It was no less a person than the war-time Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Winston Churchill, who said that democracy is the best form of government.  But he said it a round-about way. He said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried.” His positive cynicism is borne out of his frustrations with the system.  Indeed, democracy has many challenges, especially in the developing world, including Nigeria.  

 Democracy has four major pillars: Free and fair election, Rule of law (not of strongmen), System of Checks and balances, that is separation of powers and Occasional change in leadership. For me personally, the fundamental requirement of a democracy is the occasional change in political leadership. This is because as they say, “everything rises and falls on leadership”. Nigerian democracy, with all its challenges, manages to effect the occasional change successfully and peacefully in leadership. We shouldn’t take this for granted, and we need to congratulate ourselves. Our democracy is enduring.  

I especially want to welcome Dr. Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso, former Governor of Kano State; Professor Attahiru Jega, our iconic former INEC chairman, and of course, Governor Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State. The three are leaders of consequence. Kwankwaso is a man of both governance and political consequence, having achieved excellent development outcomes during his days as governor of Kano State. Not to mention the political genius he recently demonstrated with his young party, the New Nigerian peoples’ Party (NNPP), during the recent elections. He achieved a decent presidential electoral result and won the Kano Governorship seat.  

Jega, of course, is an accomplished academic and administrator, and can, without question, be referred to as the father of modern election management in Nigeria. Indeed, my personal favorite “Jega moment” is the way he handled then Minister Orubebe’s protest at the Presidential election collation center during the 2015 general election. El-Rufai is a public sector leader, even if initially a reluctant one. El-Rufai’s candor in leadership, ability to take tough decisions that are in the long-term interest of the people and for independent thinking and execution are unmatched. In our intellectual cycles, we say you may disagree with El-Rufai in many fronts, and many do, but it’s difficult to ignore the positive outcomes in leadership that he has achieved variously at BPE, as Minister of FCT, and now as Governor of Kaduna State.  

 The massive infrastructural redevelopment in Kaduna over the last few years is a case in point, but in addition he achieved the following: Elrufai raised Kaduna Internally Generated Revenue from N11bn in 2015 to over N80bn in 2022; Kaduna ranked first on Transparency and Integrity index in 2021; Kaduna jumped to fourth on IGR ahead of all the oil producing states except Rivers; Kaduna is one of three states that generate more revenue than its monthly share of the “addictive” Federation Account Allocation Committee. He opened Kaduna up for increased Foreign Direct Investment   inflows and the World Bank rated Kaduna first on Ease of doing business.  

I am sure that the new Governor of Niger State, Hon. Mohammed Umaru Bago has a lot to learn from these distinguished public servants as he begins his stewardship in the service of our people.  

Dr Mohammed K. Santuraki, former Chairman, Niger State Gubernatorial Inauguration Council  

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