Sunday, June 12, 2011

An Open Letter to President Jonathan

Dear Mr President, I write this letter to you in good faith. As one of those who contested against you in the recent presidential election, I wish to offer what I consider some useful tips on how to move Nigeria forward. I hope you won’t mind if I don’t go through the usual Nigerian protocol and permit me to go straight to my mission in this epistle.

It is my fervent prayer that you will see leadership as a game of football. Even if some critics think you are not a good footballer, that’s their business. You have shown repeatedly that you are a good striker by scoring goals after goals. Not everyone can dribble like Austin Okocha or Nwankwo Kanu. It can no longer be a fluke that you’ve scored at every level of every competition. Almost effortlessly, you’ve climbed to the mountain top like no one before you. There must be some reasons and a purpose for this spectacular feat. In 12 years, you’ve won practically all your trophies with uncommon equanimity. Believe me Sir, God must love you exceptionally to have showered you in this manner with his abundant grace. But it takes a deeply spiritual man to appreciate that to whom much is given much is expected. That is the heavy burden God has placed on you by picking you out to lead a country of 150 million people.

As a Christian, I believe you must have read The Bible very well. The Old Testament in particular is replete with tales of sacrifices. The one that readily comes to mind is that of God asking Abraham to offer his son Isaac as sacrifice. Even if the instruction was later revised by God himself, it shows clearly that sacrifice is often a very difficult procedure. It is not always convenient or reasonable. Even God had to sacrifice his own son, Jesus, to atone for the sins of mankind. He was nailed to the cross, scorned at and crucified by those who did not understand his mission on earth. But he resurrected and today his name is celebrated the world over.

The task at hand for you is tantamount to the sacrifice made by Christ for humanity. The problems of Nigeria are manifold and to succeed, you must be prepared to sacrifice everything. You will fail if you are afraid of taking difficult decisions. There is really nothing to fear if you reciprocate God’s love for you. No evil shall befall you. Never place your fate in the hands of man. Please, look at the faces of most of those around you today, many of them must be very familiar people. The reason is simple. You’ve been seeing the same faces since you were probably in secondary school. They have mastered the art and science of moving gingerly from one government to the other.
Please beware of them.You won’t need these godfathers because you already have God the father. If you look back in history, you will realise that they really have nothing to offer. They’ve always spelt doom for your predecessors.
You must be wondering why I likened politics to the game of football. Please wait until you’ve finished reading this metaphorical missive.
No matter what they say, President Goodluck Jonathan is now a Nigerian brand. Great people often emerge from the manger. If you persist and work harder at it, nothing is going to stop you from becoming a global icon. The reason is straight-forward. Nigerians have not seen a good leader in a long while. As a matter of fact, the matter of leadership has become a curse and a major source of embarrassment to most of our citizens at home and abroad.
Wherever two or more Nigerians are gathered the topic of discussion is likely to be about the way we have not been lucky to have inspiring leaders who would lead our otherwise great nation in the right direction in order to maximise our full potential. What we see regularly are prodigal sons and daughters who see the attainment of power as an invitation to treat and, indeed, a compelling privilege to go all out and out-spend the past rulers in a stupidly competitive manner. It means you don’t have to do too much to deserve a standing ovation. In the village of the blind, according to an African adage, a one-eyed man has a good chance of becoming the king.

Nigeria is a country that has been mercilessly gang-raped by her rulers and she is now desperately in need of a compassionate suitor who would appreciate and nurture her endowments. I love the metaphor of leadership as football because just the way the game can bring joy to some homes it can also attract sorrow when your team is not performing. The world today is saluting Barcelona Football Club of Spain as the Eighth Wonder of the World. All the adjectives have been exhausted in the lexicon and there is nothing new to describe this enigmatic club that has brought a renewed vibrancy to the beautiful game.

