THE NON INVITATION OF NIGERIA TO THE G.20 SUMMIT: A LEARNING MOMENT
ANTHONY OKOSUN Tonyosun@yahoo.co.uk
One must change one's tactics every ten years if one wishes to maintain one's superiority.
- Napoleon Bonaparte
All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.
- John Kenneth Galbraith
Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.
- William Arthur Ward
In so many ways, nations are like men. Nations experience many learning moments just like men. The issue is, are these learning moments recognized, when they present themselves ? As the ancient teachers would say: The teacher will appear, when the student is ready. Learning is a process. The student must be willing, humble and disciplined to be able to absorb maximum knowledge from the teacher's fountain of knowledge, wisdom and understanding.
In the present scenario, the international community, collectively represents the teacher. Country Nigeria, represented by Umaru Yar' Adua is the student. Is Nigeria, represented by Umaru Musa Yar Adua, willing, ready, obedient and disciplined enough to learn ? Well, history will vindicate the hardworking student. To attain our dream of becoming a global player, Nigeria must open up to the learning opportunities presented by providence.
When the recent G.20 summit in london kicked off and Nigeria was conspicuously absent, Nigeria's President Umar Yar Adua openly wailed and lamented over the international community's bouncing of country Nigeria from getting anywhere near the various venues that hosted the summit events. Indeed let us take a fresh look at the President's very words:
"I must say that today is a sad day for me. And I think it should be for all Nigerians. When 20 leaders of the leading countries in the world are meeting and Nigeria is not there. This is something we need to reflect upon. We have the population, we have the potentials, we have the ability and the capacity and we have the will. What do we lack? Is it the will?"
Well, Just as the President called on all Nigerians to do, this piece of writing is an honest response to Mr. President's call on all Nigerians to reflect upon the international community's denial of Nigeria's rulers, the opportunity to grandstand and enjoy the hifalutin glamour and cosmetics of power. Normally, I avoid post mortem, however in response to the call of Mr. President, I shall dutifully assist to examine the factors that contributed to the international community's shunning of country Nigeria.
Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.
- Peter F. Drucker
It is a fact that Nigeria was not invited as a member of the G. 20, because Nigeria's economy is not in the upper league of the 20 biggest and economically "baddest" boys on the block. Let us be honest here, it would be unfair to blame Umar Yar Adua for Nigeria's inability to make it into the global community's economic ÔÇśla liga'. Come to think of it, and please do not be misled by the invitation extended to the ÔÇśspecial invitee' Saudi Arabia; why should an economy, like the Nigerian economy, wherein 82.5 percent of total export is Petroleum and 14.8 percent of total export is Liquefied Natural Gas, be grouped among the world's best and biggest twenty economies.
However, Umar Yar Adua must accept this period and the occasion of the G. 20's refusal to invite Nigeria to the G. 20 summit, even in an observer status, as an important learning moment. Then again, Umar Yar Adua must also recognize Nigeria's failure to make it to London, as the African Union's representative or one of the African Union's representative to the G. 20 summit, as another very important learning moment.
Truth they say, is very painful, but like surgery it cures. Well, I must add, that truth is not only painful, it could also be very ugly, odorous and bitter. Now shall we tell Mr. President the truth ? Yes, we must ask ourselves; why did the G.20 refuse to invite Nigeria, as Africa's biggest market, and a regional African power etc, to the G 20 summit as an observer? Why did the members of the African Union vote for an economic, military and political minnow on the African continent like Ethiopia to represent the continent at the summit ? Well your guess is as good as mine. Nigeria has lost the respect of fellow African countries and the respect of the International community at large. The message is clear, Nigeria will never ever again operate on the international scene, at least for now, as an African slumbering giant. Our tail has been effectively cut. We must now work really very hard to merit the respect of the outside world. Let's be honest, it is not funny accepting the leadership of anyone, persons, institutions or nations, when the persons, institutions or nations to be led, are not convinced, that the one offering himself or herself to lead, is better qualified than the prospective followers in the leadership department.
