Speed Is Good, But Order Is Better By Johannes Tobi Wojuola
“Grain by grain, a loaf; stone by stone a castle”, says a Yugoslavian proverb.
Haile Gebrselassie is one of the word’s legends in marathon racing. Usain Bolt is the King of the legends of sprint racing – 100m and 200m dashes. Haile is good at sprint, so also Usain can make a good attempt at long distance running. But neither can be king in the other’s forte.
Why? Because marathon and sprint are two different kinds of races with different requirements for excelling in either. The short and quick trip of a sprint requires expending more energy and swift speed than the long, onerous and systematic race of a marathon.
Winning a sprint is about the velocity of the start and your reaction time. This is not the same for a marathon. Winning a marathon requires a systematic consistency in expending speed in pace and endurance through the long 20 kilometer plus race. You do not run the whole marathon; you strategically begin at a slower pace, to a fast pace – maintained and sustained over a period of time – and finally, win with a sprint.
Nigeria’s journey through change is a marathon and not a sprint.
In the third paragraph to the last of President Buhari’s October 1st address to Nigerians are pithy wise words that convey the secret to the marathoner’s success: “Impatience is not a virtue. Order is more vital than speed.”
Getting Nigeria back on track – revitalizing a moribund economy perfidiously left in shambles; securing Nigerians from insurgents and common criminals; uprooting corruption from the many nooks and crannies it has made home – will not be achieved in the wink of an eye.
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka says, and aptly so: “The economic condition of the nation of the people does not deteriorate overnight … A prolonged and unchecked process of attrition which was neglected in the past is now knocking on the door.”
Fixing the mare’s nest that resulted from this prolonged attrition of our economy cannot be achieved in one fell swoop; hasty climbers have sudden falls mirrors Robert Greene.
President Buhari began his tenure in a cautious, careful and calculated fashion. Proving to understand the architecture of achieving sustainable development; through strategic fixes geared towards a common long term goal for the Nigerian project. His decisions and actions have clearly not been for the show and optics, but for first and foremost the betterment of the Nigerian people – in the long run.
One minute of patience, ten years of peace resonates a Greek proverb.
Mr. Buhari has since resumption of office picked pace, step by step; starting systematically with the revival of the EFCC for his anti-graft fight. Thus setting the foundation for any work he will seek to achieve in office. It resonates with the indispensable fact that corruption cannot subsist with any development agenda that any government may seek to put in place.
The full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) set the ball rolling for all round accountability, consolidation of government revenue and in effect curbing the systemic corruption of government agencies in remitting revenue back to government purse.
The rejuvenation of our institutions bespeaks the reality of a system responding to the gradual process of change: all of a sudden, the EFCC sat up, so did the NCC and the CBN; the Custom Service had a revenue boost in its short period of changed leadership. As gradual and tardy as this change may seem, it is taking shape, form and setting the ground for soon coming results.
Even the Holy Book of the Bible notes in Isaiah 66 verse 8: “Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” Nigeria, like Zion, will indeed experience difficult times in the birthing of change, but it will be worth it at the end.
The moral imperative of patience must be summoned for the months to come.
Beyond the rhetoric and exuberance of transient hashtags reflecting an understandable desire from Nigerians for quick results and magic-wand change, President Buhari is laying a solid foundation for a robust, sustainable and revolutionary change agenda.
Diversification of the economy – through exploiting the potentials of the agriculture, power, mining, technology and manufacturing sectors – is President Buhari’s economic roadmap to solving our current economic downturn, occasioned by our fixated over-reliance on oil which forms over 80% of our earnings that has now dropped to a record low of below $40 per barrel.
Investments in these sectors will come from around the world. President Buhari’s trips to strategic events, countries and power states are well schemed to seeking critical assistance for this times.
Has every tactical move, piece by piece produced results? My answer is a resounding Yes!
The obvious, broad yet coherent foreign policy strategy bespoken of President Buhari’s travels have been geared towards: rebuilding rusted and cracking bridges; showing the new perspective of accountable, serious, virtuous and focused leadership Nigeria now has; boosting confidence and trust in foreign investors; and getting assistance to fulfill his agenda of fighting corruption, resuscitating the economy and securing the nation.
Evidently, each of his trips has sought to build relationships that foster partnerships for solutions to Nigeria’s current myriad of problems.
The foremost principle of international diplomacy is that no country should exist as an island on its own. It is more necessary than ever for Nigeria – in our dire and dicey mire – to hold hands even more tightly with our brothers in the international community as we seek their help to bringing solutions to the problems we face.
So far so good: Pledges of assistance secured; agreements signed; donations of military equipment received; intelligence shared; and moral support given are only a tip of the iceberg of the fruits of these trips in the offing.
For Nigeria: globalization and strengthened international relations at this time has the potentials for increased flow of trade, investment and technology – and that means, more jobs and improved living standards.
Let us look two, three steps ahead of every action of Mr. President – beyond sentiments; beyond the political divisions we share; beyond the ephemeral bite of the economy – to the sustainable long term solutions these moves will bring for the betterment of the Nigerian people.
An oak is not felled at one stroke; so too, the job of fixing Nigeria is not going to happen at one legerdemain stroke.
President Buhari’s policies show one thing clear: that we are in the right direction. And their fruits will be borne in due time.
On our part, we as Nigerians must be patriotic, undeterredly hardworking, and patient. The wait will not be forever. The common denominator of all human activity that has produced sustainable and effective results is patience.
As we run this marathon of change with the fortitude typical of the Nigerian people, let us hold on to the wisdom of these words: You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.
Johannes Tobi Wojuola, Lawyer, Writer and Dispute Resolution Specialist, writes from Abuja