By O’star Eze
Nigeria is at the eve of a baptism of fire; the long awaited 2023 elections, with the presidential and legislatives elections holding on Saturday, February 25 and others; governorship and state house of assembly elections following suit on March 5th.
A cross section of Nigerian citizens consider the presidential election a make or break election that would determine whether Nigeria will survive as an entity or get drown in the sea of government officials’ looting, terrorism and armed banditry.
But a lot of mavericks in our midst are still of the opinion that what we need more than a perfect president to break free from the third world status are an established national work ethic of honesty , hard work, thrift and the deferment of gratification.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice President was spot on while presenting the centenary lecture of Baptist Boy’s High School, Abeokuta, Ogun State recently. He said; “it is what is taught and learned that shapes the character of individuals and nations.” He went on to indict those in government by putting it to them that they must lead this ethical revolution. However, he failed to highlight that one of the major ways the ethical revolution could be exemplified by those in government would be cutting down the cost of governance to the barest minimum.
I was not surprised he had scratched that aspect of the matter at the surface. How would he have explained to his audience their long motorcades of brand new cars fueled and replaced periodically at the expense of our common patrimony while our roads are nothing to write home about and the people deprived of basic amenities.
Can he explain the millions of naira and dollars in cash exchanged at the government offices and in choice hotels of the country and beyond by government officials, elected and otherwise while Nigeria’s health sector remains under-equipped and of course undeserving of these same people in government to use when they or theirs get sick? Their children graduating from schools abroad while our schools remain in perpetual crisis and our youth are under-employed and under-motivated would have been hard to explain to that naïve gathering.
This lack of exemplary leadership in ethical revolution is part of the reason the common man of Anambra State got swoon over by the frugality campaign message of Nwangbafor; Governor Chukwuma Soludo and got him elected to office last year, 2022. That is before the taxation saga.
It is the same idea of cutting down cost and saving for investment instead of for consumption that has drawn a cultish following for Mr Peter Obi, the Labour party presidential candidate who is giving the other two top contenders a run for their money as a result.
But the question remains whether he would be able to go the whole nine yards of cutting down the cost of governance by seeing to the merging of the senate and house of reps, placing every one working for the government in whatever capacity from the president down to the least on minimum wage? Will he be able to criminalize gas flaring, hold oil companies responsible to clean up all the waterways and the rest of the Nigerian environment they have been wantonly polluting over the years? I doubt this as he was the same person who made it open in an interactive session with the electorate recently that he does not think climate change is a serious issue that deserves serious attention.
Responding to a question from Akin Adenuga on green energy initiative signed the APC, Obi said in a video that went viral, “Quite frankly, there has been a lot of talk about green energy and climate change. I have read a lot about them but I am not very vast about it. We will all consider it in whatever we are doing.
But quite frankly, I am going to be aggressive in other areas than in some of the things that are coming out from issue of climate change…” So, go figure. The black soot of Port Harcourt and the gas flaring in the oil producing states as well as the destruction of water bodies and pollution of rivers and its detrimental effect on the health of those living in the Niger Delta are not important enough for him. This is despite the huge amount of impact this singular ecological issue has on our economy.There goes your ethical leadership in the muds.
Nigeria has been experimenting on this idea for decades now. In fact, the expression ‘ethical revolution’ was first coined during the administration of President Shehu Shagari in the second republic. The regime of General Muhammadu Buhari in 1984 saw the birth of War Against Indiscipline (WAI). During General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s regime, his was MAMSER.
When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo returned to the presidency of Nigeria as the civilian president, he launched the Heart of Africa Foundation, which was reportedly used to preach the goodness of the country to citizens and the whole globe at large. In the Goodluck Jonathan era, the Nigeria Rebranding Project was launched by Professor Dora Akunyili.
All these initiatives had one thing in common and that was the idea that the Nigerian people needed to change their attitude towards the country before any good would come from the country. However, they also all had limited success and quickly fizzled away with the transition of the governments that initiated them.
So ethical revolution is needed in Nigeria more than a perfect presidency. But the ethical revolution should start from the politicians and the political office holders. The Nigerian constitution should be reviewed extensively.
The resolutions of the CONVAB during Goodluck Jonathan era that had all parts of the country come together to discuss terms of engagement to work as a nation need to be brought to the limelight and considered extensively by the lawmakers and the executive.
Those contesting for elections need to show a good grip of the issues that require optimal attention as it concerns salvaging the dire situation this richly blessed country have continued to experience from the hands of the colonial masters and their greedy stooges who happen to be our brothers.”
They should also be frugal in words and in deed as well as in policy. They should learn from former president Lee Quan Yew of Singapore who moved his country from a third world country to a first world country through intentional ethical revolution policies that he exemplified and then systematized. Change, like Late Dora Akunyili would say, begins with me.