Monthly Archives: May 2018

NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN CAN BE TOO YOUNG TO LEAD – A Strategic Lesson for the Nigerian Youth.

With the President signing into law today the Not Too Young to Run bill, a lot of our youth are celebrating. But I am not so sure what victory has been won. Age alone is not a criterion for good political leadership. Many Nigerians support their argument by saying not-too-young-web-891x329the new trend in the world is for young leaders in more developed democracies. This is true but the youth in Nigeria are missing the point. These young politicians that became their nations leaders may be young in age, but definitely not young in public service and political experience. Take a look at the following few facts about some of the famous young leaders whose names are banded around by our youth.

A). EMMANUEL MACRON

  1. On 15 May 2012, Macron became the Deputy Secretary General of the Élysée, a senior role in President François Hollande’s staff
  2. He was appointed as the Minister of Economy and Finance in the second Valls Cabinet on 26 August 2014,
  3. In 2017, at 39, he became the youngest President in French history and the youngest French head of state since Napoleon.

B). JUSTIN TRUDEAU

  1. Elected into the Parliament in 2008 as an apposition politician in Canada.
  2. In September 2010, he was appointed as party spokesperson for youth, citizenship, and immigration
  3. He was reelected into Parliament in 2011
  4. In 2013, he was elected the national leader of the Liberal Party.
  5. In 2015, He was elected Prime Minister of Canada at the age of 44.

C). LEO VARADKAR

  1. In 2004, he received the highest first-preference vote in the Ireland with 4,894 votes and was elected on the first count into the Fingal County Council.
  2. Elected in 2007 into the Lower House of Parliament of Ireland.
  3. In 2007, he was appointed him to the Front Bench as Spokesperson for Enterprise, Trade and Employment until a 2010 reshuffle, when he became Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
  4. In 2011, He was re-elected into Parliament.
  5. Varadkar was appointed Federal Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport on 9 March 2011.
  6. In July 2014, Varadkar replaced James Reilly as federal Minister for Health in Ireland.
  7. He was re-elected into Parliament in 2016.
  8. On 6 May 2016, after government formation talks had concluded, Varadkar was appointed as the Federal  Minister for Social Protection.
  9. In 2017, He was elected by the Parliamentary party as the Prime Minister of Ireland aged 38

As you can see from these facts; all these young leaders have had exposure to politics and public service for many years before being elected leaders. So, these young Nigerians coming from nowhere and aspiring to be President simply because “we don’t PIC-13-SIGNING-OF-THE-NOT-TOO-YOUNG-TO-RUN-BILLwant old men” to lead us any more are making strategic errors. Instead of coming from running your own business and seeking to be President; why not start at lower levels.

Local Government Chairman, State Assembly, Governorship, National Assembly Member. Pack some experience behind you first in the public arena before running for the Presidency. Leo Varadkar was elected into the city council at the age of 25. He was elected into Parliament THREE times, Federal Minister TWICE before becoming Prime Minister at 38. So his qualification was not his age but his experience.

It will be a shame to replace Old and tired politicians, with Young but inexperienced ones. You don’t solve one extreme by going the other extreme. I will advise that anyone who go about saying his claim to the Presidency is due to his young age should be thrown out of the arena; if there are no public-sector experience to back it up. Nigeria is an incredibly complex country to govern. While I believe a young person can effectively be President; I believe such a young person should have had exposure in public service. But this is where the problem is.

The Youth should fervently lobby the politicians to appoint young people as Commissioners, SAs, and Ministers. How come we don’t have a 25yr old Commissioner in any state? How come the average age PMB’s Ministers is almost 60? These are the areas youthDFl7TpfXoAANvmm-e1501133205984 can shine and cut their teeth in the public arena before gunning for the top job. So the battle is not over for the Nigerian youth.  Don’t fool yourselves into thinking a 35yr old without any experience of public service can win the Presidential election. It is very risky to place the huge burden of a complex nation like Nigeria on the shoulders of a 35yr old who has worked in his own private company all his life. Under-Experience of the young is not the solution to the Outdated-Experience of the old.

Let the words go out from today; that at all levels of government, the young must be appointed and given the opportunity to be elected to begin their climb of the political ladder and public-sector exposure. Anyone who has ever moved from the relative efficiency of the private sector to take a job in the public sector will tell you it is a major paradigm shift to adjust to the slow, inefficient and corruption-ridden public sector. You don’t get your first taste of this dangerous beast at the presidential level.