The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.
- Dwight David Eisenhower
Now, lets become more practical here; and consider the recent Ghanaian electioneering scenario in juxtaposition to the recent Nigerian electioneering scenario. Hopefully this analysis, will help to make clearer, the truth of how Nigeria lost her respect and right to leadership among fellow African nations and in the eyes of the larger international community. Recently Ghana conducted very successful general elections. Many foreign observers who visited Ghana to monitor the presidential and parliamentary elections conducted in Ghana on 7th, December 2008, gave Ghana excellent scores. Baroness Amos of the Commonwealth, Salim Ahmed Salim of the African Union and Nickolay Mladenov of the European Parliament and leader of the European Union Election Observation Mission in Ghana (EU EOM) all praised Ghana for conducting the elections in an open, transparent and competitive political atmosphere
According to the international election monitors and observers, the Ghanaian authorities respected the freedoms of movement, expression and assembly in the conduct of the elections According to Mr. Mladenov:
"the Electoral Commission acted impartially and organized these elections in a transparent and highly competent manner...there was high degree of transparency on election day and the Electoral Commission made efforts to increase the consensus between political parties during the final month of the campaign." "The major political parties deployed their party agents to all polling stations and over 7,000 domestic observers were deployed to observe polling."
"They played an important role in observing polling, counting, and the aggregation of results that provided an inclusive environment for scrutiny of procedures." He further added " "In general the legal framework provides a good basis, for the conduct of democratic elections, the constitution guarantees fundamental freedoms and election related legislative provisions are generally in line with international standards."
Hear the observer's further comment
" In compliance with Ghana's international commitments, the legal framework guarantees the right to vote, be elected in periodic elections, as well as the freedom of association, assembly, movement and expression"
Ghana was also commended by the Economic community of West African States ECOWAS for successfully conducting the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in accordance with international standards. This commendation came at a meeting of the Leaders of ECOWAS attending the 35th ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS, in Abuja, Nigeria's capital.
The Carter Center also found the Ghanaian elections and the run off elections credible and peaceful.
To cut a very long story short, after all the electioneering procedure, the ruling party in Ghana was defeated and the former President of Ghana, Mr. Kufour stepped down gracefully. The transfer of power was from one civilian President to another civilian President and the transfer of power was also from one political party to an opposing political party. This transfer was successfully conducted in Ghana. Now, is it possible to achieve a similar feat in Nigeria ? Did I hear somebody say yes ? ( Hmmmm)
Nothing so conclusively proves a man s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.
- Thomas Watson
Now lets take a quick glance at the Nigerian scenario: Reproduced hereunder are extensive excerpts, from a report published in the Vanguard (online edition)[Nigerian newspaper], dated Friday, April 20, 2007 and written by Emmanuel Aziken and Ben Agande:
" And receiving the former United States Secretary of State, Mrs Madeline Albright, at the head of a team of international election observers in his office yesterday, in Abuja, Chief Nnamani said last weekend's governorship elections were rigged with the connivance of the military and the Police.
(1) Chief Nnamani thus called for a two-party system which, he said, would check the dominance of one party over numerous weaker parties.
Besides, Mrs. Albright, the former Canadian Prime Minister, Joe Clark; former Liberian President, Amos Sawyer; former President of Niger Republic and Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Mahamane Ousmane; were part of the observer team constituted by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to monitor this weekend's Presidential and National Assembly elections. Mrs. Albright is chairman of the governing board of NDI, an affiliate of the United States Democratic Party. Senator Nnamani said last Saturday's state level elections were marred by "highbrow rigging and intimidation by the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP)," noting that votes were allocated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it liked.
