Tinubu Must Demolish The System

Regardless of how Tinubu got to power, what he must do are crystal clear.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu / Photo credit: Guardian
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu / Photo credit: Guardian

If President Bola Tinubu will succeed, he must fight the forces that brought him to power.

He has only one job to do: modernise Nigeria.

And the forces that he had to align with in his rise do not care a hoot if Nigeria is modern or archaic.
Modernisation is a relative term and depends on context, perspective and scope.

However, most Nigerians know the kind of country they want to live in because they are well travelled.

Nigerians travel to the UK, UAE, USA, Canada, Germany, Spain, Ireland, China and other such countries.

These countries become our gold standard.
Each time I land at the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, I fail to have a feeling or experience of being in a modern society.

The ambience of the airport as well as the non-standard transportation and foreign exchange traffic are enough to tell a tale of a level of primitivism.

Soon, you encounter the pot holes, children street traders, filth on the streets and pedestrians running like goats on the highway, animals roaming the streets, which are realities of a nation struggling to be modern, such as India.

The blaring of horns by drivers to warn others to stay out of their way is an obvious indicator of developmental challenges.
The more you travel hinterland into Nigeria, the more you see a nation in arrested development, with mud houses, dusty roads, perennial power outage, poor healthcare, dilapidated school structures, failure to pay salaries of civil servants and retirees, insecurity and flagrant corruption.
After 62 years of independence, Nigeria is anything but modern – except your world is limited to Banana Island, Victoria Island or other islands of reality within Nigeria for only the rich and privileged.
No fewer than half of Nigerians experience a life that is no different from what the poorest on the earth go through. That is what 62 years of misrule has brought upon the people.
In 2022, the Federal Government officially acknowledged there are at least 40 Million Nigerians living in abject poverty.
Corroborating this data, the multidimensional poverty index championed by Oxford University and the United Nations, decided that half of Nigerians are poor.
The World Bank, which measures poverty simply by how much a person has to spend per day, also concluded that those falling below the PPP of $1.90 or around N800 per day were 80 million or 40 per cent of the Nigerian population.

The more you travel hinterland into Nigeria, the more you see a nation in arrested development, with mud houses, dusty roads, perennial power outage, poor healthcare, dilapidated school structures, failure to pay salaries of civil servants and retirees, insecurity and flagrant corruption

It breaks one’s heart to admit that 11 per cent of the world’s 700 million poor are Nigerians.

The image of poverty is in Nigeria is stark.

The implications which President Tinubu has to confront are severe.
Nearly 40 per cent of Nigerians have no jobs and the downtrodden are down and continually trodden upon.
The poor can hardly take any more. They need a messiah. And that is the job Tinubu loves and has walked into.
How do you manage the affairs of a people, many of whom are so hungry that they can only respond to physiological and safety needs?

How do they make sensible decisions not driven by hunger, poverty and insecurity?

No society works optimally when matter rules over the mind.
This is a solemn moment in Nigeria, requiring a leader who is a great thinker, visionary, collaborator, planner and problem solver. The question is if Tinubu is that leader.
There are two variants of Tinubu Nigerians can expect – the one who introduces radical changes to tackle intricate problems, or the one who moves with the flow.

I don’t know which Tinubu will emerge but hope it is the former.
Tinubu is President only because he was able to carry the political establishment along.

He negotiated across the spectrum and triumphed where his opponents struggled.

That was great.
The danger with being the establishment is that it is the establishment that put Nigerians in trouble.

The establishment is corrupt, despicable and selfish.

The establishment enforces bad governance.
For Nigeria to progress, the establishment must be crushed.

The question is, can Tinubu fight the forces that brought him to power?
At independence, Nigeria was not expected to turn this ugly way.

This was a nation that was expected to produce a success story in Africa, before things turned sour within half a decade.

Political rivalry, ethnical bigotry, military intervention, violence and other vices brought Nigeria to a regrettable condition, which we deal with even today.
A strong sense of national pride and unity oozed on October 1, 1960.

