To all intents and purposes, the coming days in the life of Nigeria will be very interesting, and Lagos, being the country’s economic nerve-centre, will surely not be left out. Come March 28, 2015, Nigerians will be trooping out in their millions to elect a president who will direct the affairs of the country for the next four years. Two weeks later, precisely, April 11, 2015, governorship candidates in states where elections are billed to take place will also know their fate. Again, Lagos, a state with more than eighteen million people, will not be an exception.
If we play by the rules governing the game, the presidential election, which is featuring prominent politicians like Goodluck Jonathan, incumbent President and Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; and Muhammadu Buhari of All Progressives Congress, APC; Oluremi Sonaya of KOWA Party; and Martin Onovo of National Conscience Party, NCP, among others, poses an interestingly keen contest. Similarly, barring any hiccups, the governorship election which is putting forward the likes of Akinwumi Ambode (APC) and Jimi Agbaje (PDP) in Lagos; Mukhtar Yero (PDP) and Nasir el-Rufai (APC) in Kaduna; and Rochas Okorocha (APC) and Emeka Ihedioha (PDP) in Imo State, promises an interesting reflection of the true wishes of Nigerians. However, like Nigeria where only two out of 14 presidential candidates seem visible, Lagos presents two major candidates out of no fewer than seven jostling for the Alausa-seat of power.
Although I may not possess the wand to predict the shape, size or outcome of the forthcoming governorship election in Lagos State, with what’s on ground, the governorship election in the State is bound to be a stiff contest between Ambode and Agbaje. In any case, the involvement of a man of testifiable amiability like Agbaje in Nigeria’s evolving democracy portends good tidings in terms of political practice. Indeed, the little I have in recent past gleaned from his involvement and commitment to political participation is enough to infer that, given the opportunity to serve, Agbaje is a man of uncommon ability whose epoch will be characterized by innovative thinking.
Ambassador Aminu Bashir Wali, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, is one of the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in the North. A former ambassador to China and one-time Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, the elder statesman is certain his party would come to victory in the forthcoming polls. He also shared his thoughts on a number of subjects among them is the deployment of military during the polls, the need for a violence-free polls, the propaganda of the opposition and the resurgence of the PDP in the Northwest zone. He spoke to DESMOND MGBOH in his home in Kano. Excerpts:
Sir, we are approaching the forthcoming general elections and from your point of view, what are chances of the PDP in the contest?
Well, I can assure you that as far I am concerned; as far as our own assessments of the polls are concerned, we have always maintained the lead in this country. Yes, we might have some hitches, here and there; yes we might have had some problems during the primaries, but by and large, we have been able to get over those problems and for these reasons, I know that we are now moving forward the way we should have been moving and certainly, victory is certain for the PDP.
You are from the North and also, you are one of the leaders of the PDP in the North-West. Incidentally, the North-West is one of the most difficult areas for the Presidency. Why is this so?
Well, it is very, very unfortunate. We have something to offer to our people, others don’t have. Now, if you don’t have, you have to be able to create something –even if it is an illusionary creation. That creation is ethnicity and religion. We in the PDP we do not fall on that. We have a lot to offer our people. For those that do not have anything to offer to our people and they want to be elected, they fall back on some sentiments, which are not good for the health of our nation. We have done a lot in this country in the past 16 years. Anywhere, where there is a PDP government, we have a lot to show in all the states. And at the federal level, I can roll out so many things that you know and every Nigerian knows that the PDP administration has achieved in the last sixteen years. So, we have something to show to the people, that this is what we have been able to achieve, that this is our work. But of course, those in the opposition do not have anything to show. So, the only sentiment they fall back on is religion and ethnic sentiments. That is what has been happening in the North-West and I think it is time that we as Nigerians should break away from those sentiments that do not augur well for the health of our nation.
Africa is not the same place it was 50 years ago, Africa is not even the same place it was 10 years ago. The era of the “strongman” a vestige of colonial indirect rule system ended with the growth of democracy.
Today’s Africans have embraced freedom, civil rights and equal opportunities. We have progressed as a continent. As our economies grew and modernized, so too did our education and literacy rates, and, with that, our demands for democracy and social freedoms.
In many places, the traditional strongman has been ushered out. In his place, we instead have strong institutions, separation of powers, multi-party systems (complete with the mud-slinging political campaigns with which westerners are familiar), an empowered electorate, and a lively and free media to hold us all accountable.
