idea fails the outcome test, in terms of providing prompt and efficient service to the people, guaranteeing social safety nets for the unemployed youth and the elderly, restoring common sense, common decency and human dignity to our national life, improving economic and financial well-being of the population, eradicating hunger, and most importantly curbing full-blown corruption and stifling its future occurrence in its infancy, then it should be dropped and better alternative be sourced.
This is not an indictment of the president’s efforts or the administration’s, but a wake-up call to do the people’s business with all diligence, intelligence, compassion and grace. “For whom much is given, much is also required”; Nigerians are justified to require of their leaders to return this favor, that is the least they deserve.
To all Nigerians, we still have many reasons to be positive about the revival of the country that we love and cherish, for there is hope for the dry tree after the rain. Let us keep in mind that it is darkest before dawn, and that Nigeria will emerge from its darkest hours as the beacon of hope for many nations in Africa and distant shores in years to come.
Therefore, our future is hopeful and our journey carries forward.
Kenny Oladipo writes from Houston, TX
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters