• Friday, June 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Cometh the hour, cometh the man

Civil society organization launches practice guide on social justice

Preamble

How many times in the history of human societies have a leader emerged at the perfect time such a leader is desperately needed by a society to address its specific peculiar need? The perfect match for such leaders and the situation they found themselves gave analysts cause to wonder whether it is the leader that fitted and moulded the time or the time that fitted and moulded the leader.

Specific cases that come to mind include Mahatma Ghandi of India, Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. There are many more examples world-wide.

But looking closer to home, for those of us who are old enough, how perfect was Murtala Mohammed’s charismatic leadership to Nigeria of Mid-1975; everything Murtala did and said was so perfectly right. Such is the perfect fit between a leader and the hour of need.

Before I proceed, let me put the records straight, by inserting a caveat. This article is my personal initiative. The subject of the article, Alhaji Mohammed Hayatuddeen, knows nothing about what I have written.

Hopefully, he will read it when it is eventually published, just like everybody else. All the information I used are in the public domain. I and I alone bear the full responsibility for any factual error or misinformation. Needless to say, all opinions expressed are my own considered views.

Nigeria’s hour of need

To say that Nigeria, as a nation is in desperate need of a saviour is to grossly understate the case. I am simply echoing what several other analysts and opinion leaders have stated that Nigeria is on a precipice.

As a nation, we are threatened by the possibility of descending into a state of chaos, anarchy or disintegration. Politically, we have had the misfortune of falling into the hands of the most incompetent, self-centred and directionless set of leaders.

Socially, we have been fractured into ethnic enclaves, religious extremities with frequent communal hostilities. Our senses have been desensitised by almost daily reports of mass-murder, kidnapping and rape. Economically, the fundamentals of the nation’s economy are pointing in the wrong direction. Inflation is running amok. Epileptic power super supply is threatening to shut down economic activity.

Individually, we are plagued by unbridled indiscipline, frustration and a depressing feeling of hopelessness. Personally, I am sick and tired of reading about retinue of our nation’s misfortunes. I have rather tuned my mind into focussing on possible solutions.

Although our problems have permeated down to all social strata, the solution can only come from ‘right leadership.’ There’s no gainsaying the fact that we are in desperate need of a saviour.

Saviour: What shape and colour?

There’s a popular saying that a prophet is last recognised in his own village. The key question is how do we recognise the saviour so that we could choose and support him/her? Our journey towards a full blown, functional democracy and thriving economy is at an early stage.

Our process of leadership selection is just evolving; unfortunately the process is corrupted by selfish, self-serving political actors. They are shamelessly injecting the political processes with calculated schemes that would serve their selfish agenda rather one that will serve the long-term needs of the nation.

It therefore falls on well intentioned, enlightened elites, who can see through the machinations of the politicians, to identify and push candidates who hold promise of delivering the ‘true dividends’ of democracy when elected into office.

The saviour, when he/she comes along will not be someone (or something) from another planet, neither will he come with two eyes, three ears or green complexion. Rather the potential saviour will be a normal human being who bears certain characteristics that people with discerning minds could identify. Admittedly, there’s no absolute guarantee that the person who bears the promising characteristics will deliver the goods when in office.

However, some of the characters (or monsters) that are presenting themselves as candidates for leadership positions are so obviously defective in character and tainted track records that one can effortlessly identify and dismiss them outright. However, they embellish themselves with ethnic, parochial and other irrational garments that are designed to counter sound evaluation.

The purpose of my write-up is to present my assessment of a candidate that, by my reckoning, fits the bill of a potential saviour of the nation more than all the other front-line candidates. It is my view and I invite everyone to assess my chosen candidate and possibly other candidates in a rational and dispassionate manner. This is the least we can do.

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Mohammed Hayatuddeen fits the bill

My candidate of choice is a person I only come to know in the last few months. The more I read and learn about him, the more I become interested and enthused about his potentials as a person and as a leader at the highest level.

a) The person: At sentimental level, Mohammed Hayatuddeen is exactly my age-mate; we both will be clocking the age of 69 this year. Born in 1953 in Bama, Borno State. When you meet Mohammed Hayatuddeen, it will not take you long to realise that he is blessed with a razor-sharp intelligence. He grasps and intelligently responds to issues as if he had prepared beforehand. He is completely detribalised as evidenced by the people he surrounds himself throughout his working life.

He reputed to possess uncunning knack of picking a team of exceptional performers as illustrated in all the institutions he headed. He invariably approaches issues and persons in a cool, calm and composed manner that disarms and persuades. All these characteristics are verifiable attributes that have been repeatedly stated by people who worked with him.

b). Technical qualification and cognate experience:

Mohammed Hayatuddeen is an economist and a thorough-bred professional banker. He holds a degree in Economics from Ahmadu Bello University (1976) and has attended several top-ranked International Executive Training institutions.

Reading his writings, you get an impression that he thoroughly understands the workings of modern economic systems. He is IT-savvy; his Notebook computer is his second brain for you will hardly ever catch him without it. Aside from several ad-hoc national assignment at the highest level, the working life of Mohammed Hayatuddeen was largely spent in three institutions, namely the New Nigerian Development Company (NNDC), FSB International Bank and Alpine Investments.

His performance track record in all three institutions is simply outstanding and is a matter of public records. This short write-up will not do justice to his illustrious career.

Long before he contemplated venturing into politics, Mohammed Hayatuddeen initiated a Non-government organization called Renaissance Development Forum dedicated to saving and caring for children in need. To this project he heavily invested his personal funds and energy. This project, I believe epitomises what Mohammed Hayatuddeen is about.

c. Vision for the nation

In response to a question about his vision for the nation, Mohammed Hayatuddeen’s response radically differs from the ‘run-of-the-mill’ Nigerian politicians who would promise that they have a magic wand that will make all problems disappear and almost instantly transform the country into a land of milk and honey. Rather he outlined a well-articulated Strategic Plan that spans decades, but which makes sense to a rational, critical mind.

At the heart of his strategic plan is economic liberalism and institutional reform, with special attention to the Youth, gender inclusiveness and care for the under-privileged.

d) Political platform

Politics is a game of pragmatism and realism. Whatever decision one makes must be grounded in reality. I can see the rationale of Mohammed Hayatuddeen in choosing PDP as his political platform. It is a party with the widest national spread and with the longest experience in power. These are invaluable assets that a candidate must consider. The key question one must ask is, as good a candidate as he is, what are his chances of getting into power. He wouldn’t come out and say so, but I can discern the compelling logic why he picked PDP as the platform to launch his political mission.

e) Weakness

You could say I am blinded by sentiment, but I discern no obvious weakness with his person. However, I must state that, although PDP holds the promise of availing him an elaborate network that reaches every nook and cranny of the country, it comes with the prize of reputational risk. He must work hard to optimise the advantages and neutralise the shortcomings.

Conclusion

a. Nigeria’s elite – In this critical moment, the weight of responsibility is on Nigeria’s Elite and Opinion Leaders – we cannot continue to adopt an attitude of inert passivity. We must take active role in exerting influence on the leadership selection process. We must discard and resist the lure of parochialism. We owe it this country; we owe it to our children and grandchildren and we owe it as a compensation for the privileges we enjoyed in our younger days.

b. Divine Intervention – When all is said and done, as a people infused with religious values from various denominations, we should all seek for divine intervention to guide us and save our nation in its hour of need. Ameen!!!

Auwal, retired public servant/lecturer, management consultant, Writes from Abuja