Fellow Nigerians, this has been a very interesting week for me. I finally made a trip to Lagos and Abuja for the first time since General Muhammadu Buhari and Professor Yemi Osinbajo got elected as President and Vice President respectively. Abuja, in its own case, was an instant revelation as soon as I landed. It was obvious right from the tarmac that something has ostensibly changed about Nigeria’s seat of power. I noticed a huge crowd disembarking from several planes simultaneously and spilling in from different directions. I scanned some of the faces and saw hope boldly etched on many of them. I felt very much at home as security agents and customs officers came out to share in the festival of congratulations. This is truly refreshing, I soliloquised.
The Transcorp Hilton Hotel was in its usual effervescent mood with ubiquitous politicians and esoteric entrepreneurs swarming the whole place in search of new positions and unmatchable deals as they always deem fit. Getting a room was near impossible even as a diamond card member. It took the intervention of some benevolent contact to find me a room to lay my head after some strenuous meetings. The Buka Restaurant at the hotel displayed a kaleidoscope of colours with the array of assorted foods which competed for the rich palates of some members of the privilegentsia.
No doubt, something has changed in Abuja. I was happy to meet many old friends, and made new ones. The camaraderie between the North and the South seemed more evident. The artificial barriers erected by some voluble politicians appear to have melted away. I discovered that the social media has also brought people closer than ever. Nearly everyone I encountered was my follower or acquaintance on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. They spoke generously and eloquently about my audacious activities during the Presidential campaigns. I was made to take pictures as if photography was going out of vogue. I sincerely thank in particular my over 380,000 ardent and engaging followers on Twitter and the over 57,000 followers on Instagram. Together we rocked Africa and took the world by storm.
I’m now more confident than ever that whether our hard-core politicians like it or not, Nigerians will no longer tolerate nonsense as business.The social media has collapsed the world into an even tinier village and any leader who tries to play God would be shown the way to Golgotha. If the ruling party PDP can be made to eat the humble pie then no one is unsackable. The incoming government should beware of falling into grave temptations like the unwary transgressors. The most important thing for me is that it must not take our people for granted. The next major key point to note is that it cannot afford to be complacent. It must avoid the attitude of playing politics the traditional way. Some things have definitely transformed and situations have shifted drastically. The hawks of power must calm down and cool temper. The old days of oppressing fellow citizens must yield to a new dawn of putting the people first as priority.
I will continue to plead with the People’s General, President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, and his brilliant Vice-President elect, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, not to waste those attributes that gave them power. They must resist every attempt by control freaks that litter our political landscape to mortgage this landmark victory that has unified Nigerians like never before. What Nigerians expect is nothing other than performance. The politicians can’t do jack if the Buhari/Osinbajo Administration accomplishes its mission. A good government would of necessity step on the toes of anyone who proves too difficult to manage. It is normal for Nigerian politicians to seek to dump their deadwoods on new governments but it behoves a responsible leader to reject same with automatic alacrity and let the dead bury their dead.
The first point to note is that APC must resolve all its power-sharing squabbles amicably and equitably. The greed factor must be jettisoned for fair-play. Every partner in the greatest political merger ever in Nigeria must be treated with respect and decorum. No attempt should be made to treat anyone as an inferior member of the union. Once that is taken into consideration and settled pronto, the Party would enjoy the bliss it deserves after a most excruciating campaign. What kills most amalgamations is egocentricity.I already foresee a war of attrition if APC does not immediately halt the present macabre dance by some of its members. The Party and the Government that it will establish at executive and legislative level must not see itself as a coalition of Parties with separate ideologies and detrimental interests. Having fused into one it must behave as such and cater to the core doctrines embodied in its manifesto.
Let me be more specific. The APC has been locked in a logjam over the zoning of the highest positions in the land. The way I see it is that CPC has already produced the number one slot. ACN has provided the number two. ANPP has secured the boss of all bosses the National Chairman of APC. The New PDP which came into the union with five formidable Governors and a multitude of National Assembly members is yet to get any position. This appears to me as grossly unfair and disproportionate. It is one of the reasons many onlookers and none-party members like me supported the candidacy of Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki as Senate President. We must learn to honour our heroes. Dr Saraki with Governors Rotimi Amaechi and Rabiu Kwankwaso risked everything to make this Change Movement possible. They and their other colleagues took the bulls by the horns and took the battle to the doorsteps of PDP. It is unfathomable how anyone would say they don’t deserve any chunky positions in this grand alliance. Haba!
Aside from working assiduously for the new party, these influential and energetic leaders deserve the best of positions on sheer merit. They are among the brightest stars of APC who must not be compensated with the type of chicanery being witnessed in APC at this moment. What is the essence of hard work if the rewards would go to those who did less or little? Success breeds many relatives but we must never forget the gallant men and women who made it happen. Kwara State had always been disadvantaged. That State suffers greatly from its ambidextrous nature. It is not likely to produce a President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria soon unless our country can change its current configuration by whatever stroke of miracle.
