By Ambassador Usman Sarki
Politics is not just a game of numbers or a mere past time for seeking opportunities. Politics is essentially a matter that involves discernment and the making of informed choices that impact on the lives and destinies of peoples and nations. As such, politics cannot be “played” as if it is a game or an entertainment. Politics is an enterprise of the highest degree that supports nation-building and the progressive expansion of the vistas of human capacity to improve, develop and ultimately, reach a state of high felicity and harmony.
Critical to reaching such a stage in the development of any country or society is the factor of leadership. This cannot be trusted simply to emerge without trials and errors, or come about merely from the causality of chance and accident. Careful grooming is the prelude to good, effective and forward-looking leadership. Also, tried and tested leaders groomed in the crucible of power and the vicissitudes of governance give credence to the fact that without leaders, there cannot be societies to really speak of.
The need for leadership in Nigeria at the critical juncture that she has reached today, more than any other thing, is the matter of the moment. Indeed, it is THE single most important issue that Nigerians should be concerned with, in every exercise of their civic duties and responsibilities. Leadership unvarnished by sentiments and parochial interests is the indispensable factor that Nigeria requires today to achieve her destiny and assume her rightful place in Africa and the world. This can only come about from a recourse to careful and informed choices to be made by Nigerians themselves as noted earlier in this piece.
Having made these points, it is important to place before the Nigerian public the choices that they will be called upon to make in a couple of years’ time. These choices will involve the exercise of their rights to elect their leaders at various levels of government notably the local, state and federal levels. The key factor that Nigerians would need to realise is the all-encompassing nature and ultimate importance of the leadership at the federal level where all matters are brought to their finality and decisions are taken that impact on the entirety of the nation.
It is at this level that someone with a wide vista, vision and depth of focus is needed. It is here also that a man or woman with a deep knowledge and experience of statecraft and the management of options, opportunities and diversity would be required. Such qualities do not come easy or cheap but must be searched for and found among a certain crop of people who have gone out of their way and asserted their individuality away from the beaten path of life and/or demonstrated the capacity to lead and also be guided themselves.
The attainment of perfection and the ennobling of the office of a leader are the high marks of characteristics and ambitions of such individuals in life and in all their endeavors. They must have at one point or the other in their lives, impacted positively on the destinies of their fellow citizens, and left appreciable marks on their society and country at large.
What Nigeria needs and deserves today is a leader who can rise above his or her age, condition and station, to assume the character of the Chief Executive Officer of the federation. This calls for proven integrity molded by the dint of hard work, perseverance and diligence. There are many who could be assumed to have such qualities, and rightly aspire to become the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when the dice is cast for the elections into this exalted office come 2023.
Personal qualities are what makes a man or a woman a true leader, plus experiences gained in the rough and tumble of politics. But beyond these is the factor of sacrifice and commitment to an ideal – the ideal of a greater Nigeria than where she is now, or has ever been before. This ideal is the ultimate objective of running for the office of President from the point of view of enlightened self-interest and the attainment of loftier heights to which politics can be taken.
Youthful vigour plus commitment to this ideal, maturity of character and vision, or stature gained in every day exposure to the vicissitudes of life, could form the personalities of such leaders. However, possessing an innate sense of sacrifice and duty should be the paramount consideration that should propel anybody running for the office of President in 2023. Such a powerful urge stems not just from a sense of unfulfilled destiny, but actually from the sense of a call to duty by the dictates of reason and allowing for self-sacrifice.
Hence, this commitment will need to be reciprocated in a way that recognises the fact of offering of one’s self and the admittance even if with humility and courage, that one is the best or the rightful person to aspire to that high office in the country. It also forms the basis on which self-assessment and criticism can me made towards making course corrections whenever mistakes are made or wrong decisions are taken while in power. Power for its own sake therefore, is matter beyond the contemplation or desire of such persons.
Proposition About the “candidate”:
It is on the basis of the above propositions and outlines that the following considerations are placed before the Nigerian public to enable them make the right and informed choices and avoid the mistakes that have hamstrung the growth and development of our nation, that have left us in a perpetual sense of confusion and lack of self-confidence.
Confidence is the wellspring of national greatness. Without it there cannot be the innate urge to develop, to grow and to become relevant. The most important corollary to confidence is leadership. Leadership is required to guide and channel the energies and will of the nation toward a single goal- that is greatness. Whoever ultimately emerges as the flag bearer of any particular political party, should know instinctively the importance of this fact. He or she should strive to lead Nigeria towards prosperity by developing the country’s prospects for the attainment of all lofty ideals and hopes of the citizens.
Such prospective leaders should also know what it means to be guided as a leader by the various streams of ideas and different strands of thoughts and currents of conflicting and converging interests in society. These they must know, are the innate characteristics of democratic governance and the facts of politics. As such the totality of their experiences, expertise, competences and knowledge gained in the struggle and in the crucible of power, will be the critical qualities that would make them qualified to become the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2023.
The mission, vision and ultimate objectives of such individuals in this exalted office would be to unite a divided and fractured nation, to heal the wounds inflicted by politics and general bewilderment, and to drive the nation towards achieving her destiny. Nigeria is not the only country aspiring to be great at this time in history. There are many others struggling for relevance and striving to be noted and be counted. Nigeria’s claim to greatness however, is something that is self-evident and that needs to be actualised through leadership and correct guidance.
This can be achieved by having the right person in office with the right qualities and antecedents in government, business or public service in any broad capacities. Democracy in itself is a necessary factor in modern nation-building. However, it is not a stand-alone factor that in itself can bring about development and greatness to a nation. It has to be backed up and driven by perceptive leadership and experience gained from practice and dedication to duty.
These are the prepositions that Nigerians should put before them while deciding which way the pendulum of chance and politics should swing both for them and for their country come 2023. It is now the time and the moment for all Nigerians of goodwill and patriotism to rise to the occasion and identify with this call to action, to support the aspirations to make Nigeria Great!
The author was the Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, New York