*Current leaders have no covenant with the people
From Tunde Mohammed
It is not pleasurable to read minds. And because of its attendant challenges, I have never been a good reader of minds. Upon this, I cannot unequivocally vow for those that seek leadership positions what motivate them. It is possible that people are deceived and perhaps manipulated by sweet-talking political charlatans. It is also possible that the Kwara people are too poor and ignorant to know when they are being conned.
This may not be peculiar to Kwara. It happens everywhere even in the civilised world. But one clear fact that I know is that the only reason that a genuine human being with moral conscience would consider making the sacrifice to run for leadership position is to make a difference in the people’s lives and pass on an enduring legacy.
This is not the case with the current leadership of Kwara State. Those at the helms the state today have no covenant with the people. The only fact that must stand eternally to our embarrassment is that they all are men with tall ambitions but does not know how to translate small dream into reality.
By a strange and somewhat reactionary logic hard to fathom, they have reduced a more serious matter of incompetence and lack of skill to mere politics. They neither have shown a cool head and sound judgement leading also to the lack of will and strength of character to forge the broad consensus essential to finding solutions to the state’s problems.
It is doubtful they even recognise that they have systematically stripped themselves of the benefits and opportunities offered them by the people.
However, as predictable as Kwara’s political landscape is and given the particularly woeful performance of the individuals leading Kwara today, the search for a new leadership come 2019 may not be an easy task.
Does Kwara need new leaders? Before we advance, we need to deal with some pertinent questions of whether Kwara truly is in need of new leaders. Have we begun the process of searching for a new leader? What type of leader do we desire? What set standard do we have that such an individual must meet?
Finally, which senatorial district should produce the governor for 2019? When we deal with these issues in true conscience then we can be said to be ready in search of a leader.
The ethnicisation of gubernatorial struggle is a child of illogic and not a novel phenomenon. It is a symptom of a deeper and more fundamental malaise leading to the zero sum politics and winner takes all mindset of our political elite. It is a reflection that in the Kwara situation, power is sought not for the state development but for primitive accumulation.
Disease of a retarded political class: This is a classic disease of a retarded political class. Although, Senator Bukola Saraki is not the original brand owner, it should be noted that it was under his watch that ethnicisatiion of gubernatorial politics has assumed it’s most dangerous and state threatening form. To be fair, this is partly due to the peculiar circumstances of his political ascendency.
All of these would probably not have mattered were Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed to be in the process of constructing a novel and revolutionary society which involves smashing of old altars and political shrines. But the governor is anything but revolutionary. He is a traditional politician relying on traditional wheeling and dealing.
What is more evident today is the fact that the duo are propelled more by resentment at a perceived loss of their former privileges that Kwarans accorded them that never should have existed in the first instance than fuelled by the idea for creating an innovative and prosperous Kwara.
Which God sent the current leaders we have? This treatise is important as it is designed to serve at this crucial period as safeguard in our quest for the desired individual since the entire glamorised ‘God sent’ ‘God fearing’ leaders (whichever God it is) have let us down.
At 50, Kwara has even more profound appointment with destiny if its people do for themselves what great states previously did for theirs. The state can be small but rich enough to entice its people to believe they can change their misfortune. And unless we can genuinely alter the present structure of leaders in the state by making the right and genuine choice of new set of leaders, Kwara can never be talking of approaching greatness.
For once, the people hunger for a new leader that will give them a sense of purpose and direction.
The kind of new leaders we want as a people: One that is resilient with self belief, who must have confidence in them and also understand their soul. It is not enough for such an individual to be smart or have scent for politics, he must have a heart. The people also must reside in his soul and must be stirred by their intimate residence within him and possess the pre-requisite and in-depth understanding of how a state economy should work.
The Senator Saraki and Abdulfatah Ahmed’s conundrum should throw an illuminating ray on our choice of new leadership come 2019. The fact that we all did not read both men right at the onset occasioned the condition in which we all live today. History should be our guide and we must avoid banana peels and new landmines.
We must also disavow a tendency to gloat and a naïve and pre-mature triumphalism over the proposed ‘not too young to run bill’. Kwara is not ripe for this now. When Senator Saraki became governor of Kwara at age 39 or so in 2003 wearing an innocent and infectious mien, not a few doubted his capability to take the state to the frontiers of modernity.
Eight years down the lane, under his watch all the great fortunes of Kwara began to dwindle leading to the present decay. Governor Ahmed on his part has made matters worse.
Our system of despots and dictators: However, one issue has been reconciled already. Despite our ideological instability noticeable in our already weakened political commitment and no matter how entrenched our people’s gullibility, no system can survive abuses by despots and dictators. And it is to the satisfaction of most of us in the state that the duo of Senator Saraki and Governor Ahmed have since realised that it takes more than personal charisma, body language, braggadocio and ranting to run a state economy like a state economy.
I look back to both the governorship elections of 2003 and 2007 in the state and still marvel how Senator Saraki’s handlers shielded him from the cerebral aspect of the contest. In 2007, he shunned debates and his supporters’ majority inherited from his late father’s camp were too enamoured with his mystique to press him for an agenda. He traversed Kwara with unrealistic manifesto.
The few times he granted interview, not a few were alarmed at his competence but for our inability to differentiate a situational relation, he got re-elected thus, leading to what he has become in today’s Nigeria – irony of sad ironies.
Conservatism versus Progressive politics: It is painful and most embarrassing when Kwara government spokespersons tell us not to compare the state with others. They give us the impression they are uneducated. Webbed perhaps by the perpetual conservative nature of their late grandmaster Abubakar Olusola Saraki, these people sees nothing wrong in the existing order but must continue to yearn for a perpetuation of the status-quo.
This is not necessarily a term of abuse. In the modern Yoruba epoch, the gold standard for measuring progressive politics is and remains late Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo. The great man from Ikenne was not only radically dissatisfied with the ruinous and fractious plight of the Yoruba people in particular; he also came up with a visionary road map for the rapid transformation of the polity.
Within a generation and in a brisk dramatic pace of five years of purposeful and transformational governance, Awolowo had led his people from the farm to the factory. This stride remains a reference point to many Yoruba states today. And for God’s sake if Kwara’s current leaders are bereft of knowledge and the necessary skill to chart a new vision for state development, I do not see anything wrong in ‘stealing’ ideas from others, at least, we already know their weaknesses and can be pardoned once the end justifies the means.
It’s a gifted craftsman we need in 2019: On account of these therefore, Kwara should seek a gifted craftsman and not a congenial relative to effect the needed repair. It is not the cold that we must fear this time but darkness, to echo Miguel Unamuno, the great Spanish writer. Our searchlight must beam on a fellow rich in mind, body and soul that can transform a compelling picture and advance the progress of the state by skilfully and creatively blurring the sharp and dangerous edges that the artificial boundaries between the people have created and remove the wedges that have effectively blocked the development of the entire state.
Such a fellow must be a man with the understanding that states are created for administrative purposes and cannot be used in a way that retards growth or limit the opportunities for the people and certainly never in a way that tears apart the fabrics of the state.
This is not an impossible demand. It required that we direct our search more beyond the realm of idealistic college boys and those with partial and dubious philanthropic gestures. We would need only to combine sense, strength of character and logic in this exercise.
More importantly, the opposition should close ranks ever than before. Politics is imperfect. While two wrongs never make a right, sometimes it is as close as one can get.