By Biodun Busari
Nigeria deserves the best, not because the country dropped from heaven, but because the request is based on the fact that its indigenous peoples need to take a break from this horrendous, awful experience unraveling before us. And, the best that Nigeria should give itself is to have an intelligent, brave, charismatic and people-oriented president in 2023.
The last time the country got such a beautiful leader was between 1999 and 2010 when former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Umar Yar’adua held the reins of power. The impacts were felt positively in the economy and other areas of the national interests. Eleven years of good governance. There were inadequacies no doubt, but not pronounced as we have now.
If Nigerians should begin to dish out the qualities they want in the next President to govern them, the whole space in the national dailies would not suffice. The reason is that the incompetence and anomalies of the governments that had ruled from 2010 till now have been grossly noticeable. Nigerian people can not only sleep with their two eyes closed, but they can not also beat their chest that they are having a good life.
While President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration failed minimally in tackling corruption under his watch, President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime deserves an Oscar for the total wreckage of the nation’s economy and security. It’s a complete abysmal failure! The government of the day is enmeshed in insensitivity, insecurity, inflation and all sorts.
Now, before you turn this piece into a blind argument, do your findings and show proof. The evidence of the happenings around us is obvious. Statisense, a data consulting agency recently published the overall economic growth recorded by successive governments since the inception of this democracy in 1999.
From 1999 – 2007, Obasanjo had +81%, between 2007 – 2010, Yar’adua had +25.9%, in 2010 – 2015, Jonathan had 26.4%, and from 2015 till date, Buhari has +4.9%. In the agriculture sector, Obasanjo recorded +113%, Yar’adua claimed 19%, Jonathan scored +22%, and Buhari manages 17%. In industries, Obasanjo secured +28%, Yar’adua garnered +6%, Jonathan gathered +18% and Buhari wobbles with –9%. Finally, in services, Obasanjo clinched +113, Yar’adua scored +43%, Jonathan managed +32% and Buhari battles +6%. We all know the years the former presidents spent in office vis-à-vis the current government.
Let this be clear, I purposefully did not attribute this to political parties. It is a waste of time if we still believe that parties run our national affairs. Nigeria is ruled, governed or led by political oligarchs. They are in the North and the South. They work together for their selfish interests. We only have a few of them that would want to serve the country, truly. Well, that’s my opinion. Political parties in Nigeria don’t have ideologies. Anything goes with them, and that’s why it is convenient to defect shamelessly. They can even eat their words to go back to their vomit.
Now, if Nigeria wants to have great moments again, the next president must not only be intelligent, brave, charismatic and people-oriented but for the sake of this generation and the future one should be digitally inclined. That’s where Vice President Yemi Osinbajo or ex-Anambra State Governor Peter Obi comes in.
What do I mean by digitally inclined? Nigeria deserves a president that knows what’s happening in the digital world – digital economy, digital education, digital currency, digital innovation, digital this and digital that. Like what my pastor said, you cannot rule a digital generation with an analog method. We’re tired of a president that does not understand the language of the digital age needed to position the country for prosperity in all sectors.
The president Nigerians deserve is beyond tackling Boko Haram or bandits. (Yes, I know insecurity should be tackled). He should be a president that would bring innovative projects to build the country, not just fix it. We should not be carried away by these noise-makers promising heaven and earth to get sympathy for votes at the general elections. We’ve heard that over and over. We need a President that commands respect and takes the bull by the horns.
When President Buhari embarked on medical leave for months in 2017, Osinbajo gave Nigerians a foretaste of what a Nigeria’s leader could be through his ace performance while acting for his principal. Under his watch, one dollar to naira crashed from 525 to 450, after he issued a directive at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to review its foreign exchange policy.
Apart from forwarding the name of Justice Walter Onnoghen to the National Assembly as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), the vice-president had face-to-face talks with communities in the creeks of the oil-rich Niger Delta on how to stabilise the South-South region. He paid an unscheduled visit to Lagos airport as part of the action plan to reform business in the country. Don’t forget that the VP visited tech hubs including Paystack, Andela, Flutterwave and others in Lagos on February 17, 2018. I can go on and on. Osinbajo has the credentials to be president. I mean practical records, not theoretical assertions that aspirants, especially from the Old Order promise Nigerians. He has the audacious personality that Nigeria deserves.
About Obi, if Nigeria is serious about fairness, equity and justice, then the former Anambra Governor deserves to be the country’s leader. The Nigerian President of Igbo extraction that has been in agitation is what the masses should demand in Obi as a practical matter. If the South wants power truly, then it should be ceded to the South-East, but the best that could come from that region at the moment is Obi. Just like Osinbajo, Obi has the qualifications. For once, Nigeria should get a president that is agile with an advanced thinking. Nigeria has not had a democratically elected president from the South-East, and if we must have one now, it should be that person that would transform the face of the country and give it a global outlook.
As a Governor, Obi was a member of the Presidential Economic Management Team and Special Adviser to the President on Finance He achieved productivity for his state. Anambra became the first state ever to start Sub-Sovereign Wealth savings, which made him leave about $500 million in investment. His remarkable productive initiatives made the Debt Management Office (DMO) rate Anambra as the least indebted state in the country during his administration.
He has sat on many boards of corporate companies with a digital-inclined mind. His expertise and experience as a self-made billionaire in the business world having performed as a two-time governor are enough to shoot Nigeria into the galaxy of economically viable and technical hub countries. Nigeria will stand tall again in the comity of nations if it has a president that is sound and creative. I repeat, the business mind of an average Igbo man plus the fact that the South-East is the next to produce the Nigerian leader according to the zoning formula is what the country needs in Peter Obi. No more no less.
There is no disrespect to all other aspirants, but the country’s myriad challenges cannot afford that we gamble in the 2023 general elections. We need to get it straight this time if we really want a better, safer and richer country for ourselves and the future generations. Both Osinbajo and Obi from the ruling party and main opposition party respectively have displayed guts and audacity that this country’s leader needs, and you only saw that last in Obasanjo.
Osinbajo displayed that during the sack of former Director-General, State Security Services (SSS), Lawal Daura and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal for charges of corruption against them. Recall that Obi challenged his impeachment as a governor in 2007 and reclaimed his seat. He told the journalists that the crime for his impeachment was his refusal to inflate the annual budget of the state.
If the best is yet to come, the Nigerian people must have a glimpse of it in either of the two men as we march to polling booths next year. Anything short of these two men would amount to either stagnation or retrogression for the most populous black nation. But, if you ask me, I actually want to see what a Nigerian Igbo President looks like, and I hope this generation can afford it.
Biodun Busari is a content writer and journalist from Lagos.