An Open Letter to Alhaji (Dr) Atiku Abubakar on the 2019 Elections and Beyond.


28th October, 2018.





Your Excellency, Sir,


’’As a member of the Fulani elite, with good education and nationalistic disposition, one major responsibility you will have as president is to purge Nigerians from other ethnic groups of any bitterness, biases, and negative perception of the Fulani nation and people……. given what has transpired over the years, especially in the present administration. As Fulani, you stand accepted by the Fulani. As a patriotic broadminded Nigerian, you stand accepted by all and sundry.  If you don’t achieve this, no one might be able to do it in the next 50 years.’’


As we march towards the 2019 general elections, in which you are a major contender, as the Presidential standard-bearer for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  I wish to congratulate you on your victory at the polls during the presidential primary election of the party; and, without taking anything for granted, as a patriotic Nigerian, also wish to bring to your honourable attention and focus, of the herculean task ahead of you, after you have been elected president: that given the prevailing extremely negative socio-economic and security conditions around us, Nigeria might be on her way to a new round of challenging and dauntingly tasking political and socio-economic situations in the next few years, if nothing serious and decisive, with nationalistic and patriotic consciousness, is done to create the needed transformational-transformative  change and  a turn-around for the better in 2019 and beyond.


Sir, I am confident you know that change is both a process and a product. It is a principle, natural principle; and a practice, normal human practice. Change is a phenomenon, a universal phenomenon, a universal phenomenal truth. Change is about metamorphosis, transmogrification, transmutation; but above all, it is a transformation. Change, as transformation, is aptly captured and cast on the crest of the concept of ‘creative change’. Creative change is transformation; and transformation is creative change. The individual or leader behind any transformation is the creative change agent. Nigeria has been in search of such a leader over the years. Hope, Sir, you will provide the answer to this search.

From my experiences in this nation, and studies so far, I can, with all sense of modesty, state that Nigeria is, more than ever before, in dire need of a creative change agent, a transformative and transformational leader, and not the usual  transactional political leaders we have had and  always have. Nigeria, today, needs a transformational leader who does not owe anyone good and transformative leadership just because the individual voted for him (transactional), but the leader who owes, and knows he owes everyone transformative leadership because the individual is a Nigerian citizen who deserves good leadership in accordance with global best practices, and global citizenship ideals.

Your Excellency, Sir, as a successful businessman within and outside  Nigeria, there is no doubt about it that you are experienced in leadership and creativity. Nigerians, therefore, would not be misguided if and when they put their trust and confidence in you by massively voting for you in this election, as their President, in anticipation of good leadership. However, given the ugly experiences we, as a people have had with politicians who were (and still are) businessmen, and were elected to govern from the business class; some of whom are billionaire past governors, who never brought any development to the states, nor created jobs; and who couldn’t impact positively on the people with their business clouts and acumen like Donald Trump is doing positively on the economy of the United States, I feel a moral obligation as a citizen of Nigeria, to call your attention to the fact that when politics meets with business, the individual who is at the center of the two interests would need a great deal of vision, understanding, commitment, aggressiveness, discipline, selflessness and sacrifice to see politics not as a means of advancing personal interest given his capitalistic orientation from the business world.

As you prepare to contest for the presidency of this nation in this election, I have elected to offer some advice to the respected, and wonderful possible future president of my great and beloved nation, Nigeria, on the need for transformational leadership and creating and implementing change in the real Nigerian world. I find it very relevant here, without pretenses, to state that it is not easy to create and implement change in the real Nigerian world. Obviously, there are a good number of factors that will militate against effecting transformative leadership and creating and implementing necessary and lasting change. The following incontrovertible facts and factors lend credence to my above-stated position:

It is easy to misunderstand what qualifies as a true creative change.

One dominant nature of the animal kingdom, especially man, is resistance to change, and a consuming desire to maintain the status quo, especially when those needed to play a role in the implementation of the change/creative change stand to reap and benefit from the status quo. This factor is the strongest militant against any true and ‘sticking’ restructuring in Nigeria. With the benefit of hindsight, and predicated on history and antecedents, I dare say it is difficult but not impossible for any political leader from the North, to be committed to pursuing and implementing true restructuring in Nigeria, except a generational leader that will spring up from there with the help of Divine Providence. Though this will be very difficult, once again, I believe it is not impossible. It is like the ever-reigning campaign promise by successive American Presidents to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel without the political will and strength to do so once elected, even though they knew it was the ‘right’ thing to do.

Sometimes, lack or dearth of resources, logistics and needed manpower militate against successful implementation of creative change. Nigeria has the resources to create and implement the needed change. What the nation needs are patriotic, prudent, and dependable resource managers. With such individuals, you could achieve so much with so little. Look out for them, Sir.

Political instability and interest on the other hand could be a strong foe of creative change and implementation. With the political climate in Nigeria, you could consolidate and improve upon the strides of your predecessors if there are any strides.

On the other hand, cultural and religious factors have been experienced as great barriers to change implementation, especially when such change is wrongly or rightly perceived as a threat to the propagation of the local culture of natives or their religion. This particular factor would need a lot of quality education, orientation, enlightenment and civilization to be dealt with. The National Orientation Agency could be comprehensively re-positioned to achieve this. Sir, you or your aides may need to reade my analytical letter to National Council of State, Nigeria.


v In my experience, population distribution, rural-urban migration and demographics, and their correct or wrong capturing and reporting, as being contested from time to time in Nigeria, have at various times hampered the effective and successful implementation of transformational leadership/creative change in the real Nigerian world. These factors have affected policies, allocation of resources, planning and representations, among other things. No government in Nigeria will make the needed change; even the prospective new government in 2019 will definitely not make any creative change from the past if it does not create the needed transformative technical, administrative, and operational platforms to address these issues. Politicians whose interests go beyond true creative change and transformational leadership are not the best candidates for this particular job.

v Another experience is that corruption in the government and business circles, even in our educational institutions, is destructive to transformational leadership and creative change. Sir, Corruption corrodes the life of a leader; conquers his/her pride and honour; criminalizes his/her records; controls his/her freewill; cancels his/her reputation; confuses his/her vision and conviction; compromises his/her principles; crushes his/her integrity; cripples his/her confidence and boldness; clips his/her wings; and crashes the future of a nation. The present administration, no doubt has recorded some strides in the fight against corruption. But it has been mostly a transactional, negotiated fight with skeletal prosecutions. The society still accuses the leadership and present government of corruption and of gross selective anti-corruption crusade. Some members of the administration are alleged to be swimming in the pool of corruption. This erodes people’s confidence in a government and makes it difficult to offer any transformational leadership for any creative change.

One other enemy of transformational leadership and creative change is nepotism, with bad leadership, which at various times has hampered effective change implementation. Nepotism is the height of insensitivity to creative change and transformational leadership. Almost all successive governments since independence in Nigeria, except one or two, have been partly or totally enmeshed in nepotism. Still refer to my letter to National Council of State. There can be no desirable and needed creative change if qualified change agents are not involved. This enemy factor of nepotism encourages bad governance, and totally undermines the principle of global citizenship ideals and best practices. The creative change agent/transformational leader will be able to deal with this by applying progressive devolution, and involvement/inclusive governance. Here, there should be equity, and fairness with particular emphasis on merit. Certain groups in Nigeria have been crying of marginalization for decades, and this has given rise to agitations here and there, threatening the corporate existence of the nation. Genuine transformational leadership will effectively address this issue.

Next to nepotism is the mightily intractable ethno-religious politics in Nigeria. Your Excellency, it seems no leader, either from the South or North has been able to roundly conquer this phenomenon of ethno-religious politics. The overall leadership problem in Nigeria appears to be insatiably feeding from ethno-religious sentiments and biases.

