Global Perspectives on Nigeria’s Fresh Leadership Quest

Daniel Godspower writes about current move by Nigerian professionals in Diaspora to ensure that the forthcoming general election in the country is hitch-free with the best candidate being elected to succeed Muhammadu Buhari as President come May 29, 2023

n February 25, 2023, Nigerians will elect a new President. There appears to be, however, a complicated reality staring over 200 million Nigerians in a global village setting, as yet another national leadership recruitment exercise enters the history books.

That reality is a possibility if the voting decision of this great country compromises the authority and trust required to legitimise that decision. Nigerians in a one-nation, one-people voice, it would seem, want changes in perception and reality before they cast their votes.

A collection of some of Nigeria’s best professional breeds the world over, is thinking deeper, championing this cause.

Enter the Forum of Global Nigerian professionals (FGNP). Driven by the hunger for a new national order, this select group of Nigerian professionals across the world recently convened to birth an influential think-thank that has since started to positively colour developments in the country.

 To the Global professionals as they are fondly called, a big faith in Nigeria’s ability to conduct the coming elections and move on, is the way to go. Unveiled recently, the FGNP says its intervention is aimed at combating poor leadership and underdevelopment in Nigeria and other African countries by extension.

Described as an assembly of accomplished professionals without bias for any ethnic nationality, political party or religious sect, the FGNP also promised to boost inflows of diaspora remittances into the country with its drive to spur sustainable socio-economic development.

It disclosed this ambitious plan in a statement by its conveners, Sir Dan Amechi, Dr. Victor Abayomi Oluwi, Chief Stanley Wokocha, Dr. Sanni Mahmud,  Dauda Yusuf, Olanrewaju Adebayo, Dr. Sanni Mahmud,  Yemi John and  Chuks Nwanosike.

Indeed this clan of highly accomplished men and women drawn from Europe, North and South America, Asia and the African continents, say “Nigeria at this time, needs her exceptionally good and talented ‘world beaters’ to help scale our developmental programmes internally and externally.

Nigeria’s diaspora remittances in the first quarter of 2022, rose by 20,3 per cents year-on-year to $ 5.6 billion from $4.29 billion in the corresponding period of the first quarter of 2021- official data from the Central Bank of Nigeria reveals.

The remittance inflows were even projected to grow by 7.1 per cent by the end of last year. The current population of Nigeria is 219,011,841 as of Tuesday, January 10, 2023, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data.

These, the FGNP insists, show that Nigeria remains the go-to-, for global investors who value investible environments with one of the best sources of cheap labour and good return on investments.

It further noted: “This is a great opportunity to help reshape our African and global story and build our current programmes as a nation”. Indeed, the group with a strong presence in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Germany, France, Nigeria, China and South Africa among others, easily tells the story of Nigeria’s loaded capacity.

In these countries among others, Nigerians are known to be at the heart of the economies, helping to make them the most advanced in the world.

These strides, FGNP says “it wants to fully harness finally, for the benefit of Nigerians anywhere in the world”.

Elsewhere, both the Centre for Democracy and Development(CDD) and senior lawyer, Dr Olisa Agbakoba recently expressed fears that the 2023 elections will be the most challenging to conduct in Nigeria.

For the CDD, the raging insecurity, preparedness of the electoral body, INEC, and conduct of presidential candidates will shape the outcome of the polls.

“But, the credibility of the 2023 general election will also depend on the degree to which citizens can vote freely and unencumbered,” CDD said in its report titled, ‘Nigeria’s presidential polls: A SWOT analysis.

“Insecurity remains a critical issue, particularly in the northwest and southeast. Further challenging this operation are the prevailing structural, infrastructural, and cultural ecosystems in which the polls will take place.”

Dr. Agbakoba, Senior Partner and Head of the Arbitration and ADR practice group in Olisa Agbakoba Legal, listed Nigeria’s biggest challenges going into the election as disunity, disorder, insecurity, economic challenges, unemployment, poverty and energy crisis.

Others are weak and inefficient judicial, legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks, international relations/foreign policy, corruption, lack of transparency, and accountability.

“Nigeria is in a critical position and we all need to put our heads together to solve the problems. The article reviews a few of the big issues that should engage the Presidential candidates.

It also suggests policy issues to address, matters on National Unity, the Economy, Insecurity, etc.

We hope that this will contribute to the political and economic transformation of Nigeria. In a more direct shoot, the FGNP insists that the plans and programmes of the presidential flag bearers in detailed practical action plans will make all the difference.

“We have indeed seen their manifestos which in truth has told Nigerians their policy outlook, but Nigerians want to interrogate them more on how they will deliver on these promises, given among others our dwindling revenue, massive debts among other challenges”, the FGNP said in a statement issued from a meeting where its conveners led by Sir Amechi discussed the forthcoming elections. 