This is the picture of the Africa of today and tomorrow. The Africa of yesterday – with its dictators and transmuting “reformed” democrats – is history.
It is not often that countries witness a regression – a democracy fall rearward into the hands of a dictator. Typically, once democracy is established, there is no going back. But as any student of history can attest, an environment of fear among the populace can make unpalatable solutions seem like a viable option to some. Even if those solutions threaten the very democracy that the people worked so hard to build. And when this happens, when the choice is made to turn against democracy, it does not end well.
Nigeria is facing such a choice in the upcoming presidential election. The choice between the 57 years old President Goodluck Jonathan and 73 years old retired General Muhammad Buhari.
President Jonathan, a democrat by temperament and instinct, whose evolution from Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice President and President has steeped him in the democratic culture necessary for Institution Building. His tenure has led to remarkable strengthening of democratic institutions, widening the civic space, improved the infrastructure stock and sustained economic growth in the face of strong headwinds occasioned by terrorism and falling oil price.
Fellow Nigerians, today is not June 12, 1993, but it has all the trappings of that fateful day. For those who may not remember, let me repeat for the umpteenth time, that was our most beautiful democratic day as Nigerians trooped out in droves to vote for a candidate of their choice. And it was a straight fight, but a battle royale, between Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, the Aare Ona Kakanfo (a generalissimo) of Yorubaland and Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa, a Kano businessman. That election was epic because Abiola defeated his opponent black and blue all over Nigeria.
As I write this I feel a deep sense of nostalgia. Chief Abiola was definitely a more popular candidate whose fame was well-known even in far-flung places. As such his opponent and the godfathers behind him were scared to their bones about the possibility of having a strong President who may not be easily malleable or readily manipulate-able. Thus all manner of hurdles were erected along a path of thorns for Abiola to surmount. All kinds of infamous associations and nebulous organisations came from the woods to oppose him and to make it impossible for the election to hold. Even on the eve of June 12, a judge still went out of her way to deliver a judgment that sought to stop the election in its tracks but mercifully it was ignored and promptly consigned to the dustbin of history.
Well, we thought the worst was over and didn’t consider the desperation of those forces we were duelling against. The election came and it was so well accomplished with Nigerians conducting themselves with dignity and decorum. It was the day we broke down our walls of Jericho and all the artificial barriers that divided us along ethnic and religious lines. No one would have envisaged the uncommon audacity of a few control freaks who felt Nigerians did not deserve such a glorious and momentous occurrence. As soon as it became obvious that Abiola was coasting home to victory, the enemies of change struck and what had come to be known as HOPE ’93 and its attendant mantra “Farewell to Poverty” was shattered to smithereens.
There was a time when Nigerians actually enjoyed politics. The rules were clear, though some of them were still being developed to keep up with the fast pace of our development as a nation. But it was a level playing ground on the pitch and the game was conducted with a finesse matched by a high sense of decorum. The players were mature men who knew the worth of material wealth as against the value of humanity. They made their choices and each left his mark.
It was so thrilling to watch the passing scene in those days, especially after the exploits of Herbert Macaulay, both in London during the historic Esugbayi case, and after he returned and later began his intensive tussle with the Richard’s Constitution. And then Nnamdi Azikiwe took over the baton and publicly berated the white colonialists any time they fell out of line.
Ah, Zik! The music in the thunder of his rolling words, his towering intellectual height, the overwhelming appeal of his public address and the sheer magnificence of his physical presence captivated all the young ones who blossomed under the glow of his influence, and went on to found a nationalist party named for him—-The Zikist Movement. One of them was Harry Nwanna , a lively , courageous soul who returned to his Maker a few years ago. Hairy was among the so-called “agitators” who were sentenced to terms of imprisonment by the colonial government for fighting for our independence. Only a few of them have been remembered by those who are in charge of national honours. But that is our country.
Zik virtually had everything going his way in the ‘forties especially towards the end, and into the early fifties, because he was almost isolated from challenge. The sketchy opposition he faced was from kindred spirits, like H.O.Davies with whom he had earlier charted the course of the Nigeria Youth Movement. There were several jousts between the two redoubtable nationalists in the newspapers they controlled— Zik, the West African Pilot, and HOD the Daily Service. The newspaper encounters came to a peak with a series of point-and-counterpoint exchanges, which Zik led off with his own captioned, “Political Reminiscences”, while HOD riposted with his “Political Panorama”. These exchanges could very well be characterized as “political literature”, with both sides treating their readers to a sumptuous cascade of delicious prose and cogent information. They were both masters of sophisticated wit and humour.
