Task for the incoming president – Part 3
The burning issue of corruption in public office is not sufficiently addressed in the Tinubu action plan. The intention to ‘fight corruption, inefficiency and waste in government’ needs to be much more defined and articulated in its multiplicity in public, private, indeed all sectors of national life. It is no exaggeration that corruption is killing this country; it reigns supreme in its politics, business sector, religious bodies, ministries, departments and agencies of government, the list could go on and on.
Besides, the cost of governance is unbearable for this economy, and it is also an aberration in a democracy where the common good is supposed to define the attitude and actions of government. Because of the prevalence of this cancerous infection, a frontal attack upon it is needed as a matter of utmost urgency. Can and will a Tinubu administration muster the integrity and the political will to save his country from the jaws of this evil? Time will tell.
The political parties and their members deserve special mention for cleansing. It is a truism that the politics of society immensely affects for good or for ill, the conduct of all other segments. Indeed, one reason that the constitution is so vilified is that the political party actors distort and disobey its letter and spirit, in short, corrupt its intendments. Politics, as played by politicians in their parties are, to put it starkly, rife with corruption. The politicians need to voluntarily purge themselves of corrupt intentions and crooked acts, or be forced to do so by a committed and firm leadership.
Can, will, Tinubu seize the moment to do this? Only he and time can answer. But we should remind him that, as former American President Franklin Roosevelt said, the Presidency is pre-eminently a place of moral authority. This granted, it behooves the president-elect to consistently earn and demonstrate this unique sine qua non personal quality for the rest of Nigerians to follow. Integrity, in its fullest meaning, must begin and flow downward from the president and the Presidency.
The concept, powers, personnel, and operating methods of the anti-corruption agencies must be reviewed, redesigned, and reinvigorated. The same applies to the regulatory agencies that, generally, fail abysmally to live up to their respective mandates. Too many of them are intolerably derelict in their duties.
All said however, agencies and institutions are as efficient and effective only as their principals allow. The performance of these bodies will define and attest to Tinubu’s commitment –or non-commitment- to open government and transparency in the management of the public affairs. In short, their record will be his record, for good or for ill. It bears repeating: integrity, in its fullest meaning, must begin and flow downward from the president and the Presidency.
On education, there is need for a far more robust plan than is offered in the Tinubu plan of action. Great nations are built on the quality (not quantity) of their people. As E.F. Schumacher puts it, there are never viable nations but viable people. The quality of human capital is the deciding factor in the global competitiveness of nations. So, every country desirous to be taken seriously on the global stage makes the education of its people a top priority. If the new administration would want to put Nigeria in global relevance ‘quality, access, funding, management, effectiveness, and competitiveness’ in the education sector is the key.
As stated above, a plan of action is only as good as its implementation. But the success of implementation is predicated unarguably upon the determination of the leaders to lead by example, to walk his talk. Leadership trainer of note, John Maxwell, says that a leader is one who knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way. To meet these conditions calls for good integrity in leadership. Needless to say, central to integrity is the character of the leader. It is a regrettable point that in recent times, leadership in this country has increasingly been integrity- deficient. Good men are so hard to find; role models for the youths to emulate are so scarce! Tinubu as president must therefore keep in mind Roosevelt’s incontestably true statement earlier mentioned: the Presidency is pre-eminently a place of moral authority.
Truth be told, the outgoing Buhari-led APC government has been a terrible disappointment to the voters judging by its abysmal performance, vis-à-vis the unkept party promises, its unrepentant disdain for the sensibilities of Nigerians and their diverse composition, and its crude exhibition of power arrogance. These constitute such a burden on the party on the incoming administration that Tinubu will have to put in a nigh-superhuman effort to redeem the reputation of his party. Again, only time will tell if he can, and will.
All of the good intentions expressed in ‘Action Plan for a Better Nigeria’ may not be achieved as quickly as Nigerians would wish. But three qualities do make a difference in the capability of a public office holder to fulfill his mandate. These are: personal integrity, patriotic motive to pursue the highest good for the greatest number, and the courage to muster the necessary political will to do what ought to be done for the common good.
If the Nigerian people are given reasons to trust Tinubu on the scale of these qualities and to consistently walk his talk, they will patiently support the administration to succeed. For a man who has now achieved a lifelong ambition to be president, it cannot be overemphasised that integrity in leadership and governance will decide how well the Tinubu government implements his action plan, fulfills his mandate, and thus deserves a place of honour in the history of the Nigeria he so much desires to serve.