There is always the temptation to whip up sentiment in the youth by challenging them to ‘come out and take what’s theirs’. One is some social media stuff being shared purportedly from Professor Wole Soyinka and meant to ‘anger’ and ‘challenge’ the youth to ‘rise up’ from their father’s couch and go for leadership. In it, it is claimed that our first republic leaders and military leaders that followed them were in their 30s and 40s.
While this assertion is true, it is also true that those leaders were virtually the first set of Nigerians who acquired western education and relative global exposure. Their seniors were very few. The real sacrifice, especially in the North, was during the second republic when those senior to Shehu Shagari eschewed their political ambitions and backed somebody they saw as fit, young, exposed to the rudiments of political administration, honest and accommodating.
This spirit of sacrifice is what our elders need to imbibe. At a certain age and stage, a real elder should sit back and allow the young to grow by guiding them. The elder serves as a role model, mirror and conscience to the young.
The elder must know that he is leaving behind a chaotic society if he fails to identify and raise a successor. He should pass on the baton and cheer the young to the finishing line.
The citizenry too has that responsibility of renewing its leadership from the rank of its upcoming young with the fresh, agile, honest, educated and dedicated.
Nigeria is blessed with an abundance of resources – human and natural – and what she requires is just the leader who can harness and mobilize such resources for it to raise its shoulders in the midst of developed countries.
Since almost all the major political parties are in ‘conspiracy’ to choose their presidential candidates from the north, it would be strange for northerners to say there are no materials from their region who have the requisite repertoire of knowledge, wisdom, courage, exposure and political dexterity to lead a country with multi ethnic and religious fault lines like Nigeria.
From the North East there is Atiku Abubakar. Even though age is not on his side, Atiku is someone who is really capable of taking Nigeria forward. He is prepared, ready and has a good workable blueprint for the job.
His two major ‘sins’ are his ‘desperation’ and ‘corruption’. These are what people throw at his face; ironically the same people gloss over the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari’s PTF has been accused variously of corrupt practices and cronyism.
Curiously, the allegations thrown at Atiku have not been substantiated by any investigative body or court of competent jurisdiction. And desperation? I do not see desperation in the desire to lead your country to greatness. But even at that, Buhari got it the fourth time of asking after trying in four political parties. If we do not see this as ‘desperation’ but the desire to serve, why should Atiku’s own be different?
Ibrahim Mohammed Dankwambo is the governor of Gombe State and he has done wonders in the state. He is composed and dedicated to uplifting the society he governs. He can move Nigeria forward. A onetime Accountant General of the Federation, he is versed in fiscal issues and Nigeria may witness a positive surge in its macro and micro economics.
One vibrant Catholic priest in Enugu, who is the only cleric to have correctly prophesied Buhari’s victory against all odds, is said to have pointed towards Dankwambo as one of those who will do a good job if he gets to the saddle during his New Year message to Nigerians.
Adamu Maina Waziri from Yobe State is another capable, brilliant man that can take Nigeria forward. He is educated, relatively young, politically versed and administratively sound. He has integrity and focus coupled with dedication to any cause he is involved in. Agreed he might not have won an election to become the governor of his state but Nigeria is not Yobe and his failure has nothing to do with his capabilities or integrity. It had all to do with the politics of Yobe.
Malam Adamu Bello, a former minister of agriculture and rural development is another strong personality from Adamawa who can deliver the goods as president.
Engineer Buba Galadima is another capable person. Relatively upright and straight to the point, Galadima can handle Nigeria’s presidency creditably well.
In the North West there are capable hands like Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Dr Junaid Mohammed, Naja’atu Mohammed, Ahmed Makarfi and Dangiwa Umar, among others. From the North Central we have John Shagaya and Lawrence Onoja.
You see, these are all capable hands that Nigeria can be entrusted to and they will perform to the satisfaction of almost all.
While merit must not be abandoned for origin, the North must unite and carry every part along. The unity and brotherliness of the North can serve as the bedrock upon which Nigeria can emerge into a successful nation.
I am not an advocate of zoning but zoning has become a political reality in Nigeria that cannot be discountenanced.
The North East and North Central have all this lagged behind the North West in producing national leaders. Since the two zones also have people who can lead based on merit, it is high time the North West eschewed its ambition and backed someone from the other zones.
The unity of the North and the trust we should have for each other are the tasks resting on the shoulders of the North West and the time to start making these tasks possible is now. Surely, not tomorrow, or later. The way Nigeria is going now, there is no better time than now.
This piece which was published in the Blueprint newspaper of Monday, 11/02/2018, was written just before the death of General Shagaya.