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Consensus Vs Open Contest In APC



Ethnic and Religious Hatred and the Deceitful Campaigns in Nigeria By Salihu Moh. Lukman


Salihu Moh. Lukman


Electing Party Leaders through Consensus

Since the commencement of negotiation for new leadership in APC, starting with Ward Congresses, the decision of the APC CECPC is that new leaders will be elected through consensus. This implies that stakeholders will reach an agreement on specific individuals who will emerge as party leaders. So far, the process has achieved some degree of success as the new leaders of the party from wards to local governments and states have emerged through consensus. There were instances of disagreements, which the party’s reconciliation committee under the leadership of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu has succeeded in resolving many of the cases.

With the National Convention scheduled to hold March 26, 2022, the process of achieving consensus is similarly expected to produce new national leaders. Already, following meetings of the CECPC, Progressive Governors and other party leaders with President Buhari, some initiatives aimed at achieving consensus leading to the emergence of new national leaders have commenced. A zoning formula has been reported to be agreed and the president is reported to have expressed his support for the emergence of Sen. Adamu as the consensus National Chairman of the party around whom the negotiation to achieve consensus for other positions is expected to be achieved. Progressive Governors were reported to have been mandated by the president to work with the CECPC and achieve agreed consensus on all party positions.

Party Activities and Attempts to Undermine Consensus

Incidences within the last few days appear to be almost questioning whether any negotiation is taking place within the party to achieve consensus. From uncertainty about whether the party’s National Convention will hold, circumstances have been created whereby directives of President Buhari, who is unquestionably the leader of the party, to negotiate consensus leading the emergence of new leaders seem to be discarded. Conflicting directives to party leaders allegedly from the president are allowed to appear in the public. Every time a new directive appears, party leaders and members complied, and new realities also emerge in the party.

For instance, when on Sunday, March 6, 2022, on the day President Buhari went to London, the information emerged that President Buhari instructed Progressive Governors to initiate processes of leadership change in the party given the reluctance of His Excellency Mai Mala, the APC CECPC Chairman to implement decisions to hold the party’s National Convention, party leaders and members welcomed the decision, which accounts for the legitimacy enjoyed by all the eleven members of the CECPC who immediately rallied themselves around His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello who was vested with the responsibility of acting as APC CECPC Chairman in the absence of His Excellency Mai Mala who was out of the country for medical treatment.

Immediately, activities of the party around preparations for the March 26, 2022 National Convention were strengthened. The CECPC under His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello began meetings almost on a daily basis. Decisions taken were implemented immediately and communication with party members and the public regarding preparations for the National Convention was very regular, unlike under the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala. Newly elected state leaderships of the party were inaugurated, an action which should have been carried out long ago but deliberately stalled as part of the plans to sabotage the National Convention. With the inauguration of state leaderships of the party, the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) was scheduled for Thursday, March 17, 2022. The scheduled NEC meeting was also designed to begin to return the APC back to normal operations as provided by the party’s Constitution.

READ ALSO: Fresh Crisis In APC As INEC Fails To Recognise Bello As Interim Chair

The NEC being the second highest organ of the party has the powers to take decisions, which should guide party operations in between National Conventions. Under the APC constitution, the NEC is required to meet every three months. The last time the NEC met was December 8, 2020, when in view of the challenges facing the party, and trusting that the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala will faithfully and honestly implement decisions taken leading to the emergence of new leaders, transferred its powers to the CECPC. As of December 8, 2020, the expectation was that the tenure of the CECPC would not go beyond six months, implying that by June 2021, the APC National Convention would have taken place and new party leaders would have emerged. Sadly, His Excellency Mai Mala began endless postponement of the National Convention, and it became clear to everyone, including President Buhari that the CECPC leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala has abused all the trust of party leaders and members, with allegations of corruption against the Chairman and Secretary, His Excellency Mai Mala and Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe respectively.

Changes in CECPC and Syndicated Media Campaigns

With the emergence of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello as Acting CECPC Chairman on March 7, 2022, and all the actions taken to implement decisions leading to the convention, confidence of party members and leaders began to be restored. Some few party leaders who collaborated with His Excellency Mai Mala to sabotage the decision to organise the National Convention, however, began media campaigns aimed at undermining the legitimacy of actions taken by the CECPC under His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello. Mostly done through surrogates, the campaigns include planting syndicated report of a coup against His Excellency Mai Mala, leading to the emergence of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello as Acting Chairman of the CECPC.

The CECPC Secretary, Sen. Akpanuduodehe, on Monday, March 7, 2022, walked out of the meeting of the CECPC chaired by His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello. Then news of his resignation and subsequent rebuttal by him emerged. As it turned out, the CECPC actually passed a vote of no confidence in the Secretary in line with the provision of Article 21(vi) of the APC, which affirms the power of organs of the party to take such actions based on two-third votes by members of the organ. The resolution for vote of no confidence against Sen. Akpanuduodehe was passed by ten out of thirteen members of the CECPC. Thereafter, the CECPC announced that Prof. Tahir Mamman is the Acting Secretary and Barr. Ismail Ahmed is the spokesperson. Throughout the week of March 7 – 14, Sen. Akpanudoedehe was conspicuously absent from the APC National Secretariat and didn’t attend meetings of the CECPC, although on Friday, March 11, 2022, he was reported to have visited the APC National Secretariat but did not attend the CEPCP meeting, which was ongoing at the time of his visit.

READ ALSO: Rescuing The APC: A Task For All Party Leaders

As part of the syndicated news reports aimed at undermining decisions and actions taken by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello, there was the false report that thirteen APC governors were threatening to leave the party if the decision to change His Excellency Mai Mala as Chairman of CECPC is achieved. Some party leaders, including Governors Nasir El-Rufai and Rotimi Akeredolu SAN of Kaduna and Ondo States respectively responded with the information that only three governors, not thirteen, are supportive of His Excellency Mai Mala. The three Governors are Yahaya Bello of Kogi, Hope Uzodinma of Imo and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun States. The remaining eighteen governors and the deputy governor of Anambra State are supportive of initiatives being taken by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello.

Conflicting Presidential Directives and London Lobbies by Party Leaders

Around the same period, during the weekend of March 11 – 13, there were reports about President Buhari returning His Excellency Mai Mala as the Chairman of the CECPC. Then on Sunday, March 13, there was the statement by Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special to the President on Media and Publicity, informing APC leaders about President Buhari’s warning drawing attention to the electoral consequences of the open leadership contestation in the party and calling for order. By Monday, March 14, the report was that party leaders including His Excellency Mai Mala, His Excellency Kayode Fayemi and His Excellency Nasir El-Rufai have travelled to London to meet with President Buhari. No details of the meetings emerged. The feeler, however, was that President Buhari met Governors Fayemi and El-Rufai and endorsed preparations for the March 26 National Convention initiated by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello and accordingly confirmed that he would be attending the scheduled March 17 NEC meeting of the party.

