You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2022 02 02Article 521689

Opinions of Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Columnist: Stanley Ekpa

Memo to Nigeria’s next president

File photo to illustrate the story File photo to illustrate the story

Dear prospective president,

In this season of presidential declarations, let me first congratulate you on your bold confidence to step out and subject yourself to both public service and public scrutiny, whether you have declared to run or not. It is an enormous work to govern a country covering an area of 923,769 square kilometres (356,669 sq mi), with an approximated population of 211 million, more than 500 languages, complex diverse interests and challenges, and their inherent problems. This job is not for the faint-hearted nor for naysayers, it is for dealers in pragmatic hope, courageous patriots, visionary voices, intentional nation builders, open-minded bridge builders, peacemakers, exposed, experienced and educated citizens who love their country. To be clear, it falls within the four of your constitutional rights to vote and be voted for in any election in Nigeria.

Since 1914, when the name “Nigeria” came into corporate existence, there have been twenty-four men who have either been forced or forced themselves on Nigeria—from Sir Lord Frederick Lugard (1 Jan. 1914 – 8 Aug 1919) to the current president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

By the time you assume office in 2023, you will meet a Nigeria that is more divided than we were in 1966, economically at a fix with 1.5% economic growth, 143% corruption global perception and low on security than we were post-civil war. I do not intend to discuss campaign strategies with you. I should be wise enough to know that you already have an overflow of outlets for campaign-related strategies. I rather focus on what we must do in laying the foundation of our country’s strategic development through the institution of the presidency.

Our nation is in serious search for a “perfect” president. And though Jonathan’s position that “all presidents are blind dates” may be politically logical, you must understand that you have every potential to propel Nigeria to the envisioned trajectory of shared prosperity. The possibilities of building a productive, functional, efficient and safe Nigeria start from your optimistic dispositions to possibilities, openness to new ideas and continuous commitment to working for the overall interest of our nation. Being a “perfect” president means having and practising certain personal and political skills that endear you to good governance, sustainable development results and impact. For a start, you will need personal attributes like authenticity, character, courage, ambition and drive, optimism, strength and toughness, be a learner as well as a listener, people’s skills, and self-confidence; while you need such political skills as coalition building, executive competence, strategic thinking, capacity to inspire the nation, persuasive communication and stagecraft performance skills.

Once you are sworn-in as the Commander-in-Chief to uphold and protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you become bound to exercise the nearly omnipresent powers of the president in helping to set the national agenda through the core cardinal responsibilities of a country’s president, to wit: ensuring national security, galvanising our diverse peculiarities for nation-building, building a productive economy and going for a foreign policy that advances our national interest.

First and, perhaps, most important, no country no matter how big or small can grow or succeed without security. It may interest you to know that insecurity has become a huge business in Nigeria. The 35,000 Nigerians in the North-East that UNDP reported were killed up till 2021 are victims of some people’s primitive gain and self-enrichment. Let the provision of section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution guide you in ensuring that the security and welfare of the people be the primary purpose of your government. Insecurity is inevitable in the absence of social security, productivity, fairness and equal opportunity for all men to strive and thrive. You, therefore, have an excusable responsibility to create a conducive atmosphere for creative enterprises to thrive. You must look at the peculiarities of each state, and work with the governors, to ensure that government creates clusters of enterprise and SME hubs that would help in identifying, training, incubating, mentoring, supporting and monitoring the business growth of our emerging young entrepreneurs in all sectors, including tech startups. While a vibrant and healthy economy may not cure corruption, it will reduce the high level of crimes and insecurity as the youth will be productively engaged.

If you are not sure of how to secure Nigeria, you should first read the 2014 National Conference Report. There is nothing exceptionally new your campaign manifesto should speak to if not on how to restructure Nigeria for every unit and substructure to productively govern its jurisdiction. Implementing the report will require constant constitutional amendments. Not so many political entrepreneurs would accept such structural and systematic changes, but if you sincerely see the entire parts of Nigeria as your immediate constituency and honestly ensure inclusiveness in your governance, chances are that the Nigerian people will stand solidly behind you. Ensure that the rule of law and practice of social justice applies to every Nigerian, irrespective of their region, religion and class. If you elevate meritocracy as the cardinal core of your administration, chances are high that you will lay a solid foundation for a coherent future for our sick country.

Our development landscape will respond to your creative commitment to the core Cs of presidential leadership: Consolidate on credible programmes of the previous administration; complete credible projects of the previous administration; conceptualise broad-based visions for our country’s shared economic prosperity. For the three core Cs to work, competence, character and courage play critical roles. Above all, strive to implement at least 80% of your annual Appropriation Acts and your campaign manifesto. As citizens, we will be with you every step of your constitutionally guaranteed terms to hold you accountable and ensure you do the right thing.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.