Between government of national unity and government of national competence –

President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu amused me last Thursday when he said in a press statement that he would seek a government of state capacity rather than national unity. It was Tinub’s response to those calling for a government of national unity to calm racial and religious tensions sparked by the just-concluded presidential election. During campaigns, politicians use derogatory rhetoric to pit people against each other along religious and racial lines for their own benefit. The result has been that the country’s fault lines have been dug, and many Nigerians have grown resentful towards their fellow citizens of other faiths and regions. Hence the need for national healing, which some believe can only be achieved through the formation of a national government.

But I beg to differ. In most cases, a government of national unity will be a government of compromise, because the focus is not capability but necessity. There can be no justice without compromise, and no peace without justice, and peace is the prerequisite for unity. On the other hand, where capabilities are improved, fairness and justice will be reflected. Where there is justice, there will be peace because everyone will get what they deserve. With this position, progress comes naturally. So, the bottom line is, if you neglect competence, you cannot have unity. But if you make competence your watchword, then not only will you have unity, you will have the icing on the cake of national progress.

Having competent leadership is essential to having the Nigeria of our dreams. This is because while incompetent leaders make excuses, competent leaders overcome all obstacles to achieve the desired results. What kind of leader a country has determines the fate of the country and the fate of the people. When a country is blessed with leaders, its resources are properly allocated, and its people are connected to opportunities, the country’s image will rise. When a country has competent leaders, talent is managed well, people’s energies are channeled into productive enterprises, and the nation’s capabilities are put to optimal use. Competent leaders turn possibility into reality and adversity into prosperity.

Nigeria’s greatest challenge is not corruption but incompetence. Incompetence breeds corruption, not the other way around. Incompetence is responsible for the high levels of poverty and deprivation in the country. Nigeria has huge oil reserves, but the country imports refined petroleum products. Nigeria has huge natural gas reserves but burns them at a time when Nigerians have to rely on generators to generate electricity. The country has some of the most fertile soils in the world, yet Nigeria is a poster child for global hunger. Nigeria is rich in gold, tin and many other natural resources, but it is also one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Nigeria’s proving incompetence is a disaster compared to Singapore, a country so deficient in natural endowments that it has to import water from neighboring countries.

The worst tragedy that can befall a nation is the plague of incompetent leadership. When leadership is incompetent, people are impoverished. When a country is ruled by incompetent leaders, disease prevails. The incompetence of low-level government officials is acceptable because of their low influence, but a cabinet should not consider incompetence because its effects are far-reaching. The rot of the fish starts from the head. So if a country’s leadership is incompetent, it goes to the gulag. Incompetent leadership’s decisions cost the country and hinder its development. Above all, leaders should make decisions that advance the nation’s prosperity and prepare it for the future. But if the leadership’s decisions are consistently wrong, the only way out for the country is the South.

A leader’s main task is to hand over to his successor a country that is more vibrant, more stable, and more prosperous than the one he inherited. But this is far from the case with incompetent leaders. They have weakened the fabric of the state, impoverished the people, and made them slaves of an otherwise mighty state. Unfortunately, the leadership’s incompetence will not be revealed until the quality of life of the nation begins to deteriorate.

One of the qualities of an effective leader is creativity. Leadership is problem solving, and problem solving is about creativity. A problem is a problem because the solution is not obvious. It wouldn’t be a problem if the solution to the problem was obvious. Therefore, creativity is required to come up with solutions to such problems. Competent leaders have a creative approach to problem solving, and one of the first things they do is change the way they think about a problem. This leads them to turn things around until they find out. Competent leaders believe that there is no problem that the human mind cannot solve. So instead of giving in to the problem, they confront the problem until the problem gives in. Competent leaders either find a way or create a way; they don’t believe they’re going to end up in a dead end.

Another characteristic of capable leaders is that they are inspired to change the world. This makes them see the world differently. They travel to the future, see what’s possible in the future, and set out to make it happen.

Then, they are passionate about the people. Competent leaders put the people first. They are driven by a desire to improve the lot of their people.

Their primary concern is not their happiness or comfort, but making life better for their people.

President-elect Bola Tinubu said in a statement, “Our Rising Hope Action Plan outlines our goals for greater economic growth in our urban and rural communities. We are committed to double-digit GDP growth, enhanced food security and a strong manufacturing base.” A strengthened and vibrant digital economy gives young people enough space to realize their dreams and aspirations.”

This speaks to his passion for his people and his plans to improve their lot. Let’s hope he follows that line from his first day in office to his last.

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