He said: "For as long as we practice impunity and the big party must win every place, it must muzzle its ways if it can't do it by mobile policemen it does it with soldiers. As long as that is the case, we are deceiving ourselves. Our democracy is not growing. "There is hybrid democracy in Nigeria, hybrid in the sense that it was not totally free and fair because you still find soldiers carrying guns, running about on an election day. There are still elements of intimidation; there are still elements of high-brow rigging going on. Anybody telling you it is free and fair; yes, you can use the term free and fair but I don't know how free and fair it is. "For those of you who have come to observe elections in Nigeria, the problem we have had in Nigeria is that every successive election is worse than the previous one. In other words, the election of 1999 is better than that of 2003 and 2003, if care is not taken would be better than that of 2007. That doesn't show growth. It does not show that our democracy is being deepened, much less thriving. That would be a misnomer. It's not thriving when we see soldiers carrying guns and chasing people about on an election day," Nnamani said.
Blaming the situation of manipulated primaries which led to the imposition of candidates on the people, Nnamani said the issue had been worsened by the proliferation of parties which, according to him, had weakened opposition, thereby allowing the party in power to use its size and resources to intimidate opposition and rig the election in its favour. Lamenting the absence of a strong opposition, he said the strength of the opposition was weakened by the multiplicity of frail small parties competing with a dominant party in control of federal institutions. "I think most of the time it is because of the flawed and manipulated primaries. Emergence of candidates during primaries tells the real story of what is going to happen in the general elections because any regime that emerges out of manipulated primaries has the problem of legitimacy. You don't carry the people along and you force them using soldiers or mobile policemen and flogging people into shape." It would be impossible for other African countries like Ghana, who are able to conduct peaceful, orderly, fair and transparent elections to succumb to Nigeria's leadership, when Nigeria lacks the ability to conduct free and fair elections.
Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.- Peter F. Drucker
No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.
- Peter F. Drucker
To help shed more light on why other African countries did not deem Nigeria qualified to lead them to the G. 20; and the larger international community did not deem it proper to invite Nigeria as an observer to the G. 20 summit; I shall reproduced hereunder extensive excerpts from:
Findings reports on ongoing operational, economic and sector work carried out by the World Bank and its member governments in the Africa Region: See the Booklet A Strategy for Restoring Urban Infrastructure and /Services in Nigeria. Prepared by the World Bank with Nigerian Collaboration:
"Nigeria's urban infrastructure is crumbling. Water supply, sewerage, sanitation, drainage, roads, electricity, waste disposal---all suffer from years of serious neglect. Periodic and routine maintenance, by far the most cost-effective infrastructure spending, is almost zero."
" It has become the norm in Nigeria to wait for a capital infusion to rehabilitate, replacing instead of maintaining the infrastructure. But declining financial resources are making this less feasible, and the deterioration is accelerating. Compounding the situation is the rapid urbanization, mostly migration from rural areas. The number of people living in Nigeria's towns and cities is expected to double to 80 million in the next 13 years and reach 100 million by 2010"
"Many urban Nigerians, however, do not earn enough to cover even basic needs. An estimated 21 percent or so (8.5 million people) were below the poverty line in 1992-93. They, more than anybody, suffer from the breakdown in urban infrastructure, especially through poor health. Most of the burden falls on women and children."
"Urban pollution and poor management of municipal waste (sewage and refuse) add to the health hazards. Numerous industries, from pulp to petroleum, dump untreated and often toxic liquids in open gutters, streams, rivers, and lagoons. And, as elsewhere, motor vehicles contaminate the air, land, and water. How did the urban infrastructure of oil-rich Nigeria reach such a state, and what should (and can) Nigerians do? "
"In recent years, Nigeria's leadership, institutions, and policies have been subject to abrupt and unpredictable change, making any planning difficult. A starting point for action, can be found in the National Urban Development Policy, prepared in 1992. This, however, has not been adopted officially."
"Other government policies have harmed urban productivity and welfare. Fiscal deficits have fueled inflation. Big subsidies for fertilizer, petrol, and loss-making state enterprises drain revenues away from more productive use. Inadequate controls on public spending, massive extra budgetary allocations, and lack of accountability and transparency hinder allocation of resources for infrastructure and social services."
