“All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.” — John Kenneth Galbraith
In times of duress and difficulty as experienced during different era’s of human history, it is imperative for leaders to rise from the shadows and steer the people yearning to migrate into a future of possibility and hope. Leadership is not always assigned; rather it is clarified in times of trial and tribulation from the Stone Age era till date.
As John Kenneth Galbraith said, leadership is the confrontation of the major anxiety of their people in their time. The race to occupy the number one office in Nigeria continues to gather steam as the frontline presidential candidates embark on whistle stop tours for rallies, consultation(s), nocturnal meetings, and town hall fora to advocate for their candidacy.
There’s no gainsaying that Nigeria is at crossroads with myriad of issues bedeviling Africa’s most populous nation. These mountain high hurdles elicit a clamour for a candidate that can heal the wounds, galvanize the citizenry to the zenith of national development.
One persona who fits the bill is Atiku Abubakar with an impressive pedigree in the public and private sectors to trudge the political contraption christened Nigeria in troubled times. At this juncture, Nigeria needs a leader who possesses the characterization to proffer solutions, as the economic indices are in the red.
These days are perhaps the greatest window for leadership many of us have seen in our lifetime. On the back-end of difficulty is the opportunity. Not exploitative opportunity, as some may attempt, but the opportunity to see sparks of courage, wisdom, innovation, and character take hold and fan into flame, fueled by a crisis and the need for steady and strong men and women to stand against the tide of incoming despair.
It’s no longer news anymore that our dear nation Nigeria is at crossroads and craves for much needed development to grow her economy in leaps and bounds. The economic indices are there for and sundry to see as Africa’s most populous nation has earned the unenviable status of the world’s poverty capital with over a 100 million Nigerian living below poverty level.
In addition to this drawback are over 14 million out-of-school children who form a budding recruitment factory for the hydra headed monsters christened insecurity that’s not limited to banditry, kidnapping, abductions amongst others. The race for the number one office in the land continues to gather momentum as political gladiators and heavyweights are on a charm offensive with consultations, alignment, realignment and nocturnal interface to secure their candidacy as it currently stands.
Atiku Abubakar has engineered a five pronged approach that’s code-named Unity-SEED, which stands for Unity, Security, Economy, Education and Devolution of power to states and local governments lays emphasis on Promoting diversification and linkages between agriculture, industry and micro and small enterprises.
In this vein, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar berated the ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC) led government over a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that 133 million Nigerians are poor.
Atiku, who added that 63% of Nigerians are poor due to a lack of access to health, education, and living standards, alongside unemployment, added that this development portends only one thing: a threat to the security and stability of the nation.
It is a shared consensus by many analysts that Atiku Abubakar is one of the very few leading Nigerian politicians with an appeal that is truly national. He’s a detribalized entity with a pan Nigeria outlook. As the vice president under Obasanjo, Atiku cultivated a very good relationship with the state governors. His capacity for accommodation and understanding endeared the governors to him. Because of the powerful hold that governors had on the political structures of their home state, the relationship gave him very strong clout. It is widely rumoured that had he decided and insisted on contesting the 2003 elections against his principal, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, he would have easily secured the party nomination. Most of the governors were in his hands and would have chosen him over Obasanjo. But he did not succumb to the pressure because the then Turakin Adamawa did not want to breach the unwritten rule of power shift between the South and North, which he had helped to fashion at the formative days of the PDP.
The former Vice President has within the past three decades of being in the public spotlight shown that his brand of politics is not defined by any regional imperial agenda and that he is not a religious bigot. Though a devout Muslim there is no tinge of fanaticism in his locomotion in public domain. Those who know him attest to his ability to work very well with Christians and the premium he places on merit over religious and other sentimental considerations.
Atiku is as much at home in the south as he is in the north where he comes from. He boasts of association far and near in a diverse ecosystem like ours. This inherent value is there to for all to witness right from his exploits during the Peoples Democratic Mandate (PDM) era under the leadership of General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. This political behemoth was the fulcrum for the formation of the PDP in 1998 via the G-35 lobby group that stood up to General Sani Abacha’s proposal to mutate into a civilian leader.
He has a huge network of friends in politics and business. These power networks span all shades, regions and religions. In a highly polarized political ecosystem such as ours, it is difficult to find such a political colossus who has successfully maintained without contradiction a wholly national outlook like Atiku. He remains a model for appropriate political positioning for Nigerian politicians.
He has stood out and championed national views that not only acknowledge and reflect the growing tensions in parts of the country, but also proffered practical solutions on the basis of pragmatism rather than regional political correctness borne out of fear of a possible loss of advantage. On the call for re-structuring by sections of the country Atiku is among the first of politicians from the north to speak in support of the call. He said that re-structuring is inevitable and has advised that the government should acknowledge the call and fashion out ways to engage those that are clamouring for it on a roundtable.
It is important to note that his national appeal is relevant and significant within the context of our current socio-political discourse today. The books are red and Nigeria needs a president and C-in-C who can murder slumber via a frequency of giving his blood, sweat and tears to the fray. The Atiku proposition to facilitate a 10 billion US dollars SME fund to stimulate the MSME segment is a game changer for the Nigeria economy. It’s about a hundred days before the polls will hold in February 2023 – It’s not far from the truth that Atiku constitutes a round peg in a round hole that will hit the ground running, if elected as the leader of the largest democracy on the Africa continent.
Atiku’s candidature is the tonic Nigeria needs to regain her vitality, as the AA economic blueprint is the best in terms of its workability and applicability with a roadmap to salvage the sinking ship of Nigeria. This is not a time for experiment. This is not the time for religious or ethnic sentiments. We can’t afford to begin to appeal to primordial sentiments at this point in time. We need to collectively join hands and support a man that has what it takes to revamp the economy, deal decisively with the security issues and unify the country. Atiku is the man with gravitas and he has exhibited over time that he understands the Nigeria challenge and has a passion to address them frontally to achieve results with requisite impact.
Ayoola Ajanaku is a Communications and Advocacy Specialist based in Lagos, Nigeria.