Osinbajo has shown the humility we require in leadership in Nigeria. It is true that those around our leaders always clear the road and ensure that everything looks rosy before our leaders get anywhere… They ensure that our leaders never know the real situation about anything while they sing praises… A real leader breaks the protocol to see things for himself.
One guy wrote on Facebook, expressing his absolute disgust that the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, had the time and could descend so low as to visit the toilets at the famous Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos during a recent visit. The West, North and Central African Head of South African Airways, Ohis Ehimiaghe, who happens to be a Nigerian had spoken about those toilets in a recent interview where he expressed his total disgust with Nigerian airports. So Uncle Yemi knew what he was doing visiting such an internationally-notorious facility.
In my short sojourn into Nigerian politics, I have seen that many Nigerian youth don’t actually understand what leadership in our context should be about. But our role is to open their eyes to this reality.
I recall when I was asked by one youth organisation to be a member of the panel of judges in a leadership contest they organised for the Nigerian youth, I came across a guy from Delta State. We were asked to find out from the contestants what they will do differently if they were governors in their states. And so I put the question to this burly chap. I pressed him to show me difference and he saw where I was going. He said, ‘Sir, I cannot lie to you. If I get there I’m not going to cut down on any of my entitlements after all others have enjoyed theirs’. I gave up. Not for him all my nonsense about why governors should not use sirens and convoys to oppress the people. Not for him all that twaddle about why governors should not use millions of dollars to purchase bullet proof SUVs for themselves.
Anyhow, I still believe that the understanding of how to keep our environments and surroundings is critical to our achievement of economic and social development. I sent the book I wrote which contains this thinking, Change is Going to Come, to the president’s office and also to the vice president. I’m not sure if they ever saw the book, much less ask someone to read and summarise it for them. People like me are unfortunate in Nigeria; we never get heard. But for that reason, I took a bold decision and convened the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP). Today we are over 5,700 in membership and perfecting our registration at INEC.
I recall that on one occasion I had cause to complain about Garba Shehu’s arrogant communication style. At the occasion of Buhari’s 100 days in office, the man wrote eloquently in praise of his principal, who and many others prefer to view as a god among men. Nothing bad in that, but he concluded that the president was better than people like Norendra Modi (prime minister of India) and Lee Kwan Yew (former prome minister of Singapore), because according to him, the Almighty Buhari will not ‘micromanage’ things like these other gentlemen! Garba also used the occasion to deny every campaign promise that Buhari had made.
If a leader wants this country to be neater, he has to show that he cares about how simple things work. It is said that the difference between success and failure is in the details. It is also said that a country that cannot do small things right cannot hope in a lifetime to do great things rights.
I was aghast. Who was Shehu to try to decimate the efforts of other countries’ revered leaders just to hype his boss? I mean, why would a presidential spokesman choose to be so politically incorrect? With hindsight now, Shehu and other ferocious vuvuzelas known as ‘hailing hailers’ are the ones who actively pushed Buhari into failure and made him turn out an anti-climax after so much love had been shown to the man by almost every Nigerian. What a nerve to slag off Modi and Yew in one sentence! From my research though, Modi and Yew have the same type of ideology – and it works like magic! See the pictures.
Back to the toilets. Modi, whom Shehu calls a ‘micromanager’, launched what he called “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” or the ‘Clean Up India’ programme. The man was just too appalled that India was dirty and he believed that where to start from was to clean up the country. The programme entailed the cleaning of India’s 4,041 cities and towns, and its 640,000 villages. Of concern were roads, streets and infrastructure. All must be cleaned and made pristine. Some of us who have travelled and seen how other places we spend hard-earned money to visit look, understand what the real issues are. “Clean Up India” was launched in late 2014, with Modi getting on the streets with his hoe and broom, and showing example. What is the result? In spite of western cynicism (because they hate it when people identify real problems and half-solve them), India has seen the building of about 40 million new toilets! There is a target to build 110 million more toilets by 2019. This means two things; by next year, India’s public health bill will drop like a rock, and keep dropping. This is because most of the health issues that people take to hospital include simple infections from the pollution of the air and water tables, like tuberculosis, malaria, flu, and other simple infections! Let’s forget cancers and other lifestyle diseases for now. As an aside, the western press also did not support Modi when he decided to change the currency as a way of cleaning up ‘black money’ (the proceeds of corruption which people have been keeping under their beds and in safes like in the case of the born-again Andrew Yakubu). The man went ahead anyway.
