For many patriots, the forthcoming presidential election is like no other in the annals of Nigeria’s political history. This school of thought is informed by the tottering phase of our nationhood when there is so much to think about regarding our collective future because so many things are not looking good as the nation is confounded in a miasma of adversity.
Therefore, genuine patriots are bothered on the way forward and as would be reflected in both the electoral process and indeed the outcome of the 2023 presidential election. This is why Nigerians must take the election seriously particularly on the question of leaders it throws up at the end of the day.
Thus, the leadership debate has continued to re-echo as we now have in a new book which centres on a frontline presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the transformative leadership he could bring to the table if elected next president. Titled Atiku Abubakar: Uniting Nigeria for Peace and Prosperity, the book promises to ignite hot debates on the subject and other related issues of development and Nigeria’s quest for renewal.
The author, Tony Olutomiwa, a media executive, writes so effusively on the exceptional qualities of Atiku as exemplar and unifier, most suitable to take over the reins of power at this moment in our national history because of his demonstrated leadership, vision and experience, noting that “the essential Atiku is a fitting answer to a national crave for a new leadership that is truly compassionate, transformative and effective.”.
The book which has 12 chapters, however, did not treat the leadership question in isolation as it offers insights into varied topical issues which the Atiku Abubakar presidency would tackle headlong if elected as Buhari’s successor. Thus, aside the introduction which explains the essence of the book and followed by what the author considers as the issues in the historic election (situated basically as that of the economy, security, restructuring and nation building, patriotism and good governance) “to reflect our common goals and aspirations,” the book focuses explicitly on the man Atiku and his mission in politics.
Other serious topics include Reinventing Leadership and Service, Reviving and Entrenching Institutions, Serious Engagement with the youths, Restructuring as Elixir and Clarion call to Patriots. Yet, there are chapters on Job-Creation, Change the Change, A Chance for Good Governance and Rebuilding Nigeria’s Leadership, and Restoring our place in the World”.
Both leadership reinvention and institutions are deemed major areas requiring attention by the next president because they are important for national renewal having been so derelict till date and consequential to the poor state of affairs. While ineffective leadership has continued to be a drawback, our institutions are so weak, non-functional and moribund, the author posited, thus leading to poor service delivery across board. Therefore, the author suggests a turnaround which he affirms would be better actualised by the Atiku presidency, stating that “the twin elements of leadership and service have to be reviewed and taken seriously as mutually inclusive variables”, adding that “recent efforts at making adjustment in a series of struggles and policy somersaults by the Buhari administration hardly measures to the high expectations of the Nigerian people”.
Under “Serious Engagement with the Youths”, the author articulates the importance which Atiku attaches to the concerns of the youth population in the country, indicating that such propensity would be given greater verve if the former vice president eventually gets the number one job and at the driver’s seat. Here, attention is drawn to the less than desirable priority given to youth development by the APC-led federal government close to eight years in the saddle.
The author cites yearly decrease in budgetary allocations to both education and health as “too critical but neglected areas,” thus impoverishing the youths.
Nonetheless, the author showers praises on the Nigerian youths as being exemplary as can be seen in their enterprise, talent and adventurous struggles to make great impact.
The inherent challenge, the author posited, is already being addressed by Atiku who will “deliberately and innovatively invest in the youths of this country because he’s familiar with their issues to freely express themselves in leadership and enterprise.”
Restructuring comes under sharp focus in chapter seven, recognized as a well-thought-out idea in remaking the country towards peaceful co-existence out of the present situation that is considered not working. Although this subject has been given different interpretations, the book however sees it as a major campaign issue for any serious candidate in the 2023 election, underscoring the concern that “having existed for the last 61 years as a nation and having experienced different governing models and threats to nationhood, it is a fact of our realities today that this current federal system is not working.” The author explains that restructuring is not a poison but a realistic era Atiku Abubakar is proposing for the best interest of the people.
Other issues treated in the campaign book include the call to patriotism, to let Nigerians see the 2023 election as a call to duty by voting responsibly to elect a worthy leader in the mold of Atiku Abubakar that can usher in the long-awaited promised land. As the author argued, “the distinctive leadership value of Atiku Abubakar should be our concern in this all-important presidential election. It is a citizens’ election which should truly engender our unity in diversity.”
Chapter nine is devoted to the challenge of job-creation as a cardinal issue to Atiku, who, it is stated, will pursue the lofty goal of creating many good and high paying jobs to address the acute unemployment situation in the country.
Quoting various economic indices mostly from the NBS and Debt Management Office, the campaign book tender serious queries on the performance indicators of the APC government which it claimed failed to deliver on its electoral promises.
A new government on Atiku’s watch, the author further writes in chapter 12, would engender opportunity for rebuilding Nigeria’s leadership and thus restoring its place in the world.
According to the author, “Nigeria’s foreign policy under President Buhari has been anything but suspect, largely bogged down by inertia and poor vision. Atiku Abubakar believes we now need a clearer opinion and strategy as Nigeria reforms towards a new regime of vibrant diplomacy. This can’t be achieved with the current laidback, weak and uninspiring foreign policy under the APC administration”.
The issues raised in the campaign book also found validation in the penetrating foreword by the governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, who also stressed the relevance of Atiku’s leadership towards national renewal, adding that “after such turbulent eight years of the ruling APC, Atiku is committed to uniting the nation for peace and prosperity.”
•Ugochukwu writes from Mixot Media Ltd, Abuja.
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Atiku and the Challenge of National Renewal – THISDAY Newspapers