Peter Obi And The Race To Open Nigeria   

By  Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
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Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

Similar to the Famous novelist, poet and critic, Chinua Achebe (1930 – 2013) who in his widely circulated book, ‘The trouble with Nigeria’, among other things stated as follows: “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.”

Likewise, Smart Madu Ajaja, United States Of America Based, Human and Environmental rights Activist and Convener of a politico-philosophical ideology/initiative code-named “Open Nigeria”, recently during an interview with Ika Weekly, a community Newspaper based in Delta state, observed that the problem with Nigeria is no other but a total failure of leadership at all levels-complete collapse of leadership.

In his words, when I mean total collapse, it starts from traditional to the government and everybody. Everybody has failed this country. And because they have successfully created this kind of leadership crisis, what does it do, it impacts on the people negatively. How do people get involved, our people especially the young people do not have a role model that they look up to for leadership. When you see somebody with bad character being a leader, and then he is demonstrating his terrible character, what do you think? They will be looking at him as doing the right thing even as wrong as he or she does. So, it is a total system collapse. The people have their own blame too by not being able to hold leaders accountable. The understanding of government by the people of Nigeria is that the government is almighty God that they must fear.

While pointing on the way forward, he echoed thus; I run an organization that has all Nigerians from various political linings. We have not gotten to that point where we will make a decision about where we will go. But interestingly, Peter Obi seems to be one man who has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that he has as its prime objective; ‘unlocking the potentials of Nigeria for all Nigerians and put the country on the path to genuine nationhood and greatness’ He has shown that he can be a real president of the people of Nigeria and all eyes are on him. I am going to personally interview him. I am very impressed about how he is going about it and how he is being received across the country. I think we need something different for a change’.

Continuing he said; a president is supposed to be humble. A president is supposed to be all loving. A president is supposed to be the president of the whole of Nigeria and could come from any part of the country. Every part of the country will be his constituency. And we are looking for that person.

He argued that there is a lot that the ordinary people of Nigeria can do without resorting to violence.

‘We can approach issues by outright rejection of those who have bought our country. The second is when they call for meetings, we should not be at their meetings any more. We should distance ourselves from them until we are able to get what we want. Now we have an opportunity to address our grievances. We must take absolute advantage of it. We are going to be operating within the realm of ‘what is ok’ more of ‘what is needed’. But how can we do it? by organizing, organizing and organizing behind credible people who can give us what we are looking for. The person that can provide leadership that will keep our young people in our country’.

To make this forthcoming general election a rewarding exercise, he submitted that President Muhammadu Buhari must do well to fund INEC so that they will be able to organize at least a near good election. He however added that the power to organize the 2023 general election should be quickened by the people of Nigeria not by force but by the way they will conduct themselves, by the way that they will prevent people from doing the things that they used to do in the past. That will help INEC a lot. So the power or what is going to come out of the 2023 general election as I see is going to be actually based on how the people of Nigeria take that election. Even if INEC has a program to make the election a success, the people must make it succeed.

Achieving this purpose in ways that will open the system to all Nigerians, as anything short of opening Nigeria is like dressing a wound and ulcer that you know is not going to heal, particularly as Nigerians are like in a cage which needs to let open so that the people will be free to express themselves, he opined that the people have to articulate and understand four basic things..

One, their right to life, their right to freedom of choice, their right to freedom of expression, their right to freedom of association, their right to worship and their right to self determination. The second leg is that citizens must understand that they have the right to the citizenship of Nigeria. And then, if they have the right to the citizenship of Nigeria, that takes us to the third step and that is citizens’ understanding their obligation, when I mean their obligation, their responsibility to Nigeria, responsibility in the forms of civic, morals, constitutional and spiritual obligation to Nigeria. And the fourth leg is citizens' understanding of, and application of respect to the rule of law.

I believe that if we have all these, the citizens will be more conscious about how they make choices of leadership. Leadership is driven by ability, competency, courage, knowledge and exceptional content of character to build, to expand, to extend and sustain capacity beyond themselves for the good of all Nigerians and generations beyond. That is how large the open Nigeria concept of consciousness is. He concluded.

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), A Lagos-Based Non Governmental Organization (NGO). He could be reached via [email protected]/08032725374.

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