Before the weekend of March 11 – 13, there were media reports about some party leaders, including Sen. Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, Mallam Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education and Hon. Farouk Adamu Aliyu, meeting the President in London. This report of the visit by Sen. Sirika, Mallam Malami, Mallam Adamu and Hon. Aliyu was remotely associated with all the lobby to influence decisions of the president regarding the need to achieve consensus leading to the emergence of new leadership for the APC. Interestingly, the presence of these longtime political associates of President Buhari in London may have been responsible for many of the reversals of decisions taken by President Buhari regarding the party’s leadership contestation.

READ ALSO: APC And Surrogate Politics Of Timid Leaders

The four leaders – Sen. Sirika, Mallam Malami, Mallam Adamu and Hon. Aliyu were political associates of President Buhari since 2003 when he first contested for President under the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP). Part of what has emerged suggests that their mission to London was to get President Buhari to alter the decisions reached with Progressive Governors and other party leaders on zoning party positions. Particularly, they wanted the president to unilaterally change the decision to get the deputy national chairman, North, moved from North-East to North-West so that Hon. Aliyu can become the president’s anointed candidate. Recall that there was a discredited zoning list purportedly signed by the president, dated February 25, 2022 with Hon. Aliyu, who is from North-West as the agreed candidate for deputy national chairman, North, instead of allowing it for the emergence of someone from the North-East as agreed. In that discredited zoning list, the position of National Secretary was given to South-East and not South-West as was later announced by the CECPC.

Consequently, by the evening of Wednesday, March 16, 2022, news about the president reversing his earlier directive to Progressive Governors and party leaders to the effect of changing the leadership of the CECPC emerged. Conveyed in a letter to His Excellency Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Chairman Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) directing a ‘return to status quo ante’ on the leadership of the CEPCP, with photo images of President Buhari together with His Excellency Mai Mala in the company of Mallam Adamu, the President effectively reversed his earlier instructions. By the morning of Thursday, March 17, 2022, Sen. Akpanuduedehe announced the cancellation of the scheduled March 17 NEC and attempted to alter the composition of Convention Committees announced by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Sani Bello. Members of the CECPC had to immediately enforce the vote of no confidence in Sen. Akpanuduodehe to stop further attempts to reverse decisions taken on the March 26 National Convention. His Excellency Mai Mala who returned to the country on Thursday, March 17 had to issue a statement affirming the sanctity of all decisions taken by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Sani Bello.

Return of Old Attempts to impose Party Leaders and Candidates

Part of the sentiment being used by the London lobby team of Sen. Sirika, Mallam Malami, Mallam Adamu and Hon. Aliyu was to ensure that the old Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) leaders are not ‘marginalised’ in the new APC leadership to emerge from the March 26 National Convention. These are old opportunistic arguments, which were self-serving used by some few vested interests around the president to impose themselves as party leaders and candidates. There were many instances leading to the imposition of candidates during elections, which undermined the electoral viabilities of parties associated with the president. From the ANPP in 2003 and 2007 to CPC in 2011, this has been the reality. Often, individual politicians with this self-serving agenda have used it to impose themselves on party members as candidates for elections. Although there are many instances whereby imposed candidates win elections, there are also many instances when acts of imposition destroyed the electoral advantages of the parties leading to the loss of elections. This was partly the reason for the large-scale defeat of CPC in 2011 election in Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Katsina and many states.

Perhaps, it needs to be highlighted that while the team of ‘CPC London lobbyists’ used the CPC sentiment to push for the anointment of Hon. Aliyu as deputy national chairman, North, they were not interested in the reversal of the speculated anointment of Sen. Adamu as the president’s choice for the National Chairman in favour of Sen. Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, who is by far the most qualified former CPC leader aspiring for the position of National Chairman. Noting that Sen. Adamu was never a member of CPC, unlike Sen. Al-Makura who was the only elected CPC governor in the country between 2011 and 2013 when CPC was dissolved into the current APC, why shouldn’t any CPC lobbyist prioritise the case of National chairman over and above a deputy National Chairman? This partly highlights the limitations of all the scheming influencing many of the president’s decisions to reverse decisions he took around all the leadership contestation in the party. Why should the president endorse Sen. Adamu over Sen. Al-Makura as the National Chairman of the APC? Didn’t Sen. Al-Makura defeat Sen. Adamu, which made the CPC to have the only State, Nasarawa, it won in 2011?

Sen. Al-Makura has led the APC to victory in all elections in Nasarawa State since 2015. In fact, it could be argued without any fear of contradiction that Sen. Adamu was compelled to leave the PDP because of the domineering electoral influence of the APC in Nasarawa State under the leadership of Sen. Al-Makura. Every rational consideration would expect President Buhari to choose Sen. Al-Makura ahead of Sen. Adamu. But the same old irrational and illogical decisions leading to the imposition of candidates in ANPP and CPC have found their way to APC and may have influenced President Buhari’s decision for Sen. Adamu over Sen. Al-Makura. These irrational and illogical decisions are driven by people who are opposed to political contests because they must impose themselves at all costs using their close relationship with President Buhari. Largely because they hardly have much electoral significance, meaning that on their own they can hardly win elections, instead, they just want to ride on decisions of the president to anoint them as candidates based on which they may succeed in bulldozing their way to emerge as elected leaders and candidates.

Partly because the so-called CPC lobby around President Buhari wasn’t about getting trustworthy people to emerge as APC leaders during the March 26 National Convention, the objective may have been to bring in people who can do the hatched jobs of imposing some so-called CPC old leaders as candidates for 2023 elections. Noting that, for instance, both Mallam Malami and Sen. Sirika are aspiring to emerge as APC governorship candidates for Kebbi and Katsina States respectively, this may be the major consideration for the lobby around Hon. Aliyu to become the deputy national chairman, North. Also noting that both Mallam Malami and Sen. Sirika are facing strong opposition within the party in their respective states, Kebbi and Katsina, the suspicion that they want Hon. Aliyu as deputy national chairman, North so that he can do the hatched job of producing them as candidates by whatever means cannot be dismissed.

