Government can be about policy, politics and taking specific steps and counter-steps to address the needs of the nation and its citizens. But for a president, Leadership also has to be able telling stories. It is about painting a picture of what is possible. Is there such a thing as Nigerian Exceptionalism. What is it that makes us as a people special? What do we hold dearly to and what values do we stand for. When a people have been so disappointed by past words that never turned into action, simply giving more words will not suffice. They need a vision to follow.
Simply stumbling from policy to policy without clear thread of deep convictions may produce results from time to time. But to carry the nation along, Mr President need to tell a story. The story of the Nigeria he sees in twenty years time. A vision we can all coalesce around. After all, great leaders like Great elders are those who plant trees under whose shade they know they will never sit.
Many times when the fervent supporters of President Buhari speaks; they end up answering questions that was never asked. When they reel out policy achievements of this government they make it seem the accusation against the President is that he has done nothing. The question is not if this government has achieved some success; of course they have. The Question is: Given our current situation as a nation; does this government represent the Best team, the best minds and the best hands Nigeria has to offer. This for me is the real question. And my answer is a resounding NO.
President Buhari has the opportunity to assemble the best minds and brains in Nigeria; but instead he gave us recycled Gallery of failed, dubious and tired politicians. And to make things worse; he has not held them to any form of performance based accountability standards. No sacking, no discipline, no reshuffling, no reprimand of any of his appointed multitude. Ministers are not performing but they are kept in post. Security chief are tired and bereft of new and innovative ideas, but they are kept in post and even given special extensions to retirement deadlines. Ministers are busy contesting for other political positions and yet are kept in place at the same time. Close associates are tainted with corruption and yet they are kept still in proximity to him and to the base of power. This litany of inaction and passivity is overwhelming. Yet this government doesn’t have enough self awareness to self-correct its own errors and mistakes.
So we need a story. A story that binds us together in common vision. A story that gives us a glimpse of the destination we are heading as a nation. A story that gives us the reassurance that although things are difficult at the moment, it is a temporary bus stop on our way to a clear Promised Land.
This administration is missing that story. The story of what the Nigeria of our dream looks like. A story that inspires us collectively and stiffen our backbone as a people to endure what we hate in order to create what we love. Nigeria can be a great country and the envy of the world. But we need leaders who are story-tellers. Leaders who can tell us about the bright lights awaiting us at the end of this dark tunnel. A leader who though a politician can still rise above politics to do what is best for this nation.
If President Buhari wants a second term with the support of the masses; he needs to show how the next term will be different from this current one. living in denial that all is well will not cut it. Honestly about the lethargic pace of activities is needed. Honesty about lack of personal accountability to the nation by his appointees must be acknowledged. Honesty about the Aged and Old faces of the government in a nation where 60% are aged 30 and under need to be confronted. These combined with that compelling Story of the Nigerian dream will be required to move this nation forward.
As a people, we can endure any pain if we know it is part of our journey as told by our collective story as a nation. We will be inspired by the hope of a prosperous future for our children as engraved in the tapestry of our story to nationhood. Without a vision the people perish. But I also know that without a people the vision perishes too. We need to make this journey together as Nigerians. There will be no Hausa, Yoruba or Ibo enclaves on this journey. Our collective Story will be our tribe. Though we may have different inputs as federation units; our story will not be complete until none is left behind. This revolution will be televised. It will be televised in our hearts, hopes, expectations and desire as a people. But we need to know what that story is. Simply saying you want to kill corruption is not a story, that is an act. What happens after it? There are Nations like China that has been transformed despite their high position on the corruption index. So corrupt countries have developed in other parts of the world. Fighting corruption should be part of an overarching story of where we are going. Not just an end in itself.
We need the Nigerian story to bind us together in common brotherhood so that the labours of our heroes past will truly not be able in vain. So what is the Nigerian story Mr President? A story that leaves no one behind. A story that need the inputs of all tribes and ethnic nationalities that make our great nation. A story that put the young in the driver seat, wisely guided by our wise elders and old sages. A story that gives prominence and opportunities to our women, who though make at least half our population have never been elected Governor much less as President. A story that will uphold loyalty to this nation and our constitution above all else.
Until this story is told with clarity, vigour and passion; Nigeria will continue to stumble from one division and crisis to another. And your name as a leader will merely be written on sand to be washed away by the wave of inevitable wind of change that looms on the horizon. To successfully win our support for your reelection bid; we need to be convinced the next term will be a departure from the current. We need to know you are now out of your “Do not rush me” mode. There is no sign of that yet. You must give us a story of the new Nigeria of our dream.