2023: An Open Letter To Nigeria’s Presidential Candidates

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By Sen. Anthony Agbo

Attention:

Ahmed Bola Tinubu

Atiku Abubarkar

Peter Gregory Obi

Rabiu Kwankwanso, and Others,

IT IS TIME TO CREATE AN AFRICAN SUPER STATE

Great wishes and sincere prayers to you all, in Jesus name.

I am a Nigerian, and an African, who is utterly burdened, psychologically wounded and traumatized, and my personality scandalized, as my beloved country Nigeria like virtually every other African nation state have continued to wobble and sway in-between death and survival, since after independence till date

At this momentous stage of human civilization, when the World’s mighty Super States are already charting and allocating to themselves and to their future generations the most remote and conveniently inaccessible parts of the earth and our solar system, and the riches thereof (such as the Antarctica, the deep ocean floors, the moon, Mars and other promising destinations in space); our country Nigeria and the entire length and breadth of black Africa have continued to linger on hand-to-mouth leadership, and in endless struggle with the most routine, common, primitive and elementary duties and tasks of leadership, such as payment of wages to workers, providing roads, hospitals, electricity, water, etc. In other words, after several decades of independence, no black African nation, Nigeria inclusive, have crossed the rubicon to enter into the now-crowded league of the world’s developmental Super States.

God alone knows which of you, our highly exalted and illustrious contenders shall pick the coveted prize of the presidency of Nigeria. Hence my prayer over your quest is: let the perfect will of God be done in the coming presidential election.

With utmost humility, honor and respect to you our beloved, mighty and esteemed sons of Africa; I write to share some ideas with you which will serve either for emphasis, if already you have such in the closet of your visionary package for our country and continent, or to add to existing wealth of ideas and visions you hold, not just for the resuscitation of our country from its current comatose state but also to make it a great, glorious and globally attractive nation.

As has been mentioned above, Nigeria and other African nation-states have for so long lingered on the most basic, statutory, elementary, common, routine and indeed primitive obligations and responsibility of leadership, which borders on payment of wages to workers and provision of the most common utilitarian infrastructure such as roads, water, electricity, basic education, etc. (but of which obviously the nation has failed to effectively achieve), being the stage of government which developed and ambitious nations of the world had since done and put behind them several centuries and decades back.

Nigeria Should Be Made A Super State

The challenge of leadership in Africa today is the vision and imaginations that will propel leaders and their governments to move beyond this primitive and routine stage of leadership delivery, to an advanced stage of crafting a nation that will possess magnetic developmental character and elements that will compulsively and unavoidably begin to draw other nations, nationals, and global institutions, organizations and giant corporations into the country through which limitless foreign capital will now begin to feed the economy of the nation. This is what I want to call a Super State.

A super state as I do converse in this letter is hereby employed to indicate a nation that has achieved developmental indices that makes it not only compulsively attractive to other nations and foreigners, but which also establishes a web of attachment and dependence of those other nations and foreigners upon it, due to the indispensability of the services it renders, the goods it has for purchase, or the power it wields, or all of the above.

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Such a nation as stated above is characterized by: flourishing technological innovations; competing diverse technology-driven markets economy that are derived from a wide range of goods and services it offers the world for exchange; perfectly organized and iconically built up academic institutions; smart cities with breath-taking architecture and fascinating city planning, enchanting landscapes, iconic landmarks, and impeccable hygiene and waste disposal measures; state-of-the-art healthcare facilities with sophistication and expertise that attracts medical tourism from countries and continents; splendid and highly effective transportation system; most efficient and non-compromising law enforcement apparatus, manifest in effectual security of life and property; explicit and strict regime of rule of law; attractive, functional, durable and well maintained infrastructure and utility services; exceptionally imaginative tourism facilities that possess magnetic appeal, curiosity and acclaim; a progressively dynamic Employment Opportunity that must be growing to match increasing national population; sprawling presence of global giant corporations, institutions and organizations that shape the global economy and strategic global decisions, as well as the expanding and ever changing tastes and restless appetite of the world citizens; intense traffic of inflow of foreigners who come visiting for investment, business, intellectual and cultural activities, and for tourism and pleasure, and which is unconsciously but invariably powered by the combined availability and networked operations of the above elements, etc.

