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On Tinubu's Chatham's Visit, By Wole Olubanji

On Tinubu's Chatham's Visit  By Wole Olubanji
December 6, 2022


I find it funny that political leaders in Nigeria are more inclined to speak to foreign entities about their country than they are with their people. I am not saying there is anything wrong with openness to cross-national ideas, but there is a problem with suggesting the unworthiness of the press or people of one's country.


It became a tradition with Buhari that some of us started awaiting the next presidential trip abroad to know the take of the President on policies and national issues. Is it the case that these people think us unworthy of their perspectives on the job they were hired by us to do?


It is more like the case of a general manager who thinks he should not answer to his board of directors but prefers the audience of a foreign/competitor's board. I think it is a crisis of personal identity, self-inflicted racism and belief in the inferiority of your people and their institutions. That is exactly the way I see Tinubu's 'overjoy' over his invitation to Chatham House, after rejecting, rather ignominiously, invitations from his country's think tanks and press bodies.


It is uncharitable to our press and an insult to our intelligence as a people.


Don't get me started on his demonstrated inability to respond to questions without 'community help', which has been fantastically renamed teamwork. I bet that kind of teamwork, a classical misnomer, should be encouraged during project defence or job interviews. Indeed, the whole country is interviewing this man for a job.


The country's next chief executive has his job cut out for him - a fact that is self-evident. He has to articulate his policies and the proposed direction of his government (if given the job). He must demonstrate an understanding of the problem and proficiency in the comprehension of his proposed solutions to the last detail.


I am not saying he should demonstrate the proficiency of a statistician, but he surely must show the capacity to hold the branches of the executive arm of government in his firm grip; they must become instruments in his hands for the implementation of laws and the president's ideas - not the other way round, not the President becoming an instrument for the implementation of the ideas of others. Absolute reliance on the team does not do the job of a chief executive the way it should be done; the team should look up to the president for direction on fundamental issues.


I do not say there is no room for personal initiatives within the cabinet, because the candidate and his handlers want us to believe the circus at Chatham House was a display of independent and excellent initiatives of a team that could become a cabinet.


But there is a tiny problem for our wiseacres there. It is the Nigerian Senate's responsibility to assess the capacity of the president's team (cabinet) while it is the responsibility of all adult Nigerians to assess the capacity of the president. The candidate is making that job rather difficult for the citizenry. If a candidate for that office repeatedly evades every opportunity for the people to assess him, then something is fishy.


There is either ignorance, miseducation of the public or obsessive arrogance underlying the attitude of Tinubu toward Nigerian voters. I also understand the dilemma of second republic politicians like Tinubu. These people held sway when illiteracy was pervasive; when the population of rural dwellers outpaced urban dwellers; when it was rather difficult to familiarise oneself with the examples of other nations. But time has changed. Let the candidates speak for themselves; let the team speak for the president after the inauguration.