In view of the forthcoming April 2011 elections, Nigeria commenced the voter’s registration exercise on the 15th of January, 2011, with an estimated timeline of about 2 weeks. Owing to various issues, unprecedented and otherwise, the duration of the exercise was extended to enable a greater majority of citizens register. Rating the whole exercise as successful or not may be much of a debatable item. Nonetheless, INEC must acknowledge the collaborative efforts of the media, the entertainment industry and most especially, Nigerian youth in general. There are verifiable accounts of various young artistes who personally motivated their fans and followers to get registered. The campaigning was done via social networking platforms and offline.
Having ‘successfully’ concluded this first phase of the Register-Select-Vote-Protect (RSVP) process, all eyes are set on the next phase – the critical issue of selection. In every aspect of life, people are faced with a variety of options and are constrained to choose or select, in what we commonly refer to as decision-making. The bedrock of selection is the availability of viable options. Where there are credible options, it is then left to the individual to comparatively analyse, and ultimately select.
Taking a look at the Nigerian political scene today, we are faced with what seems like a plethora of options – 63 registered political parties, all fielding candidates for various positions. The question is how viable are these options? With the spotlight currently on all the presidential candidates, there are some that immediately strike the common man as being the key contenders:
Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (Peoples Democratic Party)
He is the incumbent President of Nigeria, native of Bayelsa State, Christian, born in 1957. He holds a PhD in Zoology (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria). His work experience includes civil service and lecturing in biological sciences in Rivers State. He worked as an Assistant Director in OMPADEC (Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission) from 1993 – 1998.
10 years back, no one would have predicted his rise to political prominence. This was initiated by his advent into full politics in 1998, and a consequent emergence as the first deputy governor of Bayelsa state in 1999. He was sworn in as governor in 2005 after the impeachment of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. Jonathan was then selected in 2006 as the running mate to Umaru Yar’Adua for the PDP presidential ticket. The duo won the subsequent elections in what was described as one of the most disputed elections in Nigeria’s history. After 3 years of rule, Umaru Yar’Adua took ill and eventually died in May 2010. Dr Jonathan was sworn in as the current president on May 6, 2010. He has been described as a man who has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Dr Jonathan set out to uphold the ‘rule of law’ mantra of his predecessor, declaring a war against corruption, kidnapping and militancy in the oil rich Niger-delta. It is not quite clear what the extent of success in this campaign currently is, with pending unresolved high profile cases like Willbros, and Siemens. The anti-corruption agencies (EFCC specifically) under his government seem unable to replicate the quite impressive performance demonstrated between 2003 and 2006. There is also immense concern on accountability regarding the excess crude account which is reported to have been depleted from $20bn (Sept 2008) to as little as $500m (Sept 2010) and $2.2bn currently.
Nigeria’s population today is dominated by the youth (over 40%). Dr Jonathan, aged 53 years, seems to fit well as a generational bridge between the crop of older generation politicians and the swarming upwardly mobile youthful populace. His focus on the use of electronic social networking tools to propagate his thoughts and vision, has positioned him within the immediate reach of the upwardly mobile Nigerian youth both at home and abroad.
There are immense national challenges that have faced the country for decades. These include constant power supply, proper maintenance of highways and access roads, and basic infrastructure. Nigerians are eager to see new and innovative solutions to these prolonged problems. How innovative has Dr Jonathan been in response to these issues? Does he have the required potential for generating new, fresh ideas to create solutions?
Goodluck Jonathan’s current campaign is centred on providing good governance, power and energy, food, education, health, land and transport, unemployment, security and the Niger-delta. Besides these high level goals, there are no specific action plans identifiable in his published manifesto online. There is also the alleged threat or limitation of him not being his own man; of not being assertive enough – will he be a second fiddle to a godfather or cabal?
General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) (Congress for Progressive Change)
A native of Katsina State, Muslim, born in 1942, Buhari was 7th head of state of Nigeria (1983 – 1985. His initial military training was at the Nigerian military training school and military college, Kaduna. This was furthered at the Officer’s Cadet School (UK), Army Mechanical Transport School (UK), Defence Services’ Staff College (India), and United States Army War College. His previous work experience includes: Governor (North-Eastern Nigeria, 1975), Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources (1976-78), Chairman, NNPC (1978), Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF, ‘95 – ‘99).