It was all totally free of acrimony, like a healthy debate, but the tide changed with the emergence of other forces which challenged the leadership, though not directly the course, of national progress. There was first the Action Group in the West, and then the Northern People’s Congress to the North. Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna of Sokoto, squared their shoulders against Azikiwe’s preeminence and claimed a rightful share of the direction of the nation’s advancement. Awolowo was the quintessential intellectual, forthright, analytical and self-assured. The Sardauna was celebrated, totally focused and fully in control. They were an awesome twosome.
The March 28, 2015, presidential vote has all along been presented in both local and foreign media as a battle of titans, a tough war. This is in keeping with media’s penchant for histrionics and drama. It also enables the media to be seen as balanced, and not partisan. We live in a world where objectivity and balance are often confused with inability to call a spade by its true name. Consequently, long after the Nigerian presidential election has for all practical purposes been lost and won, the media continues with the prevarication that the result is too close to call. But perceptive journalists know better. They, like diplomats, tell you the truth in private.
The way the shark smells blood far away is the way politicians see electoral victory even before votes are cast. They consequently move in the direction of victory in very large numbers, all the more so in a typical developing environment where ideology is of little relevance; strange bedfellows are not left out in the unidirectional movement. A fundamental shift has all but been completed in Nigerian politics. For the first time in our national history, prominent members of a ruling party have been moving to the major opposition party in droves. The All Progressives Congress (APC) has since Wednesday, January 15, become the majority in the House of Representatives; it has 179 members while the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has 162. The situation would probably have been the same in the Senate but for a well-calculated court action since February, 2014, designed to stop PDP senators from moving en masse to the APC. Among the nine PDP senators who joined the APC on January 14 is Barnabas Gemade, PDP’s erstwhile national chairman. Why haven’t APC members been joining the government party since this year? Why has practically every party defector been moving from the PDP to the opposition APC?
All credible independent polls predict a Buhari victory. Some with more winning margins than others, but all gave APC victory in four of our six zones with major inroads in the other two zones. This is expected given the demographics of our polity, the incompetence and profligate corrupt culture of the PDP-led Jonathan administration that has generated an overwhelming desire for change in Nigeria. So nothing has changed since the contrived six weeks postponement of the 14th February elections. March 28th, the liberation day for Nigerians, the date for all to stand up and march for Buhari, is only hours away and is being awaited with hope, voting zeal and fearless determination of Nigerians to reclaim Nigeria and determine their fate.
PDP-led re-election team for the Jonathan Presidency has continued to take Nigerians for granted as indicated by the following:
Non-existent emergency transformation claims are being made.
As a seasoned technocrat and professional manager, it is clear to me that there is no evidence anywhere of a dramatic quantum leap in the living standard of Nigerians. The economy now lie prostrate with unaccounted N30 trillion and missing $20 billion. The national currency is massively devalued like our national image and reputation, FDIs have completely dried up, capital market in continued decline and Nigerians severely divided along primordial lines by the rampaging ruling clique. Unemployment continues to increase amidst massive infrastructural deficits that discourage investments and make the situation even more hopeless. The economy is certainly not serving the interests of majority of Nigerians and need change for inclusiveness, to go from consumption to production, from rent-seeking to value addition, from mono-product to diversified knowledge based economy and from guesswork-based pretended coordination to data-based development strategy, plans and professional management.
One thing that sets this year’s electoral campaign miles apart from the previous ones is the overflowing stream of cheap talk – call it pedestrian propaganda. One is also astonished at the creative, even if warped imaginations of Nigerians in twisting real life history to malign or impugn the reputation of opponents. In fact, someone said a former Head of State had put a call to some of his colleagues, urging them to find a way of putting a halt to the gale of hate-filled messages that continue to resonate on the campaigns trains. It’s not just the election proper that is turning out to be a do-or-die venture, even the campaigns have been soaked in blood. Well, literarily. If cheap talks were a major prerequisite for electoral triumph, by now some persons wouldn’t have bothered waiting for the official announcement of the results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before rolling out the drums. Unfortunately, that would be carrying optimism to an absurd level.
