TheseIn moments like these these: Towards 2023 Nigeriato open the windows of political campaign before its due time, it is, rather, a deliberate and conscious effort to ruminate on the political aggregates of our nation’s chequered history, in apposition to the present leadership situation, with a view to a conjectured positive and more promising politico-democratic future. With regards to the above, the closest future awaiting the Nigerian nation is the year 2023-our due year for general elections. This is the year the nation is looking forward for a leadership redefinition and, or, redefinition of leadership – because all the national malaise which we have had to contend with had been summarily metaphoric of leadership.
Through time, every government, military or democratic, has always ”come” to effect a change or to “right the wrong” of a previous administration. So, while leadership batons change and pledges and promises of doing better rent the air, no Nigerian government had admitted that a previous one was good. This is where the fact that the problem of Nigeria as that of leadership has continued to drawrelevance and legitimacy.Permit me to make told to say that, to some pessimists, Nigeria is a country of omen, good or bad. For me, we have, right from independence, continued to accost circumstances and we have,through time, continued to triumph over them. We are so blessed with human factor resources so much so that those who served the country as military heads of state have had to find ways to come back to serve ascivilian or democratically elected presidents. Yet, all the experience garnered from the field of khaki combined with that from civil rule have made no marked difference in the quest for good leadership.
This does not mean that the country is in short supply of good and qualified human leadership factors. No. The opposite is the case. With a population of about 200 million people, there’s hardly any field of human endeavour where Nigerians are deficient. I would rather hold that the quest for national unity is, indeed, a very stubborn and unyielding issue. It consists in the reason for lack of formidable front and consciousness for national integration and grand cohesion for national leadership.As the years roll by, issues of sectionalism, nepotism and primordial concerns continue to weaken the enduring fabrics of our national existence and growth.
The North/South dichotomy has never been more realistic than now. It has recently made itself more manifest in our journey to greater nationhood. There has never been a point where Northern and Southern leaders have had to agree except, probably, when ‘sharing money’ or other national booties. Recently, a mere quest for etransmission of election results almost tore our Nation Assembly apart. Yet, that ‘omen’ had worked to straighten and strengthen that resolve in the National Assembly. That is one hurdle excruciatingly jumped. There are much more hurdles ahead. This is why the issue of the presidential election of 2023 is not just very significant but also very important. This is also why the caliber, character, and personality of the individual who would be Nigeria’s president in 2023 should consist a nagging question; which ought to occupy he mind and mentality of every right thinking Nigerian from now onwards.
I am bothered. But I am not afraid.
I am bothered because well over 60 years of our independence, we still seem not to have come to grasps with the noble vision, the great ideas, and the dynamic purpose of that glorious amalgamation of 1914. Yes, our challenges might have been there. The hurdles, too, ought to naturally be there also. However, life is dynamic. Leadership and followership are, too. These are time observant variables that ought to get better as it goes. This is why all hands must be on deck to look for that Nigerian whose personality and leadership character should transcend these leadership wear-downs.
This brings us to a recent comment credited to His Excellency, Sen. Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed (Kauran Bauchi), the Executive Governor of Bauchi state and former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). He was reported to have said that the duty to steer Nigeria to its rightful place in good governance principles and quality leadership standards is one that is beyond political party lines and interest divides – as a matter of great concern to every knowledgeable and right thinking Nigerian. In other words, our emphasis on party politics and partisan considerations would be a misguided priority if at the end we fail to produce the needed leadership designed to salvage the nation from the present dangerous precipice. That was a call signaling Nigerian leaders from every quarters and divides to join hands in the spirit of brotherhood and nationhood to rescue the country from imminent collapse.
To the ordinary mind, such a statement could pass for one of the ‘usuals’ or ‘nothing special’. But to a nationalist, it is a food for thought, because, coming from a man of great leadership experience, a veteran of the media industry who had won election as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and who was appointed as the Minister of FCT, such statement could not be unseasoned. History will adjudge Bala Mohammed’s time as the minister of the FCT as most interesting, most people-friendly, most national in terms of appointments and staff position. His was the most liberal, most accommodating, and most unifying. The most intriguing service in the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory is the allocation of land. While most other administrations before his were enmeshed in one land allocation irregularity, scandal or controversy, Bala Mohammed’s was the most liberal and most detribalised in land allocation. One did not need to see him as a minister before one was a located a piece of land. He gave land to people he never knew and would possibly not know in life, unlike some other ministers who allocated plots of land to their wives and children – even the ones not yet born. Bala Mohammed is a soft-hearted man who could not stand the sight of tears of pain and agony.
He settled any problem or challenge that caught his attention without caring which part of the country anybody came from. He could go out of his way – even at the cost of sacrifice- to make someone else happy.
