Farouk Martins Aresa
Qualification For President: Honesty Or Hypocrisy?
Qualification For President: Honesty Or Hypocrisy?
By Farouk Martins Aresa
Qualification for President short of honesty is Much Ado About Nothing or banza. Hypocrisy reigns in the land as high-tech public relation machines are deployed, by politicians to propagate and confuse voters. Even the relatively fair electoral progress is stifled by indoctrination.
Africa had its share of honest politicians from Patrice Lumumba in Congo to Nkrumah in Ghana. Sadly Africa is yet to point to a country that has got its act together. Yet selfish interest, qualifications overwhelm dedication.
Nigerians refer to at least two heroes as the best Presidents they never had but if the two and more contest for election today, they will still lose. Many will quickly point to ethnicity. What they forget is most people except the West in 1999 decided to vote for the most "detribalized" candidate. Moreover, the present leader came in with the lion share of the votes from both the North and the South regardless of ethnic regions.
Another election is due this February and the propaganda machines are at work, not on dire needs and substance but on qualifications, fear, burial or business as usual. Well, qualifications matters, some would argue otherwise we might as well install an illiterate in government that is well schooled in Biblical/Koranic studies. It is still debatable if more education or qualifications can produce a better President. It must be noted that the President of Nigeria has a PhD.
All our qualifications from Oxford and Harvard never cured Africans of endemic corruption. It is not your qualification but what you have achieved with it that matters. Democracy entrenched outrageous corruption beyond the reach of honest working individuals. Unfortunately, it allows rebranding of evil motives as stomach infrastructure but ignores dedication. It is just as bad in the countries we model ours after; where middleclass vote against their own self-interest.
Some of you might remember Ohio Joe the plumber and retirees that do not want government in their Medicare! Another one: the more taxes cut, the more revenue government gets. These are well-orchestrated propaganda against middleclass that worked and are being recycled in Africa as tax free zones. After all, most of the indoctrinations abroad are qualifications in Africa.
Throughout Nigeria’s military and civil government, the Minister of Finance can compete with any of his counterpart in every country in the world. Indeed, most of our ministers in charge of money went to the best schools in the world. Furthermore, as foreign trained financial wizards, they were able to deal with those they went to school abroad with. It is sad to report that most have selfishly sold all African countries out or their foreign classmates outwitted them.
Let us start with Ghana briefly as an example. There was consensus between World Bank and International Monetary Fund that once Ghana sold its “Gold Pot” or privatized it and devalued its currency, they would become the envy of Africa and world developing countries. For a while, they were actually showcasing Ghana as a good example of responsible government on the way to the 'Promised Land.' As soon as the pledge collapsed, they fled. They even expressed regrets for structural adjustments forced on developing countries later. Yeah, they always apologize later.
If qualification is not the answer, what is? Nationalism can be a double edge sword because it invites sanctions as in Zimbabwe and benevolent dictatorship might backfire as in Arab Spring. Nigerians are sure that they often export what they lack in democracy and import what they have like rich culture, taste, food and oil. If we switch them around and take pride in our own culture, food and process our oil for local and African demand, we may cut our coat accordingly.
It cannot be that simple, otherwise Africans could have mastered our destiny. Nigeria’s present Minister of Finance may produce an answer in terms of qualification and leadership. She has served two Presidents and each of them would swear she performed miracles. Each time there were problems; they always put her forward to give the most “logical” answer of how Nigeria’s incomes were managed prudently. Money she saved in Paris Club debt: dividend of democracy.
The only difference between the two administrations with the same Finance Minister had to do with the direction from the top (Oga at the top). One managed foreign income so well paying off odious debt to Paris Club (some of us disagreed with) while saving a great deal of money. The same minister under a different administration managed foreign income by direct order from the top, by spending. In other words one accumulated and the other spent “rationally”.
Qualifications come last in terms of honesty and dedication. Corruption fighter must distinguish genuine foreign investors from partners in all the parties. In Lagos State of Nigeria, the biggest foreign partner or “investor” is Bola Ahmed Tinubu. His company collects taxes for Lagos State. When the Minister of Finance Okonjo Oweala finally decided that no company could collect taxes in Nigeria, it died a natural death. 1. Somehow 2. after most Lagosians cried: Halleluyah!
When one gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State promised to cancel the toll on Lekki roads already constructed, Tinubu Party cried bloody murder! They claimed the promise would drive away foreign investors (Tinubu). Nigerians know African collaborators against its people would always have their way: until they elect leaders that would fight corruption to a standstill.
Any country that has the caliber of Oby Ezekwesili, it is fair to say qualification is not the problem: objective, honesty and interpretation of hypocrisy are what matter. African Presidents were never short of advisers; those elected were short on focus, dedication and honesty. They were corrupted, obsessed with self-interest and would interpret the direction they were taking their countries according to the wishes of their foreign collaborators. They did not work for Africans.
The only qualification any President in Africa needs is the determination to fight corruption.