In every democratic state, a time comes when citizens file out to elect their president. Come 2015, all things being equal, this democratic ritual will take place in Nigeria. Nigerians and the rest of the world have expressed both hopes and fears for 2015. Many predictions have also been made about this important year, which is largely regarded as a redefining year in Nigeria’s history. I believe so too.
Whenever elections draw near, Nigerians are usually enthusiastic for a change but often times fail to determine the direction of the change because at such times, virtually every political discussions and decisions are based on sentiments, especially the choice of candidates. This is most unfortunate. I pray and hope that in 2015, this syndrome should not be allowed to resurface if we truly want to have a president who will lead the onerous task of rebuilding a once strong, united and prosperous nation.
As we march on to 2015, we must recognize that the position and the person of the president is very critical to the survival of Nigeria. This is the man (or woman) who will lead one of the most populous countries on earth. This is a country, filled with ‘milk and honey’, but a vast majority of its citizens are wallowing in abject poverty. With enormous resources, Nigeria is a country the world has been awaiting to receive into the comity of economically prosperous nations.
The character, pedigree and posture of the president will greatly determine how his cabinet members, governors and other elected or appointed officials will conduct state affairs. This is most important for us as a people. Many believe the problem of Nigeria is bad leadership. I believe so too.
So who do we elect to lead Nigeria in 2015?
The most important attributes of the president we should choose in 2015 are vision, courage and sincerity. The wisdom to combine these attributes is also a crucial necessity.
To lead Nigeria at this time is like going to a battlefield. No one goes to war without preparation. In recent history, Nigeria has produced ‘emergency leaders’ who emerged by circumstances beyond their control or by a consensus of a few and who suddenly found themselves in the seat of power against their dreams. How can such leaders have vision? Where would that vision come from? From the godfather, perhaps. But can a man successfully run another man’s vision? Developing a vision for a country is neither a task to be performed at an overnight political party meeting few days or weeks to election nor is it something cabinet members can craft at a dinner party after taking power.
In advanced democracies, successful leaders long dream of leading their countries and as such prepared themselves physically, emotionally, mentally, politically and spiritually for the challenges ahead. Unfortunately, this has been our undoing. Without vision a leader will remain floating in the waters of uncertainty and indecision and eventually get drowned in the ocean of confusion created by political friends and foes whose main desire is to make personal gains out of the State. In 2015, Nigeria needs a visionary leader whose vision will not focus on the federation account and the ‘sharing formula’ but who can positively visualize and position the Nigeria of our dreams many decades ahead.
Since leading a country is like leading a war, the position of the president is not for the feeble-minded. A president needs courage to drive his vision for the country. Not only that but because so many things are not right in this country, we need a courageous leader who will not care whose ox is gored in the process of fixing Nigeria. We want a president who will not only be bold enough to look his party chieftains in the faceand tell them to return their loot, but will also go ahead to prosecute them without fear of ruining his personal interests. We need a president who will behave like a bulldozer without becoming a despot and whose driving force will be sincere love for the country and humanity. We need a man of strong faith in the country and who believes in the rule of law and equity.
You will agree that the greatest leadership problem we face in Nigeria is corruption. Internationally, even reputable Nigerians are looked at as common criminals. This is most regrettable. If we have to change Nigeria and put it back on the path of progress, we must wage serious war against corruption. Remember, I said earlier that leading a country is like going to war. This will be the first war our next president will have to lead. Corruption is the enemy of the nation. It must be uprooted.
Generally, wars are led by men of valour, but to successfully lead the war against corruption, valour alone is not enough. Sincerity is needed too. This is important because the enemies of the nation are numerous, strong and mighty and are always ready to fight back. A president who leads the war against corruption without sincerity will only end up filling his house with the spoils from the enemies’ camp. In 2015, how do we identify a sincere candidate? Will it be by his words or by the party he belongs or by his electoral promises or where he comes from? No, but by his pedigree and antecedents because “by their fruits you shall know them”.
If you look closely into our history books, you will find three categories of leaders. First, we have had leaders with no vision and sincerity but courage. They did not achieve much. Second, we also saw leaders with a reputation of sincerity but no vision and no courage. They did not go far. The third category are leaders that had neither vision, sincerity nor courage. This is not to be desired in 2015. Therefore, we must all arise and support and vote for and enthrone the president who possesses and upholds these virtues – vision, sincerity and courage. We need a disciplined and passionate leader with wisdom to move Nigeria to the next higher level. We need a leader who will bring respect not disgrace or reproach to our green passport.
Let us reflect on this quote (paraphrased) of Josiah Gilbert Holland and make it a prayer for Nigeria.
“Give Us Men, men from every rank, fresh and free and frank; men of thought and reading, men of light and leading, men of loyal breeding, men of faith and not of fiction, men of lofty aim in action. Give us Men-I say again, give us men! strong and stalwart ones; men whom highest hope inspires, men whom purest honour fires, men who trample self beneath them, men who make their country wreath them, as her noble sons, worthy of their sires; men who never shame their mothers, men who never fail their brothers, true, however false are others. Give us men-I say again, give us men! men who, when the tempest gathers, grasp the standard of their fathers. In the thickest fight; men who strike for home and altar, (Let the coward cringe and falter), true as truth the lorn and lonely, tender, as the brave are only. Men who tread where saints have trod, men for Country, Home- and God:
Give us Men! I say again- again. Give us Men”
Pray that God give us such men in 2015. I believe God will help Nigeria.