The second remarkable thing is that India was the fastest-growing economy in 2016! And it may end up retaining that trophy this year and the next. How’s that? I will not put it past Modi’s initiative that they achieved this feat. Imagine the effect of the rural construction revolution unleashed by Modi’s initiative on economic growth. Millions of new jobs were created for masons and plumbers, and alongside that comes maintenance jobs. This is real infrastructure growth, not some big project given to some conglomerate that will transfer the proceeds abroad. That is how to grow economies. Here in Nigeria, we decided to focus on nonsense; ‘foreign portfolio investors’, ‘foreign borrowing’, bogus infrastructure which we cannot maintain. We concentrated on satisfying foreigners and big companies, and nothing grew. For Modi (who is over 70 years old) to achieve this, he had to convince even villagers to sell their jewelry to build these toilets. Now what do we have in Nigeria? None of such initiatives!
That is where I respect the move by the VP/Acting President. Now, Professor Yemi is an eloquent communicator. He is a scholar who understands what leadership is all about. He has been quiet for a long time but perhaps has his opportunity this time to show what stuff he’s made of. I understand, and I have first hand experience, that there are many things Osinbajo has been prevented from seeing in this country, while Buhari was on the seat. Don’t be deceived, these things are real. It may not be Buhari’s fault, but many people around him see his regime as ‘our turn to eat’, and that is what it has panned out to be. They froze out Osinbajo and maxed out like Nigerians usually do. In the time of Jonathan, it was the Bayelsa boys. This time, funny enough, it is the guys from the North-East, not even Buhari’s Katsina State!
…if we cannot run Muritala Muhammed International Airport toilets right and consistently for a period, there is no chance on earth that we will send a man to the moon. Just no chance! In fact, there is no way we can run a Nigerian Airways for starters.
Anyway, Uncle Yemi is showing real leadership now. He’s one hell of a communicator and leadership in this information age is 95 percent of communication. God bless the man.
Now, in leadership and management, there is what is called MBWA (Management by Walking About). It is valid. Even I practice it. In leadership it is said that the culture of your organisation will shape up and emerge whether you get involved or not. A conscious leader is one who actively gets involved. A phoney, clumsy leader is one who stands off and by the time he knows it, that organisation has become a monster he is unable to recognise. This same theory works for a country. If a leader wants this country to be neater, he has to show that he cares about how simple things work. It is said that the difference between success and failure is in the details. It is also said that a country that cannot do small things right cannot hope in a lifetime to do great things rights. Guys, if we cannot run Muritala Muhammed International Airport toilets right and consistently for a period, there is no chance on earth that we will send a man to the moon. Just no chance! In fact, there is no way we can run a Nigerian Airways for starters. Have you seen anywhere in the world where they have an airline and their bathrooms are stinky? Even Ethiopia has woken up.
Uncle Yemi knows what leadership is about. I hope Uncle Muhammadu comes back a changed man. I just hope. If Nigeria could take the India route, this country will be transformed. 35 percent of Nigerians, according to the United Nations/World Bank figures (or almost 55 million people) have no access to toilet facilities. 120 million Nigerians use substandard toileting facilities like pit latrines! That, to me, is massive construction work waiting to be done to bring us to par with the rest of the sane world! The alternative is simply inexcusable. This is 2017 damnit! Living like savages is not allowed and we best understand that. If we could unleash that revolution that’ll be something. Perhaps our economy will then grow beyond the predicted paltry 1.5 percent! Of course those who run the world will not point us in this right direction. We have to think for ourselves.
Osinbajo has shown the humility we require in leadership in Nigeria. It is true that those around our leaders always clear the road and ensure that everything looks rosy before our leaders get anywhere. They are the worst enemies of Nigeria. They ensure that our leaders never know the real situation about anything while they sing praises. Shame on them. A real leader breaks the protocol to see things for himself. Thank you sir, Uncle Yemi, God bless your heart.