It is true that modern societies now thrive on speed and slick marketing. Alas, when it comes to governance and the imperatives of leading a country, it often demands making political haste slowly, deliberately and tenaciously.
I am proud to be a millennial. What a wonderful time to be alive! I mean, look at all the awesome gifts the 21st century has given me. I am typing this piece on a handheld phone with more data space in it than it took to launch rockets into space in the 60s. I am also watching the replay of the crazy game between Manchester United and Newcastle in high definition. The smart car I drive accurately predicts the mileage possible with the fuel in the tank. My daughter is taught in an air-conditioned classroom and she is already developing a world view different from mine as she accesses loads of information at such tender years. I am grateful to witness an age where this article can be read by every person in the world at the same time. It is truly a brave new world. And yet, sometimes, I feel everything is happening too fast.
There are undeniably many reasons to love computers, fast cars, supersonic air travel, WhatsApp, social media, memes, skits and etc. These are the symbols of the frantic and frenetic life-at-the-click-of-a-button world we live in. They ensure things get done faster and far more efficiently. However, sometimes, I am convinced we are living in a time in history when we might need to take heed of an admonishment from the older generations: Make haste slowly. Sometimes I feel things happen too fast for the consequences of our actions and inactions to be clear to us. I am convinced that the temptation to take so many liberties for granted, while ignoring the consequences that come with abandoning the foundations of society, is at an all-time high. It is very easy to be seduced by the neo-philosophies of modern society. New is always better than old, we are made to think. Style can be as important, if not more, than substance, Big Marketing seems to aver. Loud should always be proud, we seem to be exhorted about, daily. And then recently, another absolute head-scratching ‘wisdom’ that materialised from the political blues, like a bad magic trick: It is better to be corrupt than incompetent.
Since the emergence of the presidental candidates of the two major political parties in Nigeria, the raging debate on Twitter has been who should be preferred – the allegedly corrupt former vice president of the country and flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party that led the nation for 16 years, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, or the supposedly incompetent incumbent president, former military head of state and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari. So, the choices could not be more dissimilar: One has mountains of money from sources that are not exactly transparent and straightforward, while the other is Spartan and taciturn, while, purportedly, not living up to the expectations of some Nigerians.
But the distinctions between the two are not always many, as both of them are Fulani, from the Northern region of Nigeria and are Muslims. Both are also in their 70s. Still, Atiku has always worked very well with young people who have branded him as social media-friendly, capitalist and approachable. Buhari, on the other hand, prefers the company of his old friends, only tweets official engagements and only gives a toothy smile when the cameras are on. Atiku is clearly comfortable talking about how he can turn Nigeria into a haven for businesses overnight because, according to him, he is a successful entrepreneur. But, to my mind, Buhari is deliberately and strategically repositioning the economy from a hitherto mono economy to a diversified one that can be sustained via tangible investments that will yield real returns under laws that are fair and true. So, essentially, while one is full of talk of what he will do, given the chance, the other, at least has the experience of having grappled with the relentless, real world realities of governing a country as vast and as vigorous as Nigeria.
Truth be told, the the task of resuscitating the fortunes of Nigeria and optimising its prodigious potential, is a slog and not glamorous. It will not be a quick and easy fix. Lee Kwan Yew did not make Singapore a success in a few years. China went through incredible challenges on its way to becoming a super power.
Atiku has fans because he is an advocate of restructuring the country, even if his ideas regarding the subject are clearly vague and unrealistic, and he has promised to implement those obscure ideas if elected. Buhari, on the other hand, is saying he has sworn to defend the constitution of the land as it is, hence, any alteration should be according to the law and follow due process. Unfortunately, some seem not to really care about what is lawful or just. Some care little for processes. Some folks want righting the ship of state done in a flash. Just as fast as it takes to pout and take a selfie. As easy it is to post a tweet and LOL. Many seem to want everything done right now, seemingly with a wave of a digital wand!!!
Our need for speed is understandable but I find it troubling that some seem to be purporting that character, especially the sterling type, is worth zilch, while the pizazz and fanfare that attend celebrity politicians, are everything. I really don’t understand it! If you want to have enemies on Twitter, dig up news stories of Atiku’s alleged misdeeds and his dance with corruption. You will be amazed at the attacks that will be hurled at you. Then, try elucidating on how Buhari is slowly but surely turning the tide and impacting the lives of many Nigerians, especially the poor. That, too, will summarily earn you insults and ridicule.
Truth be told, the the task of resuscitating the fortunes of Nigeria and optimising its prodigious potential, is a slog and not glamorous. It will not be a quick and easy fix. Lee Kwan Yew did not make Singapore a success in a few years. China went through incredible challenges on its way to becoming a super power. The UAE painstakingly charted its course to sustainability. Even the iPhones we all love to flaunt, cost its designers more sleepless nights than can be imagined. Why should transforming Nigeria be any less arduous or deliberate? Nigeria will only succeed when everyone knuckles down to the slow and onerous task of nation building.
It is true that modern societies now thrive on speed and slick marketing. Alas, when it comes to governance and the imperatives of leading a country, it often demands making political haste slowly, deliberately and tenaciously. No prizes for guessing who gets my vote in 2019. You know what? I’m not going to leave you hanging…. I’m with the guy with the toothy smile.
Gbenga Olorunpomi is the Senior Special Assistant to the Kogi State Governor and an ardent retweeter.