A mentor of mine would always say that “if you jump up, you will come down. If you however, grow up, you will stay there.” Gravity, as amazing as it is, has a hold on almost everything in the universe except growth. It does not matter how strong, young or dynamic you are, gravity will fasten her claws around you until you submit, except of course, you are growing.
Think about it.
When I was a little boy, I used to be extremely intrigued by the motor car. I believed it to be a thing of magic. I considered my father a magician for possessing the knowledge that made the magic box move. He had acquired a green Mercedes Benz 200 when I was quite little, and the car was so sleek, I would have packed all my things to live inside it were it not for my Father’s stern look and my Mother’s watchful gaze.
Soon enough, I started to observe whoever it was that drove the car. Their legs touched some things, and their hands pushed the little stick hanging in the middle. I had no idea what the movements from the body parts meant, but my little brain thought that if only I could get in the seat, step on the same things and wriggle the joystick, the car would move to wherever I wanted it to.
So on a day when my Father wasn’t looking, I jumped in the driver’s seat and attempted to recreate what I had studied. As soon as I was seated, my legs, which were supposed to touch the plates at the bottom, could not get anywhere near them. I slid down a little, it still wasn’t enough. Then I slid all the way down, and when my legs eventually touched the plates, I tried my hardest to grab the joystick. After much twisting and turning, I eventually had one leg on one of the plates and my right hand on the joystick, which was when I noticed that something was amiss.
I couldn’t see through the glass.
In fact, my head was stuck underneath the steering wheel. At this point, I came to the shocking realization that my legs were too short, and my arms weren’t long enough to grab the joystick and still see across the giant sized glass. In essence, I was too small to handle such a big machine.
I had not grown to that level.
I find that the same notion applies to Nigerian politics and many of her politicians. Many of them are incapable of ruling, YET they aspire nonetheless. Everyone, and I mean this rather humorously, has already declared or will soon declare to run for President. The spate of declarations has the potential to leave the regular Nigerian dizzied by the rashness of it all.
Just before you digest the intentions of one aspirant, another declaration leaves you scrambling to keep up. It will take the soundness of mind to be able to identify the gems hiding under the quicksand. It will also be a curious thing to scrutinize each aspirant, seeking for which one amongst them has shown the semblance of growth in all of their past assignments; so much so that taking on the task of commandeering this country after Buhari’s term is done will fit seamlessly – placing Nigeria on the road towards consolidating on the current administration’s gains and building a better future for Nigerians home and abroad.
The task, as it stands, rests with Nigeria’s two major political parties to produce the best man for the job.
Against all odds, the All Progressive’s Congress has now completed her Party convention and had the leadership of the party transferred from the temporal hands of the Governor of Yobe State, Mala Mai Buni, to the rugged, seasoned palms of Senator Abdullahi Adamu. All the hullabaloo that preceded the convention has since been put to rest, and the focus of the party is surely set on the task of conducting a successful party primary in line with the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) whilst, in the process, producing a candidate whose skillset will be so glaringly in favour of not only winning the election, but solving the existing problems plaguing the Nigerian people.
Surely that must be a piece of cake. Shouldn't it?
After all, this is the same party that possesses the erudite Dave Umahi, the visionary Professor Yemi Osinbajo; the exemplary Minister, Rotimi Amaechi; the seasoned politician, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; the eternal schemer, Nasir El Rufai and many others. These people all believe that they possess the abilities to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari when he finally retires to his farm in 407 days. From my point of view, I could think of two or three of them who will be able to step into his shoes and do a manageable job based on their qualities, and a few others who must not be allowed to smell power ever again.
This is true because at this stage of our development as a nation, Nigeria can no longer withstand a President whose qualities must be “managed” when the current realities are put into question.
What are Nigeria’s current realities, one may ask?
Is it not Insecurity? Is it not a distinct lack of satisfaction between many tribes existing within the confines of the entity called Nigeria? Is it not the stark reality that we currently inhabit a position that does not correlate with the enormous human and natural resources which Nigeria is blessed with? Is it not a clear case of class divide, with Nigeria having two halves of a coin possessing extremely rich people and extremely poor people and an almost nonexistent middle class? Is it not nepotism? Is it not corruption? Is it not a lack of infrastructure?
Of course it is.
What amazes me then, after the itemization of all these clear facts, is the rationale behind the actions of political parties that claim to be for the people, who then stand behind aspirants whose qualities does not depict those that suit the needs of the Nigerian nation. As far as I am concerned, we have repeatedly campaigned and voted for candidates who, in many cases, showcase unpreparedness. They promise heaven on earth and often deliver hell. Sadly, this is why whilst some governments in the past and even the current administration can boast of either boosting the economy, promoting social structures or improving infrastructure and many more, Nigeria and her people have often suffered greatly from a basic lack of ideas from her leaders in order to tackle the other snakes that have reared its head.
The word has been greatly abused, but Nigeria simply lacks “leadership”.
Leadership is what appears when things happen that you do not plan for, yet you handle it with grace and direction. Leadership is mostly inspired by novel ideas, creating new approaches towards solving existential problems.
