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President-elect, Tinubu: Rerouting Nigeria’s pathway to glory II, by Prof MK Othman


President-elect, Tinubu: Rerouting Nigeria’s pathway to glory II, by Prof MK Othman

Deep Thoughts with Othman

Miraculously, the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) as the next president was uniquely different from how the past three and current presidents became number one citizens. President Olusegun Obasanjo did not plan or dream of becoming Nigerian president before he was overwhelmed and persuaded to become PDP flag bearer and won the election in 1999. He garnered 18 million votes to beat his close rival, Chief Olu Falae who contested under a joined ticket of AD-APP. In 2007, Governor Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s dream was to represent the people of the Katsina zone at the Red Chamber as their senator. Against Umaru’s plan, providence crowned him as the veritable successor of President Obasanjo. He moved to Aso Rock, the seat of the presidency with Dr. Goodluck Johnathan as his Vice President. Before then, Dr. Goodluck was the deputy Governor to the Bayelsa state governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha up to 2005 and then succeeded the governor who could not survive the EFCC-induced impeachment by the State Assembly due to money laundering in the United Kingdom. Then, the EFCC was freshly established under the no-nonsense, incorruptible Nuhu Ribadu. Thenceforth, Goodluck’s biggest dream was to become the Governor of Bayelsa State but the Providence made him the Vice President to President Umaru. The unexpected demise of President Umaru made the National Assembly adopt the “doctrine of necessity”, which crowned Goodluck as the ultimate occupier of Aso Rock in 2010.

The current Aso Rock occupier, President Muhammadu Buhari attempted to occupy Aso Rock three times, from 2003 to 2011 up to the level of Supreme Court adjudication, and thrice he failed. President Buhari was almost given up until he was approached by Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) for a political alliance. The alliance created a mega political party, All Progressive Congress (APC) on 6th February 2013. Under the APC, Buhari made the fourth attempt in 2015 and overwhelmingly defeated the seating president, Dr. Goodluck who wholeheartedly surrendered before the completion of the vote counts.

READ ALSO: Nigeria-2023 President-elect: Rerouting Nigeria’s pathway to glory, by Prof MK Othman

BAT was a 2-term governor of Lagos state (1999-2007). His governorship stewardship was (still is) the most highly rated performance of a governor in Nigeria since the inception of the current political dispensation. He touched every sector of societal development particularly the economy, education, power, and the rest. For instance, the internally generated revenue of Lagos state was just over 600 million Naira monthly when he took over, he adopted different initiatives and strategies, which increased it to an unprecedented monthly revenue of over 7 billion when he was leaving the office. Furthermore, he introduced some elements of sustainability in revenue generation that made it sustainable and further increased it to 57 billion in 2022. This is why BAT commands respect from all and sundry.

After his tenure as the Lagos state governor, BAT refocused his political career as a kingmaker, aiming to become a king, one day. In contemporary political history, BAT is the most highly, skillful, respected and rated kingmaker as he led and engineered the making of political office holders from the highest level presidency to local government councillorship across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. He became the unseen hand who makes, unmakes, and sometimes pulls the trigger to defeat political opponents, leaving them to leak their wounds, if not politically annihilated.

Therefore, when BAT made a sign of becoming a king in 2023, all his disciples and the benefactors of his kingship, except the ingrates gathered to pay back and provided formidable political support. Today, BAT is the president-elect.

The most intriguing of BAT’s transformation from kingmaker to the king is not how he was elected but the way and manner of his election. The so-called political juggernauts were proved wrong by the 2023 presidential election as some of them could not wholesomely deliver the majority votes of their wards to BAT. Thus, they cannot beat their chests and said “we made BAT, the president” but they can say “we contributed to making BAT, the president”, a claim that all the 8,794,726 voters of APC across Nigeria can rightly make. Consequently, BAT has no absolute obligation to compensate these political juggernauts with choosy political appointments. He is free to assemble the best brains across Nigeria and the diaspora as members of his cabinet, if he is to replicate or even dwarf the Lagos experience at the national level. Fortunately, the best brains among Nigerians are not in short supply, they can be found in every corner of Nigeria. In the diaspora, Nigerians are exceptionally performing but for a few bad eggs. For example, Nigerian Americans have more post-graduate degrees than any other racial or ethnic group. 37 percent of them hold a bachelor’s degree and 17 percent an MSc/MA. Overall, 29 percent of Nigerian Americans aged 25 and, have a graduate degree, compared to 11 percent of the US population.

The unique and miraculous emergence of BAT as president-elect placed a heavy burden on him to deliver the dividends of democracy especially now that the country has achieved the infamous position of the world’s poverty headquarters. BAT has to reroute the nation to glorious future. To do that, education should be the number one priority of BAT’s presidency by stopping the decay and rot.

Education serves as a solid foundation for building society and provides the necessary ingredients for lubricating other sectors to function effectively. To revive education, BAT can start with low-hanging fruits for easy plucking and making tangible impacts within a short time. To fast-track the intervention in this sector, BAT can fraternize ASUU leadership, and challenge it to bring quick and sustainable revival of the entire educational sector. Yes, ASUU is a union of academic staff but its disposition, modus operandi, patriotism, accountability, selfless service, incorruptibility, and dedication have made the union to be a veritable partner for nation-building on the rock foundation. I may be accused of biases towards university education but university education is the most critical part of education that produces the society’s leaders, technocrats, administrators, and all cadres of personnel who can lift the society to a height without a ceiling. The nation’s economic, political, and developmental vibrancy depend on the intellectual capacity of its citizens, particularly the leadership. As mentioned severally, destroying society is simply done by lowering the standard of university education. The falling standard of the university system produces half bake graduates. Engineers who do not know how to engineer, lawyers who are ignorant of the laws, accountants who neither understand checks nor balances and medical practitioners whose services often send their patients to graves rather than healing. Thus, the university system is designed to provide manpower development capable of solving the developmental challenges of a nation. Similarly, primary and secondary educations are equally important to produce a literate society and middle-level manpower as well as inputs to the university education.

Agriculture should be next on the priority list of the BAT presidency. Agriculture can create 100s of millions of jobs, eradicate poverty, attain food security, and attract millions of foreign exchange-earning. Nigeria has already signed “The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement”, which can allow the country to lead the continent in marketing agricultural commodities. What are the agricultural potentials in Nigeria? How can the country revive agriculture?

To be continued next time

Professor Othman is the Executive Director of National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), ABU Zaria.

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