I read the speech Governor Fashola delivered at the birthday ceremony for Timipre Sylva – former Governor of Bayelsa State (https://m.facebook.com/nasirelrufai/posts/10154470822620128) which a friend sent to my email box recently. The implications of the speech are many and varied. Some of them are highlighted below.
1. That Nigeria is blessed with abundant human capital is not a ruse
The prevalent socio-economic crises in Nigeria have blinded not a few of us to the fact that our nation is indeed blessed with abundant human capital. When we hear or read about this fact, our forlornness gets the better of us and we think: “Human beings, yes! Human capital, where is that?”
The truth is that Nigeria has more than enough human capital to take the nation to dizzying height in terms of economic growth and development. Some of the sectors harbouring the nation’s human capital are mentioned in Governor Fashola’s epochal speech.
2. Nigeria has all she needs to solve her problems
This fact flows from (1) above. Nigeria has no need of mercenaries to steer the wheel of the nation on the path of socio-economic progress. What is lacking is the leadership with the will.
3. Leaders are readers
Someone said: “Everything we need for a life change is already in books, sermons, lyrics of a song, poems…” Two qualities that stand out as one reads Governor Fashola’s speech are: intellectual prowess and thoughtfulness. That he has these qualities is not surprising because he comes across as a reader.
The likes of Governor Fashola make it clear that no longer can great stuff be kept from the black man by simply hiding them in books.
4. Leadership remains the bane of Nigeria’s growth and development
It is wishful thinking to imagine that Nigeria will develop by a stroke of luck. Such expectation is like expecting someone to make a good morsel of ‘eba’ with cold water!
Life is full of challenges. The Master said: “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). However, the succour we need in this challenging world should come from leaders (at home, workplace, and community).
5. Nigeria’s biggest challenge is indifference (on the part of the elite)
Edmund Burke said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” This statement is probably not truer elsewhere than Nigeria. A friend jokingly put the Nigeria’s situation this way: “When your neighbour’s beard is on fire, rush to soak yours in a bowl of water!”
In the warped sense of imagination of our significant individuals, the answer to the deplorable state of our roads is more 4WDs; the state of our healthcare system calls for foreign medical trips; the antidote to our falling standard of public school education is expensive private school education at home and abroad; the appropriate response to the pervasive insecurity includes gated housing estates, bulletproof vehicles, and armed convoys!
As Governor Fashola said, freedom is more important than development. In any case, is there anything like development in the absence of freedom? We would have the kind of society we desire when the elite rise up to their responsibility. I said much about this in the article: Nigeria – Unmaking a failing State published on June 30, 2014.
On the strength of Governor Fashola’s speech, some people have said he should be handpicked as the next president of Nigeria. That’s well said but I don’t think that is as important as the essence of the speech. Even though he has done well as the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Governor Fashola is smart enough to know that all achievements are surpassed in the long run.
The essence of Governor Fashola’s speech is the demystification of exemplary leadership. He has let us in on how his mind works. Reading his speeches shows how he thinks, thus proving that great leadership is a way of thinking not rocket science. In calling the CEOs of some sectors of the national economy to join in salvaging the leadership situation in Nigeria, Governor Fashola is obviously not deluding himself into thinking that he’s the only one.
In all, Governor Fashola will be remembered more for what he put in writing than his other achievements. That’s a smart move on his part.