The reality is that supporters of the two leading presidential candidates—President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari—have taken pettiness to a ridiculous level in their campaign strategies. They just don’t get it that the modern day Nigerian electorate needs to be persuaded rather being coerced in a participatory democratic system. No matter how we look at it, this election (especially today’s presidential poll) will not be won on a platter of the twisted logic and ad hominem arguments that is on display daily on social media platforms and even the traditional media. Too many lies are being peddled as truth and the Nigerian voters are becoming wary of the whole shenanigan.
As the general elections draw close, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr Stephen Orise Oru, has given reasons Nigerians should not elect the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, in the March 28 presidential election.
Oru, who spoke with AIDOGHIE PAULINUS in Abuja, alleged that Buhari ignited the 2011 post-election violence, an allegation that has not been proved or substantiated. He spoke further on this and other national issues. Excerpts…
How has it been since you resumed in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs?
I consider my appointment as a rare privilege of God upon my life and benevolence of our amiable President, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. I give God the glory and I thank Mr. President. My deployment to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is an opportunity for me to contribute my quota to national development, especially in ensuring the even development of the Niger Delta region which is the very resource base of Nigeria that has suffered from a long period of neglect. The job, no doubt, has a lot of challenges. It is interesting, stressful and it provides a great opportunity for me to interact with quite a good number of persons, groups and organisations that are stakeholders in the Niger Delta region.
Lagosians expect the dawn of a new era next month. Ahead of the governorship elections, indigenes and non-indigenes are mobilising support for the candidature of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC). A member of the Akin Ambode Campaign Group, Odunayo Akinsiju, examines the impact of the volunteer group in its engagement with ethnic nationalities in the Centre of Excellence.
It is not so much of a walk in the park as it is a long, hard haul to the top with a man who looks set, perhaps destined, to becoming the next governor of Lagos State. I am talking about Akinwunmi Ambode, the 51-year-old chartered accountant who is contesting as the Lagos State governorship on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC) come April 11, 2015.
This is an account of a volunteer who had a ring-side view of this amiable candidate’s busy schedule last Saturday. And what a difference that day made in accentuating the point that this is a candidate who would leave no stone unturned in reaching out to every stakeholder in Lagos State with his message of continuity and sustainability. His body language and his remarks at each occasion revealed why he is the ideal candidate that is arguably the most qualified and better prepared at this period to continue with the legacy of successes that Lagos State has been witnessing in the past 15 years.
Former Ondo State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs Prince ‘Diran Iyantan is the Leader of Yoruba Ronu. He spoke with Assistant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN on the marginalisation of the Yoruba, the purported endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan by the Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, the future of Ondo politics and other issues.
Do you agree that the Jonathan Administration has marginalised the Yoruba people?
Yes, it is obvious. The Yoruba contributed to the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. The Yoruba people singled him out of the crowd to become president, it follows that he should be fair to the race in political patronage, but he failed to do that. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo almost singlehandedly picked Jonathan and ensured he became President of Nigeria. He is an ingrate. He has short changed the Yoruba race.
The Yorubas are the most liberal people in Nigeria. When Obasanjo was in power, he incorporated every ethnic group into his government. There was no Yoruba man in his kitchen cabinet made up of people like Nuhu Ribadu, Nasir El-Rufai and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. It is opposite under Jonathan. This development made some Yoruba to indict Obasanjo that he sold off his tribe when he was in power.
For her, studying Land Surveying at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria wasn’t enough. She followed her passion to become a dancer; an ambition which saw her going to the Entrepreneurial Development Center of the Pan Atlantic University to study Entrepreneurial Management and also studying contemporary Jazz and theater at The Broadway Dance Center in New York.
She currently owns one of the few contemporary dance studios in Nigeria ‘The Krump Dance Studios’, a service-oriented business for providing dance fitness, dance training and dance entertainment as well as theater services which started in February 2011. Jamima is single.
I was born to…
the family of Mr and Mrs J.N Angulu; a former director at the FRCN and the first female photo journalist in Nigeria.
Just picture this scene. A bus full of people of different ages and nationalities, is parked at the slope of a hill, a few meters from the sea. The sea waves are gentle as they caress the base of the hill. The sea looks calm but deep.
But not so calm are the people inside the bus who appear to be picnicking and revelling. The music is loud and the voices are louder. A few are drunk; many are fast getting to the inebriated state. Some are even fondling and carousing. Such is the wildness, the abandonment in the air. Suddenly, two pairs of hands reach out over the shoulder of the driver to take control of the steering.