A super state, is a nation that has worked itself out of the common identity of a consumer economy, which exchanges raw materials for manufactured goods, into an actively productive and competing economy which makes other nations to depend on it for the indispensable goods and services it makes available in the global market.

In addition to the above, a super state must have much to give or show a restless world in overall imaginative and visionary accomplishments, very strong and effective institutions, a welcoming environment of tantalizing beauty and lasting ornamentation with endless arts, intellectual and cultural activities, with richly stocked museums and galleries that offer visitors a massive grand collection of rich, world-class, cultural, historical and archaeological articles and artefacts, as well as highly valued art works from ancient, past and contemporary masters, to assuage the cultural and intellectual appetite and curiosity of visitors etc. And all of the above are purposely arranged to be spellbinding and to charm and dazzle the citizens, visitors and the outside world.

The modern world is a gigantic machine powered by the forces of merchandise. Hence for a nation to achieve this status of super state; to become big, rich and prosperous and powerful, it must possess a diversely technology-based productive economy with multiplicity of goods and services that establish dependence on it of other nations. These goods and services do not begin and end with only tangible articles of trade but also include; intellectual, cultural, artistic and entertainment services. Hence, building of giant factories, industries and productively ingenious institutions and establishments that will create millions of jobs and make Nigeria a huge and competing global market and economic hub, as well as a spectacular global cultural, and intellectual destination must be of emphasis.

How rich and great a country is, is determined by the volume of foreign capital/revenue that flow into it from variety of sources arising from factors narrated above; which in other words is determined by the depth of imagination and vision of its leaders to create a national environment and institutions that possess the above elements and character.

The nation’s academic institutions must be ingenious, resourceful, effective, functional, disciplined, beautiful, research-oriented, and so attractive, that they will not only be centers of innovations and engines that mold world changers and society influencers, but will also be magnets for hundreds of thousands of students from different corners of the world who happily would prefer to acquire their education in that country thereby also enriching the economy of the country.

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The architectural character of the nation’s cities must be purposely fashioned with exceptionally elevated imagination to create a lasting national propaganda value through its ubiquitous grandeur, exceptional beauty, elegance, awe and confounding uniqueness. Every manner and level of infrastructure and public utility facilities are purposely designed and built, not only just for its primary utilitarian value, but must be made to possess artistic beauty, durability, charm and attraction that must at all times charm and dazzle the imagination of the citizens and foreigners.

Examples of super states include; Dubai, India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Taiwan, all European nations, Iran, etc. And on top of these ones are the mighty super states that control the trends of world events, such as; America, China, Britain, Japan, Russia, India, Germany, France etc.

Take for instance, official records indicate that 100,000 Nigerians visit Dubai yearly, with 27 flights between Nigeria and Dubai weekly. If on the average, each Nigerian visitor to Dubai spends $30,000 in the country, it means that Nigerians alone (out of over 200 nations of the World) contribute $3billion to the Dubai economy every year. Dubai attracts a total of 17 million visitors yearly. If we use the same estimate as above, it means that foreigners contribute about $510 billion yearly to her economy.

Unfortunately, much of Nigerians own foreign visitors are those who come to steal our country’s natural resources, such as solid minerals, timber, crude oil etc.

In the light of the foregoing, I must particularly draw your attention Sirs, to the fact that the Nigerian nation’s capital city, Abuja is a colossal failure in its design and generalized development. In other words, in the design and development of Abuja, Nigeria failed to achieve an international city which her national capital is supposed to be.

From the ancient time of the great nations and cities of ancient Babylon, Egypt, the Greek city states, and the Roman Empire, up to the modern time; city building has remained the most fundamental and strategic element of national image, respect and reverence.

Abuja is not supposed to be just a foremost local Nigerian city; rather it is supposed to be the architectural jewel of Africa; the gift of Nigeria and African continent to the world; being the capital of the greatest and largest black nation on earth; in which case a foreign visitor will be coming with a mind-set that whatever he cannot see in Abuja, may not be seen in any other city in Africa. In other words, the world can assess the historical, political, economic and infrastructural relevance of the black world from what they see in Abuja.

