By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
One quality that we cannot deny Chief, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC, of is his record performance when he was the Governor of Lagos State. None among the presidential candidates can claim anything close. The difference is that the Jagaba believes in change. “Change is my philosophy”, he told Graeme Blair, the team leader of researchers who visited him in Lagos from Princeton University in 2009.
Of course, majority of us will easily claim the desire that we like things to change. However, for change to take effect, a leader must embody five things: One, the correct thought emanating from a mindset that is formatted on a change operating system (OS); two, the opportunity; three, a clear pathway for change; four, the tools for change; and five, the determination to see change happen. Tinubu and Lagos in 1999-2007 saw the convergence of these five factors.
In his bid to elucidate for the Princeton University team what it termed “fairly major and expensive changes which can often be difficult in many circumstances”, Tinubu was elaborate in explaining the modus of his reforms. (I have provided the link to the full text of the interview at the end of the article.) The interview was a bit complex especially with the way he naturally speaks; so, I tried for the purpose of this article to distillate the major components of his change process and present them here to give Nigerians a snapshot of his mind, goals and methods as the President.
Seven components came out clearly in Tinubu’s approach to reforming Lagos State, all of them essential on May 29 when he assumes office in Abuja, God willing. They are:
1. Visionary leader
5. Public Support
Put together in a sentence: Going by Tinubu’s Lagos transformation model, you need a visionary leader to change things, the brains of experts who will think through how the vision can be realized, the technological tools needed for its materialization, the workforce to incubate and implement it, the public support to receive and appropriate it, the funds to be generated and used as its haemoglobin, and a successor or series of successors who will continue on its infinite path.
As the CEO of Nigeria, Tinubu will typically behave like Steve Jobs. That will be the greatest asset that Aso Rock and indeed the nation would have this year. He will settle down, as he did in Lagos, and envision something that will change a situation, throw it at the experts and give them a deadline. They would go into brainstorming sessions after a baseline survey of the problem, come up with an array of ideas, adopt the best for the situation, comb the entire universe for where to get the best tools to use, and set out for its actualization with a relentlessly ruthless effort until its success is laid bare for all to see and applaud.
Nigeria today is how Tinubu met Lagos in 1999: a major hub for chaos, violence, filth, traffic jams, unemployed youths, archaic and corrupt public service, low IGR and dependent on the FG for oxygen, poor public infrastructure, poor education standard, dubious land administration, dysfunctional judiciary, etc. He started picking the bits and pieces; came up with sustainable programs that employed the youths; cleaned the environment; repaired the roads and built new ones; bettered the condition of workers, their salaries and their workplace; provided cars, computers, judge assistants to the judges; greatly improved public transportation system; computerized the payroll and land administrations, increased the monthly IGR from N600million to N10billion, defied chance and chose for Lagos successors who continued pursuing the vision, etc. These phenomenal changes are fully explained in the interview below.
Governments in Nigeria today need cleaning and upgrading too. More than half of the changes that took place in Lagos between 1999 and 2007 are yet to take place at the federal and state levels. The analogue system still abounds in many areas of administration and finance. While the work at the federal level will require the attention of the visionary President, he will need to pull state governors into his change orbit, where they will share his vision, listen to his advice and receive his inducement for adopting those changes in their states.
Without downplaying the slow changes that have been taking place in the past two decades, which in any case are global drives that all nations have to adopt, one can truly assert that Nigeria as a whole has for long suffered from analogue leaders with limited vision, who are slow in perception and response to issues, comfortable with status quo, averse to innovation, afraid of technology, disdainful of merit and competence, reckless of finances and nonchalant of the future. As a result, public administration is lagging kilometers behind technological advancements such that while citizens are daily acquiring cutting age technologies that enable the criminal to be innovative in his perpetration, governments lack the technological capacity to be ahead in blocking them. It is a condition that only a smart leader can change successfully.
Tinubu is one such smart leader that nation must not miss on 25 February 2023. Innovative skills are required in every aspect of administration and business. Only this will create jobs, fight crime, enrich the nation and return us to our rightful place as the giant of Africa. Some have argued that he is now too old to pursue change at the national level. I disagree. Typically, he is already promising to make Nigeria the first smart nation in Africa. Listen to him on the topic as reported in The Guardian this morning:
“This is a continuation of my plan and policies for a new Nigeria. I am in charge of the national rebirthing agenda, which aims to champion a new Nigeria of our dreams… This is aimed at establishing goals, such as becoming Africa’s first world-class tech drive state and a transformation plan to become a smart nation, utilizing technology to transform how our families, businesses work… We must lead the way in envisioning, imagining and innovating in Nigeria if we are to fully appreciate the boundless opportunities that come with the smart nation and digital realities.”
A person that has the strength, courage and doggedness to run a year round program of very challenging party primaries where he defeated all odds and thereafter sustained a non-stop, 6-month presidential campaign certainly has the ability to sit in the luxury of the Villa, see a problem, envision a solution, engage the experts, issue the directives and do the follow ups essential for its actualization. Getting such a person is a decision that the nation must take this 25th February.
It is not surprising that I gravitate towards him as I attempt to share the same change ideals and worldview throughout my life. Other Nigerians, especially the youths, must do the same. Tinubu, more than any other candidate, personifies for them the vision required for their cognitive and material development. He once did it. It is proven. He has the right OS for that. We must not miss him, for never have we come so close to having such a visionary as the President.
The Jagaba is coming to Abuja from Lagos with this inherent mindset for change. The APC has given him the ticket. We should give him the boarding pass for the journey and our rebirth is assured.
We are waiting for his safe arrival.
TINUBU’s Princeton University Interview