No Visible Alternative Leadership for 2007

by Oyeyemi Olodo

After one or two encounters with some Nigerian politicians, it is quite easy to forgive Nigerians with no interest in politics. It has nothing to do with their academic qualifications (though, there is no certainty they actually obtain the qualification they claim to possess) nor their personality, rather it’s something to do with their knowledge of proper energetic politics that demonstrate true understanding of societal needs and desires of the Nigerian electorate.

Whether you agree or not, many Nigerians in the Diaspora have been exposed to a much more intelligent political discourse and as a result, they can easily sense a baseless political discussion emanating from any of our political aspirants.

In an exclusive telephone survey of Nigerians in the U.K, The Integrity Magazine asked if there are any visible alternative leadership for 2007 and 83% of the participants’ responded “No” and when asked why they arrived at that conclusion, three major reasons were given:

§No research backed policy proposal

§Most visible political aspirants have no convincing track-record

§No clear strategy to engage electorate

Whilst there is a clear understanding that any Nigerian citizen can stand for the highest position in the nation without any restriction as a result of their class, religion or ethnicity, we must not be fooled to believe just because someone has ruled Nigeria before in one capacity or the other; or is a professor means he/she is sensible enough to lead the “New Nigeria”. What is important from the Nigerian Diaspora’s perspective is well-thought out policy, visible and practical. Thus, when you hear a political aspirant talking about guaranteeing teachers that they will be the highest paid workers, the question to be asked is simply: is that emotional outburst or sensible policy proposal? What budget is that based on and what will have to suffer for teachers to get that package, and what is the long term strategy for the unemployed graduates in Nigeria?

As a political scientist with years of experience in the public sector outside the shores of Nigeria, I sometimes wonder if some of the Nigerian political aspirants have political advisers or read the newspapers at all to fully understand what the electorate want from them. The U.K. seems to be the new found home for our political aspirants who walk on the street of Peckham in London to visit Nigerian businesses and hold talks at Nigerian restaurants. I have no problem with that strategy and will encourage more involvement of Nigerians in the Diaspora. However, there are other political and related initiatives that can be used, that will be more effective than the use of restaurants associated with Nigerians. If I were to be a political aspirant, before I use a place to announce my political ambition, I would like to know how many times the law enforcement agents have visited the place; any possible links with drugs or EFCC wanted politicians, etc.

Even though, the date for President Olusegun Obasanjo’s exit from Aso Rock is set for 29 May 2007, I have not heard anything visible from the political aspirants about the 2007 budget and what they would have done differently or even support it. Politics is not always about opposition but also about acknowledging good things and building upon them. No wonder, Pro-Obasanjo agitators are calling for third term or extension of the president’s exit from Aso Rock. Obviously, most of the political aspirants visible at the moment have nothing to offer or ‘write home about’. Yet it must be said that honouring the constitution is the best way for Nigeria.

The political aspirants cannot be completely blamed for their approach to engaging the electorate in politics. The Nigerian Press both at home and abroad (including of course the pirates stations) need to improve the way they report political issues as we approach May 2007.It is critical that the questions directed at politicians are not half-baked elementary questions as it seems to be the case at present. The press needs to be more strategic in questioning political aspirants to give the masses, the opportunity to truly access future leaders….

Please, give us visible alternative leadership for 2007 and matured political debate on critical issues such as:

§Plans to ensure uninterrupted power supply in Nigeria

§Addressing the issue of unemployment

§Sustainable development and other regeneration initiative for Nigerian people

§Integrated transportation system and empowering local business

§Corporate governance and accountability of Nigerian Public Officers

§Pledge of continuous support for public sector reform particularly health, police etc

The ongoing political in-fighting is increasing the lack of confidence in Nigerian politicians and it is time to change this!

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