So, let us all go to work and help our youth invade the public domain at all levels so that we can create the needed pipeline of future presidents that will be in their 30s and 40s. In the end, experience will be the trump card not simply a young age. Therefore, it is now time to start early. Begin the work of infiltrating all levels of government, gather a few experiences and your young age will become an asset if backed by some public experience. God bless Nigeria.

 

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Objectivity Needed if we are to be Pro-Nigeria and not just Pro-Buhari

I am seeing a lot of posts from those who claim they are pro Buhari and anti Buhari. The anti-Buhari seem to only highlight his errors with both real and fabricated facts. For the pro-Buharis, they believe stating only his positive achievements (as though no mistakes were made or even being made by the PMB government) is the way to go.

What is lost in translation between these two extremes is what should be our main Focus: NIGERIA. Our country should be the main focus and as such we should be Pro-Nigeria. I am pro-00340825_3ec9962f652bb1d6c5fc7dbc8d53071c_arc614x376_w1200Nigeria. That means you will be able to see the positive things PMB has done for Nigeria; but also see his errors and misjudgements as they have not helped Nigeria. This essential OBJECTIVITY is what is missing from both extremes of Pro and anti Buhari brigades.

Nobody (and I repeat nobody) who is pro-Nigeria will look at the PMB government and say there has been no mistakes. Also, nobody who is pro-Nigeria will say the PMB has achieved nothing in its 3yrs of existence. Both propositions will be lying and dishonest to the extreme.

What we need is a Pro-Nigeria position. Opposition for the sake of it is foolishness. Nobody and no party has a monopoly of knowledge or solutions for our Nation’s problems. As with many other democracies; many patriots feel (in an ideal world) they should be able to combine attributes from different parties and politicians to create a new politician that will be the best for their country. Imagine a politician with the relative integrity of Buhari, the detribalised and action speed of Obasanjo, the attention to building consensus of Jonathan and the frugality of Yaradua. This clone that combines all these attributes will be best for Nigeria at this time. But that is in the realm of imagination.

So being Pro-Nigeria means you are duty bound (if you are Pro-Buhari) to highlight not just his successes; but the areas he is failing (or has failed) so as to ensure the next four years do not repeat the mistakes of the past. After all, how do you correct something if you do not accept it is incorrect in the first place. How do you make a different policy choice, unless you accept the current one is inadequate? Stating the errors of PMB administration is the best Pro-Nigeria step to take. I love my children, but I am equally happy to highlight the areas they need to adjust in their approach to life to be even better than they are. That does not mean I do not love them. Listening to someone like Festus Keyamo defend PMB can be heart-breaking. He just could not get himself to admit that PMB has made some mistakes. True friends are not YES men. They are able to accept that lessons have been learnt from errors thus assuring us that the future will reflect different choices.

I can list the many achievements of PMB and I can also list is many mistakes and errors. Both lists could be perfectly correct. We need to be mature in our political discuss. That is why in my posts over the last few weeks, I have stated that my final decision whether to support PMB or not for 2019, will depend on who the other candidates are. I am not a PMB or nothing person; but I will also not want my beloved Nigeria to move from frying pan into fire with an even worse candidate. So, I am still open minded. I truly believe this is the position of 50% of Nigerians. You will have the 25% who are anti-Buhari regardless and another 25% who are Pro-Buhari regardless.

Loving our country and putting her first demand that we are objective in our analysis and not pretend Buhari has been all bad as well as not saying he has been all perfect either. I will be more comfortable with PMB and his 2019 ambition, if he can come out to itemise and accept some of his errors, admit them and say he will work to make sure they are not repeated in future. That will assure me he has learned from past mistakes. Nigeria_politicalBut with praise-singers all around him; I fear he may be living in a bubble devoid of reality.

When the Americans were on the outskirt of Bagdad, Saddam’s generals were still assuring him that Iraq was winning the war against the allied forces. That is what happens when you are surrounded by people who do not tell you reality as it is but tell you what they think you want to hear. We should love our country enough to reject such parochial disposition.

According to Festus Keyamo’s last interview I saw; Nigeria was already sliding into depression from late 2014 under Jonathan administration. All the signs were there he said. I happen to agree with him. But PMB inherited an economy sliding into depression and felt the best approach is not to appoint Ministers for SIX months leaving the economy without political direction. THAT WAS A MISTAKE. Then, only to appoint after six months ministers that could have been appoints in six hours. They were the usual suspects of recycled politicians. The delay was a bad signalling to Investors.

