By Omotayo Ken Suleiman
No matter how much self psyching the long entrenched Saraki hegemony may have mustered leading to this epochal hour, it is the unanimous refrain of pundits across the nation’s information value chain that the cataclysmic outcomes of the February 23 election do not portend any good omens for the beleaguered PDP machine in Kwara’s long awaited governorship battle.
As tsunamis go, this fearsome flood – coursing so furiously and ever so implacably across Kwara’s political super highways as well as through the gullies and craters of its much convoluted electoral hot beds – have gathered an unprecedented mudslide of ugly debris, drenching the outgoing senate president and his motley of courtiers in stenchful muddy sludge.
Yet, even as APC’s conquering troops and “O TO GE”s liberation heroes wait with bated breath for that final killer punch that should hopefully free a much traumatized Kwara from the strangle hold of the opponent’s ignominious reign, it can only be at the generals’ peril to approach these final hours with any complacency.
For keen students of electoral dynamics, it is to be expected that the momentum which the Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq candidacy has gathered, leading to the Buhari landslide of 2 weeks ago, must yet contend, on this historic Saturday, with one last desperate move by the retreating army of occupation. Still all persons of goodwill sustain fervent hope that Kwarans will jubilate at the ushering in of a new dawn, post this ballot.
For passionate advocates of sustainable development in Kwara, this new hope also calls for deep reflections concerning the aftermath of victory. As the “O TO GE” caravan gets ready for city wide victory dances, in the euphoria of an anticipated and hopefully imminent win, the enormity of the tasks ahead and the deep leadership imperatives that come to the fore, must necessarily occupy the thoughts of key leaders. For when the wild jubilations have died down, there will remain, in all of its stark complexities, the herculean, and predictably, quite lonely leadership burden that this singularly historic candidate must bear from the second he is declared governor elect.
All key stakeholders must realize that in the very heart of the momentum that is propelling APC to victory also lies long pent up mass frustration and freshly stoked anticipation and street level expectations that often constitute the seeds of quickly unraveling discontent, and retail level impatience.
While baleful eyed vanquished opponents seethe with envious rage, therefore, there can be no policy inertia on the part of the new leaders. As grueling as the campaign must have been on key stakeholders, there can be no luxury of long recuperation. In a state where poverty level is only a peer or two away from the very bottom of the national rung, in a state where mass youth unemployment has precipitated a frightening security risk and crime rate index, in a state where GDP indicators have remained perennially abysmal, the new leaders must know that mass restiveness are a disturbing latent sibling of the current giddy embrace of the “O TO GE” movement.
If this is the brutal truth, there is also a context in which, perhaps, in terms of managerial and entrepreneurial pedigree, no one is more ready to tackle Kwara’s hydra headed challenges head on than Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.
The strategic tension will be how should the fortuitous leader of a people’s uprising such as this, transform from the back slapping, eager to engage, soap box comrade of all and every self declared ‘political chieftain’ into his historically defined role of a focused paradigm shifter leader who now must jettison street level analog thinking and embrace the most disruptive thoughts in the not so collegial incubation furnace, through which alone truly transformative governance impact will be birthed? How should a governor who was carried shoulder high to Government house on mass hysteria and contagious adulation contend with an often misguided web of expectations?
In a regime that must be significantly differentiated from its sleazy predecessor, how will the new leadership grapple with the all-together justified patronage demands of a huge army of volunteers and an endless sea of political jobbers, without whose irrepressible energies and unquantifiable personal and financial sacrifices, the “O TO GE” train might not have become so turbo charged?
And, while meeting these legitimate yearnings of political operatives for appointive ‘dividends of democracy’ how does a governor with desperately urgent transformation accountabilities yet find the discernment, the leadership fortitude and the single minded strategic focus to defy the often ignorant clamour of political debt collectors?
Mustering clarity of thinking above the fray of political horse trading, the new governor while deploying tact, diplomacy and empathy, must yet seek to optimally resource the incredibly complex task of turning Kwara around from the ashes of its hopefully now twilighting pre history to a new model of administrative excellence.