It is not always easy to get to the top of any game. In football, what matters most is the ability and determination of the manager to attract the right players to form an impregnable team like the one we have now at Barcelona. The players must be world-class before a team can achieve monumental results like Barcelona and Manchester United. A club that fails to invest in outstanding players has already failed in advance. It is never a game of trial by error. Any supporter of football would be proud of Barcelona FC. Their game is always sweet to watch and it would take eleven Peles to challenge those boys on the field. They are magicians who mesmerise every spectator with their rarefied display of supernatural soccer.

 Dear Mr President that is the calibre of  team you need to assemble for your cabinet to excel in its duties. Ministers are like football players. Only the best and the most accomplished must be attracted. Football teams always comb the world in search of soccer stars. This has nothing to do with zoning or federal character. Even if it does, there is no part of Nigeria that has not produced outstanding men and women of achievement. You must be bold to tell your party apparatchik in very clear terms what criteria you are applying in forming your cabinet. It is up to them to find and present such candidates for your consideration. From the composition of your cabinet, it should be obvious to keen observers if you are determined to fulfil your campaign promises or not.

You and your team must appear to be in a hurry. You must bring together a potpourri of experienced and fresh players. The experienced ones would always understand the nature of the game and what to do in times of crisis while the fresh ones would inject stamina and style required to win resoundingly. You must pick every member on strict merit and not based on any primordial sentiment. The ubiquitous godfathers should not be allowed to install incompetent cronies. They must meet the standard requirements. And if they fail, they must forfeit their allocation. Governors who cannot present good candidates from their states should also suffer the same fate. Nigeria has suffered for too long in the hands of Mafia warlords who refuse to see that our country is dangerously haemorrhaging to death. It is up to you. Sir, to call their bluff and do what is right or fail like others before you.

If you must win, it would be necessary to combine the snobbery of Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger and Barcelona’s Josep Guardiola. The former knows how to manage resources and turn greenhorns into superstars. The latter is able to spend big money to achieve phenomenal results. The combination of both traits would certainly help you record spectacular victory and glory. Leadership is now a game of showmanship. Nigeria requires the services of those who can speak the language of the new world and rub shoulders with the global whiz kids. You must unleash your great team on the world-stage in order to earn the respect of other world teams.
We must stop the portrayal of our country as a nation that is perennially governed by unruly and inept politicians when in reality our private sector parades some of the brightest brains in the corporate world. What you need to do therefore, Mr President, is to bring more technocrats into government and downplay the appointment of habitual politicians. If you would recall, Sir, the stars of the Babangida government were the accomplished professionals like Wole Soyinka, Bola Ajibola, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, BolajiAkinyemi, Duro Onabule, Nduka Irabor, Greg Obong Oshotse, Maria Sokenu, Alex Akinyele and others. The Obasanjo presidency also enjoyed some grace in the professionalism of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili, Nasir el-Rufai, Nuhu Ribadu, Dora Akunyili, Ben Murray-Bruce, Eddy Iroh, Stanley Macebuh, Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo, Chris Mammah and others, some of  who though were not in the main cabinet but still played pivotal roles in that government. It has been discovered that hard-core Nigerian politicians often find it hard to keep their gaze on the ball. They waste most of their tenure in government playing politics instead of attending to the needs of the people.

Sir, I have devoted this first part of my letter to the importance of an impeccable team in nation-building. Nothing is more relevant to your success or failure than this. It would be a monumental tragedy if you fail to take advantage of this rare opportunity to correct the many ills of Nigeria. If you can summon the courage to do that which is right rather than that which is expedient, even the angels in heaven will sing your praises.

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1 comment:

  1. I believe this is an open letter from a master piece of excellent journalism. The contents and insight is well articulated especially to what leadership and governance stand to achieve with visionary carbinet.I wish to extend the same thought and profound advice to Mr. President to look for an exemplary and God fearing technocrats to form his new cabinet. To whom much is given much is expected, Like Dele Mahmud said; you should say no to mediocrity in governance and embrace leadership by example through visionary leaders who are ready to scarify their talent to bring the needed change Nigerian deserves.Osukwu writes from London