I received the material you are about to read from a beloved first cousin of mine, Architect Akintunde (Tunde) Imolehin way before the inauguration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as president. Titled “ASIWAJU: 10 Things before May 29”, I cannot actually say why I did not print it before Tinubu’s inauguration since the “10 things” listed therein were meant as a guide or advice to the president. But some writings are best enjoyed posteriori than a priori. I enjoy reading old news reports and analyses and then amuse myself with how far away from the point many of them turned out to be! Try it and amuse yourself! You will discover that just a few days after they were written, how terribly many who pontificated and commented like oracles overshot the tarmac! You will then see that it is not only the prophets that goof, writers, too, do! The good side, however, as you will soon see with Akintunde’s piece, is how leaders still make avoidable mistakes despite the avalanche of good advice made available to them for free. Why this is always so should interest researchers in our institutions of higher learning. Let’s listen to Akintunde:
“Expectations are very high, Asiwaju. Many want you to succeed while not a few wish otherwise. The choice is yours. It is also our mandate. You have what it takes to be the best president Nigeria has ever produced. Going forward, I would like to submit 10 salient points (not in any particular order) you should not ignore before May 29, 2023 and even beyond. 1. MERIT FIRST: Merit is the quality of being particularly good. In all that you will do as President, place merit above all. “By merit, not favouritism, shall we attain our ends”, Plout remarked. 2. TAKING DECISIONS: You cannot make progress without making decisions. Life is determined by the decisions we make. With so many options available to us, making decisions can sometimes feel daunting and confusing. Like Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Nothing is more difficult and precious than to be able to decide”. And in the words of Maya Angelou, “You may not control all the events that happen to you but you can decide not to be reduced by them” We have seen you demonstrate uncommon courage in decision-making in the past. A particular case was the seizure of funds belonging to local governments in Lagos State by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005. That action provided ample opportunity for Lagos to think like a sovereign state able to overcome its financial challenges. Remember the words of Roy Disney that “Decision-making is easy when your values are clear”. To become a great president, count on the words of Wesam Fawzi who said “The quality of life is built on the quality of your decisions”. We are our decisions, Professor Salam Al Shereida said. May your choices reflect your hopes, not fears, in Nelson Mandela’s unforgettable words of inspiration!
3. REWARD PHILOSOPHY: We are in a country where the entitlement mentality is profound and scary. But you must not mix this with reward philosophy. Reward is based on internal relativities, commitment and loyalty to the institution. One of our weak points has been the lack of appropriate reward for loyal, hard-working, patriotic and highly resourceful men and women. But given your pedigree, this should be a thing of the past. Not everyone can be in office (but) we must find a way of boosting and keeping the rank of progressives by running an all-inclusive administration (that would make) everyone to have a sense of belonging. Note that recognition is not a scarce resource; you cannot use it up or run out of it, according to Susan Heathfield. Kindly also note that many people work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise and reward, in the words of Dale Carnegie. As Robert Mcnamara noted, brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated.
4. LESS IS MORE: “Less is more” is about efficiency and optimum yield and value. It is the concept of minimalism popularised by the famous German-American architect, Ludwig Van de Rohe. It is the value of simplicity and that, by having less, you can actually create a life of more. In applying this philosophy in governance, many have spoken of a smart/lean government that guarantees efficiency: Government of quality and not quantity. I know some will argue whether this is possible under our present political dispensation; I believe it is possible. One of the things that should define your government is to try things not because they are popular but because they are ideal and sustainable. We should restructure the system. The dead weight is immense and unsustainable. We should shed weight, else we perish in illusion. There is no gain without pain! If the government is lean, resulting in a healthy and wealthy country, we all are gainers.
5. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE PROBLEM: In 2015, one of the “mistakes” was to underestimate the rot left behind by the defeated government of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Avoid this! Go to Aso villa with the mindset that all is not well in the polity. And, of course, arm yourself with the notion that the anthem of corruption is unchanged despite hard efforts. Like Robert H. Schuller said, never underestimate your problem or the ability to deal with it.
6. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: Modern times demand this, especially in the face of scarce resources and global competition. You need to explore ideas that are creative and unusual and are not limited or controlled by rules or traditions. Results posted in the last 8 years have indicated that we need to think differently, be unconventional and see things from a new perspective, especially in addressing the three cardinal points of the (Muhammadu Buhari) administration. The beginning of greatness is to be different and the beginning of failure is to be the same, according to Roy Whittier.
7 LOW HANGING FRUITS: These are easy-to-accomplish tasks or easy-to-solve problems in a particular situation. For Nigeria, job opportunities rank high. Anything that can bring down the embarrassing unemployment figures in the country within the shortest possible time and halt the growing restiveness of the youths should be explored. Live up to your promise to make youths believe they can work with you and that they have a future in Nigeria. Of course, the stress induced by the mismanagement of the CBN’s money-change policy and the subsidy quagmire demand your immediate attention in office. However, remember that the higher hanging fruits are typically riper and more nutritious.
08. PROTECT THE WEAK: “Defend the weak, protect both young and old, never desert your friends; give justice to all, be fearless in battle and always be ready to defend the right” – The Law of Badger Lords, Brian Jacques. Defending and protecting the weak is self-preservation. It is simply logical. One day, you and I might become weak and can expect others to help us do the same we did to them or to others. Take a great number of people out of poverty. Whilst providing a suitable environment for the strong to get stronger, the weak and poor should also be strengthened. Do the strong have the obligation to help the weak? They do! Remember the metaphor, “EAT THE RICH!”
9. LEAVE A LEGACY: You already made it clear at Abeokuta when you said “I don’t want to be forgotten. Give me the Presidency. It is my turn” This implicitly means you will like to live and be remembered. Leaving a legacy means giving something that will be valued and treasured by those who survive after your passing. The one legacy that comes to mind is leaving the situation better than you met it: A more united, peaceful and secured nation (and) an industrialised and sustainable nation! But it takes hard work!
10. REBUILD PATRIOTISM: Can the average Nigerian die for his country today? Patriotism is the feeling of love, devotion and sense of attachment to one’s country. Over the years, love for the Nigerian flag or passport has waned. Many Nigerians have lost their patriotic zeal and spirit for one reason or the other. Apart from a strong and healthy economy, safety and security, inspirational leadership is key to sustaining the spirit of patriotism, especially among the youths. The Nigerian Orientation Agency should be restructured and empowered to power an advocacy strategy that can make Nigerians want to live, work and die for their country if need be. Leadership by example should be the watchword. We need leaders who will inspire through their lifestyle. We all have to make the necessary sacrifice to achieve this just as Bob Riley noted when he said “I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism”. Oscar Wilde also wrote: “Show me the heroes that the youth of your country look up to and I will tell you the future of the country” Patriotism is a thing of the heart. A man is a patriot if his heart beats true to his country, according to Charles E. Jefferson”.
How many of the inspirational ideas espoused above by Akintunde has Tinubu imbibed in his short spell in power? If morning shows the day, as the elders say, what has Tinubu’s first two months in office demonstrated to Nigerians? Perhaps, it is too early to make definitive statements about Tinubu and his fledgling administration. He is even yet to have a full cabinet as it were. I recommend the 10 points above to anyone who can get them to Tinubu and or his kitchen cabinet. I am sure you know that a new set of cabals has since replaced the Buhari cabals who are now out there in the cold. Nature abhors a vacuum. Every rule – be it monarchical, absolutist, theocratic, dictatorial, proletariat, representative or democratic – is of a few over the majority. As one cabal expires and exits, another quickly emerges and takes its place. True, then, are the words of Rousseau that “Man is born free (but) everywhere he is in chains”
Rest on, Prof. Lai Oso
Our paths first crossed when I was Chairman of the Editorial Board of PUNCH newspapers and he had come for his sabbaticals. Unassuming, quiet and hard-working, the Board members learnt a lot from him, especially those of us who did not read Journalism or Mass Communication as first degree. He, too, must have been enriched by the practical aspect of the job that we exposed him to. After he returned to his post as the Head, Department of Mass Communication, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, I had cause to barge in on him one day seeking admission into the HND class for a friend. He was presiding at a meeting when I sent in my call card through his secretary; he promptly came out of the meeting to attend to us. “Consider it done”, he told me, and that was it. For the two years that my friend spent in that school, Lai Oso treated her – and I each time I visited – like royalty. Eternal rest, grant him, O Lord, and the family the strength and fortitude to bear this irreparable loss!
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Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of its Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-chief, BOLAWOLE was also the Managing Director/ Editor-in-chief of THE WESTERNER newsmagazine. He writes the ON THE LORD’S DAY column in the Sunday Tribune and TREASURES column in New Telegraph newspaper on Wednesdays. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.