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Some Thoughts on the Nigerian Elections – Bode Ososami 

It should not matter which state or tribe or religion the leader comes from, if we trust our institutions to be fair and robust.


Many have said that Nigeria faces another critical point, crossroads if you like, to move on either the right direction or not. We could be at the cusp of accelerated progress or descend down further. 

We are already familiar with the track record of the present government. Indeed, Nigeria’s economy has recouped the output losses sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic supported by favourable oil prices and buoyant consumption activities and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) adjusted for inflation has already reached its pre-crisis level. 

Growth per capita is weak as population grows over 2.5% annually.  The fourth quarter of 2022 marked the ninth consecutive quarter of positive growth—despite continued challenges in the oil sector. So, it has not been a disaster – but not enough. 

 Over 130 million Nigerians still live in poverty, the country’s balance sheet is saddled with heavy debt. 

 Granted, success in containing and managing the COVID-19 infections, socio-economic conditions, and spill over effects of the war in Ukraine, which have been transmitted mainly through higher domestic food prices, worsening the scarring effects of the pandemic, particularly on the most vulnerable, did not come easy. And things look set to get even rockier for whoever wins.

My take is that we overrate elections. And that is because we obsess over appointments and individuals instead of processes and institutions that require longer than the typical electoral tenure to embed.  

Indeed, Nigeria needs a transformative leadership brand that does not come easily. But to deliver better life for Nigerians and sustainable prosperity, it goes beyond who is elected. 

Unfortunately, we’ve seen already so much socio-political uproar of recent which tells me, we may not have learnt our lessons.

Three points are worth mentioning:

Leadership institutions is more about accountability for performance, at all levels. 

More energy should be placed on making people accountable; then motivation to rig into power is reduced, as accountability makes leadership extremely comfortable especially in the Nigerian context. 

Why has the UK had 3 prime ministers in the last 12 months? Simple, it’s accountability. 

Why is Nicola Sturgeon tired and stepping down? Again, it’s accountability.  

Why did Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, step down because of a chronic health problem? Simple. Accountability. 

Why did the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern make a shock announcement that she had “no more in the tank” to lead the country? Accountability. 

Nigeria is a country where millions of barrels of oil are being stolen as we speak and no heads roll and we are burning down banks and infrastructure. What a tragedy!

 Leadership in Nigeria is fun, self-award of accolades and illegal access/abuse of public resources.  What we have is prebendalism; where elected officials and government workers feel they have a right to a share of government revenues, and they use them to benefit supporters; the leadership institution is horribly corrupted. 

The trust deficit is a big challenge to achieving much.  It does not matter if a Pope comes to power. If we do not trust our revenue institutions, our police, judiciary, our monetary and fiscal institutions… soon the Pope will find that little can be achieved. 

Rebuilding trust requires strong accountable teams and reconfiguring and strengthening the processes, improving transparency with technology.  

It should not matter which state or tribe or religion the leader comes from, if we trust our institutions to be fair and robust, but the trust deficit is so low and that facilitates the toxic politics of today. 

Building trust takes decades, destroying it can take days. I think rebuilding trust is the main job of the transformative leader and we also need more long-term thinking and not just populist actions to cling on to power. 

We should also remember the economic risks, elections are costly financially – especially when they are messy.  

More importantly, instability and uncertainty will slow down an economy which on a per capita basis is barely growing. 

Violence and destruction of assets and loss of lives is a self-inflicted stab. 

 Unfortunately, in past elections, few have been held accountable for inciting violence and using extra judicial means to pursue perhaps legitimate cases. Yoo many sacred cows say whatever they like to stir up trouble, knowing nothing will happen to them. The Nigerian economy cannot afford to be plunged into freefall at this delicate time. 

One hopes the younger generation will be different. A lot of focus is now on them. They should come out and make themselves heard but should not make the mistakes the elders made.

The world is watching to see if Nigeria has learnt anything. We should pay less attention to external commentary, useful as they are. 

 They say, nobody raises another person’s child, like his own. Only Nigerians will fix Nigeria and this week there is an opportunity 

Bode Ososami is ARISE NEWS Business Analyst.