Among ‘warring’ heterogeneous societies, in a nation like Nigeria, where there are about 250 ethnic groups with about 400 languages, suspicion and fear are great barriers to implementing creative change. Sir, you occupy a special position to heal this putrefying sores of suspicion. As a member of the Fulani elite, with good education and nationalistic disposition, one major responsibility you will have as President is to purge Nigerians from other ethnic groups of any bitterness, biases, and negative perception of the Fulani nation and people, after genuine reconciliation efforts, given what has transpired over the years, especially in the present administration. As Fulani, you stand accepted by the Fulani. As a patriotic broadminded Nigerian, you stand accepted by all and sundry.  If you don’t achieve this, no one might be able to do it in the next 50 years; and history will not forgive you.

There could be more instances of barriers to transformational leadership, depending on the experiences you are likely to face, the particular change you intend and need to implement, the host or target people or community, and the time. You will have to devote much time, appropriate needed treasure, and seek necessary talents, to help in addressing each barrier as it presents itself. Be prepared. Be wise. Be resolute. Be inspirational. Be transformative.

Your Excellency, looking at the barriers and stumbling blocks that are likely to litter your ways as you come in as a creative change agent and the transformational leader in your quest to create and implement change in the real Nigerian world, you might feel downcast, dispirited or discouraged. That is the main barrier. Once you are defeated from within, you are finished. As stated, change implementation could be very difficult and challenging, but not impossible. The pedestal that has always seen genuine and committed creative change agents through and successful is comprised of two things which I believe you know. But you also know that once in a office, a knowledgeable politician might become susceptible to a number of issues: personal conviction and determination, which are further defined by what I call the 11 (eleven) D’s of Creative Change and transformational leadership –

  1. Discernment through awareness and meta-awareness; Nigeria has been lacking in truly discerning leaders. Surrounded by selfish individuals and ethnic-conscious politicians.
  2. Discovery, through assessment, observation and survey; Lack of this quality has denied us genuine transformative leadership. It has denied Nigerians genuine people-oriented projects and policies that are appealing even beyond the very particular administration.
  3. Decision, through inspiration;
  4. Design, through critical thinking and proper planning; Our present leaders have variously shown total lack of critical thinking in governance and nation-building. Anyone can easily fall into the same mistake if care is not taken.
  5. Determination and
  6. Discipline, through motivation and goal setting; The overriding goal here is achieving genuine national reconciliation, security and socioeconomic development. Playing politics for the sake of politics, self, and region will defeat this.
  7. Devolution and
  8. Democracy through delegation, collaboration, involvement and inclusiveness in policy formulation and implementation; This is where the new leadership will inject merit and equity in national scheme of things. If you can handle issues the generate agitations and clamour for self-determinatoion, you will have succeeded as a leader indeed.
  9. Deduction and
  10. Durability by way of judgment of result and lasting or ‘sticking’ effect of the change process and product; and finally. Institutional durability is a legacy. Ibrahim Babangida achieved it, and Obadsanjo did, too. You can go a step further. Sticking change and transformation are the pride of a leader. Moreover, strive to achieve a sticking change of attitude to nation-building and patriotism.
  11. Development and growth which is the overall objective realized socio-economically and politically at the national and state levels, as the case may be.

Again, Sir, neither promise nor seek to implement a change that you do not even believe in, no matter how popular. You may not succeed; even if you do, you may not go far. The impact may not ‘stick.’ There may not be “a staying power.” (Pucio)

Once after assessing the situation and making your discovery, you now have a vision, a dream, and a goal. Which I believe, Your Excellency does, already.

Your Excellency, I know you may be aware of some of the issues discussed here, but the question is, ‘Why have we made so much noise about transformative leadership in Nigeria with little or nothing to show for it?’  The factors enumerated above, among other culturally-dependent and peculiar political factors have always successfully and will continue to successfully militate against the realization of transformational leadership in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general, until we are able to muster the needed courage, commitment and collaboration to give the people true transformative leadership without minding whose ox is gored.