Recall that Hon. Aliyu was alleged to be at the centre of most of the allegations of corruption against the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole during the 2019 elections, the probability that he will collaborate with aspirants for elective positions to impose candidates cannot also be wished away. There were specific allegations against Hon. Aliyu of extorting huge amounts of money as Chief of Staff to Comrade Oshiomhole from some aspirants for the 2019 elections. Part of the information was that Hon. Aliyu parted ways with Comrade Oshiomhole on account of these allegations. Although these are allegations, however, to the extent that Hon. Aliyu is yet to put up any public defence to clear himself should discourage anyone from promoting him for any party leadership position in the APC.

Unilateral Reversal of Decisions Creates Open Contest

By some default, therefore, while desperately pushing the President to anoint people like Hon. Aliyu as consensus candidates, these ‘CPC lobbyists’ have inadvertently created situations whereby there is the strong likelihood for an open contest in APC during the March 26 National Convention. Instead of working to support the president to win the cooperation of all party leaders, including the speculated choice of Sen. Adamu as the consensus National Chairman, an unregulated situation has emerged ahead of the APC March 26, 2022 National Convention whereby everybody is free to join the contest for the position of National Chairman. One of the mistakes of the so-called old CPC members, including the ‘CPC London lobbyists’, is to elevate the respect of party leaders for the president to the level of compelling obedience without recognising that it is a mutually reciprocal respect. Unlike what obtained under the CPC, whereby President Buhari was largely the singular electoral asset of the party, in the case of the APC, President Buhari, although the dominant electoral asset, other party leaders are also electoral assets in varying degrees, which was the added factor responsible for the electoral victory of 2015 and 2019.

READ ALSO: Political Leadership Recruitment: Appeal To APC Leaders

Once President Buhari is made to unilaterally change party decisions, and to that extent therefore create unregulated conditions for leadership contest, he is made to effectively undermine the respect he enjoys among APC leaders. Beyond creating an unregulated situation, an unhealthy condition has also been created whereby the president being a moral leader is being projected to be directing party leaders based on his presidential powers. With or without presidential powers, President Buhari has earned his position as the leader of APC. His unique personality as someone who is truly loved by very ordinary citizens remarkably earned the APC its electoral victory of 2015 and 2019. Party leaders and members will always respect instructions coming from President Buhari. Therefore, party leaders and members, by extension all supporters of President Buhari must appeal to so-called ‘CPC lobbyists’ to stop undermining the president’s authority through the attempt to impose party leaders and candidates for election.

Expanded Democratic Space in APC

The good thing, however, arising from the actions of the ‘CPC London lobbyists’ by getting the president to issue conflicting directives to Progressive Governors and party leaders, thereby disrupting negotiations for the emergence of consensus leaders is that it has in some ways mobilised internal rebellion within the APC, which will lead to open contests for all positions in the party in the March 26, 2022 National Convention. Given open contests, it is doubtful if any attempt by the president to influence the emergence of any leader, including the speculated anointment of Sen. Adamu for the position of the National Chairman can succeed. Thanks to the ‘CPC London lobbyists’, the democratic space in APC has been expanded beyond what it would ordinarily have been. For the first time, since 1999, internal party contest in a major Nigerian political party, APC, which is also the governing party, will most likely experience full- blown contests for all leadership positions whereby winners may emerge irrespective of speculated choices of the president, and by extension, possibly all other party leaders.

Unintended, the ‘CPC London lobbyists’ have also helped to inadvertently expand the democratic space for internal party contest for the emergence of candidates for 2023 elections. In other words, by their actions, they have weakened the high possibility that the party’s candidates for 2023 elections will emerge through consensus. This new reality is very much needed to challenge Nigerian political parties to comply with basic democratic tenets of free and fair internal contests for the emergence of party leaders and candidates for elections. This is perhaps very much needed to return the APC to its founding vision such that it can recover all its electoral advantages.

Acknowledgement and Appeal

The unfolding dynamics in APC, which by some default is expanding the democratic space within the party is made possible due to the liberal leadership of the president. Associates of the president should also respect the decisions the president takes jointly with other party leaders instead of undermining his liberal disposition by seeking to get him to reverse decisions he jointly takes with other party leaders. It was the liberal disposition of the president that allows him to respect positions of party leaders, based on which he subscribes to decisions and delegate implementation to competent structures of the party. If the president can respect other party leaders, why should other associates of the president exude any form of disrespect or contempt for other party leaders in whatever way?

Accordingly, APC leaders and members should appeal to both President Buhari and his old political associates in the old CPC to refrain from acts that will undermine the authority of the president as the leader of the party. The president needs to recognise that being the leader of the party, imposes on him some level of propriety, which requires that once decisions are taken through meetings, it will require at least another meeting to change decisions taken. In every respect, the decisions of the president as conveyed in the letter to His Excellency Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, PGF Chairman of March 16, 2022 directing a ‘return to status quo ante’ could have been achieved from the London meeting with Governors Fayemi and El-Rufai. The letter to the PGF Chairman was avoidable and unnecessary.

So-called old CPC leaders should stop projecting the president as a leader of only a section of party members. The piresident is the leader of all members of the APC and all Nigerians. Some of the so-called old CPC members, should also be reminded that, in their own rights, they have what it takes to successfully negotiate their emergence as leaders and candidates of the party without resorting to the undemocratic practices of imposition. Many of them are highly respected leaders of the APC and therefore, given free and fair environment for electoral contests within the APC, they can win elections to emerge as party leaders and candidates for elective offices. APC leaders and members should therefore appeal to these old CPC leaders to properly integrate themselves in the structures of the APC and develop the needed confidence to freely negotiate for leadership positions in the party based on the ability to mobilise support to win majority votes. May Allah (SWT) bless the new democratic space in APC and support the emergence of new APC leaders based on majority votes at the March 26 APC National Convention. Amin!

Dr. Lukman is a freelance APC campaigner.


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Africa Reckonings And Futures



Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

 Africa, a continent full of diverse peoples and fascinating history, has struggled with several social, economic, and political problems during its existence. Despite its recent development, it has suffered from a number of wrongs stemming from its pre-colonial history and its tangled links with other continents, especially Europe. There is a school of thought amongst certain African academics that the trans-Atlantic slave trade was the high point in the West’s systematic plunder of Africa, resulting in devastating cultural, social, and economic losses on the continent. The transatlantic slave trade was a cultural and social calamity for Africa, ripping apart communities and erasing centuries of history. Peoples of African origin, including those living in the diaspora, continue to feel the repercussions of this pernicious trade, leading to internal conflicts over their own identities. But the slave trade and the brain drain are not the only issues the continent of Africa is contending with. Many problems plaguing the continent call for fresh approaches and changes in perspective. These problems range from insufficient socioeconomic growth to governance worries. Environmental concerns and the effects of climate change pose major risks.

