Fellow Nigerians: Here is how to win a #NewNigeria or lose this opportunity

In my years of practice as a design thinking consultant, as well as working on campaigns in two elections, I have learned through involvement and interaction with Nigerians across board and background about what is considered ‘pragmatic’, which I’ll share carefully, and I hope you share (and tweet) with candidates vying for positions whether in 2019 or 2023, as well as with parties and party members we know.

In asking the question whether a new Nigeria is possible, this article seeks to frankly state what really defines a #NewNigeria and whether we can get close to this definition in practice. Therefore, let’s proceed.

As a legal mind concerned with lexicons and its effectiveness, a mathematical formula for a New Nigeria is that which combines New Spirits ‘with’ New Brains (i.e. “New Spirits” + “New Brains” = #NewNigeria). New spirits and brains, does not necessarily depict age, it emphasizes a newness of ideas, ideals, and policy vision that is selfless and entirely different from what we have now or had since the almost 20 years of the fourth republic.

Over these years, I have observed that the internal politics of most of the “old order parties”, isn’t largely democratic and the candidates they produce, does not often reflect the needs of the citizens whether for executive or parliamentary office – and here is a gap we new spirits and brains can fill. We need to apply design driven, data guided selections in scouting for candidates with new spirits and brains – persons such as Professor Kingsley Moghalu, Mr. Fela Durotoye, Mr. Adamu Garba, Mr. Donald Duke, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, need to collaborate as one visible force and voice to #TakeBackNigeria, with the mobilization of pressure (some of which are non-partisan) groups such as Nigeria Intervention Movement (The Third Force), Red Card Movement, and perhaps, a more selfless Coalition for New Nigeria. The first stage of this decision needs be reached before May 31, 2018 or else it will be a jamboree of interests ahead of 2019. My suggestion is that the new force and voice field Professor Kingsley Moghalu (for his understanding of the economy and for his relevance at this time as an insider via his work with the Central Bank of Nigeria, after working with the United Nations) or Mr. Donald Duke (a ‘neck-deep’ insider with a record of building a prosperous state), backed up with a Vice Presidential candidate as Mr. Adamu Garba II (the sound 35 year old aspiring for President) or any competent Nigerian from the North. This will disrupt the ‘status quo’ of fielding a Presidential candidate from the North, which is what the APC and PDP would plausibly do and struggle. Yes, Mr. Fela Durotoye is a key mobilizing force ( a true Nigerian spirit with a sense of selfless service), and would be useful as co-Director General (DG) of the campaign (especially for the South West), and as a Minister of Youths or Information in the new Nigeria, whilst running to win the Presidency in future years to come, thus giving him leverage and policy pragmatism. If you look at Macron, he was not just young, he was an insider via his work as Minister of Economy and Finance. In addition to this, it is important to state that credentials are great but a pragmatic message that solves the mess in Nigeria is what is required; to deviate from the old order, Nigeria would appreciate the new brains and new spirits telling them how they’ll tackle Nigeria’s problems today, in a language they understand. That should be the focus after the suggested May alignment.

As regards party platforms, this is a little dicey but here is the observed recommendation. Instead of starting something new, let’s find a way to merge and work with existing platforms such as , Young Progressive Party (one of the new parties with a healthy grassroots and on ground presence and coincidentally the last party on the ballot), Alliance for Democracy (AD), Social Democratic Party (SDP), (both AD and SDP are not strategic for a Western candidate, only strategic for an Eastern or Northern Candidate since they have a regional outlook), Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Labour Party, Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) (but not strategic for an Eastern candidate, only for a Western or Northern Candidate since it is regional in outlook), Kowa Party, to mention a few. However, if a holy matrimony wouldn’t work, then a new Party might be inevitable. Most persons doubt whether the regular PDP or APC can deliver new brains and spirits – if this would happen, it would take the Party leadership or a strong man to ensure competent, ethical, and selfless candidates (not necessarily powerful) emerge (but may be rendered ineffective by those who surround her or him). This would have happened with Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo’s weighing in on the late President Yar’Adua becoming President. For APC, asides the failings of PMB, the extension of Chief Oyegun’s tenure (a blunder to secure PMB’s ticket) rules it out, but waiting for PDP to deliver a New Nigeria could be another illusion.

Madness is doing the same things as the old parties and expecting a new Nigeria. If you notice, in the old order parties, at the Presidential level (or any other levels), no debates hold for choosing candidates. Any political party that organizes the media together and holds debates to choose candidates at the party level and broadcast same, will be viewed as transparent and allow for publicity of their party and eventual candidate(s) even before the elections proper. For example, for some of us new brains and spirits running for Parliament (in my case, Federal House of Representatives, Ibadan North), we could largely partner and align efforts with the Presidential aspirants at the grassroots to win together, because what really matters is a common front at the Presidential level. And this is because in Nigeria, Voters’ Intelligence (VI) is low, and voting is largely based on who is running for the executive office at Federal and State, than who becomes parliamentarian. Until we increase our VI, we might as well win or lose together in 2019.

We might never have a new Nigeria, with a President, Vice, or cabinet with new brains, without the input of a Parliament with new brains and spirits. In fact, a parliament at the Federal or State level, with new brains and spirits, can trump the ineffectiveness of an old order Presidency or Governorship. With these strategies as outlined, we will either win or come close to the Presidency, but if not, we can gain half the State and Federal Parliament, and consequently win the Presidency in the future, with support from an in-house team. APC started with winning States, and later Presidency. We can win Parliamentary seats, and later Presidency.

For the electorate, those who sit at home thinking ‘elections will be rigged’, are themselves accomplice to the rigging. In fact, the over 40 million Nigerians who had their PVC in 2015 and decided to sit at home on election day (as against the only approximately 29 million who voted), allowed their PVC to become potential picks and peaks for rigging and bad governance.

For the media, it can play its typical role of informing, entertaining, but can also inspire as well as set a New Nigeria agenda. Many blame the Nigerian media for abandoning its constitutional responsibilities of holding government accountable to the people in favor of seeking patronage from the corridors of power. That is really a problem of ownership and profit as stated by Mr. Edmund Obillo – media practitioners are tied to the apron string of media owners who are loyal to the old order and who want to make profit by all means. Like Channels TV, the owners of traditional media must step up the play at least ahead of elections, whilst they also make profit. Also, we (citizens and media practitioners with great online following) must harness new media to drive the new Nigeria reality. From facts, the importance of traditional media seems declining by half due to proliferation of such channels as well as other alternatives for engagement of citizens, whereas the new media has doubled its influence today than it had in the 2011 elections.

Lastly, on money matters, fund is fundamental to fund any mental thing, but if we get the above right, the rest will fall in line, including funding and donations. There are other salient points I am open to sharing but for confidentiality.

We can learn from George Weah – the journey of a new Nigeria starts with strategic decisions over time. The calling to #TakeBackNigeria must be SSS (sacrificial, strategic, and sound).

Timi Olagunju is a design thinking consultant and a foremost technology lawyer in Nigeria. He can be reached on timithelaw@gmail.com