President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria addressed the United Nations at the present Summit in a manner pundits have described as uninspiring. A distinct fact was his inability to put Nigerian issues on the front row while discussing other Nations. The pertinent question therefore bothers on whether there is nothing to discuss about Nigeria, or he found it rather convenient to ignore.
It will be recalled that Nigeria has just emerged from the woods of recession. With the recent proscription of IPOB, protracted war against Boko Haram, military invasion of South Eastern States without National Assembly consent, and fringe elements from the South West threatening the use of chemical and biological weapons against the Northern and South Eastern States, President Buhari was expected to push for an intensive agenda for security, human rights, economy and increased economic partnerships; building on milestones expected to have been delivered by Nigerian Diplomats and Permanent Representatives at the United Nations. None of that was featured in the Presidential address.
Perhaps, Nigerian’s expectation of a forthright accountable leadership is illogical. It is on record that Nigerians had no purpose other than whisking away military regimes in 1999. In 2003, President Obasanjo was given tenure on the strength of ethnic sentiments and alleged obeisance to his Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Late President Yar’Adua was bestowed in 2007, and President Goodluck Jonathan assumed Office in 2011 by simply asking Nigerians “to imagine” and declaring “he had no shoes”. When President Buhari therefore declared “he belongs to nobody” at his inauguration in 2015, it was easy to reconcile with Reuben Abati’s assertion that people truly deserve their government. Transparency and accountability is a prerequisite in any aspect of public leadership in today’s world of sustainable values.
As the countdown to 2019 general elections announced by INEC becomes more intensive, the country needs a constant benchmark in assessing all contenders. Reviewing our economic and leadership agenda could provide a fair, constant and common approach for the purpose of validating thoughts, experiences, and commitments towards a greater Nation. This review provides an opportunity that needs not be squandered at the temple of another meaningless emotive jingoism of war, hate speech and melodrama.
With government’s inability to curb wastage of agricultural produce, controversies surrounding anti-corruption drive, 2017 economic performance and fiscal reforms, the narratives around Nigeria’s economic agenda have not been properly managed. At the heart of this plot is government’s failure to translate envisioned intentions into a plan which citizens can leverage upon, and government official’s limited policy intelligence analysis capacity.
Over ten years ago, we celebrated complete settlement of our foreign debt under President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku. Presently, we are indebted to external creditors for over fifteen billion United States Dollars ($15bn) and counting. With Nigeria’s youthful and innovative population, advancement in technologies and efficiency available in a recession, we should be experiencing a bloom in actual employment and business opportunities at the moment. In retrospect, how well has the government implemented and explained needful active measures to ensure that all deregulated sectors achieve intended socio-economic development; and how well can political contenders improve on affairs at national and local levels?
Nigeria needs an agenda for economic governance and leadership that appreciates respect, innovation and continuous genuine involvement as hallmark of responsibility and sustainable development. We have failed to develop any process of identifying, training and rewarding leadership, of putting people who are potential leaders through a crucible to determine their preparedness and worth. Now is the time to get better.