Let’s take global ecology and Africa’s exposure to environmental crises, for instance. Regarding the world’s environment, Africa is about to get some hard truths. The effects of climate change are and will continue to be felt most acutely on the African continent, where the majority of the world’s poor live. Climate change is real and has serious consequences for Africa, as seen by the continent’s warming temperatures, higher sea levels, shifting rainfall patterns, and increased frequency of droughts. It is not enough for Africa to just adapt to this problem; the region must also be creative and rethink its connection with the natural world. The effects of global warming on Africa’s agriculture industry are emblematic of the problem. Many African economies rely heavily on agriculture since it provides a stable income for millions of people. The difficulty of farming and livestock raising is growing due to climate change. Crop failures and decreased yields have resulted from changes in rainfall patterns and the increased frequency of droughts. Because of the severe weather, some farmers have given up and moved on. Given the significance of agriculture to Africa’s economy, this trend is cause for concern.

The effects of climate change aren’t limited to agriculture. The shift in weather patterns is threatening the continent’s ecology and biodiversity. For example, melting glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro threaten to deplete the water supply for millions of people in East Africa. Loss of biodiversity will likely have significant effects on food security and health while rising sea levels endanger the viability of coastal populations. 

To effectively address the global ecological issue, Africa will need to use a variety of strategies. New and creative approaches are needed. Sustainable agricultural strategies, such as crop diversification and conservation agriculture, may aid farmers in dealing with the effects of climate change and shifting weather patterns. In addition, governments may support renewable energy by investing in it and enacting regulations that encourage the use of cleaner energy sources like solar and wind. If such sustainable practices are enacted, Africa’s total carbon footprint could be significantly lessened, thus considerably contributing to the fight against climate change. 

Away from climate change and its effect on the continent, we turn to the complicated positions of African Studies. As the continent has become more diverse and complicated, so has the study of Africa. African history, culture, politics, and society have all benefited from the work of academics and researchers from all over the globe, who have contributed to a growing body of work on these topics. There is, however, a continuing discussion over the boundaries and potential of African Studies, with some suggesting that it is time to think both inside and beyond the norms of the field. A critical examination of the underlying assumptions and methods of African Studies is required for both “going with the grain” and “going against the grain.” This perspective acknowledges that the field of African Studies was formed by colonialism and imperialism. Consequently, African Studies frequently reproduce the same power dynamics. African Studies is interested in expanding its horizons and discovering novel approaches to learning about and interacting with the continent and its people, and thinking with and against the grain of the discipline is one method to do just that.

Getting beyond Western scholarship’s hegemonic, oversimplified, and reductionist perceptions of Africa is a major challenge for African Studies. For a long time, colonialism and imperialism were justified by depicting Africa as a land of darkness, ignorance, and cruelty. Even though this viewpoint has been debunked, it is nevertheless often presented in academic literature, where it reinforces inaccurate generalizations about Africa and obscures the region’s complexity. Academics need to interact with the nuances and contradictions of African cultures to think both with and against the grain of African Studies. To do so, we must abandon oversimplified conceptions of “African culture” and “African politics” and instead acknowledge that the continent is home to a wide variety of civilizations, languages, and political structures. Likewise, it requires appreciating the initiative and inventiveness of African people, who have played crucial roles in forging their own histories and cultures.

Extending the reach of African Studies outside the confines of the field is another crucial problem. Despite the field’s expansion over the last several decades, researchers from the Global North remain preponderant, contributing to the maintenance of existing power disparities on the continent and among its people. The best way to think with and against the grain of African Studies is to have conversations with academics and researchers from Africa and the diaspora. Critical introspection and questioning of one’s own assumptions are necessary outcomes of both “going with” and “going against” the prevailing winds of African Studies. We must be ready to examine our methods critically, accept both the field’s limits and its potential and welcome other viewpoints. This is the only way to get a more complex and accurate picture of Africa and its people.

Africa’s potential in the 21st century is a growing talking point in both academic and wider public circles. Despite this positive trend and the rich cultures and histories of the continent, Africa has been typically seen through a pessimistic and static viewpoint. However, in recent years, mainstream discourse has shifted toward a more optimistic and positive assessment of Africa’s future prospects. The realization of Africa’s enormous potential for economic growth and development is a major factor in this shift. African nations have seen tremendous economic development in recent years despite numerous hurdles, including political instability and violence. Due to this growth, many economists believe that Africa will soon become the world’s next economic superpower.

The expansion of Africa’s communications networks is another reason for hope for the continent’s future. The continent of Africa is more interconnected than ever because of developments in technology and transportation. Trade, investment, and cross-cultural cooperation have all benefited from this heightened accessibility. But, Africa still faces some difficult obstacles. For instance, many African nations are still hampered by pervasive violence and political instability.

More communication and cooperation between African nations and the rest of the globe is crucial if the continent is to overcome its current difficulties and fulfill its future potential. More money spent on infrastructure and technology, together with programs encouraging cultural understanding and cooperation, may help bring this about. Poverty, inequality, and political corruption are all major contributors to the instability and violence plaguing Africa. Africa is frequently presented as a victim of external factors rather than a player in the game of life. A more nuanced knowledge of Africa’s complicated reality and a shared commitment to a more fair and equitable future are possible via attentive listening to and through the sharing of African viewpoints.

Coasting home, colonialism, globalization, and wars for independence and sovereignty have all left their marks on Africa’s rich and varied history. Notwithstanding these setbacks, African nations have been remarkably resourceful, imaginative, and resilient in their pursuit of social justice and economic progress. Several nations in Africa have seen steady economic development, technological innovation, and social revolution in recent years, propelling the continent to a prominent position on the international economic stage. However, many problems, such as poverty, inequality, war, environmental destruction, and political unrest, persist across the African continent. 

Africa must tackle issues like reducing poverty and inequality, which are stumbling blocks to their continent’s future. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) reports that Africa is home to some of the world’s most unequal countries, with over 400 million people living in abject poverty. Corruption, poor leadership, and inadequate provision of necessities like education, healthcare, and clean water all play a role in exacerbating the problem. Social safety nets, job creation, and entrepreneurial training are just a few of the efforts and programs that African nations are engaging in to combat these issues. Regional integration, which seeks to encourage trade, investment, and collaboration among African nations, is also gaining prominence.