A rigorously thought through strategic and governance architecture, therefore, is imperative. Now, rigor does not necessarily mean tedium or inaccessibility. An actionable policy framework will be as accessible in thought and articulation, as it is holistic, as relatable as it’s integrative and cross cutting, as cognizant of long term imperatives as it is pragmatic in terms of clarity on short term, mass level exigencies. Such multi dimensional thinking is hopefully well suited to the leadership propensities of a man who has distinguished himself in the fiery furnace of Nigerian entrepreneurship.
A compassion driven regime of rigor will ensure that ‘high faluting’ policies (as we say in Nigeria), elaborately documented white elephant ideas that are not rooted in any pragmatic interrogation of Kwara’s extreme urgencies are focusedly eschewed.
With a heart for our state’s legions of hurting poor, only truly actionable programmes, thoughtfully articulated and possessing in their core a practicality that at once shifts paradigm and yet delivers tangible, palpable and scalable outcomes in a time frame that speaks to the dire urgencies are required. These must immediately impact, especially, our intimidating mass of impoverished and utterly disillusioned youth.
Ditto for fiscal sustainability. In an emergent regime of shrinking federal allocation, the vagaries of our tragically mono cultural fixation on hydro carbons being the least causative index, the challenge of revenue sustainability vis-à-vis the urgent imperative of redressing an appalling level of infrastructural and human development deficit will sit bang in the center of hard fiscal decisions this governor will have to contend with. Jaded analog solution will not cut it.
The IGR architecture has got to resist the seduction of old, shop worn paradigms in which a severely impoverished population is hard tasked to swell the purse of a government in which they only have tenuous faith. An 85% poverty level and near bottom of the pyramid GDP profile does not remotely appear to augur well for the enforcement of a task master tax regime. If the venerable Asiwaju Tinubu and his equally respected mentees and successors in the Lagos governor’s mansion have succeeded outstandingly in IGR, it is perhaps only because Asiwaju’s strategic acumen succeeded in waking the latent potentials of a long under exploited but nonetheless historically rooted commercial/industrial hub, an especially vantaged arrow head of Nigeria’s flirtation with neo liberal market economy.
But in contrast, a basically subsistent Kwara economy, steeped in pre historic agronomic practices and other increasingly derogatory socio economic determinants that have engendered vicious poverty is hardly the candidate for inspiring IGR projections, in the short to medium term. Yet, rigorous focus must be on enthroning market economy management dynamics. This in itself is not at all an advocacy for hard ball Bretton Woods kind of policy prescriptions that treat urgent need for social protection with disdain. Run with integrity, social interventions in themselves are not necessarily inimical to self empowerment sustainability among the masses.
Agriculture, which one is happy to note, has been constantly on the lips of candidate Abdulrazaq, remains singularly an actionable lever for mass lifting of our perennially unemployed youth. While Shonga scale behemoths should be avoided, government owned agro enterprises cannot also be the way. A youth population that is tragically consumed in an opiods epidemic is not nearly sufficiently conscientized into the national project as to be accountable in a public enterprise context. The administration must divine an out of the box scheme that will not be smothered with an entitlement albatross. A well thought out private ownership led agrarian revolution is feasible that can yet unleash the youth’s entrepreneurial energies while combating the anti farming mentality of a lais·sez-faire generation that has been completely swallowed up in the deceptive city centric vanities of the face book age.
While the governance exigencies to confront this new governor are a legion, one should perhaps also caution on key geo strategic issues within the larger Kwara construct. Having gone around campaigning, perhaps no one is more acutely aware of how several key geographies within the state have revealed yawning needs for infrastructural upscaling.
The leadership call will be how does an administration with limited resources significantly impact those areas that are far removed from the state capital while remaining mindful of the continued strategic salience of the Ilorin metropolis itself.
Ilorin must not, and cannot be abandoned while the administration grapples with impacting other key areas that have long suffered neglect over these many years. All geo political entities within the Kwara common wealth have organic links to Ilorin. Indigens of all local governments live in Ilorin. A robust deepening of Ilorin’s transformation into a sustainable modern city conducive to healthy and accelerated growth of a modern economy is thus to the benefit of all.
Altogether, for “O TO GE” leaders, should today’s ballot end in a much coveted win for APC, the victory party cannot be a never ending one. There is an enormous amount of work to be done.
Omotayo Suleiman, a political economist and policy analyst wrote from [email protected] and is reachable via +2348155570341 (WhatsApp texts only)