Yes, the Forex market was already boiling by the time PMB took over in 2015 with Naira sliding in value. But rather than allow the Market to correct itself as Jonathan had allowed; PMB decided to stiffing demand for FOREX through a series of Administrative actions that made live hell for Nigerians and made Naira to lose even more value. This political interference was not in the interest of Nigeria and was a mistake. The government seem to be doing the right things now gradually in the forex system. But I have never heard PMB or any of his supporters admit that the 2015 policy was wrong.

I can go on to education and show how the structural damage and inefficiencies in the system are not being addressed. In 35yrs, there has been only one nationwide inspection of our secondary schools to check the quality of the teaching which was done when Dr Obi was the Minister under Obasanjo regime. So, increasing funding to education now is simply giving more funds to perpetuate dysfunction. Then the curriculum is out of sync with the modern world. There is need for fundamental change in the national curriculum. Only a good education turn normal citizens into human capital. This is not being addressed by PMB so far, that to me is a failure.

But PMB has also achieved a lot in his three years. The President has used his more prudent approach to spending to grow our External Reserve. This is commendable and puts us in better position to deal with any shock in the global economy in the years ahead. There is more negative disposition towards Corruption. This is needed. As a general posture, corruption is now perceived as more of a negative than before in Nigeria. This is the right message to craft. Even though successful prosecution has been few; I will still commend PMB on his war against graft. It has been a success in comparison with his predecessors.

Greater Diversification of the economy. PMB has succeeded in diversifying our economy better than any government since 1999. Although this has yet to feed into the good feel lagos1factor for many Nigerians, it is work in progress and commendable. Growth in Agriculture has been exemplary and commendable, almost unprecedented. I know personally the successes scored by the government in expanding our agricultural base and outputs. There appears to be better success with the fight against terrorists compared to Jonathan’s regime. Although let down badly by his service chiefs and IGP in my opinion; Mr President has however done well to invest in and Marshall the resources needed to prosecute the war against terror and violence.

I can go on and on about PMB’s successes. But in the end, being Pro-Nigeria means we must demand assurances that the next four years (if he wins in 2019) will reflect on many lessons-learnt from this current administration. This will only happen if we see sufficient humility to accept his errors and reassure us how he will learn from them and do things differently if re-elected. Blind and unqualified support for PMB or any other candidate for that matter in my view is unwise at this stage. If there is a list of PMB’s successes, there must also be one for his failures. That is how life is. One does not cancel the other. It simply means we need to know what has been learnt from the mistakes of this first term that will be corrected in the second term. This is not too much to ask.Without pointing out mistakes; how will PMB know what to correct in the next four years. Simply singing his praise is bad for him and ultimately bad for Nigeria. More of the same alone, will be disaster without tweaking and change of approach in many areas.

I know objectivity is lacking in our polarised polity. So, I accept to be criticised by BOTH Pro and Anti Buhari brigades in equal measure. That has become the sad reality of our public discuss. But I am Pro-Nigeria and I will do what I feel is best for my country when the options become very clear to see. I however feel it will be in the vital interest of the PMB administration to insist his spokespeople admit mistakes that were made and the corrective measures that has been put in place or will be taken whilst pointing saliently to the obvious successes of his administration.

So if in the end I support PMB (after seeing all the alternatives); it will not be unqualified. It will be on the basis of continuing with his successes, while addressing the areas of weakness that I will be pointing out. This is what being Pro-Nigeria is. How he needs to change his strolling posture and show more dynamism and speed of action. How he needs to make all his appointees more accountable and sack those not performing. Supporting PMB will not be because I feel he is the best Nigeria can offer; but it will be because I feel he is best in the field provided to us. These are not the same considerations. PMB will not be helped by those who simply sing his praises as if the rest of us are blind to his obvious mistakes. We all need to be Pro-Nigeria.

Nigerians did not vote for a perfect individual. They just need to know that you can see the imperfections we all can see and how you are going to mitigate them and move our country forward. So, let us be Pro-Nigeria and challenge all those who aspire to lead us in the interest of generations to come. God bless Nigeria.

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PROBLEM WITH BUHARI GOVT: To Build a Nation, we need a Story.

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 tellmohammadu-buhari-official 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.

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