Africa must also face the need to confront environmental concerns such as global warming, deforestation, and biodiversity loss. The continent is especially at risk with so much riding on agriculture, natural resources, and healthy ecosystems. Droughts, floods, and food shortages are just some of the ways climate change is already threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people throughout Africa. To combat these issues, African nations must fund projects and programs in areas like renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and ecosystem restoration. International collaboration should also receive more attention as a means to foster climate-resilience, adaptation, and mitigation.

Conflict, terrorism, and human rights abuses are also some of Africa’s political and security issues that must be faced head-on. To solve these issues and advance peace, justice, and human rights, many African nations must work to establish democratic and stable institutions. External meddling, resource rivalries, and ideological divisions only fuel the fire. To face these difficulties, African nations should put resources into programs and efforts, including peacemaking, conflict avoidance, and rights advocacy. Regional and continental integration, which seeks to enhance collaboration, solidarity, and collective security, should also gain prominence.

Notwithstanding these difficulties, Africa has a wealth of untapped potential and prospects. The continent’s youthful and energetic population, varied and significant cultural legacy, and plentiful natural resources make it an important and influential part of the world. Several African nations are becoming centers of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship due to their growing ties to the global economy. Several African nations are investing in areas like education, innovation, and infrastructure building to use their continent’s abundant resources. In sum, Africa is weighing a number of options as it strives to determine its destiny. The continent must face its own realities. Africa’s future lies in its ability to capitalize on its young population, rich cultural traditions, and plentiful resources to create affluent, equitable, and globally integrated communities. Getting to these futures requires African nations to keep questioning everything.

  . (Excerpt of Keynote Lecture, Canadian African Studies Association, May 29, 2023).


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Buhari: The Illusion Of Hope



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

Leadership is pivotal to development; as such, every election is taken seriously, and the transition of power is especially given attention in Nigeria. Nigeria is coming from a place where its leadership has been in question because of the failure of past leaders to remedy several of the problems it faces. So, in every election circle, with May 29th as the handover of power, there is so much expectation, anticipation, and delight, except for the current one. But over the years, those anxieties are met with disappointments. 

Nigeria saw a new semantic twist to the word “change” from its mantra in 2015. The year was supposed to be the beginning of hope; the citizens thought Buhari, the messiah, had come, not knowing that things were just getting messier. It has been a long eight years, and the nation has taken two steps backward in several ways, an inch forward in some while the others stay in their stagnant, deteriorated states. It has been a long ride, and the score sheet is quite discouraging in the spirit of speaking the truth to power. 

One of the selling points of the change mantra was the readiness to fight any corrupt practices in the country. The citizens had expected that many politicians would have been put in jail or get several of their properties confiscated. Well, for those not on the good side of the President and the party, those promises were made regarding them, but the big-bellied politicians eating from the pots of corruption and sitting in influential political offices have become saints that stack away national treasure. The list of those that got their sins “forgiven,” as stated by the former chairman of the All Progressives Congress. No one hears of David Umahi’s alleged N400 million naira diversion of public funds, Godswill Akpabio’s N100 Billion alleged diversion, Stella Oduah’s alleged N9.4 billion, and other accusations, Orji Uzor Kalu’s N3.2 billion accusation, Adebayo Alao-Akala of blessed memory’s N11.5 billion allegation before his death, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika’s alleged connection with the Sambo Dasuki’s $2.1 billion, and several others after they have moved to the ruling party, the fount of foundation that all sinners can come. The corruption rate in the country reached a record rank of 154 in 2021 and has become the 150th least corrupt country in the world. One would have thought that the nation was ready to fight corruption under Buhari’s tenure seeing that there was a report that there was a possibility that the country would lose about 30% of its GDP by 2025. We are edging toward this problem, and Mr. President and his appointees indulged the causes too much. 

One needs to check whether the poverty rate has been reduced as promised by the change mantra, but the country is in a dreadful situation it has never been before eight years. The margin between the rich and poor grew, while citizens were left with no buying power. The past eight years have left one wondering if there has truly been the availability and access to supposed public goods and services with “a united, peaceful and secure nation,” as the president had stated in his farewell speech. As expected, the supposed global recession and economic downturn, as the president alluded to, would never be enough excuse for the incapability of at least giving the citizens steady lives. First, Nigeria is not the only country that faced the challenge, but the propensity of its effect seems higher than in other countries. Secondly, the administration has been in place since 2015, and laying claim to the incidents of 2020 and 2022 is outrageous.

One of the reasons Mr. President showed more enthusiasm toward the nation’s petroleum sector was first to ensure that there are sustainable changes to its different problems and reduce the corruption rate in that sector. Despite all the various promises to revive the sector and the refineries and make things easier for the citizens, the petroleum sector continued to worsen. The fuel prices now are not just ununiformed in practice but have increased almost 200% more than before the administration’s commencement. The refineries have remained in their state while we export crude oil and purchase petroleum products in an inconsiderate state. The subsidy has not been removed, but prices are still not favorable to the people. Mr. President as the Minister for Petroleum and those who served as Minster for State for Petroleum Resources have found themselves in limbo while millions of Nigerians still queue to buy petrol at high price year in and year out. Fuel scarcity is no more a phenomenon; it is a festival people are not surprised it happens.

While you preached democracy, even in your farewell speech, I am not certain all its tenets were well kept or practiced as they should have been. Maybe the president does not know that the practice and presence of democracy is not the absence of military or despotic rule as it was in the first administration of the General but the recognition of the people’s sense of belonging in the leadership, the obvious practices of the system, especially in the face of antagonism. What are the tales around elections in Nigeria, what has happened to freedom of expression, and how best can one describe the prevalence of the tenets? Nigeria has seen one of the worse levels of suppression of human rights under the Buhari administration in this democratic dispensation. Police brutality has increased to incite a high rate of citizen resistance to the police. The government’s body language has been more of beating a child and beating him when he cries. The advent of the EndSARS protest was not just the youth showing readiness for a better Nigeria, but it was an expression of the insults of oppression of the injuries of lack of facilities and low standard of living.

I believe those that thought the President was a reformed and repentant democratic would be close to disclaiming such assertions. The government institutions have become elements of witch-hunting and the hands of political strategies to intimidate those  that are in the way of the government or anyone at all. Should one refer to the popular Twitter ban from June 5th, 2021, to 13th January, 2022? The killing of several EndSARS protesters and the darkened truth about what happened on that fateful night at Lekki Tollgate. And if elections alone are what Mr. Buhari understands as democracy, I am not sure Nigeria can boast of the 2019 and 2023 elections conducted under  his  administration. A report stated that the DSS, the Army, and other security operatives were used to intimidate voters and several other intimidations from children of the dark worlds during the 2019 elections. The 2023 elections were worse, with different public intimidations and obvious rigging, violence, and other vices during the electoral processes. 

