By ‘Wale Oluwade
In my article last week, I endorsed the Atiku/Obi PDP presidential ticket and gave my reasons. I mentioned why I believe they are best for the job at this material time. I listed the strengths and weaknesses of both of them and why it was a critical necessity they manage adroitly their character and personality differences for the good of the nation. Now, this piece is about suggestions on a feasible and necessary governance agenda for the duo.
General Guide to Political Governance
For a start, the office of president is way beyond being a policy wonk or technocratic guru. This is where many in the race get it wrong. The office and the occupier need much more than capacity for numbers and statistics. The number one skill required is an abundance of emotional intelligence. Successful politicians the world over possess this. The ability to connect and communicate with the different strata of a multi-complex society, and to empathize almost reflexively. The capacity to assemble superior teams of strong individuals, to think strategically, to rigorously deliver on promises, the courage to take risks and make audacious decisions, to compromise and relentlessly forge win-win relationships. To succeed in a modern democracy you need the foregoing skills without which failure is definite.
The above is the role assigned to Atiku Abubakar. He is a consummate politician, perhaps, the best there is currently. He brings to the ticket the capacity to be a unifier, healer and father figure to a badly divided, polarized and hurting nation. He should use the bully pulpit of the presidency to bring every disparate views, ethnicity, religion and ideology together. He should communicate regularly as he did at the Port Harcourt convention victory speech, when he spoke extempore and connected even with hitherto implacable foes. Atiku is the master-politician; let him do the political business with the NASS and other critical non state actors whose buy in are essential for peace and order needed for growth and development.
An Agenda for the VP
Some more specific responsibilities assigned to the Vice-President in the 1999 Constitution includes being the agent of the President in his exercise of the executive powers conferred on him by the Constitution; (section 5(1)(a)) responsibility for any business of the Government of the Federation, including the administration of any department of government previously assigned to him by the President; 148(1) presiding over the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC); to be the Deputy Chairman of the following Federal Councils established by section 153 of the 1999 Constitution, namely; the Council of State, the National Defence Council and the National Security Council. This office is not merely ceremonial as imagined, for in the Umaru Yar ‘Adua debacle, the VP had to assume Acting Presidential role, and on more than three occasions under the current administration, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has had to step in as Acting President also.
Importantly, the VP can only be effective to the extent that the President allows him/her to be. This is why I wrote last week of the necessity that these two develop mutual trust and confidence between each other. Critically, this mutual understanding must be hinged on the foundation that national interest at all times will override all other considerations in their governance activities. Essentially, I pray and hope Atiku if elected will allow his vice, superintend and accomplish the following tasks;
*I hope Atiku Abubakar as President will allow Peter Obi confront the historic injustices in our public service where elected officials live like lords while the rest citizens resort to feeding from the dustbins. Government officials at all levels, but especially at federal and state governments, must realize that they are called to serve the nation and not milk it to death. The wasteful expenditure incurred in needless foreign travels, attending useless and meaningless meetings, conferences and seminars must stop now! The purchase of new automobiles, equipment and other items, in every budget cycle while the old still serves the purpose, must stop forthwith. The benefits and allowances paid to a few workers at the NNPC, CBN, PENCOM, NCC, NAICOM, BPE, NPA, NIMASA, SEC, PTDF and PPPRA is ungodly, unjust, iniquitous and corrupt. This has to stop immediately. Nigeria cannot be borrowing to sustain the obscene lifestyles of a tiny elite while the rest live in penury.
*I hope Atiku will allow Peter Obi confront our opaque, corrupt and inefficient public procurement system designed to fail and which is rigged against the interest of Nigeria. I hope he is allowed to engage with the NASS and cause them to see the need to reduce their gluttony and penchant for corruption and grand theft of our corporate wealth. I hope he will be allowed to preach to them the necessity to tame their bloated and unbridled sense of personal entitlement. I hope he educates state governors on the art of serious governance and not frivolities and demolition of opponent’s houses. The massive hemorrhaging of the economy due to the insatiable appetites of a tiny cabal ensconced in our public service at both federal and state tiers of government must stop now.
* I hope the VP will be allowed to have direct oversight over the key revenue generating government owned enterprises; FIRS, NPA, NCS, NNPC, SEC, CBN, PPPRA, NAICOM, and PENCOM. This is to ensure that all revenues are dutifully accounted for, that proper and up-to-date accounts and audit of management activities in these are maintained, that operational efficiency of these are established in line with their strategic objectives, that embedded wastes and corruption are eliminated or reduced substantially, and critically, to deliberately build up our Sovereign Wealth Fund to not less than $200 billion in four years.
*I pray too that Peter Obi will learn to be more flexible and stoop to conquer in certain instances. Abuja is different from rural Anambra. The powers, principalities and wickedness in ‘high places’ in Abuja are not those kindergarten demons in Anambra (Chris Uba & Co) you easily steamrolled. The Abuja powers and principalities are stark illiterates and very mean. If you don’t believe me, ask Reuben Abati. He once wrote an interesting piece awhile back titled; ‘The Spiritual Side of Aso Villa’. It’s a hilarious piece, but full of vital lessons for the uninitiated in the potency and deviousness of the dark forces at work in the city where essentially the wealth of the nation is daily shared by enemies of state. Many derided Reuben for the article, but not me. I believe him.
Personal Agenda for the ‘President-to-be’
Now, let me offer free consultancy to HE Atiku Abubakar:
*Don’t commit any unforced errors. Nigerians are not voting for you because we think or believe you’re a saint, but rather that you’ll put in a capable shift in office. Whatever mud and vitriol the opposition hurls at you, as much as possible, maintain calmness and composure. Let your handlers deal with it while you keep your eyes firmly on the ball. We know you and we know them too.
*Don’t make unnecessary promises. Keep it simple; (i) Re-structure our governance model. (ii) Eradicate unemployment (iii) Restore security (iv) Diversify the economy (v) And slay the dragons of ungodly cost of governance.
*You need every vote. Don’t commit the strategic blunder of Hilary Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential elections. There are a small group of electorates who will vote on the basis of what they think you can deliver, don’t alienate them. Every ballot counts.
*Don’t be Petroleum Minister. The Yorubas say if they call someone a thief, he shouldn’t be seen playing with his neighbor’s goat. It’s a great thing you already promised to privatize the ‘Secret Society’ called NNPC; please hurry and do so.
*Keep your children far from your presidency. Those burly looking and mustachioed hunks following you around should go and find work to do elsewhere.
*Give all your ministers smart goals and demand accountability from them. Commit them to clear performance management standards. Don’t hesitate to show any of them the way out for non-performance. And promptly make example of them when they break the laws. Same applies to all heads of strategic parastatals.
*No imperial presidency. Nigeria cannot afford it. Reduce substantially, your personal aides, motorcade and presidential air fleet. This is leading by example.
*Do not make excuses for criminals; whether terrorists or herdsmen. Be they kidnappers,
armed robbers, looters, or gangsters; be brutal and decisive in dealing with them all.
If you can do these, you would have written your names in gold and ensure your place in the credit side of history. You don’t need to pay me Wazirin. This is a patriotic duty to my fatherland.
This writer can be reached at @WaleOluwade