In the entire history of the world, the world has never existed without challenges and it would never. At every phase of human history, leadership is required to change the world; authentic, visionary, assertive, creative, transformative, sincere and disruptive leaders are required to fix and forge their societies forward.
At the peak of public leadership in any country is the presidential leadership, either a president, prime minister, or a monarch, every nation looks up to the Head of State to provide hope, optimism and shared social possibilities. To lead a country in a time of chaos and complex crisis, the Head of a State requires more than just the desire to lead. It requires the trusted ability to simplify complex conversations; take tough decision, embody firm convictions of patriotism and set decisively in national interest; showcase the wisdom, of insights, the audacity of foresights and creative commitment to bold visions.
From 1960, Nigeria has had 11 general elections in that with every to understand search of leaders to lead her out of the crisis of underdevelopment and chain of bad governance; and is constitutionally expected to hold 10 general elections from 2023 to 2060 when Nigeria will be 100 years as a sovereign country. As Nigeria progresses to hold her seventh general election in 2023 since the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999, the presidential candidates owe themselves a duty to understand that with stroke of a president’s pen, every word of a president and every action or inaction of a president, a life is at stake, either to be bettered or marred.
To perform the premium duties and demands of the presidency, the disciplined leadership of the Commander-In-Chief is required to uphold and protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in engendering national security, galvanize our diverse peculiarities for nation building, build a productive economy and go for a foreign policy that advances our national interest.
With Nigeria’s fiscal crisis, debt profile, high unemployment rate, insecurity, climate crisis, among other core challenges, certain questions will resonate at every point of the ongoing presidential campaign in Nigeria, but the questioners owe the electorate a duty to firmly question the candidates on how they will diversify Nigeria’s economy and boost revenue earnings, reduce corrupt practices, secure Nigeria, develop critical socio-economic infrastructures, strengthen institutions, build local productivity capacity (including local refineries) and end fuel subsidy and crude oil theft.
To fix Nigeria’s current crisis will not be easy nor will it emanate from the barrel of cheap political proposals. Nigeria’s next president must be assertive in the best interest of Nigeria by taking tough measures and decisions to ensure conclusive policy implementation in all sectors of the state.
Nigeria’s next president has plethora of presidential leadership precedents to follow and there is nothing wrong in borrowing such good case studies of good governance from other political climes in order to advance our system to flourish. To pivot focus in our time of national uncertainty, our next president must mould a mental model for shared state’s productivity and prosperity, clearly communicate national policy agenda for transformation and situate sustainable systems of good governance for enduring development legacies and growth.
At a point in the history of Singapore, it appeared change was impossible until Lee Kuan Yew exercised presidential leadership to do the art of possibilities. He transformed Singapore from one of the poorest countries on planet earth in the 1960s to a global economic giant. He forged Singapore as a highly effective, anti-graft government with an efficient civil service. Like Nigeria, Singapore faced severe unemployment and other socio-economic crisis when Lee Kuan Yew’s government embarked on a modernization programme that focused on establishing Singapore as a manufacturing hub, investing in public infrastructures, ensured political stability, transparent public institutions and low level corruption. Lee Kuan Yew led his country out of compelling and complex sovereign crisis. What stops our leaders from copying the style of Lee Kuan Yew? Probably, we are yet to have the needed leader to navigate us from where we are today.
Given that countries undergo transformative development either through evolutionary or revolutionary trajectories, transformational presidential leadership is not achieved in a vacuum; it is usually anchored on known presidential leadership practices and realities. All the stages of development of any country; development as interaction, as action and as a process, can only be achieved when a constitutional democracy elects a president who has the mind as to run a development, productive and people centred state.
No president, no matter how cultured can create a functional country without efficient institutions, active citizens and committed civil society sector which play complementary roles in nation building.
Unfortunately, campaign for Nigeria’s 2023 general elections is already beclouded with populism, sentiments and misinformation. Should these factors be the deciding factors for influencing the outcome of the 2023 presidential election, the tendencies are high that Nigeria’s developmental and existential crisis will continue unresolved for decades to come. For development delayed in a generation is development denied of the generation.
Nigeria’s next president must be grounded in the ongoing life of the people, as well as the realities of the society. It is criminally irresponsible for our next president to live in the luxury of Aso Rock Villa for the pleasure extracted from power and to maintain the interests of vested power brokers at the expenses of the people’s well-being. Nigeria’s next president of our hope should be that person that cannot subscribe to medical tourism and other shameful obsession for foreign luxuries. It is time to invest, build and secure Nigeria’s greatness and shared prosperity. The next president of Nigeria must prioritize and focus on his development agenda on specific sectors such as security, power, industrialization and manufacturing, education, healthcare, agriculture, anti-corruption and public infrastructure. Such policy and development agenda will be measured on the president’s success in physical infrastructure, social well-being and accountability.
More importantly, our next president must search for enduring solutions through the provisions of Chapter Two of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). He should be optimistic, confident and self-assured that Nigeria is capable of changing and it can change within a specified timeframe. There is sufficient legal frame work that must guide such a revolutionary president, including the Petroleum Industry Act, Start-up Act, among other local contents development, transparency and productivity laws.
A new Nigeria is possible if our next president understands the rudiments of the politics of the possibility. But definitely, Nigeria needs no Hard Drugs Baron with forged credentials without an authentic family history as a president.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues