This post is part of an interrogation from within and views are subject to change with a superior argument. Actually, it is not linked to my firm principles but only a conversation with current reality.
Recently, I have been ruminating on what kind of leadership thrives here. I am still thinking about it and I assume only a mix of populist and visionary leadership can actually work. Nigerian voters are not that sophisticated to stay on policy issues and if politician arrives with a grand plan typical of one bred in the West, it will be shocking that nothing will be achieved. A politician has 2.5 years to work. The first six months to settle down and the last one year to prepare for another election.
Here are some of my recent thoughts though with frail conviction on how to be Governor that wins the second term in Nigeria. The only person I think may disrupt this formula is Governor Ibikunle Amosun who applies reverse approach that will ‘bully’ voters to vote him in 2015. He has made a ‘wreck’ of the state in pulling down structures and at that grand scale, I doubt if the electorate will take chances to replace him. Here are quick four steps:
1. Forget FAAC, Go & borrow: The reality is that if you are not in Lagos, Kano nor in the Niger Delta with a bucket of derivation funds, you will hardly impress anyone in four years. There are salaries, pensions, government overheads, existing debt service payments to be paid and when a Governor makes all that payments, you might have less that N500m left. Grand scale thinking on improving IGR is a medium term approach and don’t forget that you have just 2.5 years to rule. So find quality projects that can dazzle the public – roads, schools, hospitals – and borrow against it. No one remembers that Aregbesola in three years raised N11.4bn bonds to build model schools nor Jonathan regime has doubled national debt using borrowed funds to refurbish airports, Abuja-Kaduna rail, raise counterpart funding Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and 2nd Niger Bridge. They will sing your praises, you are really performing. The data is obscure to most people. Oyo State has been planning N30bn bond for two years, looks like they wont wake up.
2. Let the people ‘eat’: Don’t be too elitist and remember that N10,000 monthly wage has a cascade effect on the society. Look at Aregbesola, he was ‘A’ at his populism game which is not a bad tag, he is only responding to his environment. He did OYES, set up a mass sewing school that employs at least 3,000 people, gave free school uniform and free daily meal to pupils. Mimiko has used the Abiye programme to endear himself to the Ondo people. PDP also in that mode has SURE-P alerts for the most vulnerable and agric subsidies for the farmers. It’s nice that you are building roads, schools, hospitals but the self-interest in quantitative terms that people can latch on or aspire to also matters.
3. Beware of Civil Servants: The context matters but don’t play with civil servants especially if they are a power bloc in a state. In most societies they are the enlightened few and grassroots seek aspiration with them. If a politician wants to reform the civil service, wait till the next term. If there are bad old teachers, send them on a training to improve them but have tighter controls on the new recruits. Small raises such a leave bonus, 13th month, have workers’ solidarity rallies, you need them on your side.
4. Religion & Traditional Institutions: Never tamper with these institutions, it raises a whole of emotions. Don’t touch traditional rotation structure nor come close to being labeled an extremist on the divide. Dont descreate religious institutions, remember Ohakim. It could be the single reason why a politician is going down.
In all, be a noisemaker. Make sure everything you do is amplified and your party members don’t stop singing your praises. Make sure you consider your perception at all time because half-truths become the reality. Don’t listen only to those you employed as your assistants so often, soar and hear from the streets to always tweak your perception. No matter what you will still have to campaign hard.A comeback is never easy.