By Adewale Sanyaolu Despite being a country with the second largest deposit of bitumen in the world, Nigeria, according to Foraminifera, a marketing and research firm, spends about N2 billion yearly on importation of asphalt, a derivative of bitumen. The occurrence of bitumen deposits in Nigeria is twice the amount of existing reserves of crude…
I want to pass an observation before we go into the details of today’s discourse. The focus of today’s write up is not about the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo as a person per say, it is about features of good leadership, which he has displayed since he took over national leadership about four weeks ago. The truth is, it is difficult to discuss a man’s style without his personality coming into the mix; that could well be the case in today’s work and if it does happen, it should be viewed strictly from the context of analyzing serious public issues and not an attempt to build a personality cult. As we have been told, what we require should be strong institutions and not strong men, even though sometimes you need benevolent dictators, strong men with clear vision and patriotic spirit to knock a wayward citizenry into a productive unit and build strong institutions.
The problem of this nation is poor and ineffective leadership. We all seem to agree on that and when I have opportunity to expand on this postulation, I do extend the argument to include that the issue is not about lack of qualitative leadership materials, but basically about the leadership process that has been tailor-made by “evil geniuses” in our midst to keep churning out men and women who are not well tutored and equipped to handle higher and complex responsibilities. Misfits hijacked the system shortly after independence and have been responsible for the authoritative allocation of value. To sustain this selfish enterprise they had to develop crafty devices; they hate with passion the intelligent and creative minds and would do everything to keep them far from power and authority. In their place, they manipulate nincompoops into higher officers and as a consequence leave the nation with the situation where supposed leaders operate from levels far higher than their competence. This is one reason why our nation has remained what it is, a backward nation
The damage bad politics has caused the nation cannot be quantified. Many good men fear to enter politics and the few who break the cordon to get to the center stage are sidelined. In nearly all the 36 states many of the deputy governors neither have a say or a role. In some of the instances at the federal level choice of the Vice President has made it look like there is a convention which says only the moronic looking guys are feet for the role; in many instances the mode of selection is in line with that belief and the result is most often the citizens expect less from those who occupy the Number Two positions. Osinbajo has had his own odyssey; he was not the first choice for the Vice Presidency, the political colossus Bola Tinubu was and it would have been rightly so going by his immense contribution to the building of APC but he had to let go in the interest of national unity and progress. His decision to yield the position that produced Osinbajo and like it had been in the past, doubts surrounded his administrative ability. But suddenly he is becoming everybody’s hero by his deft political moves in support of the President. Is this the same man that we all underrated? I must say I am impressed and I will come to that later.
In the last one month our president has been away on medical vacation and before he moved he did the right thing, transmitting a letter to the National Assembly to inform them and to properly handover to his deputy. If we take this into account, the furor over his absence should not be, rather we ought to be full of commendation to him for taking steps to further the development of a right political culture for our nation. The president by the action has created a convention that says in very strong terms that deputies were not envisaged by the framers of our constitution to be mere spare tyres but true and contributive partners in the governance process and practical development of the nation. As it is there is no constitutional crisis and I don’t foresee any. If nothing else gives me confidence and in fact delights my hearts, the performance of the Acting President has been more than enough consolation and a confidence booster for many who were beginning to think that the administration was lacking in key basic knowledge of how a nation could be governed.
For me, and I want to believe for many others, there are features associated with effective leadership, some would have been seen already. One is strong will and the president has this in abundance, in fact it is his greatest strength and given what reckless leadership has done to this nation, most of the patriotic minds are in agreement that a personality like Buhari is what we need at a time like this; Buhari is disciplined and ascetic. With the plundering of national resources, it is difficult to argue that this quality is not what we need especially at a time like this. But the president has been a bit too rigid, distant and carries a perception of taciturnity and hesitant. These appear to be rubbing off negatively on what should be a high scorecard. From what I see I would advise that in the interest of the nation the Osinbajo Factor in the presidential alchemy should be enhanced; if such happens it will do the administration great good and the Change Agenda would be the better for it. Osinbajo in the last few days has brought to the fore some of the other qualities the Presidency will need to excel and leave its imprint in the minds of the citizens; he responded to issues timely and in the language of governance, his handling of a protest was superb and his answers to issues raised were appropriate and soothing, he spoke hope and engaged the people, suddenly the presence of a government was being felt better than before.
What do I get from all of these? Simple: I see a good mix which if well harnessed would give this nation her first breakthrough in effective leadership and excellence in good governance. I expect our dear president to overcome the minor challenge of the moment and return back to the nation soon and when this happens I will expect the best friends of the president, officials of his party and patriotic Nigerians to make him understand that he will need to let loose his deputy to work with him in the true sense of a partnership tailor-made by heaven to bless this nation that has been a victim of poor leadership since independence. The APC government must seek to wield influence and not power. This is the only way the difference could be very clear.