President Tinubu: A Birthday Wish for a Birthday Mate

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu
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By Law Mefor

My President, it’s our birthday. March 29. As members of the ram-ruled zodiac, we are Aries. We walk where angels would not dare, because we are bullish. Our middle name is courage. People born under the sign of Aries are fearless, vibrant, and full of life; charming, lively, passionate, and motivated by their hearts and desires. To succeed, they must put everything into it, but once they do, they are unstoppable. They thrive on rivalry, targets, competition, and challenges.

You really are one-of-a-kind. You are an enthusiastic, driven, and self-assured leader who fosters community through your upbeat demeanour and unwavering resolve. Simple and straightforward in your approach, you frequently become irritated by unnecessary details and superfluous subtleties.

However, the price of our great ambitions is often high. Aries people can be stubborn. In leadership, we get a little irritable due to our drive to take the lead, finish tasks quickly, and do so promptly. Additionally, Aries has a tendency to act without thinking, making them rather naïve. You, too, fit into this.

The public witnessed this weakness when you announced that fuel subsidies had been removed during your inauguration speech, which set off a negative economic spiral from which the country has still not recovered. You made this announcement to the public outside of your written address with the best of intentions. As you can see, Your Excellency’s well-intentioned policies don’t always translate into favourable outcomes. Your naira flotation policy is likewise negatively impacting. With 75% of Nigeria’s exports consisting of crude and very little else, there is no justification for the naira to be floating. Fix and protect the naira, please.

As you confessed, you planned for thirty years to be the president of Nigeria. It took thirty years of arduous labour, meticulous preparation, networking, relationship-building, and bridge-building. Finally, everything paid off. The groundswell of opposition has not prevented you from becoming the president of Nigeria. Even if I disagree with your ascent to the presidency of Nigeria, I sincerely hope you succeed because, should you fail, it will be to everyone’s detriment.

I suppose you’ve succeeded if your goal is to hold the office of the president as an end to itself, solely to show off as the president of Nigeria. If answering Nigeria’s President Tinubu is not a means to an end but an end in and of itself, it will be unfortunate. Your Excellency, that shouldn’t be the case! The president’s job should serve as a tool to achieve a worthwhile goal. It should be a means to bring Nigeria back together, reset its course for progress, and establish justice and peace as the nation’s guiding principles.

Since its founding, Nigeria has only ever experienced leadership issues. But leadership is the key to everything, and in a presidential democracy, this is especially true for a country’s leadership. Any president will get the support he requires if he sincerely wishes to bring the nation together and advance. But the real question is, Your Excellency: Do you really want to bring Nigeria together and develop it? What you say to the public doesn’t matter; you already know the answer.

In actuality, two former Nigerian presidents have stated in various places that the country is still merely a geographical expression and not yet a nation. Though their shortcomings when they ruled are not the focus of this birthday wish, the two former presidents achieved little to unite Nigeria. As president, your task is to unite Nigeria into a nation and develop it. Nothing dictates that you must also fail like your forebears who were unable to bring Nigeria together and establish the country as a nation. It is possible for you, Your Excellency, to become the father of modern Nigeria and bring shame upon your forebears, who merely made token contributions to the unification and advancement of Nigeria.

The inability of North and South Nigeria to come to terms with a nation and nationhood is the issue facing Nigeria. It seems more likely that what separates Nigeria’s north and south will continue to widen than to contract, unless real leadership puts a wedge in it. Will you be able to bring Nigeria’s Christian South and Muslim North together? Is it possible to deliberately reject nepotism in favour of being a statesman and nationalist leader? Your appointments so far have been rather nepotistic. You can do better, sir.

When federalism was actually implemented in Nigeria, it functioned well. Can you consciously bring back federalism to Nigeria so that the states are federating entities rather than just the federal government’s extensions? The El Rufai Committee Report on Restructuring, the 2014 Confab Report, and the 1963 Constitution are the three policy documents that will unlock Nigeria’s united and prosperous future. To help the country and all Nigerians understand that the restoration of federalism in Nigeria is beneficial to all zones, all that is needed is political will and diplomacy, which can be very valuable. Your Excellency, are you able to deal with that?

In addition to putting the Oronsaye Report into effect as soon as possible, your government must be drastically reduced. The largest cabinet in Nigerian history is yours. The constitution only stipulates that you need 36 ministers, yet you currently have 54, the majority of whom have contributed nothing. Can you disband this obtuse cabinet and hire top-tier technocrats from Nigeria who can come from both inside and outside of political parties, from within and outside the country? Your Excellency, can you do that to begin reducing the cost of governance?

As I mentioned before, your two main economic policies of removing fuel subsidies and floating the naira may seem like sensible ideas on paper. However, it is evident that their poor implementations have created two major economic headwinds for both the unfortunate Nigerians and the country’s economy. Although I wouldn’t demand that the two measures be reversed, it is imperative that the dollar and fuel prices be pegged to the value of the naira. Is that something you can do? Set the petrol pump price at N600 and the dollar exchange rate at any point below N1000, and defend both for at least two years before revisiting. Your Excellency, are you able to deal with that?

Give the nation state police, community police, and forest guards to help Nigeria move towards federalism and give the people more control over security, as security is local. And I would like to think that Your Excellency is aware that only Nigeria has a centralised police force among the 26 countries in the world that practice federalism. As a result, our police force is an anomaly within the federal system of government and needs to be changed right away.

Your Excellency, treat insecurity in the country as an emergency that it is; focus on agriculture, health, and education; and outsource infrastructure. Above all, aim for equality among the six regions and create an economic hub for each. That way, the six regions will take off on economic integration and growth, fend for themselves, and complement the federal efforts.

Finally, note that many of us became activists because of you, Your Excellency. You, too, are an activist. Be more empathetic towards agitators than you once were. In this way, we can start the process of national reconciliation, binding and healing the nation’s wounds. In that spirit, free Nnamdi Kanu and the other agitators. Your Excellency, are you able to deal with that? The nation is fractured and needs healing, and the nation cannot make progress on fractured limbs.

Nigeria would become a nation, cease to be a simple geographical expression, and revive its growth and development if you put these and other measures into practice. Because they attempted to manage a unitary government within a federal framework, your predecessors failed. If you follow the same course, you will also fail.

However, if you choose a different course and strategy, you can succeed and go all the way to becoming the father of modern Nigeria, the world’s most populous black nation. You certainly can, Mr. President!

Happy birthday again, my president, my birthday mate. God bless you and grant you the discernment and courage to act in the best interests of future generations, your country, and all of humanity.

Dr. Law Mefor, an Abuja-based forensic and social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought;; Twitter: @Drlawsonmefor.

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