Leadership is a lack of complaints, whilst simply seeking for results. Leaders do not blame others for the failures of their administration, they simply take responsibility. Leaders do not lose composure in the full glare of the public when bad things happen. Leaders, in most cases, are a representation of the society they superintend.
For you who did not know the requirements before one can be called a leader, well, here you go.
It is why I know that Goodluck Jonathan’s hand-on-chin moment during the Nyanya bomb attack in the full glare of the media and the apprehensive public was a lack of leadership. It is why I recognize that El Rufai’s admission that his hands were tied regarding the security situation in Kaduna represents a lack of leadership. It is why I can see through Tinubu’s thinly cloaked selfishness, likening his ambition not to the hope for a better Nigeria but simply to fulfill “a lifelong ambition”. I could go on and on, but with the analysis of the current aspirants that the ruling party possesses through declarations so far, only one gives me a glimmer of hope. As it happens, it is the mantra upon which he has based his campaign.
Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello.
The media has often been unkind to Bello and the achievements of his administration, however, the facts are the facts and no amount of falsehood can erase it. Bello has had to contend with one sensational headline-grabbing tabloid and social media news to another. It has been a time in leadership that has witnessed a lot of insults, false narratives, propaganda and many more. However, after what seemed like a difficult first year in government regarding her response to these vices, Bello has simply taken to his role like fish to water.
You could almost say that he has, grown.
Despite the many lies that have been spewed regarding his alleged “lack” of payment of salaries, to which his spokesman finally put to bed about a week ago, Bello has used his last seven years as Governor of Kogi State to not only secure the state, he has set Kogi up for what can only be referred to as a stupendous, flourishing future in almost every sector.
When compared to what he had to work with upon his arrival, one could almost refer to him as a magician of sorts.
Kogi had to deal with kidnappings, armed robberies, banditry, terrorism, tribal clashes, disunity and suppression of her women folk, lack of appropriate infrastructure, a flailing health sector, a comatose educational sector and one of the dirtiest state capitals in the entire country.
Yahaya Bello came into government at the worst possible time, with the state suffering sixteen (16) bank robberies within the previous one year. Banks couldn’t open beyond 1pm, businesses closed very early out of fear, the people had lost hope in the government and sought ways to relocate from Kogi.
Revenue generation was less than Three Hundred Million Naira per month, the Federal allocation was severely beneath what the state could utilize adequately. Okene was swarming with Boko Haram members and sects. The schools were a mess. There was nothing exciting about the state capital, Lokoja. In essence, everything that could go wrong with the state had gone wrong.
Up stepped Yahaya Bello.
He set to work without complaints, and seven years later, he now governs over the second safest state in Nigeria and safest in the North. Kogi is now a peaceful state devoid of what used to be habitual, recurrent tribal clashes, and stands far more unified state through deliberate actions taken towards the equitable distribution of state appointments and projects, a rapidly improving infrastructural state and city of Lokoja; a rejuvenated health sector, fuelled by the construction of nine world class hospitals in all the nine federal constituencies of the state,- including the 300-bed Reference Hospital in Okene; a reawakened educational sector, also spurred by the improvement of existing structures and construction of the GYB model schools in the three senatorial districts, not to mention the establishment of the first of its kind University of Science and Technology located in Osara, Kogi State.
In what was in front of an estimated 27,000 young people from all 36 states and the FCT at the Eagle’s square last week, Bello finally declared his intention to drop his hat into the ring of battle for Nigeria’s next President. He spoke passionately about his wins, failures and plans for Nigeria. Relying on the wisdom behind the Late Nigerian Political enigma, Moshood Abiola, Bello promised to restore hope to the Nigerian people. He promised to raise over 20 Million Nigerian millionaires before the year 2030. He said many good things, and by the end of his speech, the rapturous applause that followed meant only one things. The crowd believed him. Nigerians believed him.
I believed him.
I believe him because Bello has proven in his political career that he does not say what he does not mean. He has exemplified the “talk and do” spirit often lacking amongst Nigerian politicians. I believe him to be the best hand for the job because he is a man who has tackled insecurity, revived the economy and the health and educational sectors and infused women and the youth into his government at a level that no Nigerian government has ever done in history.
Bello is a record breaker.
Whilst the other aspirants have their strengths and weaknesses, Bello ranks not only as the youngest aspirant amongst the top two political parties in Nigeria, he stands out as the only “leader”, with his resume boasting of core strengths in almost every aspect of governance.
If the Nigerian people are currently being plagued by the same problems which Bello has shown adeptness at solving, it doesn’t take a scientific equation to recognize that he represents, for Nigerians across the world, the only man currently equipped with the tools to cure Nigeria’s ailment.
2023 is far more important to all of our collective futures than anyone could ever imagine. If we make this mistake, we might never recover from it ever again.
Bello has been raised by experience, groomed by expectation and reliant on dependable tenets of leadership that anchor on togetherness, forthrightness and truthfulness.
He was raised to rule.
I would give him a chance if I were you.
Aina Samuel Babatunde writes from Lokoja