One may need to ask where the jobs promised or seemed to have been produced are, who are employed, and who are the employers. While there is considerable progress in this instance, the conditions have not changed, as most of the steps taken are not sustainable. With an unemployment rate of about 33%, those who try to establish themselves face a toxic environment. A report shows that about 80% of Small and Medium Enterprises failed  in Nigerian as of 2020. While efforts, even where they are not sustainable, are still efforts, the Buhari administration forgot to provide more enabling society for businesses to thrive. In the name of business interventions, the momentary Christmas gifts are mostly embezzled by the officials and gotten by party members and associates; they are not enough if self-subsisting systems are not built around them to ensure they serve the purposes for which they are given out.

 The argument of certain people during the pre-election change mantra before the 2015 election was that because of the military background of Buhari, the nation might have enough hold of its security problems. One of the great sins of Goodluck Jonathan was his inability to combat terrorism and the growing security challenges. Of course, a General was coming, and it was reasonable to see people with some comfort level. The Buhari agenda and propaganda were sold to the nation, and security was the weak spot of many of the citizens. The ride for the past last years has been worse; while the news about Boko Haram has become normal incidences that do not even get to make newspaper headlines in the country, other forms of insecurity have become strengthened. The anxiety or fear on an average Nigerian road is enough to give one high blood pressure. Prisons are broken in most undignified ways, mass massacres and kidnappings, and several other unspeakable disgraces. Mr. Buhari, Nigerians never see you coming.

When the common and seeming colloquial saying, “What is worth doing is worth doing well,” is said, it is a big message that even Buhari should have learned from. There are excuses that the anticipated rot was worse, as almost all governments say when resuming after an opposition predecessor. And where it seems that the Water of Nigerian problem is fast becoming more than the Garri of your power, it would have been an honorable thing to step down for others to try; well, the phrase, although never reflected, “politics is not a do or dies affair,” does not extend to while in office. But Yoruba would say, Akukuu joye, o san ju enu mi o kalu lo.

While Nigeria has been on fire, it seems the president had more enthusiasm for tourism than the nation’s state. From 2015 to December 2022, our Ajala president spent not less than 225 days on medical trips, aside from other summits and official trips. This is against the promises of ensuring the President and other politicians explore local medical options. But most importantly, if a president could spend such several days on unofficial journeys at different intervals, there is little to say about how settled and ready he has been for the job. 

However, it is my message to the next president of Nigeria that the nation needs real change and that the duty is to at least make things stable. He should take clues from the mistakes of Buhari and other past leaders to make wise decisions that will transform the nation. More so, the 2023 election has threatened the nation’s unity, so he must rule with this consciousness at heart. I say “Amen” to the oft-repeated prayer:

May Buhari Never Happen to Nigeria Again.

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May 29 And Onward: Towards Nigeria’s Rebirth And Transformation



Prof. Tunji Olaopa

By Tunji Olaopa


Six concerns will constitute the focus of my discussion today. First, I will like to place May 29 within the context of Nigeria’s political history, and why it is crucial at this juncture. Second, I will be situating this 2023 transition within the context of the critical crises the new administration will be inheriting. Third, I will be highlighting the leadership deficit confronting Nigeria, and locating it within a broader and global search for a good, humane, strategic and managerial leader for the Nigerian state. Fourth, and as a corollary, I will attempt to benchmark Nigeria’s capacity for transformation with the transformational potential exhibited by global comparators like the Asian Tigers. Fifth, I will then contextualize this benchmark within the African continent by examining the Mo Ibrahim African Governance Index which will help bring into sharp relief the issues limiting leadership performance in Nigeria especially. And sixth, I will then draw on significant lessons that the Tinubu administration could benchmark to commence and make a success of its governance objectives, strategies and methodologies.   

Many Nigerians have varying expectations about today, May 29. For the cynics and the pessimists, it is a transition that leads nowhere, except the manifestation of a fresh spectacle of musical chairs—a familiar but tragic drama involving politicians with a high leadership deficit whose lack of governance vision and low level of development performance spell ultimately another possible four years of intense frustration for Nigerians. For chronic optimists like me, this might just be a May 29 transition with a difference; a day that might as well signal the threshold of a revolutionary moment in governance transformation. Reform optimists, like me, look out for an elected political class that displays evidence of leadership competence and development performance. This simply implies that leadership goes beyond a mere title; rather, it references the capacity of a leader or a group of dedicated crops of leaders to redirect a state like Nigeria away from the precipice and towards an envisioned future. Inevitably, such leadership action will necessarily involve making sound and sometimes difficult decisions, creating and articulating clear visions, and establishing achievable goals. And the decisional dynamics will often entail playing high politics, which is bound to be rough and tough, but which will eventually conduce to increasing the quality of life of Nigerians.

Introduction: Why is May 29 Critical to Nigeria’s Current Crisis?

The uniqueness of May 29 in Nigeria’s political history is essentially constituted by the metaphor of transition that it signifies. The day represents the culmination of all electoral processes that had earlier produced political leaders at the federal and state levels. More fundamentally, transition represents an optimistic movement away from the old to the new. Roy Cooper, the current governor of North Carolina in the US captures my sense of the weightiness of the idea of transition: “Transitions are a time for reflection, and a time for looking forward.” So, this moment in history affords us, as Nigerians, the opportunity of weighing our present circumstances and predicaments side by side the possibilities we again have the privilege of unraveling in order to be able to undermine the stranglehold of history. Remember the maxim about those who have failed to learn from history.

What is the starting point for our reflection today? It is straightforward: Nigeria is in a tragic crisis situation. And we arrived  at this point as a result of an almost inexorable political and historical trajectory of the inauguration of the Nigerian state through the amalgamation in 1914 till her independence in 1960. Current sociopolitical and economic realities—debt crisis, insecurity, underdevelopment, bureaucratic pathologies, etc.—are simply the morbid symptoms of deeply entrenched dysfunctions that successive Nigerian government, since independence, have been grappling with. And the outgoing administration seems to have mediated the sliding of the Nigerian state to its low ebb in years. In terms of human development, Nigeria’s status is quite dismal and discouraging. In terms of human poverty, Nigeria’s own poverty index shows that 63% (approximately 133 million) of Nigerians are multidimensionally poor. In the Ease of Doing Business Index, Nigeria is ranked 131 out of 191 countries. And finally, in the Chandler Good Government Index for 2022, Nigeria ranks 102 out of 104, only better than Zimbabwe and Venezuela.  

