Starters: The President Nigeria possibly needs

Oluseun Onigbinde
4 min readJan 22, 2022
Source: Institute of Development Studies

2023 is upon us with the elections happening early next year. It feels like another year sporting event with the suspense, breathtaking moments and power plays. However, this is not your regular entertainment. This is real life. This is about how the weak and vulnerable needs a competent government that secures them. I am very wary of “putting my mouth" in the election issue. The last time I tried in 2015, it ended with huge lamentations and a failure of expectations. Let me even judge by the micro-analysis of their manifesto called Security, Economy and Anti-corruption. Would anyone say that we are more secured with the anguish from Anka to Zaria? How about escalating prices of food and weak economic indices? Is the Anti-corruption no longer a waning rhetoric without energy?

However, a nation must not be in short supply of hope — a belief that we are primed for better days even if all looks gloomy. Let me bathe in faith on five things that would matter for the next President.

Energy: Please look at the scale of crisis in the country and the challenges that abound, do we really need another person running from Riyadh to London hospitals seeking medical attention? I know we would likely get a President older that the nation’s life expectancy age but let’s get one that has full strength for the role. In the last three leadership cycles of the country, the health of the President has been a major factor. We have flirted with hearsays on cabals and a small clan taking over the vacuum. We can’t neither afford the costs and the uncertainty that it creates for a country begging for answers.

Political Acumen: You can accept or not, a President must be a top politician. There are plenty interests ranging from regional, tribal to traditional ones that will either hinder or advance the agenda. Being able to balance such interests and still advance your development agenda is ever important to a leader’s legacy. How would a President relate to National Assembly? How would he/she engage the Governors? How does he/she court respect despite being a public servant in the eyes of the public? There’s a lot of wisdom required for the position than we acknowledge. A top-notch politician with a wide network is important to the office.

Federalist in Thinking: I assume expensively that a candidate prospecting for public office would have a high degree of patriotism and ability to see us all as Nigerians with equal opportunity to thrive. However, this is not enough. The idea of Nigeria as an entity without investing and supporting its subnational entities to grow is unsustainable. This also means that we can’t make our diversity and differing worldviews a cool talking point, we need to understand it. We need a President that advances federalism. However, it’s a journey for me. We can’t have it all at once. However, if it means that we review the exclusive list, fund state policing with constitutional provisions to check abuse or give more autonomy to states for taxation, those would be giant steps ahead. A long-term view of Nigeria is not in its central government — it’s barely surviving on debt and CBN handouts — it’s taking power to the regions/states and let’s get the creative geniuses to appear. Is the candidate willing to shrink the gargatuan powers of the President? This is why I would pay more attention to who’s Governor than the President. You should too.

Media Accountability: Nigerian leaders care about the media in varying degrees, and I am just tired of a government run by spokesmen. The presidential dialogue that ended under Jonathan was a beautiful way to listening directly to the President. I am saying the President should speak in his or her voice daily like US President mount the box or UK Prime Minister is “eyeballed” in the Parliament. I don’t think a “media-shy” President that acts in silence, feigns ignorance and throws his/her “spox” at us is right for our state of democracy. We need someone who’s willing to engage Nigerians from a position of personal accountability. There is so much royalty — in language, design and in action — wrapped around Nigeria’s President that I seriously detest.

The Company They Keep: You would possibly pick the allies of a candidate by paying attention to his/her close associates. What are their motivations? What do they seek? They miss the public treasury so much? Is this a sort of revenge to capitulate the institutions? We are learning that from Shagari to Buhari (isn’t life full circle), a leader can choose to sell himself above board, but we are better off if we fully learn more about those promoting them with fervor or those silently in their corner who have held their trust over the years.

There are still issue around competence, worldviews, character and the ideas of the candidate but I have left you with some starters as you x-ray the candidates from Tinubu, Saraki, Osinbajo, Obi, Fayemi, Tambuwal, Moghalu and possibly Seun Onigbinde (na joke I dey oh). Please get a sheet and award points on the basis of this before you move to other advanced metrics. I am not sure we will fully get it right, but it is our choice to make it better.

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Oluseun Onigbinde

God's Unfinished Sketch. Policy & Data Wonk. BudgIT Lead. Ashoka, Aspen Voices & Knight Innovation Fellow