''I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.'' - MOHANDAS GANDHI.
Picture: Sorosola Alan Barton (Author)
I'm sure you are asking what I'm up to again. Well, what can I say? All my life, I have told myself that I want to be part of a change process that will leave the world a better place. This ''mission'' has thus led me to do extensive research on some of history's greatest men and indeed saintly figures. From Jesus Christ, Moses and Muhammed to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King jr. and even a more recent phenomenon called Barack Obama. These men aren't restricted to those who pursued just political or religious liberation. They also include enterpreneurs who have altered the way global business and commerce is conducted such that the world will never be the same: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, John Rockefeller, Sam Walton etc. And I'm also not leaving out wonderful female achievers and change agents such as Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi and Oprah Winfrey.
Wyclef Jean, the talented R & B artiste once had a song titled ''If I was president'' and I have thus adopted as this write-up's title. What would I do if I were president? How am I going to engender a culture of getting things done in a society so lacking of it? Though I agree that everyone has the ability to change the world, I am convinced that the political process is perhaps the most effective and sustainable alternative. So, if I were president what would I do?
First, I will obey the United Nations directive of investing 26% of annual budget on education. Please note that even in the event that the above figure may not be met, anything less than 20% will be a failure. By giving attention to education, I believe I would have put in place a process in which the next generation of Nigerians have a better shot at life. A generation that will hold her own against any peoples of the world. A generation which will be proud of the high school education it has received and indeed boast of its superior university education. No nation can indeed become great or sustain greatness without a properly behaved and civilized citizenry.
Second, I will entrench true federalism such that many of today's woes will be dealt with. A political system which allows each of the states of the Nigerian federation develop at their own pace is most ideal. I will pursue this with all the energy I have. States must develop their own strengths and leverage on it. The United States whose presidential style of government has been borrowed can never tell us that all the states have equal wealth. You cannot hold California and New York down because of Arkansas and Louisiana just as we must allow Gombe, Ekiti, Kebbi and Adamawa states develop without holding down Lagos, Oyo, Rivers, Abia and Kano states.
Third, I will embark on a rigorous infrastructure improvement crusade such that after 4 years the landscape will become more inspiring. I am aware that a total infrastructure overhaul may not be possible in just 4 years therefore infrastructure in this context will be restricted to power supply and an improved road network. A problem identification for power supply for instance will be done and a genuine, patriotic approach will be adopted to find lasting solutions. A proper power generation policy must be passed into law within two years which will regulate how the industry does its job and block loopholes where corruption has thrived in the past. Urgent attention will also simultaneously be given to road infrastructure especially federal government highways. Building of bridges and hospitals may be put off for the 4-year period so as to ensure that government does not spread itself thin. A new bridge, hospital or public utility such as sports stadia or trade fair parks will only be constructed if there is a compelling public need. This idea will keep many of the industries contemplating moving their operations out of Nigeria in the country. A reliable power supply generation accompanied by an improved road network will breathe life into many businesses and encourage new ones from taking advantage of the business-friendly climate.
Fourth, the idea of a 2-party system will be sold. I am not naive to think that there will not be vehement opposition against this but the average Nigerian must agree that a 30- party system has done more harm than good. Again, the United States presidential system example will suffice. The American system cannot claim it is perfect but it still remains the most efficient and durable democratic system in the world. Violence and bitterness never break out as disagreement over elections. A 2-party system will also help reduce ethnic tensions because both parties will now boast of having a spread across the country not in some ethnic enclave. Isn't it better we have 2 big national parties instead of 1 big party and tens of smaller parties who aren't better than paper tigers? Without cynicism, your guess is as good as mine. Ethnicity and tribal considerations will gradually take backseats when everyone realizes that a non-member of his native tribe may be better in a national position than a certain kinsman.
Fifth, I will deal with the Niger Delta crisis once-and-for-all. It is unfortunate that the crisis has assumed its current dangerous dimension. A lack of trust between a genuine group of Niger Delta leaders and the successive military regimes of the eighties and nineties has caused the present situation. A lasting political solution must be sought. It must be done and quickly too. A rapid Federal Government-led environmental improvement project must be carried out while simultaneously ensuring that the things that guaranteed their livelihood many years ago will be replaced and sustained. It will be an herculean task but one that can achieved.
Finally, foreign policy must wear a ''new-look''. Nigeria's foreign policy in the late 1970's and perhaps through the 1980's showed a pro-African stance. In the process, we became involved in peace keeping missions and other rehabilitative measures across the continent. However, many of these countries have never returned such gestures. Instances abound where several of them in which Nigeria lost many soldiers and expended resources never lent a helping hand in her time of need. Nigerian citizens living in some of these countries have been treated with disdain and even deported without reason. Henceforth, a more proactive foreign policy in which Nigeria must benefit just as much as the other country must be pursued. A new foreign policy in which the interest of the average Nigerian is protected and supreme must be adopted. Our people must become winners not just in their own land but even in other parts of the globe.
It must be clear that while I have itemized the areas I consider priorities should I become president, certain other projects will be pursued. They have not been singled out because they are either not going to cost the government enormous resources or they will be implemented at ministerial level. The above are those which have direct bearing on our daily lives and which must also be done because they cannot be left to a ministry or done at state level. My ''manifesto'' I believe is realistic and achievable in a first 4-year term. I want to change the world and being president is not the only way. However, I do believe that a president of 150 million people has a better opportunity to change history for ever than an executive of the world's leading company. But then it is just my opinion. Will my manifesto work? Will the Nigerian political scene have changed in 15 years? I don't know and can't tell. Will you vote me? Time will tell. Long live Nigeria. WE WILL NEVER FAIL...