This brief articulation of Nigeria’s current predicament provides a summary of the daunting implication of this May 29 transition from the old administration to the new one, and the enormous burden of history that is already placed on the shoulder of the new government. I am however suitably situated to believe that from our present position, the Nigerian state can only achieve an upward trend away from its crippling circumstances to a better condition. And my optimism is not incumbent on the usual hope that attends transitions such as this. My status as a scholar-practitioner and an institutional reformer provides me with more pedestal from which to categorically enunciate my firm belief in Nigeria’s capacity to climb out of her development and governance abyss. 

As I have narrated in numerous public discourses, I am an unrelenting student of politics and Nigerian governmental processes and procedure. My status as a scholar-practitioner enables me to bring to bear on political and administrative dynamics in Nigeria a practitioner’s angle that leverages deep theoretical and practical knowledge that enable me to interrogate the nexus of leadership, governance and public policy in outlining the imperatives of national transformation and development management. 

Africa’s Leadership Deficit and Nigeria’s Challenge

This makes the issue of leadership a key matter in the fashioning of a developmental state around which institutional reform becomes a matter for crafting infrastructural and economic development. And in the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance for 2021, Nigeria ranks 30 out of 54 African countries. And in a ten-year classification trend, from 2012 to 2021, Nigeria is placed in the category of “increasing deterioration”. And this explains why no Nigerian leader has ever won the prize; or why the Foundation skipped the award for ten years (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022) because there were no worthy African leaders. 

And this is why Anthony “Lee” Iacocca is right to wonder where all the leaders have gone to in his bestselling book of the same title. Africa’s leadership deficit is complicated by two factors—one, the thorny issue of political selection and succession (how political leadership is put into office); and two, the critical issue of how these leaders perform when they eventually get to office and began to deploy political power. The leadership problem in Nigeria is measured against the background of successive governments since independence to inaugurate a developmental state in Nigeria. The developmental state demands the deployment of a competency model to harness talents that will enable the government to build durable institutions to articulate a productivity paradigm that will instigate a democratic service delivery framework for the citizens. But we need to be careful not to benchmark our leaders against standards that would keep crippling them and their performance, especially in contexts that would be incompatible with the standards they are benchmarked against. 

Nigeria, the Asian Tigers and African Comparators

The closest governance context to the African experience is Asia, and so we can start by benchmarking the new administration to the experience of the Asian Tigers, like Singapore. How did Singapore, through Lee Kuan Yew, make that fundamental jump from third to first world? Six critical readjustments are key to that transformation we can learn from. 

  • First, there was a rejection of import substitution for a pursuit of a bold and aggressive export-oriented development strategy. 
  • The second, and corollary, development framework is the discipline that export strategy imposes on the cultivation of local consumption and local industries in a way that enables steady growth. 
  • Third, this cultivation of local consumption is geared towards the improvement of national productivity. This therefore makes it necessary to invest aggressively in education and training that inevitably leads to increase in per capita productivity in the national economy.
  • Fourth, a corollary of this investment in training and education has to do with investments in research and development (R&D). Developmental states are states that immediately see the significance of industrialization as the marker of progress. And this requires a dynamical relationship, for instance, between industries and higher education that enables action research to fuel industrial breakthroughs which in turn become research projects. 
  • Fifth, developmental states cannot afford to become profligate with national finance. This automatically calls attention to transparency and accountability in the management of the national account. A by-product of this is the setting up of a solid anti-corruption strategies and structures that can bark and bite!
  • Lastly, and most significantly, developmental states take their public service institutions seriously in terms of reforming them into becoming world class performance structures operating on meritocracy and competency-based human resource management. 

The Mo Ibrahim African Governance (IIAG) brings home even more crucially the continent-specific standards and achievements parameters that are not captured in universalized global benchmarks. It not only tells us that leadership and leadership performance is context-bound, but also stands as an intermediate standard by which African economies and leadership can be assessed within a context of African political economy with its own unique challenges and successes. The IIAG benchmarks African governance dynamics around critical issues of infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, health and primary education, higher education training, good market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market sophistication, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation. And this is where the existing continental monitoring institutions like NEPAD and APRM become significant partners in Africa’s economic recovery and competitiveness. And given the failure to find a distinguished leader worthy of the Leadership Prize, this becomes an even more daunting leadership challenge for someone like Tinubu. 

From Benchmarking Lessons to Governance Performance

This benchmarking points us in several directions that the Tinubu administration can pick up its legacy of good democratic governance. 

Transformational leadership and the change space

The first and critical realization is what Nigerians require from the new administration. The short and profound answer is national transformation. If this is so, then transforming Nigeria and the quality of lives of Nigerians must start with a critical question: how does leadership become transformational? On this question hinges the difference between a leader willing to achieve performance in terms of governance changes, and one who wants to carry on, business as usual. 

In answering this question, the conventional sense of a transformational leader is captured by the strong man theory—a leader that is decisive, intelligent, charismatic and therefore heroic, who has the capacity to translate vision and strategy to outcomes based on compelling best practices and scientific and evidence-based data. However, while this conceptualization of a transformational leader is an irreducible requirement in governance successes, it is also essentially idealistic. The point is that every leader is context-bound; situated within a context of sociocultural and political practices. Within the context of governing, there are so many variables that make the success of a single person—even with the best of capacities, charisma and wisdom, a most daunting feat, especially in a democracy. The idea of a government comes with various shades of limitations too significant for even a good and capable leader to overcome. The complex terrain of governance presented by the Nigerian state cannot therefore be located around an individual or in terms of a solo or personalized heroic effort alone. On the contrary, what is required is a leader that has the capacity to put together a change space graduated into multi-level leadership levels based on the paradigm that “multiple functions are required to effect change through multiple stages, requiring multiple parties to provide multiple leadership.” 

