Dilemma of unending promises by Abiodun Komolafe.

by Adabanija Kamorudeen

It is a glorious thing to have a tested leader as the president of a country. It is also a blessing when the president means what he says and when what he says is not just believable but also approved by the people. Such society is bound to swim in an environment of enormous possibilities because the question of trust is taken care of. The question of purpose is also sorted. Be that as it may, it is a two-edged sword: the leader will have to be conscious of time and calculative of his achievements while the mass of the people must remain critical in terms of the goals and objectives of government.

As for the people, that’s what will give them the leverage in terms of the measurement of performance of the critical goals and objectives of the government. As for the government, to achieve its goal, no Ministry is sacrosanct; no policy is a no-go area. In other words, there should be no sacred cows. So, a leader worth his designation must be exceptionally bold.

Promises are good when they are implemented. They create an atmosphere of trust and a political capital that is difficult to deplete. But when promises are made but broken, they deplete the political capital faster than a bullet. It is like thunder and lightning.

Integrity also wanes. The more the believability of a gladiator wanes, the faster the credibility and the ability to win elections fly away. If one tells the people something and that thing wanes, so is a certain percentage of one’s political capital waning. The more reason a leader has to guide the currency of his or her promises, because nobody wants to trade with a currency that’s under suspicion. In other words, once it gets to a point where the people are no longer eager to listen to their leader’s voice, trouble looms.

It is no longer news that President Bola Tinubu has promised to let the poor breathe! He has promised to banish poverty! He has also promised to fight insecurity to a standstill! As a matter of fact, Nigerians have lost count of the promises made by this administration since May 29. Early this week, Tinubu vowed that no student would drop out of school on his watch! The point is: Nigerians are tired of unending promises from their leaders. In the 80s, Nigerians were promised houses, stable power supply, affordable and qualitative education and ‘everything for all’ by the Year 2020. This is 2023 and … here we are! So, Tinubu needs to prove to the world that he is different from the abnormal norms. He should learn, especially from our recent past, because examples of people who started well but ended badly abound.

Successive governments have taught Nigerians how to get weary of unending promises. It’s a bad experience which they don’t want to relive. On May 29, 2015, Muhammadu Buhari assumed office as Nigeria’s president. Buhari came into office standing on a tripod: security, fight against corruption and infrastructure development and job creation. By the time he was leaving office on May 28, 2023, life in Nigeria as a Nigerian had become extremely hard. So, only God can rate the former president’s performance and thank him on behalf of Nigerians. For instance, Buhari had promised to recover every Chibok girl captured by Boko Haram. He had also promised to lead Nigeria ‘from the front.’ But that’s what they were: unfulfilled promises. Mention the economy under Buhari and Nigerians would be quick to recount how he acted King Rehoboam.

On the war against corruption, some of those who were around between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985 would have by now concluded that those who impishly said that Nigerians were being ruled by one funny ‘Jibrin from Sudan’ might not have been sincerely wrong. So, when Femi Adesina said that his principal fulfilled all his promises to Nigerians, one could not but marvel at the height of insult on the collective intelligence of Nigerians.

‘If the foundation be destroyed …?’ The problem with Nigeria has been a dearth of forthright and insightful leaders; and that’s why dear country has been in this sorry pass. The late Obafemi Awolowo was too elitist in his time; and he ended up being sandwiched by anti-elitist elements! It was a serious issue but, even at that, Awolowo did some things which clearly distinguished him as a forthright leader. For example, when the then University of Ife was to be established, the Ikenne-Remo-born politician resolved to make it the best university on this part of the planet. To achieve this, he ordered the hiring of the best brains from across the globe, even if it would cost the Western Region a substantial amount of resources. Reports had it that it was Awolowo who personally looked for Professor Hezekiah Oluwasanmi as the university’s pioneer Vice Chancellor. Decades after its establishment, the institution, now rechristened Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), still retains even its powerful aesthetic appeal.

Tinubu as an individual is determined and he’s working. But where are the Ministers? Where are the Ministers of Agriculture and Power for instance? The Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, has not uttered a word or made a policy statement since his inauguration. On his part, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari has refused to take advantage of the low-hanging fruits that the sector presents, both in terms of the massive food production advocacy and provision of employment opportunities to mitigate the stress on the economy. In fact, what is only known about ‘Penkelemesi’ is his running upandan, crisscrossing between Ibadan and Abuja; and it’s as if his destiny depends solely on the governorship seat of Oyo State, come 2027.

Without doubt, too many promises are a panacea for loss of focus. Therefore, Tinubu should let Nigerians know which among his promises are achievable before this first term expires. For instance, if he is going to provide electricity, let it be that Tinubu has said that electricity is his main focus. In any case, two terms of eight years can’t even be enough to resolve the many challenges bedeviling the sector. But at the end of the day, Nigerians won’t have to go back to it again.

The State of Israel once started as a subdued nation. But she went back to the drawing board to recalibrate the reasons for her existence. Now, woe betide any nation that thinks little of Eretz Yisrael. Even the United States of America takes Israel into consideration before taking any steps. So, wither Nigeria, the ‘Giant of Africa’?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

*KOMOLAFE wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk; 08033614419 – SMS only)

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