By Seun Bisuga
Dear APC Delegates,
The year 2023 is almost upon us and the future of Nigeria hangs in the balance. It is true that the voters will determine who becomes President but long before that, the party delegates would have predetermined who becomes President. This letter is a plea to all APC delegates as the party prepares for its presidential primaries on May 31.
I am writing you to ask that you put country first and consider the future of over 200 million Nigerians, many of whom will be grateful for the wise decisions you will make on that historic night. I will now table before you issue that I consider important leading into 2023.
I think you will agree with me that we need someone who can finish the good works of President Muhammadu Buhari especially in the area of infrastructure, roads, rail lines, financial autonomy for judiciary and legislature, among many others. We indeed need someone who won’t discard them or have to learn afresh.
1. The first issue I think you might want to consider is Tolerance. Many people say that Nigeria needs a unifier, someone that can make all citizens know that they have an equal stake in the country. A leader, not a ruler, someone who speaks the language that everyone understands and who will connect with all tribes, gender, ethnicity and beliefs. Since declaration for 2023 begun, we have found that some aspirants are intolerant. They simply cannot accept the decisions or actions of others and many Nigerians believe this is a wrong signal. If some persons cannot agree with other contestants who in total are less than 20, how will they behave when 100 million people disagree with them? Even the delegates will be impacted by this intolerance if they do not make a careful, well-thought decision today.
2. In a message, Pastor Paul Adefarasin mentioned three things the incoming Nigerian President must be able to do/deliver. I agree with him to some extent. First he spoke about the Rule of Law. It is often argued that it takes a man who understands ‘the law’ to be able to ensure adherence to the rule of law. I think we can look back carefully at each candidate’s past to determine who will uphold the rule of law and who wouldn’t.
3. Mr Adefarasin also spoke about of presidential candidate who can attract foreign direct investment. He reasoned that the country needed someone that investors can listen to and believe. Someone who had experience attracting big tech, oil companies, human capital development and other investors to Nigeria.
4. And lastly, Mr Adefarasin valued a candidate that can speak English. We need a presidential candidate that can stand shoulder to shoulder with any foreign leader. He used the words eloquent, yes, a leader who is eloquent and who you know will make Nigeria proud always on the global stage.
5. I will delve into the recommendations of a former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida. Even though I do not think age is a big factor, the army general does. He narrowed down his presidential candidate to not more than mid-60s. He reckoned that this person ought to be physically and mentally fit to take on the huge task ahead. For me, however, I will harp on health. Delegates please consider the health of the candidate. I understand that NDLEA wants to put them to drug tests, it is a welcomed development but beyond that we need to be sure that the candidate can withstand the physical, mental and psychological rigours the office demands.
6. The former head of state then spoke about ‘good leadership’. To quote him, “If you get a good leadership that links with the people and tries to talk with the people; not talking on top of the people, then we would be okay. I have started visualizing a good Nigerian leader. That is, a person who travels across the country and has a friend virtually everywhere he travels to and knows at least one person that he can communicate with.” Like the general, many Nigerians want a leader that mirrors them, one they can talk to, a leader they can relate to.
7. At this point, let us talk Security. This is perhaps the biggest heart-wrenching problem that most Nigerians face today. They want insecurity to end and culprits punished. They want a leader that has shown competence at this level and who has an insight into how things work at the federal level. A leader that will hit the ground running, not one that will have to learn on the job. Again on security, you will agree that we need someone who is conversant with what the problems are, someone who is ahead in the thinking process, and has committed to reconfigure the architecture where and when necessary to restore peace.
8. Then there is the Economy. We know that there are too many components of the economy and only a leader who has seen firsthand how to make these components work together can help Nigeria get to where it should be rather quickly. I agree that most of the aspirants are qualified but I ask the delegates to vote the very best. Someone who has shown capacity if empowered to rein in fiscal and monetary policies into one synergy. Someone who also understands the basic of knowledge the economy and has the endorsement of global investors.
9. Education: This is a major issue that must be given topmost consideration in voting a presidential candidate within the APC. It is common knowledge that the Buhari administration made giant strides in the regard but even more need to be done. We need a leader that know what it means to reduce out-of-school-children and bring them back to school. What about ASUU strikes? We need a leader with tact, who listens and who ca shift ground where and when necessary. We also need a leader that can help improve the standard of living and who has a plan to ensure access to healthcare.
10. Electricity, Climate Change and Job Creation is a big problem. With the poverty figures going off the roof we need a leader that can use the social safety net to reach more Nigerians and lift them out of poverty. A leader that can create jobs not handout money to Nigerians, a leader to can improve human capital development and enhance capacity.
(ii) Electricity is one of the drivers of Nigeria’s economy, if we can tap into Nigeria’s capacity to use solar power and also increase infrastructure in this sector. MSMEs rely on basic infrastructure to thrive and only a leader who has close ties and understanding of how MSMEs work can relate. Generally speaking, Nigerians, all Nigerians both urban and rural need electricity.
(iii)Climate Change might not be a big talking point but its already happening. Last year, we witnessed rain falling out of season and we barely witnessed Harmattan, these are pointers to what is to come. What about clean energy? What about transitional fuel?
To all delegates across Nigeria, we want a leader and not a politician. We do not want a leader that wants to influence every local government, state and national assembly election. We want someone that will lead not rule, we want someone that will be tolerant.
On our behalf, please do make the best decision, again the future of Nigeria in your hands.
Seun Bisuga is a public analyst and journalist. Writes from Lagos