The opposition or the government in waiting plays a vital role in the political development of any country. It exists to offer constructive criticisms and prevent the ruling party from getting disconnected to the people. However in Africa it is seen as an evil that has to be dispensed with. In the aborted first Republic in Nigeria, the ruling Northern Peoples Congress clipped the wings of the powerful Action Congress led by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. It sent Awolowo fondly known as Awo who was the leader of the opposition in the Federal House of Representatives and the other party leaders notable among them were Lateef Jakande and Anthony Enahoro to gaol for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government of Tafawa Balewa. This greatly weakened the party and led to the creation of the Mid West – a reduction of the size of the Western region while other regions were left intact.
In Ghana, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah outlawed both the trade unions and the opposition parties making his Convention Peoples Party the only legal party in the country once known as the Gold coast. The passage of the Preventive Detention Act which gave the President discretionary powers to imprison political opponents weakened the base of the opposition. Opposition leaders such as Kofi Busia who later became Prime Minister were forced to go into exile while Joseph Danquah of the United Gold Coast Convention who played a prominent role in the independence struggle died in detention in 1964. The lack of a prominent opposition in parliament made the Referendum for Nkrumah’s Life Presidency smooth sailing.
The mantra of the opposition All Progressive Congress is change. It is a well-known fact that Nigerians have not really had a fair deal under the current Jonathan led administration. The fight against the hydra-headed monster called corruption which has seen about $20 trillion being salted away since independence has not been given a significant boost. It was scandalous that the President could say that there was a dichotomy between stealing and corruption. How tragic! The mind boggling allegations against the Minister for Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Maduekwe never got a thorough investigation. Princess Stella Oduah, his erstwhile Aviation Minister whom he relieved of her appointment after much public pressure on corruption allegations was never prosecuted and even now has the nerve to take a shot at the hallowed chambers of the Senate. The missing billions from the NNPC is a story for another day. Jonathan made mockery of the noble concept of servant leadership when he said in 2012 that he was not going to declare his assets and did not give a damn about it even if he was criticized from Heaven. Why a leader would blatantly choose not to be accountable to the people beats the imagination of democracy loving Nigerians.
The boko haram insurgency gained notoriety under the Jonathan led government. He demonstrated his helplessness when he said to the consternation of Nigerians that the killer group had infiltrated his cabinet. It is no surprise that the secondary school girls abducted in Chibok have not been found close to a year now. The ship of the Nigerian state is totally rudderless and is in dire need of a rescuer to steer it back to normalcy.
This democracy was purchased at a very high price, essentially because aside the blood of several innocent Nigerians that were shed, we sacrificed a popular mandate: the June 12, 1993 Presidential election, still adjudged the freest and the best ever. That historic mandate was scuttled and the man who secured it, Bashorun M. K. O. Abiola, was killed. We must always remember that.
It is now about 16 years since the current democratic journey started but we are so far from the destination. Our hard-earned democracy is still a very slow work-in-progress. Notwithstanding, even before we cast our vote this weekend, God-willing, we have already won something significant: Our politicians now know that our mandate can no longer be taken for granted. Those seeking elective offices are being asked questions about their record of public service; about their integrity; about their competence or lack thereof and about some of the views they held in the past. It is a whole new ball game; a far cry from some previous elections when the outcomes were generally well known even before the first ballot was cast. Not anymore!
Therefore, as we head for the polls come Saturday, nobody can predict with any degree of certainty who our next president will be, and for me, that is the beauty of this election. Some pessimists have called it a make or break; I call it a breakthrough because, at last, politicians have suddenly realised that the power to make or break them down, now truly resides with the electorate.
I thank God that the D-Day or should that be E-Day? – has finally arrived, after months of toxic mud-slingings, comical episodes, tragic misfires, dramatic cross-carpetings, nail-biting suspense, fevered speculation and controversies galore.
Ever since the CPC, ACN, ANPP and an APGA faction merged two years ago to create the most viable and vibrant opposition party that Nigeria has ever produced, politically engaged persons on every rung of the socio-economic ladder – from villagers to international tycoons – have been perched on the edges of their seats, wondering how this colourful PDP Versus APC saga will end.
Now, at long last, closure is imminent.
Jonathan’s petulant rejection of the 2013 Governors’ Forum Chairmanship election results (when his candidate, Jonah Jang of Jos, was defeated by Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers) indicates that Jonathan is a very bad loser by nature.
