By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
This Christmas is the last that Governor Kayode Fayemi will spend as the helmsman of Ekiti State. He happens to be term-limited and cannot seek further re-election as governor. Some of the other outgoing governors have had recourse to retire to the Senate. The leadership recruitment process in Nigeria has over the years not been up to par. For me, Governor John Kayode Fayemi (JFK) should aim higher and contest to become Mr. President.
The time has come for Nigeria to put up her First Eleven in the contest for the power game. Governor Fayemi has seen it all as the respected chair of the Governors Forum, and it would definitely not be out of place for him to throw his hat into the ring for the epic battle of becoming Nigeria’s president in 2023.
Nigeria today needs a president versed in the modern ways of doing things. Back in time, when the United States of America needed youthful dynamism to rev things up, the country beckoned on John F Kennedy in 1960. Down the years, the world bore witness to how Bill Clinton, after serving as the governor of the little state of Arkansas, stepped forward boldly to trounce the then-incumbent President George Bush Sr.
Barrack Obama upped the ante in displaying the fact that true application is what is needed in leadership selection instead of primordial matters such as race and class and gerontocracy.
Nigeria needs men now. It is not a battle for the fainthearted. Over the years, the man popularly hailed as JFK has shown that he has what it takes to swing the battle. By his training in military studies and his endearing commitment to civil society, Governor Fayemi stands on a lofty pedestal that can hardly ever be bettered. All it would take is the political will to go the distance.
My advice is that Governor should take this last Yuletide season of his gubernatorial sojourn to put to action the well-oiled campaign machinery that would go a long way in driving the Nigerian ship of state.
It is obvious that Governor Fayemi has all the necessary contacts across all the geo-political zones of Nigeria. His reach as the Governor of Governors has been phenomenal, and he has forged the bond of unity across party lines. This is the time that Nigeria should not be bogged down by died-in-the-wool partisanship. The Fayemi appeal cuts across all cadres of the society in a manner that will make all Nigerians have a sense of belonging in the Nigerian project.
It is incumbent on the enlightened Fayemi to stress that Nigeria can in no way be singled out as the only diverse nation in the world. India, for instance, has its share of diversities and even mutinies, but it still holds aloft the torch of democracy.
Fayemi definitely understands that Nigeria is today desirous of building a measure of participatory democracy, and the future can be made brighter through the welding together of all our people in harmony.
Fayemi, more than most of the politicians, understands that every nation in history must confront and master its own road to Damascus. This is the crucial issue confronting Nigeria in the 2023 presidential election. The divisions across the land must not continue and it takes a strong believer in dialogue such as Fayemi is to lead the way
Nigeria cannot afford to be found wanting in choosing a charismatic leader appealing to all in 2023. Even with the best will in the world, Nigerians must come together to admit that things are not as they ought to be. A rescue mission is needed in Nigeria, and Fayemi definitely fits the bill.
The heart of the matter is that a country cannot forever exist in suspended animation. Something has to give sooner or later; why not now? Nigeria is thus poised on historical contradictions that must be resolved one way or the other. In contesting to be president, Fayemi must understand that the country is running against time. It is a clear case of emergency because if the issues are not addressed fast Nigeria’s many millions of people may end up imitating George Orwell’s animals in Animal Farm by overthrowing their oppressors. This definitely will not be a pretty sight. Already, James Baldwin’s preface to his immortal book, The Fire Next Time, rings true: “No more water, the fire next time!”
Fayemi in his studies of course knows that what faces Nigeria today is the eternal question posed by Chernychevsky in old Russia: “What is to be done?” Lenin had to borrow the title for his epochal book on the then Soviet Union.
It is a truism that leadership is needed in Nigeria, and Fayemi stands poised to show the way. A true leader can weld Nigeria together by showing a personal example in dealing with the clear and present dangers in the country: true federalism, a workable constitution, devolution of power, fiscal diversity etc.
Fayemi knows that no time is too late for a nation to wake up and forge ahead in sustained growth. The 2023 challenge is to show that things can be done in a different way by at last waking up the sleeping giant called Nigeria. As Napoleon Bonaparte once quipped about China, “ Let her sleep, for when she wakes up she will shake the world.”
*Uzor Maxim Uzoatu is a journalist, poet and public affairs analyst