Within 2 years of military rule, Buhari implemented a number of measures, some of which were considered extreme, hence his reputation as being authoritarian. Nigerians were forced by whip-brandishing soldiers to queue up at bus stops; tardy civil servants were subjected to ‘frog jump’ punishment, and press freedom was restricted. In a bid to grow the economy, imports were cut, resulting in a rise in commodity prices and ultimate inflation. However, in 1995, he was appointed chairman of the PTF by the Sani Abacha administration. There is a general perception that he handled this excess oil revenue fund with transparency and efficiency.
Relative to the political scene, Buhari is certainly not a newcomer. In 2003 and 2007, he contested the presidential elections on the ANPP platform and lost in both cases to the ruling party, PDP. He unsuccessfully challenged both election results in court.
He is judged to be a man who commands a sizeable level of followership and respect, especially in some northern circles. This may not be unconnected with the successful implementation of an anti corruption and indiscipline campaign during his military rule. Many Nigerians still see this effort as having instilled the highest level of order, discipline and perhaps accountability in the nation’s history.
On the global front, Buhari is reported to be well respected. It is on record that he and Nelson Mandela were the only private African individuals invited by the White House to Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony.
To the average Nigerian youth, Buhari falls into the older generation category. While he also has employed the use of a website and electronic social networking as campaign tools, it is not clear whether he will fit well to bridge the generational gap between past leaders and the current crop of upwardly mobile, technology-enabled Nigerian youth.
Regarding national issues such as accountability and governance, he proposes the concept of an online budget monitoring and performance system. He has set a target to generate and distribute at least 15,000 MW of electricity by 2015, achieve a real GDP annual growth of 10%, transform the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to a commercial business, and progress the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). A critical point of his manifesto is to make information technology, manufacturing, agriculture and entertainment Nigeria’s key economic drivers. Are these goals a possible recycling of old political promises or do they portend fresh and innovative resolutions to issues?
General Buhari’s current campaign is centred on providing good governance, economic recovery and infrastructure development, power and energy, agriculture, education, health, land and transport, women empowerment, security and the Niger-delta and unemployment. These goals with sub-activities are identifiable in his published manifesto online. The dichotomy of his person still poses the question – military or democrat?
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (Action Congress of Nigeria)
Native of Adamawa State, Muslim, born in 1960. He was executive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC, 2003 – 07). He holds a Masters degree in Law (Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria) and was called to the bar in 1984. He also had a stint in strategic management at Harvard Business School, and is a fellow at Oxford University (UK). He worked with the Nigerian Police Force for a period of 18 years (1985 – 2003), serving as key operational officer in the General Investigation and Force Criminal Investigation departments, eventually rising to become the head of the legal and prosecution department.
Ribadu’s political experience seems to have been initiated by his appointment as the pioneering boss of the anti-graft agency EFCC. While executing this assignment, he served as a member of other strategic committees including the Economic Management Team, National Committee on Public Service Reforms and the National Cybercrime Working Group. He is widely perceived to have wielded such commitment, drive and passion in his various assignments. In September 2010, Ribadu made a formal declaration to contest the presidential elections on the ACN platform. This is the first time the former EFCC chief will be contesting for a prominent political post.
Between 2003 and 2007, the Obasanjo government earned a great deal of nods and accolades for its apparent success at initiating and implementing the war against corruption. This war was spearheaded by Nuhu Ribadu with many notable results. Under Ribadu’s administration, supposed ‘sacred cows’ were not spared. The EFCC charged governors, ministers, party members, and 419 (advance fee fraud) offenders. Of notable mention is the conviction of the then Inspector-General of the Police Force, with the recovery of N20 billion.
Many have viewed the success of his corruption war as being hinged on strong support from the executive arm of government. Others allege that he was a political tool in the hands of his boss, Obasanjo, to get rid of his perceived detractors, while sparing those considered as allies. While these allegations remain unproven, his previous performance in the force, with awards received, quells questions about his capabilities.
Aged 51 years, Nuhu Ribadu appears to fit very well as bridge between the older generation politicians and youthful populace. He is perceived to command a strong youth appeal and is quite active in his personal use of electronic social networking media as campaign and feedback tools.