But contrary to this, Abuja, so far is a sprawling mass of individualized, discordant, disharmonious, distasteful and uncoordinated architecture and habitations, with no symmetrical and aesthetic articulation of ideas in much of the design, positioning and building of structures in the city for the achievement of pre-conceived national propaganda image and value. The same thing applies to our various state capitals. For instance, among several other shortcomings, Abuja city is characterized by chaotic siting and development of hundreds of individual estates and other disorderly structures that are never in anyway aligned with the symmetrical charm as well as aesthetic grandeur of a supposed international city. Abuja the capital of the largest black nation on earth does not parade a single spectacular architecture of international curiosity and acclaim, not a single standard park or garden that can appeal to the aesthetic emotion of a visitor, no reputable museum, not a single stupendous landmark or splendid monuments, no magnificent memorial park for the country’s icons, etc.

When you build a national capital, you don’t build for local consumption. You must stretch your imagination to employ city planning, extraordinary architecture, arts, culture, horticulture and beautification as instruments of global competitive visual propaganda. That is what the developed and ambitious nations of the World do, so as to capture and hold your imagination, in order for you to be endlessly coming there to spend your money.

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A national capital is designed and built to evoke national pride on the citizens, as well as to be a socio-economic bait to attract foreigners to the country in their tens of millions, to spend their money to feed the economy of the nation.

The beauty, elegance, sophistication, and inexhaustible surprises a city offers, is a mighty variable that establishes an unbroken chain of in-pouring of foreigners into the country for investment, merchandise, pleasure, arts, cultural and intellectual activities. This in turn becomes a fundamental index of economic growth as well as international respect and recognition. And this on its own brands a nation. This is why Nigerians endlessly troop to America, Britain, France, Germany, China, Dubai etc. to spend and invest in those places

Therefore, I advocate that Abuja should be rebuilt, and various state governments should also begin to remodel and infuse sophisticated elements of world class appeal to the broad character of our state capitals and other cities.

On corruption; the institutions, instruments, tactics, effectiveness, as well as the inescapable potential and results of the nation’s anti-corruption fight must be so daring to the mighty, the strong and powerful and all and sundry, that its deterrent force will make government and government positions, as well as any manner of unlawful benefits existentially unattractive to unscrupulous and corrupt-minded citizens.

Nigerian political actors and our bureaucrats who run the affairs of various government ministries, agencies, institutions, organizations and departments have all incurably become addicted to the deadly wine of corruption and outright stealing. I therefore strongly advocate that whichever of you Sirs, that emerges as the next president of Nigeria should bring in a cream of Nigerian and African distinguished and visionary diaspora intellectuals, professionals and experts (including even African Americans) and constitute them into a national recovery and greatness initiative (under whatever terms and conditions that will suit their convenience) to operate and run the major sectors of our economy, institutions and sensitive bureaucratic areas.

Nigeria needs a new police force. To achieve this, i recommend as follows: that the entire rank and file of our police force should be screened, under the parameters of education, age, intellect, competence, health, strength, patriotism etc. Through this screening, the entire police personnel should be divided into three groups: a group that should be paid off to go and start a private life, a second group should be integrated into our armed forces, and then the small group that should stay. This will be followed by a major recruitment of young, well-educated Nigerians, who will be trained by the best brains of this profession in the world, such as USA, Israel, Britain, France etc, who now will form the new Nigerian Police Force.

May I humbly, for the sake of your valued time, end this letter here, with the hope of some other time coming up with a continuation.

Yours very sincerely

Sen. Anthony Agbo

(Anthony Agbo is a former Senator from Ebonyi State. He is an author, writer and poet. He is currently a Commissioner representing South East in, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC. He can be reached via: Anthony.agbo@yahoo.com, 08071017442)

The main body of this letter is culled from a manuscript of an upcoming book on failure of leadership in Africa written by Sen. Anthony Agbo, which currently is in the process of publication.




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