The people believed that self-governance would bring about political stability, economic prosperity, and social progress.
There was a great optimism about Nigeria’s economic and political potential.

The country possessed vast natural resources, including oil, minerals, and agricultural land.

Many believed that with proper management and investment, Nigeria could become a powerhouse in Africa.
With its population and a growing number of well-educated citizens, there was hope that Nigeria would play a prominent role in regional and global affairs, contributing to peace, development and cooperation.
Most hopes have been dashed. Citizens haven been emigrating at minor opportunities; but blame no one for seeking a better standard of living, which Nigeria hardly provides.

Now is a watershed moment under President Tinubu, to do the right things.
Nigeria must be born again.

Old things must pass and all things must become new.

And our collective hopes are possible.

It is a question of how much risk Tinubu is willing to take and how far-reaching his change agenda will go.
The President has started well by dealing with two complex issues – the so-called oil subsidy, mostly a scam; and the dual exchange rate system, absolutely a scam.

Will President Tinubu drill further down to take the bad actors out of the equation?

Only time will tell, but that is what the people expect.
Tinubu must have the ambition, vision and ability of the former Singaporean President, Lee Kuan Yew, who is credited with constructing the 20th century’s most successful development story.
Although Singapore became independent in 1965, it is today a developed country, simply because
Lee had the willpower to turn a tiny island-state into one of the richest places in the world, and a role model for other governments in Asia and beyond.
Unlike Nigeria, Singapore had no mineral resources at independence.

But like Nigeria as a former British colony, Singapore was transformed into a major hub for manufacturing and global finance through disciplined planning, governmental strength, impeccable planning and effective leadership.
As Singapore became prosperous as a free market economy, Nigeria can also assume its potentials if things are done right.
Nigeria’s progress under President Tinubu will be defined by a set of factors.
The first is the rule of law.

Business as usual, where there are different sets of laws depending on one’s political or economic profile, must come to an end.

Nigerians must have uniform expectations when under the law.
Nigeria must become a stable political system with strong institutions that respect the rule of law.

There is nothing that must be prioritized above democracy, human rights, and individual freedoms. Effective governance, transparency, and accountability are vital for social cohesion, economic stability, and a favorable business environment.
There must be economic transformation as well.

A modern country typically exhibits a strong and diversified economy, characterised by industrialisation and high levels of productivity.

It often has well-developed infrastructure, a stable financial system, and a competitive business environment.

These are the things the APC government must target.
Modern countries tend to embrace technological innovation.

They invest in research and development, have a thriving high-tech sector, and leverage technology to enhance various aspects of society, such as healthcare, education, communication, and governance.

I assume Tinubu gets how to configure these.
Nigerian needs to invest in world-class physical infrastructure, including transportation networks, communication systems, high-speed internet and utilities such as electricity, water, sanitation. Efficient infrastructure is crucial for economic growth, social connectivity, and quality of life.
Enormous investment is needed in education and healthcare because a modern country recognises the importance of education and healthcare as fundamental pillars of its development.

Nigerians need high-quality educational institutions with access to education for all its citizens, supported with affordable and modern healthcare services.
My experience is that countries that produce good education products are also prosperous nations, since good products only produce better products.
We must settle for a society that values diversity, inclusivity and belonging among the ethnic and religious groups that make up the nation.

Some political actors aimed to divide the nation along ethnic and political lines in the last election just because the options existed.

Nigeria must make a deliberate move towards social progress and inclusiveness.

Our aim must be to provide social safety nets, promote gender equality, protect minority rights, and foster social cohesion and cultural diversity.
At the end of it all, the current administration, if it lives long, will be judged by how it promoted the quality of life for all Nigerians, not just the elite.
A high standard of living is a must in the next four years, and the degree to which the new administration meets these criteria will determine if it is a failure or otherwise.

Regardless of how Tinubu got to power, what he must do are crystal clear.


Written by Tunde Chris Odediran

Tunde Chris Odediran studied and practiced journalism in Nigeria. He is now a Technical Communications and Information Technology professional in the United States.