His campaign goals include the plan to invest in coal (utilizing existing national coal reserves), wind, solar and biomass as alternative means of power generation, create 30 million jobs, achieve a real GDP annual growth of 8% within 5 years and 10% in 10 years, and reduce fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP. A critical point of his manifesto is to expand the economic hinge to include non oil sectors. As regards food and agricultural production, there is a commitment to create a system of providing an egg and a glass of fruit juice or one glass of fresh milk to each child in school by 2014.
Summarily, Nuhu Ribadu’s political campaign is premised on developing human capital and infrastructure, growing the economy, good governance, youth employment, food and agriculture, foreign policy, security, defence and the Niger Delta. These goals are clearly outlined with detail in his published manifesto online. If voted into office, will Ribadu be a man of his own? Will he then be empowered to bring all corrupt public officials (both previous and current) to book?
Chief Dele Momodu (National Conscience Party)
He is the acclaimed publisher of Ovation International magazine, raised in Ile Ife, Osun State, Christian, born in 1960. He holds a Masters degree in English Literature (Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria). He lectured briefly at the Oyo State College of Arts and Science (1982-83), and later served as a civil servant in Ondo State. In 1986, he honed his managerial skills running Motel Royal Ltd, Ile Ife. An avid writer, Dele Momodu quickly rose to prominence in the media industry, working as news editor for the Weekend Concord (1989). Having worked as editor to the celebrity magazine, ‘Classique’, in the early 90’s, and as founding editor of ‘Leaders & Company’, Dele eventually started his own production of Ovation International, in 1996.
Chief Dele Momodu’s foray into politics can be traced back to the second republic when he was appointed as private secretary to the deputy governor of Ondo State (1983). Ten years later, Momodu joined the campaign organisation of Chief MKO Abiola, a presidential aspirant in 1993. He was arrested and detained for his activism and pro democracy activities and eventually fled into exile in 1995. Ovation International was birthed during his exile years. Dele Momodu is renowned as one of those Nigerians who have built a global brand out of humble beginnings. In 2010, he declared his intention to contest the presidential election and was elected as the National Conscience Party candidate in January 2011. This will be his first electoral contest.
Declaring his assets and compelling public servants to do the same is Chief Momodu’s first stab at tackling the scourge of corruption in the land. He has vowed to maintain a transparent and accountable government.
Dele Momodu is seen to have a strong connection with Nigerian youth. Generally respected for his achievements in the media industry, he is also viewed as a big brother figure to many young Nigerians. Fondly called Bob Dee, he portrays himself as an ordinary Nigerian like any other, without the cover of godfather-ism. Aged 51, he fits very well as a generational bridge and maintains strong relationships with the youth through his deft use of electronic social networking tools.
He proposes to address national issues by implementing innovative solutions including the creation of a financial system that provides mortgage facilities to young graduates, building a light rail system to provide easier access to different parts of the country, replicating the Milton Keynes city project in developing new cities out of Ogun State, diversifying the economic base by providing incentives to motivate youths investing in agriculture. He is very emphatic about building infrastructure and creating an atmosphere that supports the growth of local entrepreneurs and investors, ultimately improving production and increasing GDP.
In summary, Dele Momodu’s political campaign places emphasis on infrastructure, economic growth, transparent governance, youth empowerment, food and agriculture, foreign policy, national security, and the Niger Delta. His campaign website provides further detail in this regard. Will his skills in business development, together with his erudite and influential personality be sufficient to steer the Nigeria’s wheels through the many challenges ahead?
In conclusion, it is apparent that the lines are gradually being drawn and redrawn, and aspirants are propounding their ideologies and goals of governance. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has also successfully completed the registration of 67 million eligible voters, against a target of 70 million. This has now shifted the onus to the typically apathetic Nigerian, and more than ever, the dissatisfied and complaining youth, to view the available aspirant options, compare and contrast across board, analyse strengths and possible threats, and make that informed decision – SELECT.
By Kunle Durojaiye and Idiare Atimomo
Over the past year, I have read and heard various perceptions and opinions of young Nigerians regarding the civic duty of voting. In spite of the ongoing campaigns aimed at motivating and stirring the voting spirit, some young folks still seem to be either apathetic or totally against the whole concept.
