We should know the kind of leader to vote for – Ighodalo

Itua ighodalo

Pastor Ituah Ighodalo is the convener of Rebuild Nigeria Initiative (RNI) and Senior Pastor of Trinity House, Victoria Island, Lagos. In this Guardian interview, he speaks about peace, economic growth, and the 2023 elections among others.

What is the essence of this dialogue?

We must sit around the table to deliberate whether we want Nigeria or not; and if we want Nigeria to continue to exist as a country, then we must discuss what to do to make everybody happy. We must discuss from the mundane things to the very important and essential items. I think there should be a roadmap of needs, desires and aspirations that every Nigerian wants; these have to be put together for the leadership to look into and proffer solutions.

We have had several dialogues as a nation and they seemed not to have tackled the burning issues, what are those fundamental problems of leadership that we have not talked about?
It is from two perspectives. The first is that some people from 1966 to date have been imposing themselves as leaders. We do not actually have a process to really elect leaders; most of the time, they are imposed on us.

The military came and imposed themselves on us. The military took power without understanding the fundamentals. They were not ready for leadership. They were not trained or groomed to be leaders. They picked the people that were close to them when they were pressured to leave to be at the helm of affairs. These are the people they could transact business with or can influence. We cannot question their anointed candidates because they control the bread and the knife, and kept attracting people like themselves. They have wiped out all forms of definition of what a good or great leader is and also made it almost impossible to have a good selection process. This has made the whole process of leadership in the country to be cornered by a group and that is what we are suffering from now.

They led Nigeria with the intention of not solving every of its issues. They kept Nigeria to themselves and do what they consider is best for the country and also make us to accept it.

What is the way out?

We are now to look at the list of the 16 presidential candidates and then talk to ourselves as Nigerians without any bias, without any selfishness and choose the best among them to lead us. We have nowhere else to go. We have been cornered. We must consider what Pat Utomi called the Elite Consensus. I am saying people should now set aside their own personal interest — because we vote for what we think will benefit us personally, even when that is not what will be the best for the general of Nigerians — and vote for the best candidate.

Some of our governors keep building flyovers, bridges in towns and in cities where everybody can see. What the people need is good roads into their farmlands, into the hinterlands where the rural dwellers pass through to plant and harvest their crops. The people need good roods to bring farm produce from their farms to the cities, so that they can sell the crops and there will be more food. About 60 per cent of the nation’s farm produce is wasted because there are no good roads into the hinterland; meanwhile, there are many flyovers in the cities that are sometimes not needed.

What is your advise on this attitude?

Well, the truth really is that Nigerians are not serious or ready to make the sacrifices or do the thing to get the right kind of leadership.

We should know the kind of leader to vote for. Nigerians should look for the people, among themselves, who can do the work well and push them into leadership. Nigerians know the thieves among them and have the power not to make them to emerge leaders or lead them.

For instance, they should ask: “You have been jobless for 16 years, how come you are coming to contest; let that teacher doing well to contest instead of you.”

So, we should gather together and say to some people, don’t even bother to contest, we know you, we know your father’s house and we know what you have done before. You are not capable to lead us because you did not go to school and others.

What is RNI doing to translate these deliberations into good governance?
What we want to do is first of all to hear from Nigerians, as part of the dialogue. Go around different parts of the country, from the creeks to the mountains, from the savanna to the tropical forests to know the minds of the people. We shall go around the country asking the people what they want, so that, we can package these deliberations and hand them over to those in leadership positions.

The second thing is for those who are angry at one another to sit down and resolve their differences. They should agree to work together. If we are not united or work together, we will not go anywhere. People have not spoken about what is dividing us, and some of these problems have not been resolved.

Number three; we must agree to a shared vision for Nigeria. And then, number four is to agree on the kinds of people we want to be our leaders. What are the criteria for somebody who is aspiring to become a schoolteacher? What are the criteria for someone who is to be our leader?

Do you have a preferred candidate at the moment?

Not at all! I am just looking for the best of the candidates right now. That a candidate is very popular does not mean he/she is capable of doing the job. Popularity doesn’t mean competence. In fact, people are popular for different reasons. Among the so-called three, there is a capable person. There are also talented people beyond the popular three. The public should be allowed to see their biodata and choose who they think is best to rule them.

Is there political alignment?

For the moment, we are a non-aligned and non-political institution. We don’t want to be political, but in the future, if we think somebody somewhere is capable and we have our evidence, we will say so. It is nothing personal. But for today, it could be somebody in SDP, tomorrow it could be somebody in PDP, and the day after, it could be somebody in the future party. We do not care about the party they belong; we just want to deal with the best to lead the people.