Where ever Nigeria ends up on the global development index will not be determined by its leaders but the penchant of the people to dissipate energy over divisive and unimportant matters. This past week, arguments surfaced on the performance of Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo with those who never had any love for the Buhari administration acknowledging Osinbajo’s effectiveness against what they consider to be the incompetence of the past 20 months.
It is possible to argue that some of the achievements with which Osinbajo is being credited by erstwhile critics of the administration are a very far stretch, but I do not think anyone would deny the fact that he has brought a style of governance that has kind of restored the confidence of Nigerians in this administration. I am no economist but I also assume that signals that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will be allowed to enjoy the autonomous status conferred on it by the 1999 Constitution could inspire symbolic economic gains. Please do not ask me how as this is just a gut feeling.
Now, the argument across the divide this time around was about the supposed hypocrisy of critics of the Buhari administration, who had vilified Osinbajo until his principal took this prolonged leave and handed over to him. He had been described as a figurehead, unqualified to head the country’s economic team and all. Supporters of the administration then wonder why people could be so inconsistent. How a man who you saw as an ineffectual spare tyre last night can suddenly become your model for good government the next morning. This argument has dragged on for so long leaving one to wonder whether the country doesn’t have more serious issues on its plate.
Even as we speak, extreme poverty is the daily lot of more than 70percent of Nigerians who cannot feed, send their children to school or access healthcare. Insecurity is an increasing concern as, inflation, unemployment, and low capacity utilization reduces our humanity. Yet we haggle over how some people cannot change their minds about anything.
But to address the issue, I do not think that Osinbajo’s seemly sparkling performance can obliterate any of the arguments raised about him previously. This position becomes more plausible in the face of his performance over the last few weeks. For example, would his influence on the administration be more obvious if he had the opportunity to contribute and his principal takes such contribution with seriousness?
And I would still say that Osibajo is unqualified to head the nation’s economic team, no matter what he has or may achieve as acting president and a measure of his effectiveness in the area, if indeed he has the competence and the clout to move things, is the parlous state of the economy currently.
But then, there is every chance that he might make a better job of the opportunity than his boss and this is nothing more than the difference in the capacity and disposition of these two fellows.
To transform society, a leader needs a combination of know-how and determination. And attending know how or competence is the grace to be comfortable in your own skin, know the limit of your abilities, be adaptable and teachable, most importantly, you must remain humble and not for one moment forget your own mortality.
Now, it is easy for every one of us to see reasons why one of the two people in the context of this discourse would turn out one way or the other. While Osinbajo is educated, brilliant, exposed, approachable and seemingly adaptable, Buhari is as unbending as he is limited in a variety of other significant ways. Possibly due to his military background, there are compromises that would have saved the Nigerian economy from the turn it took had he considered them much earlier in his administration.
But this is why having a feel of Osinbajo’s potentials is very advantageous. If these two men are going to collectively deploy all talents to the service of Nigeria in the next couple of years without making anyone appear like a figurehead, Nigeria will sure have good stories to tell. It is a combination which will do well if humility and the identical passion for improving the quality of lives of Nigerians dictate the pace. But then, nothing is ever the way they seem in politics.
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