Kwara is geographically in Northern Region but tribalistically seen by some as a an integral part of the Yoruba nation. But its influence stretches to Kogi State and both were powerfully delivered through the quintessential leadership of Dr Saraki without any shade of doubt. As a prominent member of the North Central, often considered as one of the minority regions in Nigeria, it has always been marginalised and solemnly oppressed by others. This is a great window of opportunity for the Kwara/Kogi axis to feel a true sense of belonging in the scheme of things and APC should not bungle it for God’s sake. Benue has produced Senate Presidents and Party Chairmen endlessly. Niger State has produced two Heads of State, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar. Plateau had Chief Solomon Lar while Kogi Chief Sunday Awoniyi and Colonel Ahmadu Ali, as party Chairmen. Benue produced many Senate Presidents, Ameh Ebute, Iyorchia Ayu and David Bonaventure Mark. Benue also produced Audu Ogbeh and Barnabas Gemade as PDP Chairmen.
The North West has been the luckiest of all the regions in Nigeria. It has produced General Murtala Muhammed, President Shehu Shagari, General Muhammadu Buhari, General Sani Abacha, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and now back to General Muhammadu Buhari. The North East has produced Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as Vice President. The South West also has benefitted immensely with Ogun State alone producing President Olusegun Obasanjo, first as military Head of State and twice as civilian President. The same Ogun State nearly produced President Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola before it gave birth to the contraption known as the Interim National Government which was headed by Chief Ernest ‘Degunle Shonekan, another prominent Ogun son.
The South East produced the first President and Governor-General of Nigeria, the great Owelle of Onitsha, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Nigeria’s second Head of State, Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi, as well as Second Republic Vice President, Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme. The zone has also produced a long list of Senate Presidents namely, Senators Nwafor Orizu, Evan Enwerem, Chuba Okadigbo, Pius Anyim, Adolphos Wabara and Ken Nnamani and Speaker House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Anakwe Agunwa. It would probably have produced the next Senate President had the zone not committed some form of political hara-kiri by choosing to place all its eggs in the PDP basket. The zone has also produced Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. The South South has not been so fortunate. It only managed to get a Senate President in the Second Republic, Dr Joseph Wayas, from Cross River State and also a shot at the Presidency by a whisker after the unfortunate death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Sadly, the zone lost the Presidency after its first tenure for reasons I won’t have the space to explain here.
For a region that is seen as the goose that lays the golden eggs, it would be preposterous not to do everything to compensate it for losing power in such a jiffy. And the strongest men who worked hardest from our zone are Governors Adams Oshiomhole and Rotimi Amaechi. Since my Governor still retains his job beyond May 29, 2015, Amaechi should be the biggest beneficiary. The post of Secretary to the Federal Government should be offered to him on first acceptance or refusal basis. No right thinking person would deny the strategic role of the Captain of the winning team as Director-General of Buhari/Osinbajo. His incredible victory as Chairman of Nigeria’s Governor’s Forum provided the platform and impetus for this monumental victory in the Presidential election. Amaechi had stoutly stood in front of a moving train that the Federal is in Nigeria and he conquered. Let no one dismiss such a man with a lion heart as not deserving our accolades. I wish to reiterate that such stupendous talents like that of Governor Amaechi must always be rewarded not as an act of patronage but out of appreciation for his effort, devotion and ability.
In my recent article on the same subject matter, I mentioned those who should be in the next cabinet but didn’t assign portfolios to most of the names. I shall do so today for the outstanding ones. Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola is always a man after the heart of those who appreciate quality leadership. The most important task before the next government is how to solve the intractable problem of power. I can’t think of anyone better to take on this enormous challenge than Fashola. And I’m not saying this for the fun of it. I’ve taken time to study the State driven power projects in Lagos and would wish to see such replicated nationwide. Fashola is one man who is so resolute about the modernisation of our country and the way that Lagos State has slowly been solving its power problem without Federal Government assistance commends Fashola to anyone who believes that the problem can be solved.
I will love to see Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory so that he can weave his Kano magic in Abuja. He not only deserves the position on the merit but also because he worked tirelessly and assiduously to ensure victory for the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket notwithstanding the fact that his hopes were dashed at the Presidential primaries. He succeeded in garnering the largest number of votes for the Party and the votes in Kano practically accounted for the margin of APC over PDP in the Presidential elections.
Now one of the frustrations Buhari/Osinbajo would encounter is the process of selecting cabinet members which is usually cumbersome and fraught with the danger of godfatherism. The Capos of Nigerian politics are never happy unless they can find one of their lackeys to put in power, whether qualified or not. But General Buhari would have to set very high standards for those who wish to be considered for appointments. If he allows the godfathers to dump their dregs on him, it would be disastrous for the nation.
These are the calibre of men and women that we need at this time and age in every sector.
May God help Buhari/Osinbajo in this difficult task.