'Gbénga Sèsan pens an open letter to Muhammadu Buhari on the eve of the Nigerian President-Elect's inauguration.
**Photo via Buhari's Facebook Page
Information and communications guru, 'Gbénga Sèsan was appointed Nigeria's first Information Technology Youth Ambassador in 2001. Currently he is the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria and uses his expertise for socio-economic transformation in Nigeria and Africa.
In April, despite your imminent victory, I found my eyes full of tears. "We can't afford to go through this again," I said to myself, knowing well the man-hours and money I had invested in the electoral defeat of the incumbent president. My work as a social entrepreneur at Paradigm Initiative Nigeria is to connect disadvantaged youth with opportunities; this was one election that just had to go right – to bring in a government that would do the required work to put a dent in the youth unemployment rate of 56%.
The 2019 elections will see upsets for those who win today but refuse to move a muscle towards required work.
I remind you on the eve of your inauguration that you have promised to work for change, and have said that you will “not be a ruling party, but a governing party." You will inherit a divided country and weak economy. The work of rebuilding Nigeria will be so tough that you'll ask yourself from time to time, "why did I work so hard to inherit this mess?"
While winning an election would make a politician occupy office, only performance will keep you there. The Nigerian electorate is maturing and the 2019 elections will see upsets for those who win today but refuse to move a muscle towards required work. You, who rode the wave of change and promise of competence, must perform or face electoral defeat. The same goes for the likes of Nasir El-Rufai and Akunwunmi Ambode, the latter who benefited from the hard work put in by the outgoing governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola. A new type of politician, Governor Fashola did what he promised on the campaign train by investing heavily in infrastructure and human capital, and focused on generating alternative revenue for Lagos instead of going cap-in-hand to the federal capital for monthly subventions before any work get done.
We as citizens must be the new opposition.
Nigeria needs a vibrant democracy and we would have expected the People’s Democratic Party to become that effective opposition party, but instead, they seem to be towing the line of crude opportunists by emptying into your new governing party. To balance the scales of power, we as citizens must be the new opposition; and that explains why many of us will shed the cloak of partisan party and candidate support to assume our role as watch(wo)men of the republic. We must insist that performance is beyond building roads and tokenistic commissioning exercises. Performance measurement must now include effective communication and citizen engagement, and you will not be promised Nobel prizes for doing the work you fought hard to occupy office for.
For you, President-elect, your honeymoon is already over and the choice of team members will be the first signal to show us if you’re here to work, or to reward political affiliates. As I said at the volunteer appreciation event organised earlier in your campaign, I say again to you, and to every elected office holder:
"Sycophants will come around you, please ignore them. Contractors will want to get your attention, please [don’t let them derail you]. Nigeria is bigger than any personal interest. If you disappoint us, WE'LL COME ALL OUT AND REMOVE YOU WITH OUR NEXT VOTE."
Government must be afraid of the people! I join other citizens to remind you that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. A New Nigeria will not be delivered by just one set of elections; it requires our active role in raising the bar of expectation and constantly reminding office holders that their stay is temporary and they work for us!
Congratulations, Mr. President-Elect. Your words, since you won, have indicated your commitment to this, and while we root for your – and our – success, remember that you report to the office of the citizen. Do not disappoint us.
'Gbénga Sèsan tweets from @gbengasesan.