The past few months have reinforced some of my political perspectives and at the same time taught me about the mind games tossed at us by the powers that be, both from the exalted public offices and the cyberspace; the twists, turns, emotions, sentiments and occasionally, the idiocy, ruthlessness and inhumanity attached. Nigeria as a member of the 195 nations of the world is not exempted from the usual power tussle at the corridors of government. Here, for instance, people support this political candidate over that one for reasons ranging from the satisfaction of his immediate hunger with whatever staple food that was shared to more futuristic ideals such as the public pedigree and current goodstanding of the contestant.
Regardless of the system of government, monarchy down to democracy, in any given nation, there is always tension, contention and a battle for superiority or more appropriately, allegiance. All in the field of people’s minds. And I am among the fortunate people (so are you the reader of this, I assume) whose minds are free enough to choose who camps in our sentimental domain or wins the war. It follows that our perspectives matter a lot in deciding who sits in our administrative tents and presides over our lives collectively, and may I cautiously add, individually. We matter. Therefore, from the local council head to the commander-in-chief, the road to these seats are the products of our free or forced inclinations. But my discuss here is the seat of the President, the representative voice and enforcer of our freedom, aspirations, values and laws. He is the signpost of what we stand for in knowledge and deeds. And he must be!
For this reason I want to share my perspective on who should or who can be my President. And if you were given a chance to be a kingmaker, what would you look out for? My choice tray contains only four classes of individuals whom I believe would to a large extent have what it takes to lead a people. These quartenary list doesn’t exempt any citizen eventually, it only screens out the politically unqualified. And if you have not yet decided whom to cast your ballot for on Saturday, you might consider this opinion and form yours thereafter. Let’s get started then!
First, an experienced parliamentarian. No doubt if you have been in the legistative house for a respectable duration, you have vast political, diplomatic and economic knowledge base. Such persons would have been involved in heated and cold debates that border on national growth cutting across the various sectors of the economy and constitution. The extant laws governing institutions of government will not be strange to the individual. By weekly interactions with representatives of other tribes or ethnic groups, listening to them talk about their people’s desires and worldviews towards certain government actions, and subsequently reactions and counter-reactions from elites to arrive at a common ground, the understanding of such person is vast about diplomacy and nationalism. Furthermore, the politics involved in bridging the administrative gap between the people and the executive, the anchor leg that runs the government, is by every means a resumé that makes such individual suitable for a nation’s top job. Should I also mention that being a legislator gives you certain critical international exposures in diplomacy while also driving you to becoming an avid learner of the facts and figures in governance and not a follower of beerparlor rumors that hold no water or sway? Thus, regardless of your walk of life, as long as you have spent good years at the decisioning chambers, you are a potential President.
Next is a lawyer of national repute. To quickly eliminate any bias insinuations, it should be noted that this writer is a medic. These group of people called solicitors are the closest interactors with the laws, societal and civil realities, and practices in the land. Irrespective of their sub-specialty under this broad profession, they are almost directly qualified to occupy that delicate office of the president. However, and more specifically, a renown lawyer with years of legal battles fought (winning and sometimes losing) is preferable. They know the laws of the nation more intimately than any other persons and can readily note where amendments and abrogation of laws are direly needed or when an entirely new law should be promulgated for necessary economic, military, civil, foreign or domestic policies. May I arguably say from history that they make the most astute, proactive and prominent politicians worldwide. This may not be unrelated to their intelligence, academic vastness, spontaneity, boldness, courage and defiance they need to win their arguments and put food on the tables of their families. Oh yes, that is what they do. They argue out the interpretations of the law. They mediate between the people and the statutes of the land. Not only that, they can safely find a balance that protects a any citizen, ensuring his or her freedom yet not infracting the law. Those qualities are learnt in their training and practice and I suppose any advocate who further distinguishes himself in knowledge and tickles people’s fancy is highly qualified to be my President.
Thirdly, a high ranking military officer. Because an active military chief cannot at the same time be a civilian, this suitable candidate has to have retired from service. The level of intelligence required to rise to the echelon in the military is not meagre. In the first place, a military man at any level is highly disciplined, not in the sense of needed brutality that readily comes to the mind of the average civilian. I subtly observed their temperament, control and organizational ability during my NYSC orientation camp weeks. Now, that the man will have advanced administrative military training ranging from international relations, political strategies, leadership and management skills and lots more, definitely adds admirable stars to his useful leadership experience as an “old soldier”. Furthermore, certain qualities of a national leader such as boldness, courage and astute mindedness even in the face of a drowning wave, are things that are ready-made in a military officer. A General for example is highly cerebral, controlling a vast number of field officers from his office, planning and critically strategizing on best ways to solve any problem including winning wars. Again, worthy of note is that the military life is a very organized one with enforced order and decorum. It is also not all wars and battles because such top-shot officer oversees other important administrative functions down to what his soldiers eat in the barracks. They are also usually good orators who can move the minds of battalions in the direction they want with utmost solidarity. Lastly as security is an increasingly important priority for all nations of the twenty-first century world, including ours, a retired general is eminently qualified to sail a nation’s ship.
Lastly, renown and successful (wealthy) businessmen. If anyone has a business that has a nationwide market, indispensably patronized daily by the richest and the poorest, such individual indirectly controls the economy. For one, the mogul at such expansive level must have excellent entrepreneural and leadership skills that could drive his venture. That they have direct relationship with policy makers and as such have great influence on local economic policies is only debatable to the naïve or chalartan. These people are power brokers. They relate with the tiers of government enough to understand basic and complex public and industrial policies. They have marketed their products and services too long enough to know the economic strata, attitudes and behaviour of their people. They have identified and invested in brains and talents in human resources that have driven their businesses farther than their peers. They may not be experts in security issues but they are surely not novices. In short, they have governed, a mini-country! Such as these can be my President.
In conclusion, these categories were not drafts from my dreams, but from long term ruminations backed up with history and current political views of other more developed and democratically advanced nations of the world. USA, Russia, U.K even China (not so democratic but evidently an economic world power) are good examples. Infact the U.K may have seen the importance of experience in that top seat and therefore adopted their Parliamentary style which chooses legislators as their Prime minister. The USA, one of the oldest and successful democracies in the world, is known for their lawyers and military high-rankers. Prominent businessmen have also ruled from Whitehouse at various times and there is one in the radar presently. This opinion is not conclusive and I will rightly point out here that despite all these prequalifications, the personality or the integrity of individuals matters overall in the scheme of things, but that in itself is a personal thing because a good person may turn bad and a bad person may be portrayed good on the platter of campaigns. That leaves one with objectivity, one that can only be based on public pedigree; what we see and what we know as good and helpful for the nation. This standpoint should help to objectively screen out candidates in our patriotic minds so that the risk we shall be taking will be clearer, safer and more acceptable. And we as a people shall not gamble with our future and identity by placing our leadership in hands of charlatans, novices, opportunists who have no iota of nationalism, understanding and experience of leadership in them. We must look clearly and estimate well before we leap and not place our collective fate on luck!