The truth however is that tension everywhere leading to the election is not a Nigerian or developing countries’ exclusive preserve.

The build-up to the United States elections which saw Donald Trump squaring up against Hilary Clinton, and the last one that saw incumbent Joe Biden take out Trump after one term, had more drama and tension to give serious cause for concern.

To FGNP’s Lanre Adebayo, an oil & gas professional, Nigeria is getting it right up to ‘this election to elect a new set of leaders.

In his view, “we only need to consolidate what we have, fix the areas we don’t seem to have done too well so far and we are on course.”

Sir Amechi, a senior financial crime compliance consultant and chartered banker, who spoke on some of the objectives of Nigeria’s Global Professionals in the Nigerian leadership project, explained that the need to sustain whatever Nigeria has achieved since the return of democracy in 1999 – and since independence in general, continuously motivate and inspire Nigerians – the leadership and the led, as well as tell the authentic Nigerian story to the entire world, are some of the reasons behind the decision to rally round accomplished Nigerian professionals from every corner of the world to partake in the ‘Greater Nigerian project’.

Amechi, who is reputed to have consulted for the ‘global big four consulting firms’ as well as worked for some Global Systemically Important Financial Institutions (G-SIFIs) in various countries in the world,  concluded: “that the Nigerian Professionals’ intervention is in keeping so much with the Nigerian season in a global context, and tend to suggest that things will only continue to change for the better, every circle.

“FGNP has come to inspire Nigeria to victory against under-development, and poor leadership. It aims to inspire Nigeria’s victory against mediocrity. “The professionals in FGNP have a good tactical mind, and Nigeria is still the place to go for discerning investors in the world. Everyone will soon come to rave about the FGNP ideas”, added Dr. Oluwi, an adjunct Professor at both Concordia University of Edmonton, Alberta and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) – all in Canada.

The Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration at Canadian Imperial College, is convinced that Nigeria needs her accomplished professionals scattered around the world today – more than ever before.

“At FGNP, we have decided to answer that call”, With over three decades of experience in manufacturing, communications, electronics, automobile, and presently, management consulting, Dr. Oluwi also heads the Business Advisory Unit at Canadian Imperial Advantage.

Chief Stanley Wokocha, a technocrat and international businessman and Engineer Yemi John, a retired oil & gas engineer in one of the international oil companies added that more than ever before, Nigerians in every part of the world should partake in the transformation project which Nigeria has been pursuing, albeit slowly, over the years.

To John, “we keep recording giant developmental strides in our economy that should be celebrated. Look at the projects the President recently commissioned in Lagos. All point to one direction, we are making progress and will surely get there”.

Another member of the FGNP, Dr. Sanni Mahmud, an information technology security expert, summed up the arrival of the group this way:

“Our goal is to help support and advance good governance, and ultimately influence the image and progress of the Nigerian community back home and in the Diaspora”.

Agbakoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, an alumnus of the University of Nigeria Nsukka and the London School of Economics and Political Science and one of Nigeria’s leading experts in Arbitration, explained further: “The first big issue confronting a new President will be disunity, disorder, and insecurity. If it is not resolved, there will be no peace and the President cannot deliver on his mandate. This is an issue all Presidential candidates correctly identify as an existential threat but are not quite clear on how to resolve it. Nigeria has never been this disunited and disordered.  The International Index of failed states says Nigeria is in a low-grade civil war. There is insecurity, conflict, and agitation everywhere. The southwest of Nigeria is plagued by a surge in cybercrime, armed robbery, kidnapping, domestic crime, extrajudicial killings, herder-farmer conflicts, and banditry. The southeast is a haven for killings, commercial crime, secessionist agitation, kidnapping, herder-farmer clashes, attacks by unknown gunmen, and banditry. The south-south remains threatened by militancy, kidnapping, and environmental agitation. The northeast has been subject to a humanitarian crisis lasting over a decade and caused by the Boko Haram insurgency and the Islamic State in West Africa Province.                       Nigeria is in an extremely fragile state. Available indices show characteristics of a failing state. There are conflicts and agitations everywhere, feelings of marginalization and exclusion, a rise in political and criminal violence, loss of control of borders, rising ethnic, religious, and cultural hostilities, weak institutions, food shortages, unemployment, inflation, crumbling infrastructure, deteriorating human development indicators such as infant and maternal mortality, and literacy rates.

These troubling realities make the 2023 general elections a defining moment for the country which, in turn, raises the need for a thorough and insightful search for who will succeed President Buhari. The candidate who emerges as President must understand all the issues and have a clear vision of where to take the country.

We have read and followed the manifestos and issues of all the presidential candidates and are happy the campaign is issues-based, unlike previous elections.

-Godspower writes  from Abuja.

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