EXCUSES do not get things done. Those at the helm of the nation’s affair must begin to realise this by now. Six months after, there should be signs of the so much trumpeted change or a positive approach towards that direction. People are becoming weary of promises and excuses, they want to see action.

A couple of days ago, I received a mail from Mr. Dan Ekoko, President of the Salimo-wits foundation, an NGO that is silently impacting lives in Nigeria through youth leadership initiatives, wealth empowerment and positive health advancement. Mr. Ekoko has this to say about the present situation in the country: “It’s time to call Mr. President to change his negative talk about Nigeria.

Yes, we have had bad leadership at all levels of government in the past.

Yes, corruption has been around with us a while.

Yes, infrastructures are in bad shape, need refurbishment renewal and additions to our road, rails, ports, etc.

What we need more than ever to stem the current situation of these problems is not talking endlessly about them but speaking out the measures that his administration wants to adopt to change how government business will be managed going forward.” I agree with him absolutely.

The cry and lamentation of the present leadership is beginning to weigh everyone down. It is as if they were unaware of the challenges facing the nation before deciding to delve in. Almost everyone agrees that there was misrule during the sixteen years of PDP’s rule and that accounted for why they performed woefully in the last election. The APC government therefore, is assumed to be a corrective one. They did leave us with the impression during the campaigns that, they already have the formula to steer the nation’s sinking ship on course, so, why the whining now?

Our obsession with the performance of the immediate past government will not allow us move forward. Whatever happened, has happened. The previous leadership did not do well, that is why they were voted out. We must forget about the past and move forward. If anyone has done anything against the law, the normal process of investigation and trial should be followed but we must move forward.

It is important for our president to know that no amount of foreign trips and lobbying will change the situation of this country, it is only the people- Nigerians- that can make it happen. He will succeed if he genuinely carries the people along and not through instruments of coercion or condemnation. The president went to India and portrayed the country as a corrupt nation and in reacting to the barrage of criticisms that visited the President’s action, his spokesman Mr. Femi Adesina claimed that the President must tell Nigerians the truth, but, telling Nigerians the truth is different from creating a wrong perception. Anytime there is a gaffe on the President’s part, like he did in India, his spokesmen always come out to drive it home and picture it as reality, nay the truth. No man or group is a repository of wisdom, any man can make mistake and we must accept it when such a situation occur. The best thing to do under such circumstances is to be quiet. It is not every allegation that we respond to, like they say, silence is sometimes golden.

Nigeria is a peculiar country, with a peculiar people and peculiar challenges. What most people see about Nigerians are perceptions, which are very different from reality. What the president did in India was to reinforce that perception. You do not go to India to say that your country is corrupt – as the Indians are not better off in that area.

The reality is that Nigerians are perceived as a corrupt people, which fact is not validated by the statistics of criminal convictions from our law courts. The reality on ground is that Nigeria is a giant nation, with its full potentials waiting to be harnessed. The reality on ground is that Nigerians are intelligent and hard working people, who can be the best in every profession all over the world.

It is also true that Nigerians are very hospitable and friendly people, warm to strangers irrespective of race or creed. It is also true that the greatest challenge facing the country is leadership. A leader that will integrate the various ethnic/tribal groups into one united whole, with a common goal and purpose.

The reality is that we have not been able to achieve this goal because of the failure of leadership. It is a reality that Nigeria needs a focussed and intelligent leadership, one that will look beyond party, ethnic and religious lines for solution, that will not see victory as a winner take all affair or an opportunity to suppress the opposition, one that will not take revenge on those who did not vote for him.

It is a reality that Nigeria needs a leader that will understand our peculiar differences and approach the solution from that direction. The reality is that Nigeria can rise again and take its rightful place in the comity of nations, that is why our focus now must be on building and not destroying or pulling down.

You do not build by condemning everything your predecessor had done. Government is a continuum, start from where the previous government stopped. Where they have done well, you continue on that path. You also proffer or implement corrective measures in any area they have erred. That is how government operates. It is not the part of government to whine and complain, that role is for the people and they exercise their rights during elections. So, let us see real action and no more excuses, please.

Mr. Sunny Ikhioya is a commentator on National Issues.

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