"The same situation obtains with urban real estate. The state owns much of the land that could be used for housing, factories, offices, or as collateral for credit. But bureaucratic procedures make it difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to acquire real estate. Moreover, the private sector is excluded from aspects of infrastructure and services (electricity, water, and telecommunications, for instance).With scarce financial resources and too few trained people, local governments (593 of them) are unable to carry out their assigned functions. As usual, the poor suffer most. Relieving and reducing poverty must be the main aim of urban development. Even modest investment can make a big improvement in the lives of the urban poor. Better basic services in low-income urban areas can have a major impact on the welfare and productivity of the poor. But such investments must be part of broader programs for primary healthcare, education, and employment."
The information reproduced hereinabove is available to the World Bank and indeed the larger international community. Now, why would any continental organization or global institution with this deep knowledge of Nigeria's not too complimentary side, want to invite Nigeria to the G. 20; even as an observer ?
To further draw our attention to events that possibly helped the international community to make up their minds, that Nigeria is not yet ready for global leadership; please find reproduced hereunder, extensive excerpts of a report written by Owei Lakemfa and published in the Vanguard (online edition) of February 10, 2009 entitled: A GIANT THAT CANT LEAD.
"NIGERIA the "Giant" of Africa wobbled on the floor of the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa. While most of the countries were debating how to move the continent forward by working towards a socio-economic and political union, our delegation was ÔÇśwarning' them."
"Led by the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, our delegation was moaning over what it claimed are hasty moves towards the formation of a United States of Africa."
"Ill-disguising our rejection of the noble idea, we argued that the parliaments in African countries should first discuss the idea. This of course is a good suggestion except that the assemblies in many African countries have long discussed it. "
"So the question is, why hasn't the idea been discussed in our National Assembly? Why hasn't the Government begun an enlightenment and awareness campaign? "
"Our Vice President was quoted as telling the AU Assembly that African leaders must go back to consult their people on the idea. This is of course reasonable except that he spoke as if this is a new idea that cropped up at the summit."
"The truth is that all African leaders have over the years been asked to do this, but Nigerian leaders failed to do so, and this was deliberate."
"The AU Assembly in January 2007 decided to move the consultation further by asking AU African leaders to go make final consultations at their national and sub-regional levels."
"It therefore fixed a meeting of African Heads of State for June/July, 2007 in Accra, Ghana to formalise the process. But our government failed to consult us. "
" All the Yar'Adua government did was to hold three meetings amongst government agencies with one or two civil society organsiations."
"The discussions which were coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs centred on plans to harmonize Africa's monetary policies, justice administration system, free movement of goods and persons, a common system of defence and security, management of diverse socio-cultural backgrounds, health and environment and the differential in levels of development among African countries. These meetings were not conclusive and the Nigerian people were not mobilized."
"Today, two years after these initial meetings, that were actually to trigger off mass meetings consultations and general awareness campaigns, nothing concrete has been done."
"It seems that Nigeria attends AU meetings as a routine with no intention of implementing decisions and no commitment to the Union's ideals."
"If we are unserious, it is clear that there are African countries like Malawi who are. Its President, Bingu wa Mutharika must have analysed countries like Nigeria, when he urged African governments wanting greater unity to go ahead on their own, without worrying about splitting Africa."
Now, lets be honest, after reading the retrogressive conduct of Nigeria at the African Union meeting, in the report reproduced hereinabove, should anyone be surprised that other African countries reasonably considered Nigeria, as not fit, proper and ready for leadership ? There you go.
Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Leaders aren't born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.
- Vince Lombardi
Now, I have deliberately reproduced very extensive excerpts from some of my sources. The point is to make readers drink directly from the fountain of facts and arrive at their own conclusions. My true hope is that as a community we would individually and collectively read and study and just as Mr. President has suggested, reflect upon them and hopefully be renewed in our desire and conviction to build a better Nigeria.
ANTHONY OKOSUN Tonyosun@yahoo.co.uk