Saturday, June 3, 2023 1:02 pm
As President Bola Ahmed Tinubu mounted the saddle last Monday holding aloft the baton as Nigeria’s next leader, it was not impossible that he had butterflies in his stomach. How did he feel when he woke up that morning? Did he pinch himself to be sure he was not dreaming? It was clearly a day the Jagaban, alongside his wife, Senator Oluremi, and family members looked forward with bated breath.
Finally, the day came with the break of dawn. It was May 29 and the events that unfolded would remain memorable, especially for Tinubu. “Oko mi, e ja gba du ra,” Remi would have told Tinubu that morning, as they prepared for the historic moments ahead. This translates to: “My husband, let us pray.”
Don’t forget that a family that prays together stays together.
With Tinubu as president under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), why can’t all things become new? He asked for the job and he got it. Asiwaju Tinubu has been preparing for the job for more than 30 years. APC’s Renewed Hope manifesto is expected to catalyse a new beginning for Nigeria.
One of Apostle Paul’s well-known passages in his letters to Corinth is recorded in 2 Corinthians 5:17. “Behold, all things have become new” from the passage is the relevant context because “the old order of things have passed away.”
It is believed that Paul authored most of the epistles in the New Testament. President Tinubu should do likewise and create a new direction for Nigeria. I am sure he knows that Nigerians are expectant and they are eager to enjoy the benefits of the reforms that will be introduced.
Tinubu is fully aware of his new role and he knows he cannot afford to let Nigerians down. This is a self-imposed moral burden, but help will surely come from different quarters. The signal from the international community is re-assuring as they continue to pledge their support for the new administration to succeed.
The announcements Tinubu made on fuel subsidy removal and foreign exchange arbitrage during his inauguration are timely, commendable and exemplary. For how long are we going to pretend that we do not know where the shoe is pinching us?
Truth be told, we have been wasteful in government spending. The best decision that Tinubu has taken since he was sworn in was announcing that there would be no more fuel subsidy. He is backed by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which came into effect two years ago.
The law says fuel subsidy effectively ended on February 17, 2021 – six month after the bill was passed by the National Assembly. But former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had the courage but lacked the political will to end the duplicitous fuel subsidy regime which created fat cats over the years.
How on earth did we pay for the subsidy when the federal government was reeling under the yoke of mounting debts? We did not have the money to pay for importing premium motor spirit (PMS) which we call petrol but NNPC Limited paid on behalf of the government.
Mele Kyari, the chief executive of NNPC Limited, announced at a press conference recently that the organisation is being owed over N2.8 trillion for imported PMS. Last year alone, over $10 billion was paid as subsidy for petrol. This money could have been used for other essential services.
President Tinubu should watch two trending and insightful videos by Audu Ogbe (on ending importation of goods such as toothpicks that drain our foreign exchange) and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (on ending multiple foreign exchange rates).
Clearly, the big elephant in the room is corruption. How are we going to solve this problem that is endemic in the public and private sectors? According to Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), fighting corruption is dangerous.
Both Ogbe (former minister of agriculture) and Sanusi (banker, spiritual leader and former Emir of Kano) are well-known personalities and they were very frank in their submissions. They maintain that hard decisions must be made to rescue our economy from the “enemies” of Nigeria who have formed cartels to promote their selfish interests. Their only agenda is economic sabotage and they have been at it for many years.
This sabotage includes the egregious theft in the oil and solid minerals sectors which must be stopped at all cost. It is also alleged that our gold is stolen from Zamfara State and airlifted to Niamey in neighboring Niger Republic where they are loaded into private jets to their final destinations.
Who are these economic saboteurs? Are they not Nigerians? President Tinubu must combat these vested interests by assembling the best team for his administration. They must be men and women of proven character and integrity who are willing to be selfless and serve with distinction. In addition, they must have the capacity, track record of performance and presence of mind to do what is right without fear for favour.
The people Tinubu appoint – which should be done within 30 days – will determine the type of applause that he would receive from Nigerians and investors. Hope must be renewed in thought, word and deed. The president must understand that he is now the father of the nation; he must therefore be fair to all – including mending broken hearts.
He should watch “Designated Survivor,” a political drama and conspiracy thriller. It is a television series (53 episodes, three seasons) that depicted how an accidental American president, Thomas Kirkman, prioritised “integrity” and “fair-play” to defend the interest of Americans.
Tinubu should similarly act with courage, integrity and fairness and defend the public interest at all times. He must never endorse the selfish interests of a few Nigerians – no matter how highly placed – and their foreign collaborators.
In the movie, Kirkman insisted that the right thing must be done always in the interest of the American people. He frowned at the idea or wild imagination which suggested that anyone one in the White House – or any American for that matter – should cut corners to achieve their goals. He promoted the American values of human rights, dignity, liberty, freedom and justice as the cornerstone of their democracy.
Rotary’s Four-Way test principle will also be helpful for President Tinubu and I recommend that he should put them to work daily: Is it the truth; Is it fair to all concerned; Will it build goodwill and better friendships, and Will it be beneficial to all concerned.
Integrity is a core value of Rotary, a fellowship and humanitarian service organisation founded in 1905 by Paul Harris, a Chicago attorney, in over 200 countries and territories in the world. The other values are service, diversity, leadership and fellowship.
I have no doubt Asiwaju Tinubu will also find these values useful as he settles down to work. “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” is a popular saying which applies to his situation. His plate will always be full and I can only imagine what his daily schedule will look like.
Mr President, there is no time for frivolities. You must discourage all the groups who may wish to come to Aso Villa in different colourful costumes to congratulate you; tell them you are very busy.
The same people will go behind you and say rubbish about your presidency. It is why you must devote your time and energy to work for Nigeria, and send a strong signal to those who do “eye service” to stay away from you.
You are not new to this game; you have been a senator and governor. Let the whole world know that the “Emilokan” spirit is alive to achieve a higher purpose for Nigeria. This should count as your legacy.
Tolerate those who are sending you messages for appointments. Lobbying is part of the game but always remember that fair-play garnished in a sauce called integrity and social justice is the name of the game.
Put Nigeria first in all your decisions and ensure that you protect our democracy which you fought for at the risk of your own life under the jackboot military dictatorship of late Sani Abacha. No one can deny that because the evidence is there for all to see.
At the end of the day, even your traducers will respect your leadership qualities and acknowledge your achievements.
You distinguished yourself as governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2005. Now is the time to even do more at the national level as the 16th president of Nigeria.
I wish you well, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
*Braimah is a public relations strategist and publisher/editor-in-chief of Naija Times (https://ntm.ng), and he can be reached via [email protected]