In order to survive in a fiercely competitive contemporary world, the existence of a modern nation state must be more economic than political.
Modern nation states can be likened to business entities that are competing for global resources, with each trying to secure for itself an advantageous share of revenue from world trade, by sharpening its comparative competitive edge.
Modern nation states that have made successes out of the fiercely competitive international economic system are manifestly those that predicate their existence more on economics than politics.
From the Americas to Europe, South East Asia and the Arab Gulf Kingdoms, a common thread of existence around defined economic goals that is oriented towards securing for them an advantageous share of world trade and resources to grow their wealth of through increased revenue.
From their structures, internal administrative processes and foreign policies, successful modern states are guided by the fundamental principles of economic common sense.
A close scrutiny of their political process reveals a deliberate mobilization of citizens to align their democratic choices with their legitimate personal business [an aggregation of which forms the economy] away from sentiments of ethnicity, race and religion.
In other words, their politics is firmly hinged on economics.
Most importantly, successes of these nations are driven by purposeful leadership systems that are continuously enriched and expanded by visionary leaders.
Contrary to the configuration of successful nation states, Nigeria exist more for political than economic reasons.
This problem is compounded further, when a close scrutiny of Nigeria’s political processes reveals that they are rigidly hinged on ethno-geographic and religious sentiments with near nothing to do with the economy.
Whereas, politics is firmly hinged on economics in successful modern nation states, economics is rigidly hinged on politics in Nigeria.
The implication is that the basis for politics in successful nation states is the economy, wherein electoral contests are nothing but competition of economic ideas for the good of all, while in Nigeria the basis for the economy is a political culture, which is premised on primordial sentiments of ethnicity, geography and religion, wherein electoral contests are nothing but competition for ethno-geographic and religious supremacy for the benefit of some.
As the 2019 presidential election approaches, the fundamental agenda for the drivers of the political process is the transformation of Nigeria from its current state of political waste land whose peoples are divided along ethnogeographic and religious fault lines over its meagre revenue from oil mineral resources into a successful modern nation whose peoples will be united around a purposeful economic ethos to extract a sizeable share of global resources with resultant increase in collective prosperity.
To bring about this transformation, a leadership with the ability to unite Nigerians around a pan Nigerian vision for global competitiveness among the comity of well managed nation states is required.
Clearly, President Muhammadu Buhari does not have the capacity to transform Nigeria from the abyss of helplessness to the pinnacle of progress and prosperity.
His three-year rule has rather regressed Nigeria deeper into division, insecurity, corruption and economic high fever.
Among the millions of Nigerians with the capacity to lead this transformation agenda, former vice president Atiku Abubakar stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of the best.
Going by the consensus among Nigeria’s political establishment about the expediency for the presidency to remain in the North, Atiku is discernably the most liberal minded pan Nigerian politician from the conservative North who can be trusted to unite the country and begin the fragile process of healing the widened cleavages of its fault lines.
From his inner circle of associates, family ties and business dealings, Atiku typifies a united Nigeria where he is at home with all.
Atiku has consistently demonstrated commitment to the unity and cohesion of Nigeria at important times in its nationhood history.
The success of the June 12, 1993 presidential election was preceded by Atiku’s stepping down of his presidential ambition in favour of MKO Abiola, a Southerner against a fellow Northerner, Babagana Kingibe.
Following the annulment of the June 12 presidential election and the subsequent death of the winner, MKO Abiola, Atiku was among eminent political leaders that arrived at a consensus to democratically cede power from the North to the South to appease aggrieved Nigerians of Southwest origin.
In keeping faith with this power shift measure, which stabilized Nigeria and guaranteed its continuous corporate existence, Atiku sacrificed his opportunity to upstage former president Olusegun Obasanjo in the 2003 presidential election.
Even now, Atiku has openly pledged a one term presidency if given the opportunity by Nigerians to serve because by then the North would have held the presidency for eight years.
Throughout his public service career, Atiku has resisted the temptation to appeal to a sectional base.
Although a devout Muslim, he saw through the destabilization effect of a politically motivated introduction of Sharia law in some parts of northern Nigeria and urged caution.
True to his foresightedness, the clamour for Sharia law in a frenzied wave of religious populism in the Muslim North was a precursor to the deadly Boko Haram insurgency.
Without prejudice to his Fulani ethnicity, Atiku has condemned the murderous activities of killer herdsmen while proffering pragmatic solution to the perennial land dispute between itinerant cattle breeders and peasant farmers.
Atiku has also featured prominently in the renewed call for Nigeria’s restructuring.
Beyond his liberal pan Nigerian credibility, Atiku comes across as a great manager of men and resources.
As a successful business man whose enterprises run more on capacity than contact, Atiku is equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge of practical economic management to lead Nigeria’s economic renaissance.
As a major player in critical sectors of the economy with a distinction for massive job creation, Atiku is better positioned to be entrusted with a nation in economic doldrums than a professional politician.
As a business owner, Atiku understands the true meaning of enabling environment through public/private partnership to spur economic growth and development.
He is most likely to deploy his vast business experiences to develop and implement government policies that will stimulate wealth creation for business, create the urgently needed jobs, pull millions of Nigerians out of desperate poverty and exit Nigeria from its status as the poverty capital of the world.
Only a detribalized Nigerian with an impeccable nationalist credential like Atiku can shun the temptation of sectionalism and recruit the best brains and strong arms, irrespective of ethno-geographic and religious backgrounds, to help carry out the urgent task of socio-economic transformation of the Nigerian state to greatness.
The choice before Nigerians is limited.
Nigeria must find its economic bearing as a nation before the renewed scramble for Africa by emerging economies of China, India, Lebanon and South Africa consumes it alongside other less developed economies of sub Saharan Africa.
Atiku’s incontestable nationalist credentials and business acumen confer on him the legitimacy to unite Nigerians across all divides around a purposeful pan Nigerian economic agenda that will transform Nigeria from a political waste land of economic opportunities to a successful competitive modern economy.