This apparent apathy is not surprising. For a country whose political system has no obvious trend pattern of justice or fair play, it becomes an arduous task convincing the young populace to believe in, or worse still partake in it. How do you convince a young high school leaver that university education is the path to his future when he can see his peers foretasting instant wealth from aligning with local government chairmen or ward councillors? Res ipsa loquitur. In the same vein, most young people, logically thinking, cast their minds back on past elections, the pre-event campaigns, the attendant violence, their results, and acclaimed winners. They recall numerous post event tribunal cases (mostly protracted), and the melodrama that beclouded them. For the rational mind, based on the foregoing, the question certainly begs – Why should I vote? Votes in the past have been counted but didn’t count, voters security and safety was hardly guaranteed, results have been declared with votes exceeding the population in the region, spurious voters cards (with names like Michael Jackson) have been reported in several cases! It certainly makes no logical sense to vote…the past bears witness!
So what then? Is this a lost battle? If votes never really counted, will they count now? There are no easy answers to these questions. However, the defining question to propose will be – Does the past determine the future? Statisticians will suggest that with past experiential data, we may predict future ‘possible’ occurrences by regression analysis, based on the same variables. What happens where the variables change?
It has often been said that you cannot change your background, but you can affect your foreground and influence your future-ground. While we have no control over when or where we were born, or even how we grew up, we can choose the kind of lives we want to live now and in the future. Yes, we acknowledge the past, we embrace our history, but we choose not to allow it become a limiting factor to our present progress. We learn from the past, affect the present, and influence the future.
Nigeria’s demography (2010 estimate) shows that over 40% of the population is between ages 15 and 39. This age group currently holds the controlling share in terms of population size. A shareholder with controlling stakes in a firm has the power and influence to create change in the firm, by his vote! This category is the Nigerian Youth, latent with the power to influence positive change in the growth of such a great nation. It is very possible that in the past, this age category was unable to wield the force of critical mass. Today, however, with aggressive ongoing campaigns like RSVP (Register.Select.Vote.Protect), Enough is Enough Nigeria, there is a growing awareness, an increasing aggregation. It will be difficult to shout down the voices of at least 45 million young people. From the north to the south, the east to the west, critical mass is forming, young people are getting together, and the stage is being set. A man who refuses to speak will never be heard. Your vote is your voice. It is not a sound to the past, but a note to the future.
Our country contends today with the forces of bad governance, dilapidated infrastructure, inconsistent policies, poor accountability, and the mother of all, corruption. In response to these prevailing issues, many young people sit at evening hang-outs on a typical Friday evening, complaining, counter-complaining, buck-passing, blame-gaming and what not. They rise to leave, yet with their eyes focused only on the past and what brought us to this point. It is time to make that shift from merely acknowledging our past failures, and analysing current political imbroglio, to active participation in the determination of our future. Your vote is your future.
So, young Nigerian, will you sit unperturbed and maintain status quo? The era of ‘siddon look’ is fading away. The clouds are gathering, people are rising, and change is imminent. Do not be left out..
I keep wondering how many things in life simply flow naturally, maybe springs and waterfalls (perhaps!!!). More often than not, we are necessitated to put things in motion. Quite frankly, your vehicle engine will not move of its own accord, it requires the user to get it started. Whether by voice recognition or some other form of technologically advanced technique, you still need to get the engine rolling. Your living room may be well decorated with exquisite chandeliers and warm light fixtures but without flipping the switch, the lights remain as simple decorations.
The laws of physics have clearly demarcated the lines between what we consider as potential, static endowments against that which is activated, kinetic, and in motion. Potential energy is defined as energy possessed by an object by virtue of its position and/or composition. It is energy stored within, with the innate capacity to be transformed to other forms. Kinetic energy is said to be energy possessed by an object due to its motion or advancement.
Every human being was born with a measure of potential to a specific purpose and end. Each individual is uniquely identified to be different from the other. Specific characteristics, qualities, habits, proclivities and endowments make each individual distinct from the next.
Every now and then, human resource professionals have categorized people by their intrinsic attributes, skills and abilities. Essentially, each person is recognized for what his/her potential is at present, and what such potential may be developed into (going forward).