This translates into the urgent assembling of a coalition of change, a team that possesses sufficient patriotic commitment, professional expertise and political wisdom to initiate, implement and deliver the change needed to move Nigeria beyond her present predicaments. And this must be done under the necessary dynamics of performance contract, audits and accountability to achieve peak and optimal performance. This suggest that the leader is technically-enabled to 

  1. manage attention – create compelling vision of the new Nigeria that he is leading others to build
  2. manage meaning – is able to communicate the vision with clarity not only to the change team but to Nigerians
  3. manage trust – in being able to set achievable goals with sufficiently enabled structure of accountability for results achieved and honesty in explaining shortfalls
  4. manage self – match his words with his heart as measure of purposefulness

Governance principles and methodology

This is where vision, purpose and strategies are key. The President needs to commence the administration with a governance methodology embedded in Buhari’s statement of “’I am for everybody and I am for no one” which provides a detached platform for leadership and governance praxis. For instance, it will be the wrong foot forward if Tinubu starts by favoring only those who voted for him or aided him during the last elections, or—for that matter—filling his cabinet with political jobbers. This is because the complex problems Nigeria faces require radical and innovative approaches. We cannot, as Albert Einstein admonishes, “solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them …” Indeed, we cannot continue seeing development agenda only in terms of the hardware components of infrastructural development that has locked Nigeria into a 19th century perspective on what development is all about.

There is therefore the imperative to foreground the value of policy work reinforced with policy-engaged research and strategic thinking. This is more so, because the world is now firmly in the knowledge age where hardware of development requires the software to make sense. Indeed, Nigeria must rediscover the place and role of research in the generation of the requisite policy intelligence and action required to jumpstart critical progress. Action and policy research will indeed be the backbone of leadership sophistication and boldness to craft national development agenda that speaks to context-specificities in spite of the preferences of donor conditionalities and western neo-liberal orthodoxy

And even more significant is the fact that the idea of government itself has been superseded by that of governance which opens up the processes of government for a wider array of non-governmental and non-state actors to participate in government, and giving the acts and policies of government more chances of succeeding in empowering the citizens through infrastructural development. And so, governance provides the government of the day a wide range of political and technocratic expertise to choose from—subject specialists, think tanks, policy networks, and research-enabled interest groups which also have a strategic role to play within the governance space.    

This is where the idea of putting together a government of national competence demands the creation of a change space, circumscribed by a competency model, that generates a national change management programme that orients those who would work within the change space for the transformation of Nigeria. The change space and competency model mean that the new administration is ready to jettison the business-as-usual attitude that is ready to play another four years of bad politics with the lives of Nigerians and the destiny of the Nigerian state. 

This implies the imperative of troubleshooting deliberately for a managerial team that will energize the change space with ideas, innovation and strategies for institutional renewal and reform. I have once asked the question of whether a weak leader can build strong institutions. Of course, we have to answer in the negative. A leader is weak either because he or she lacks the political will to legislate very strong institution-building policies, or because he lacks the legitimate support of the people. The third source of weakness for a leader is that such a person has allowed personal gains and aggrandizing impulse to overshadow selfless decision making. In any of the cases, there is no foundation laid for the emergence of strong institutions. Building strong institutions with curtailing capacities that will deliver democratic service delivery to Nigerians requires a change space where functional and implemented policies can be made and results demanded. 

Two immediate imperatives will guide the harnessing of managerial competences in the change space. First, the overall objective must be the launch of a national productivity movement that will be circumscribed by such critical pillars like cost of governance reduction, national waste management programme, new national project management praxis, and a new maintenance culture. The success of any state depends on her productivity profile and how the performance of her workforce impacts the delivery of goods and services to the citizens. And this is where the second critical issue surfaces—the need for a performance management system that insists that all those who must participate in the change space must be held accountable to a performance agreement or contract and performance audit. This focuses attention on the significance of creating a capability ready public service, operating on a managerial culture, that is professionalized, technocratic, value-driven, highly incentivized, accountable and technology-enabled sufficiently to backstop the productivity movement of the administration. 

The success of the Tinubu administration, without mincing words, hangs on the capability readiness of the public service to deliver on the mandate that President Tinubu sold to Nigerians. This is where it becomes fundamental to call for a reinvention of the public service systems, structures, values and ethics—indeed the totality of work culture—within the necessity of getting the basics of public administration right. Modernizing the public service system thus translates into a deep-seated paradigm shifts in the underlying bureaucratic model.

Restructuring developmental federalism

The other side of my expectation from the Tinubu administration is an issue that President Tinubu shares with the ideological framework that has sustained the southwest in its bid to rehabilitate the Nigerian state. And this is the urgency of attending to Nigeria’s constitutional quandary, manifesting in its lopsided federal arrangement. Not making any meaningful attempt to correct Nigeria’s constitutional dysfunction, part of what constitutes Tinubu’s democratic credentials and ideological profile—would create a huge hole that will drain all good policy intentions. On the one hand, Nigeria’s presidential dynamics drains her budgetary capabilities. This is part of the cost of governance worries that Nigeria has been saddled with since independence. On the other hand, the lopsided unitary federalism has also been grievous in another way that the Tinubu administration cannot afford not to tackle. Nigeria cannot ever hope to make any governance success through a federalism that emasculate its federating units at the expense of a centralized framework that undermines the various units and their capacities to generate strength from their comparative advantages. 

The comatose nature of the local government areas has deprived the Nigerian state of a framework of local governance that could harness the values of subsidiarity to crystalize, for instance, a grassroots-propelled poverty reduction programme and a people-centered development process around which the new administration can redefine democratic administration. So many of my public discourse pieces have outlined the significance of the Aboyade-Mabogunje OPTICOM—optimum communication—project that utilizes the strength of professionalized strategic communication praxis to engage Nigerians within a framework of social mobilization, popular participation and democratic accountability. 


Carol Pearson, in The Transforming Leader (2012), says “…if we want to make significant and long-lasting changes, we must look within before we look without.” This grounds our realization that impactful change commences as a learning process—we need to change the way we think about development by staying centered in the midst of the change with the strength of political will. There cannot be, therefore, a one-size-fits-all solution for Nigeria’s predicaments. Even the transformational leadership model we have outlined cannot do without the underpinning of transactional dynamics. In a deep sense therefore, to reject the business-as-usual mindset will entail cognitive re-definition, purposefulness, integrity and leadership by example.

Let me be bold in closing to say that the leader that would make a difference cannot be a people pleaser. He must wield the stick of the Machiavellian even if seldom used. While it is a journey with co-transformational-traveler partners, the leader does not have to make his leadership a slave to the opinions and the will of the egocentric destiny destroyers. For Nigerians, a lot must fall in several places with this transition to a new government, and I hope, a new beginning in so many ways. Let me end with the poignant words of Kristin Armstrong, the sportswoman: “Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” 

.Being Distinguished Virtual Public Lecture of the Abuja Leadership Centre of the University of Abuja to herald the inauguration of a new President and Governments in Nigeria Delivered on Monday, 29th of May, 2023)

. Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor of Public Administration and Executive Vice-Chairman, ISGPP, Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State.



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