By Michael Owhoko, Ph.D
As Nigerians file out to elect a new president on February 25, it is imperative to remind electorate that a country’s future and destiny are shaped by choice of personality they elect as president. Entrusting a country’s leadership and resources to someone with impaired vision and dubious national dispositi
In context, the Nigerian President is one of the most powerful in the world given the scope of responsibilities and powers as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution. With 68 items on Exclusive list and, mere 12 items on Concurrent list of the constitution, the destiny and future of Nigerians are in the hands of one man – the president.
Since man is a product of his thought process, the president’sstyle of administration will be conditioned by his character. This means that wellbeing of citizens, prosperity and wheels of development of Nigeria are contingent upon the demeanor and capacity of the president.
A president with integrity and clear national vision devoid of materialism and ethnic prejudice can change a country, like we saw in Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew. The choice of Nigerian voters should be premised on this standard. Nigeria cannot afford to entrust its leadership and resources upon a colourlesspersonality to determine its destiny.
Nigeria requires a president that is capable of steering the country away from tragedy to optimism. Prosperous nations are not configured from heaven. They are products of selflessness and commitment of those in leadership. Electing a person without vision, capacity, integrity and empathy as president, will amount to sacrificing the collective wellbeing of the people on the altar of incompetence.
Therefore, as you vote for president of your choice, let Nigeria’s overall
Incompetence, ethnic nationalism, nepotism and greed as evident in poor management of the economy, insecurity and corruption are factors that have kept the country prostrate. These elements are responsible for leadership failure,
As a voter, ask yourself this honest question. Has your living condition in the last eight years improved or dipped? Without subterfuge, Nigeria has been on the downward swing in all critical facets of socio-
The 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index survey carried out by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) together with itspartners captured this vividly. According to the survey, 63% of persons living within Nigeria (133 million people) are multidimensionally poor, out of which 65% of the poor (86 million people) live in the North, while 35% (nearly 47 million) live in the South.
The poor Nigerians under reference here are not politicians but majority of voting public. Unfortunately, hope that Nigeria will get out of this mess soon had been dashed by President Muhammadu Buhari when he asserted that he had done his bestfor the country, even in the face of growing debt profile, inflation, unemployment, corruption, insecurity and capital flight. This is the mirror image of the country’s leadership capacity.
When this is juxtaposed against recent report by the Debt Management Office on the nation’s debt, then Nigeria is in big trouble. The Debt Management Office (DMO) stated in December 2022 that Nigeria’s public debt had reached N44.6 trillion. When viewed against the backdrop of Nigeria’s revenue-to-debt service ratio, which The Economist Intelligence Unit described as the worst in the world, it means that Nigeria is in crisis. With high debt-service ratio and dwindling revenue, provision of infrastructure is relegated
Voters should therefore not repeat the mistake of the past. Those who voted in previous
Obviously, wrong choice of candidates has been unhelpful to the future of this country. Check your conscience and reflect on the number of Nigerians that have lost their lives in the last eight years, either through insecurity or poor management of the economy or suicide. Also, think about the number of businessesthat have closed shop, or the growing band of single parenthoodresulting from broken marriages. All these have their roots in poor handling of the nation’s economy.
As part of the consequence, there has been mass exodus from Nigeria. Voters must note that, to “japa” or flee abroad is nosolution. Of all those leaving or escaping from the country to seek greener pastures overseas, only less than five percent achieve their aspirations. Over 90 percent of these Nigerians struggle to make ends meet, regretting decisions to relocate.
In one of my trips to London a few years back, I went to Kaycee’s Bar, a popular Nigerian joint in Holloway, where Nigerians hangout, and where sometimes, Nigeria’s independence celebrations were held. While there, I met two Nigerians at the underground disco section. They begged for money, saying they were trapped and would like to return to Nigeria. I was touched, and parted with a few pounds assupport. This is just one of the tales and ugly experiences from Nigerians abroad.
Ironically, while majority of Nigerians are reeling in excruciating effect of poverty, the president, governors and other elected officials are swimming in affluence with high quality lifemade possible by manipulative access to public treasury, despite managing the economy aground. Politics in Nigerian is the surest way to break out of poverty.
Voters should know that the president and governors do not spend their salaries while in office. Their bills are borne by government, including feeding at government’s expense. Even members of their extended families are relocated to the Villa or government house to enjoy from these privileges. This cannot happen in advanced democracies. Yet, in midst of this, the average Nigerian toil day and night to stay afloat.
At the last World Cut in Qatar, the President of Liberia, George Weah, watched his son, Timothy, starred for the United States of America. It is most unlikely a Nigerian President will allow his son to play football game for fear of injuries. He will rather make his son a billionaire through award of indirect contracts or presidential favours.
Underpinning motive of politicians is not to serve but to acquire power to accumulate wealth. Without empathy, they multiply poverty through fiscal indiscipline and extravagance whilefraudulently
With 48 million youths out of a total of 93.5 million eligible voters, couple with the poor, credible leaders can be elected, but politicians exploit their vulnerability, using
Nigeria has the resources to pull the country out of poverty butleaders are indifferent. A
If the resources of the country are effectively harnessed and deployed, particularly in a restructured political system which is best suitable for a plural society like Nigeria, the country will quickly recover from current economic woes. But leaders with entrenched interests are opposed to this arrangement, preferring the status quo, for selfish reasons.
Voters must therefore rise in unison and vote out ethnic bigotsand visionles
Dr. Mike Owhoko, Lagos-based journalist and author, can be reached at www.mikeowhoko.com.