The story of his selflessness as a minister of the FCT has continued to hold sway long after he has left the place. His Excellency Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed really warmed himself into the hearts of many Nigerians, irrespective of tribe and religion. An event happened in Abuja recently where a member of the National Youth Corps was asked the name of the current minister of the FCT and her answer was Bala Mohammed. People laughed because they thought that a serving national youth corps member should know better. But I could sense a psycho-spiritual metaphysics of the popular igbo saying, “Onye a na-akpo aha nwere ihe o na-eme”. I am not Igbo but I have a lot of Igbo friends. If I am well guided, this means that, “one whose name is on everybody’s lip must be playing a role”. There must be something about the former minister who is now a governor that registered his name on the youth corps member’s mind.
Probably, that was the last FCT minister she knew of from the university.Bala Mohammed, now governor of Bauchi state, is a complete gentleman, a detribalised Nigerian whose friendship and contacts cut across the length and breadth of the nation is a rare gem. He is a man of unalloyed and undiluted sense of humility.
This is the charm in the character of his personality that has put him in the forefront of goodwill of not just the people of Bauchi state, but the entire Nigerians from across board.
Even as the governor of Bauchi state, there is no marked administrative boundary between indigenes and residents in the state. He sees all as one united Bauchi people family. This piece is not meant as a basis for compares but it will not be out of place to reason briefly that there were former ministers of the FCT whose names are remembered with regrets regarding indiscriminate demolitions, reckless destruction of people’s property, and outright negation of businesses premises. Such could never be for Bala Mohammed. During his administration as the FCT minister, some overzealous staff wanted to demolish Mpape area of Abuja. The women and children cried out to the minister and then President Goodluck Jonathan. The minister had to make a touching report to the president which made President Jonathan to direct that nobody’s residence should be demolished without providing such with an alternative accommodation. Abuja residents owe this to the former minister, Bala Mohmmed. That was a way to give human face to leadership. One could go on enumerating other incidents that really popularised Bala Mohammed, but that is not the intention here.
There are other Nigerians who strive in their own ways to make marks as good leadership figures. However, the focus here is 2023. The objective here is to mirror on a leadership character that is mature and ready to bring about the needed leadership redirection and redefinition come 2023.
I write this piece knowing full well that the issue of what Nigerians call ‘power shift’ is hot now – mostly from the voices across the South. There is no gainsaying the fact that every section of Nigeria has its array of qualified candidates for the 2023 general elections. However, if we must attach seriousness to the advice that what Nigerians need at this time of peculiar features in our leadership trajectory is not about party politics, sectionalism, and divides, but an aggregated collegiate of nationalistic and patriotic minds, whose focus should rather be on what sacrifices to make and what consultations to engage upon to produce the kind of leadership culture template that would be enduring for now and the future. This is where the crop of leadership spectrum of the likes of Bala Mohammed remains a reference point.
He is a man who interprets success where others read failure. He sees opportunities where others encounter discouragement. He is an avantegarde of sorts. Anyone who visited Bauchi about four years ago would certainly be confused with the myriad of current architectural and infrastructural developments that have taken place since he was sworn in as the governor in 2019. The sight of those beautifully erected buildings upon entrance from the Jos road side of Bauchi has clearly projected the city along the lines of modernised capital cities in Nigeria. The Bauchi State Environmental Sanitation Agency (BASEPA) has received a great boost meant to enhance its capacities and capabilities to handle every sanitation challenge in the state.
The State Environmental Science Laboratory is, once again, one of its firsts in Northern Nigeria. Bala Mohammed has gone ahead of time to prepare Bauchi state towards the excesses and the effects of global warming through a conscious green revolution which is anchored on three planting, both beautification and also for the protection of the ozone. He has demonstrated his willingness to lead and not to rule. Nigeria needs leaders in place of rulers. Leaders chart courses. Leaders point out the way to go, just like he has propounded that what the nation needs at this time is for leaders to go beyond party lines in the overall interest of the nation. Bala Mohammed will offer quality leadership to Nigeria. He is a man of great and wealthy experience who has served the nation as veteran journalist. He has been elected as a senator. He has served as a minister of the nation’s ‘Center of Unity’, the FCT where he has been exposed to Nigerians from all divides. There is no part of Nigeria where he will feel like a stranger because all have become part of his large social family. Bala Mohammed is a Nigerian leadership figure who holds great promises for the country. From the achievements he has recorded for the people of Bauchi state, it s evident that, given the strength and leadership prospects of the nation, he wouldbe able do exceedingly above our expectations. Nigerians should put on their thinking caps. Party politics and sectional interests are not enough to get around our national challenges.
Shira, Sarkin Fadan Katagum,writes from Katagum Bauchi state.