By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
A leaky roof cheats the sun but does not cheat the rain. Running in the rain, falling in the river, nations that lie to each other live with flesh but are skeletons – Abdul Chukwudi Balogun
I center my warning for this week around the Singapore State Day rally speech.
It was a long unifying speech that addressed several facets of their national life by their 70-year-old leader. It is pertinent to note that the speech took place at the Institute of Technical Education ITE. (kontri wey sabi) I look forward to that day a Nigerian leader will see education as the political impetus belt in the country of many PhDs but millions of out of school children and labor issues that last for months between teachers and the government while universities are closed.
The prime minister spoke in Malay and Chinese, followed by English (it was diversity in action, but here we are still dancing our ethnocentric parapoism and bitter religious chauvinism). He talked a lot about COVID19, I liked it so much when he said: “Every death is one too many…”. And I wondered if our leaders could make the same claim. I wondered if Nigerian lives mattered or even mattered.
The key to their success was the high level of trust in their company. It is an ingredient that is missing in the Nigerian construction, among many others. He said that in Singapore people worked with each other and not against each other.
Their government maintained trust by being open and transparent. It is very strange in our spectrum of government and governance, littered with errors. In Singapore, they supported each other; in Nigeria, na every man for himself, na we are the government, we do everything for ourselves, who do we do?!
Brother Lee Hsien Loong discussed the strategic challenges of their external environment, and he explained how US-China relations will affect them, Russia and Ukraine and China and Taiwan and more. He argued that his nation would avoid being caught up in great power rivalry. Despite the peace they had long enjoyed, he urged his compatriots to prepare psychologically by being real should things go wrong.
These things cannot be said simultaneously when we are discussing Nigeria.
He asked that his people not be divided, whether by race, religion, income, social differences or place of birth. If we are fooled and divided, we will have no choice but united we can face all the problems that come our way… my country is not united, we are divided and multiplied by our differences!
He addressed economic issues, the cost of living and disrupted supply chains. Talking about the government’s efforts to support middle and low income families, ease household burdens. He said if the situation gets worse, they are ready to do more. In Nigeria, the whole burden rests on the masses; increase in the price at the pump of a commodity that we are lucky enough to have when we pay taxes, it goes into our private pockets, we borrow to eat, and we are in a wahala state to be like wetin to new.
The Singapore dollar has strengthened, making overseas travel more affordable. At home, it makes imported goods cheaper… but he cautioned against overdoing it. Can the same be said of the Nigerian space with its high margin of error?
His conclusion made me cry for my beloved Nigeria… He said below:
Whether we are tackling COVID-19 and preparing for the next pandemic, dealing with geopolitical dangers and economic uncertainties, dealing with sensitive national issues, or planning and building Singapore for the long term.
With all of these challenges, success depends on our mastery of three key fundamentals. We must always have a united people, a high quality management team and great trust between the people and their leaders. A united people, a quality management team and great trust between the people and their leaders. These are essential if we respond creatively and resiliently to challenges, year after year. We may have the best designed schemes, but without these three fundamentals, they will come to nothing. I have emphasized these points many times, in different ways, because they are so crucial.
In particular, good leadership is non-negotiable. Look at countries with unstable governments and disorderly politics, swinging wildly from election to election. Whenever things don’t work out, leaders get kicked out or resign en masse. But even after changing teams, things don’t improve. Either policies and laws never cross political deadlock, or they are crafted by one government and then rolled back by the next. Often it is not just the leaders who fail, but the whole system that has failed. The result is a devastating loss of confidence: not just in individual politicians or parties, but in the entire political system and the entire political class, and there is no way forward from of the. THIS PARAGRAPH CAPTURES THE NIGERIAN DILEMMA AND OUR MISTAKES.
A small country like Singapore has no margin for error. Not only the continued success of Singapore, but our very survival, depends on our good leaders.
Integrity, dedicated and competent leaders; leaders who believe in making the tough decisions and doing the right thing, even if it may cost them a few votes; leaders you can trust. We cannot afford any compromise on this.
Fortunately, for 57 years, across three generations, we have had leaders who have earned and retained the trust of Singaporeans, who have worked closely with the people to implement sound policies and who have improved all of our lives.
Never take this confidence, or this skill, for granted. Keep working hard to find the right people, get them to serve, and help them do their best for Singapore. We must extend our formula for success to the next generation and beyond.
Leadership succession is therefore of paramount importance. When COVID-19 hit us, I had to put my succession plans on hold. We are now learning to live with COVID-19 and to enter a new normal. The young ministers chose DPM Lawrence Wong to be their leader. I’m glad the matter is settled and my succession plans are moving forward again. I’m also happy that from all I see the Singaporeans are supporting Lawrence and his team leadership. So I ask you to give Lawrence and his 4G team – your team – your fullest support.
The next few decades will be invigorating but exhilarating. I’ve given you my perspective on what we can achieve and what can go wrong. But with your trust, we can overcome all the difficulties that lie ahead. With your support, we can turn hopes and dreams into reality and unite as one people; we can ensure a better future in this uncertain world. Not just for now, not just for ourselves, but for every Singaporean child, for many generations to come.
My Nigeria and my beloved Nigerians have refused to talk about their present and mock our past, so how can we “secure our future”. Leadership is negotiable here and indeed always negotiated among the best of evils. For us, not only do leaders continually disappoint, but the whole system continues to fail.
With all of our collective mistakes, there is a loss of trust: not just in individual politicians or parties, but in the entire political system and political class.
Do we know that our survival depends on having the right leaders? Integrity, dedicated and competent leaders. Leaders who believe in making the tough decisions and doing the right thing. We know we will act; Only time will tell.