Recently, the award winning entertainer, Dapo Oyebanjo (a.k.a d’banj) released a new single dubbed “Endowed”. He possibly attempts to depict the potential deposited within (and without, who knows). Somewhere in between, he also cuts across gender lines, implying that endowment is a generic thing, and irrespective of gender. Both male and female are endowed with potential.
Thinking through, this quickly paints a picture of the ‘said to be’ greatest nation in Africa, Nigeria. A country absolutely endowed with innumerable wealth of both human and natural resources, nonetheless plagued by poverty, dilapidating infrastructure, corruption, power failure and dysfunctional parastatals.
To this end, it becomes sufficient to conclude that endowment is not an end, talent is just a resource, ability is only a starting point, and potential is not enough!
Crude oil has got enormous potential but as long as it sits still in subsurface source rocks, it remains potential alone. It must be explored, located and subsequently produced and refined to create benefit and profit.
It is the same way with every individual, society and nation. Until you put your endowments to work, you remain a beautiful chandelier in a dark house.
Potential without activation leads to stagnation. Stagnant water tells the story better. You, as an individual, need to set your potential in motion. Convert your ideas and concepts into useful benefit. Activate your abilities and flip your switches.
Even corporate organizations periodically pen down what they see as their core competencies, strong points, sellable edge, based on what they consider to be their skills, potential and endowments. Then, they activate a strategy to create profit from their potential.
As such, the challenge remains yours to take your potential and set it in motion! Irrespective of the fact that the environment may be limiting and frustrating, the buck certainly stops at your desk. It’s time for you to activate. Walk through these suggestions and see how:
Whatever your potential is – starting a business, establishing a political frontier, motivating people, teaching, entertainment (in its varied forms), sales and marketing, public speaking, reasoning and analysis, writing, advocating, philanthropy etc, it’s time to flip the switch.
Are you still wondering and pondering? Get going right away….Just do it!!!
It’s such a wonder to realize how we forget so easily that we weren’t born as 5 or 6 footers. Some would even as much as remember their infant days, back in kindergarten or primary school, secondary or high school (depending on your background, “butters’ went to high school’ or “paki’s’ did the secondary/grammar school”); but not many have actually embraced the fact that as grown as we may be currently, we evolved from a very minute embryonic form in a woman’s womb.
No man was born full grown (apart from the likes of Sat Guru, who claim to have just appeared on the scene). Nobody just appeared! Every big thing started from an inconsequential, seemingly insignificant beginning.
Apparently, every great achievement in life is simply the full grown version of an initial small embryonic idea, thought, or chip. Everything great started small. This is essentially the paradox of life. One of the greatest discoveries still reshaping the way we live and work in the 21st century, is the chip (microchip).
Literally speaking, a chip is defined as a small piece of wood/stone, or a small piece of food e.g. potato chip. To a wood worker, the chips are the tiny pieces that are seen to fly off the main wood, while the saw-man slices the log. To an electrician, a chip is a miniaturized electronic circuit that has been manufactured in the surface of a thin material. Chips, by physical appearance and size tend not to be reckoned with as major contributors and the tendency to dispose of them is pretty high. After all, they’re just chips.
And basically, that’s what we tend to do with our personal chips. They become just passing thoughts, unrealistic ideas, far-fetched imaginations, and the likes.
However, it is obvious that our world today is changing and modifying continuously premised on one factor – the emergence of small pieces, not just of electronic circuits, but small ideas, small thoughts, small phrases, small concepts, small opinions, small imaginations, small muses – The very small things!
Rather than sweep them off and dispose of them as superfluous, or over bloated, you and I need to begin to gather our chips, thoughts, concepts, and ideas together, no matter how insignificant they may seem.
Your little idea, almost swept away and discarded, when fully developed, may be the ground breaking strategy to address the complexity of traffic in Lagos.
Your infinitesimal thought, so reticent, yet so latent, may be the final piece to fit in the Nigerian democratic puzzle.
Your microscopic opinion, though never heard, could be a solution to the syndrome of bad roads in our country.
Your miniaturized chip could be all you need to change your world.
Your minute concept could modify societal and cultural styles and create a better world for us all to live in.
Your chips, when fully grown, will announce you, advertise and publish you, and take you to places. You see, it’s all about those little things deep rooted in each of us.
Pen down your thoughts, gather your chips, document your ideas…..everything great starts small.