In 2002, Malcolm Gladwell introduced the leadership and change principle or law, as many would regard it, called Tipping Point. This law operates whether we like it or not in life, organizations and societies. Tipping point is “that point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a large, more important change”. Some years ago, a popular musician sang a song with the title “which way Nigeria?” Series of events and incidents in our country today caused by its present leadership has brought Nigeria to a dangerous threshold at which many would agree that the road ahead is very fuzzy. From the housewife to the woman leading large corporates, to youths both in school and out of school, to the ordinary man and woman on the street, life is becoming more difficult by the day.
Everyone seems to feel they are the most pained. For instance with our youths, the supposed leaders of tomorrow, unemployment and lack of empowerment has driven a sizeable number of them to crime. In a recent chat with some youths across the country, 90% of them agreed that the high rate of unemployment has become so unbearable. The problem of unemployment or empowerment is not only plaguing our youths, a keen observation shows that our middle aged men and women are so broke with absolutely no empowerment or enabling environment for self-enterprise. Those who have served their country in the civil service are struggling with a terrible and corrupted pension payment scheme that at times evaporates billions of funds!
Our educational systems are in shambles; Nigeria now has one of the world’s highest levels of illiteracy with the national illiteracy level in Nigeria currently at about whooping 61%. It is on record that our educational sector has suffered greater distress under Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as the federal government has continually failed to provide the needed funding priory and policy consistency that would ensure a stable growth progression in the sector. The prolonged strike of 2013 to 2014 brought to light the cancerous status of poor funding of Nigeria’s education sector. In 2013, government’s allocation went down to about 8.7% where the global benchmark for budget allocation to education is 20%. Apart from this, even the funds allocated were not utilized as budget performance was at best disappointing. What is the result?
Mass failure in external examinations and underachievement by our students. Many believe that a national “state of emergency” should be declared for the sector! The Boko Haram scourge has shown beyond doubt that the present government lacks the execution and capacity to solve important national issues. Today, Nigeria is at war with a vicious enemy and the government has been spending billions of dollars with little results to show for it. All these and many more issues have written an unpalatable story about Nigeria that seems to have stuck with us. The perception and reality of things in our dear country Nigeria are so awful both in the eyes of other nations and our citizens.
Our country is perceived as a financial fraud haven and emerging ground for terrorism due largely to the fact that our youths lack gainful employment. The painful part of all these is that our government seems not to care or lacks the ability to do the needful to address the numerous challenges facing us. Today, Nigeria is at Tipping Point and we have to act fast before the time-bombs begin to explode. We are not suggesting that the present government has not done anything to address any of the challenges we face, far from that, what we firmly believe is that Nigeria needs a leader with different and appropriate set of skills and the passion to take us to where we ought to be.
The urgent question we need to answer now is where we want to be as a nation? To be brief, we want a united and equitable Nigeria. A Nigeria where people from all regions, ethnic groups and religions live in harmony and peace. We want an urgent overhaul of our education sector; we want our students to stand tall among their peers and achieve great results because they learn in a conducive environment with modern infrastructure and motivated teachers who are well remunerated. We want a secure Nigeria where security of lives and property are guaranteed by a reformed, strong and professional Police and Military institutions as this will drive significant economic growth. We want a system that empowers senior citizens in retirement and not abandon them. We want a healthcare system that can care for the ill here in Nigeria and reduce medical tourism and the attendant drain on the economy to zero. We want a Nigeria that makes business enterprise attractive; we want entrepreneurs and small business owners to thrive like never before.
To borrow Malcolm Gladwell’s book title, we want and need a leader who is an OUTLIER. An OUTLIER is a person or a phenomenon that lies outside the normal experience or achievement. Malcolm describes men who have achieved greatest successes such as Bill Gates and Barack Obama as outliers. Nigeria needs such at this time in our history or else, things might fall apart. We need someone who can calm the storm in our country today and unite our people. We need someone with a record of outstanding success and will. We need someone to write a new story of a great Nigeria.
From a widespread study of individuals with these qualities, one man stands tall among the rest, that man is Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the present governor of Kano state. Kwankwaso is a man of great courage, with the will to do great things. He is a positive change agent who doesn’t believe in impossibilities.
Ladipo Johnson is a legal practitioner and policy consultant.