However, despite rumours that Jonathan will enter into a pact with the army or try to establish an Interim National Government if things don’t go his way tomorrow, I don’t share the widespread view that he will throw a massive tantrum and do everything in his power to prevent Buhari from replacing him.
I could, of course, be wrong, but I am strongly suspecting that Jonathan will, despite his peevish track record, go fairly quietly if he loses the race.
Because a European journalist friend who has access to high-level foreign officials, tells me that: “If the British and Americans hadn’t pushed Jonathan to do the right thing, you guys wouldn’t be getting a chance to vote this weekend.”
And I could of course be wrong, but I believe that our Western allies will also persuade Jonathan to respect himself, respect the wishes of the majority and conduct himself like a gentleman if the eventual outcome doesn’t favour him.
Money, money, money!
Tomorrow, March 28, is a special day in Nigeria. It is a day Nigerians will elect their president, the person that will pilot their affairs in the next four years. Since 1999 when the present political dispensation birthed, the 2015 presidential poll will perhaps rank among the most keenly contested in Nigerian history. There are about 10 contestants for the plum job, the race to Aso Rock is between two hot contenders, the incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). The presidential poll earlier scheduled for February 14 was shifted for security reasons as well as low distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) in some parts of the country. Those problems have been drastically addressed.
Now that the poll will take place tomorrow, it is certain that only one of the top contenders will carry the day. Electoral contest is such that will always producer a winner and a loser at the same time. The winner is naturally going to be either Jonathan or Buhari. Whoever wins among the two will carry all Nigerians along and deliver on his promises to the nation. Good enough, Nigerians have taken note of their promises and will hold them accountable when the time comes. The earlier the candidates comprehend this reality, the better for them and the polity.
A few days ago, precisely March 23, the death of former Singaporean leader, Lee Kuan Yew was announced. Days after his death, newspapers in Nigeria and most of the popular international news channels were awashed with the news and how he transformed Singapore from a relatively obscure country with a-not-so-well-known seaport to an industrial giant. Born in September 1923, the late Singaporean leader was Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990. At the end of his tenure, he made history as the longest serving Prime Minister. Before becoming his country’s PM, he rose through the ranks of his country’s political history. At that time he assumed power, Singapore was a British colony and shortly after he came into office, he introduced a five-year plan which encompassed urban renewal and construction of new public housing, greater rights for women, educational reform and industrialization.
As at 1990 when he resigned, he had left a country that is efficiently run, bringing prosperity unheard of, before his tenure, to his country. Under His guidance, Singapore had a per capita income second only to Japan’s in East Asia while the country had become a chief financial center of Southeast Asia.
Daniel Bell, a professor who had lived in Singapore during the years of Yew said this after his death, “Yes, Mr. Lee was an inspiring and charismatic leader, but that wasn’t his greatest contribution. Most important, he recognized and rewarded talent in other great leaders, such as Goh Keng Swee, and built up a meritocratic system designed to select and promote political leaders of superior ability and virtue: a system designed to outlive Mr. Lee himself. That is Mr. Lee’s greatest legacy”.
But his style of leadership was described as being ‘mildly authoritarian’. Actually, he had an iron-clad hold on power and his administration or should I say ‘dictatorship’ was intolerant of opposition.
President Goodluck Jonathan comes across as one of the favourites in tomorrow’s election. Having learnt the ropes as a deputy governor, Vice-President, acting-President and President, he appears well groomed for the position he is seeking.
The fact that he is the incumbent President, creates an aura of edge around him, but that is limited by arguments that incumbency does not seem to be an asset in this race.
His journey from the creeks of the Niger-Delta region to the highest office in Nigeria, was obviously very unlikely.
Such journeys are only possible in a few places and hardly possible in this part of the globe.
Jonathan’s rise from a shoeless son of a local ship builder to the highest office in the land is a remarkable reflection of the Shakespearean quote that ‘’Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them,’’ Jonathan had greatness thrust upon him.
That does not imply that the President did not arm himself with the prerequisites required for greatness to be thrust upon him.
Just as his name ‘’Goodluck’’ suggests, Jonathan, who was born in 1957, has been extremely lucky in his public career, leading to the belief that he is being favoured by unseen hands.
Jonathan, who has a doctorate degree in Zoology had often been at the right place at the right time, thereby becoming a beneficiary of various top leadership vacuums that had existed in Nigeria’s political trajectory.