Do not discuss your vision with people who may not be interested, or with  those you may not succeed to pass your vision to. They may either talk you out of it, or make you begin to doubt after their active or passive rejection. This happens among the political class who may not care much about the interest of the Nigerian people but their political or regional interest only. However, since politics is a team work you should be able to convince and carry your team along.

Again, this is one factor which any political leader hoping to implement true restructuring and creative change in the political life of Nigeria should be careful with.

Sir, believe that it is achievable and implementable. By some humble experience, I have learnt that personal conviction, consistency and continuity build followership and support. This is the case with my experience at Diamond-Crest for Youth Education Foundation, and my observation of great and inspirational transformative leadership practitioners in the world of business, politics, and education.

Another message I want to pass across here is that change can start from a small way. However, it must be identifiable, verifiable, in a way. Not starting and ending on the pages of the newspapers. This will be tantamount to taking the people for granted. Change is a naturally or artificially precipitated function that introduces what is totally or partially new or different into an organizational system or sub-system. Change could be in structure or method. It could be both systematic and systemic. This is the job you are going to be elected to do.

Your Excellency, Sir, critical thinking is indispensable in transformational leadership. This has been a great problem both with the leadership and followership in Nigeria. Our mistakes of the past in choice of leaders; the type of policies at the leadership level; our economic planning and political philosophy in Nigeria; our educational system and policies; our curriculum planning and implementation; dropping a policy today, going back to pick it tomorrow, and dropping it again the next day; choosing new policies over old ones without justifiable results at the end of trials and implementations, and many other instances, are all evidence of lack of critical thinking and planning.

Any change agent or transformational leader that does not embrace the principles and tools of creative thinking, where something new and ‘axiologically’ utilitarian can be seen or experienced; diagnostic thinking, where proper assessment of the situation can be done and the problem determined; affective thinking, where overall judgment of the situation, process and product can be made; and the general creative problem solving model, cannot succeed. Transformational leadership skill strategy is the vehicle that drives one safely to the destination of the needed creative change and goal realization. You would need a strong, and dependable team of creative and critical thinking skill managers and professionals to succeed. Nigeria is a complex, uncertain, volatile, ambiguous, unpredictable, and highly sensitive world.

Your Excellency, there is no gain-saying the fact that the real Nigerian world is a system that needs to be fixed – unemployment, insecurity, political uncertainty, economic meltdown, lack of education, poor education, wrong education, inter-ethnic disharmony, religious dichotomy and intolerance, etc. Nigeria, therefore, needs a 21st Century leader; a leader with a global orientation and a Nigerian vision; a leader with global citizenship ideals, cross-cultural education, multi-ethnic and cross-tribal ontological focal consciousness. Nigeria is in dire need of a true transformational leader, a true creative change agent who would represent the unmistakable ideals of democratic best practices. The leader that comes once in a lifetime. A generational leader. A leader who would come with his eyes set on history, a golden history. Not a regional champion. Not a regional leader.

Such a leader has his plans and goals made up with provisions for flexibility even before he is elected. Such a leader has no Northern agenda, no Eastern agenda, no Southern agenda, and no Western agenda. He/she has a transformational agenda for the nation state – Nigeria.

Your Excellency, as we match towards 2019 general elections, let us think Nigeria, dream Nigeria, and pray for Nigeria.  Let our slogan be: ‘’TO GIVE NIGERIA A GENUINE TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP IS A TASK THAT MUST BE DONE.’’

Let’s join hands to create and implement the needed change that will fix the broken structures and strictures of our battered economy and socio-polity.

Wishing you success at the polls.

With the highest Regards.

Yours Sincerely,

ONYEDI, Gideon I.



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