Saturday, 26 May 2018

Igi imu Gina Si Ori - Why Malaysia is better than Nigeria

So, it's been about 16 days since a 92 years old man, Tun Mahathir and his team came into power in faraway Malaysia. Within this period, cabinet members (ministers) have been appointed, heads of key government departments have also been appointed, all with a caveat that non-performers will be replaced (believe me, they will be replaced if found wanting).

Within this same period, properties linked to members of the preceding government and its leader, Najib Razak was searched and cash, about $43 million in local and foreign currencies was found and seized including hundreds of expensive designer handbags.

Then, you read news and see pictures of how the prime Minister, a 92 years old man stayed up late studying documents until 4:00 AM and clocked in to work at 7:00 AM a few hours later. How his Wife instructed gift givers to donate whatever they intend to gift her and the Prime Minister to charities instead. How the cabinet has taken a ten percent pay cut or agreed to take no pay for additional duties. How political thugs who committed crimes to stoke religious and racial discord have actually been arrested for crimes they committed.

How big lowballing government contracts are to be renegotiated and so many other morale boosting, confidence giving actions and proclamations. Even as a foreigner, it feels good, makes me wonder how Malaysians feel. At some point, it felt like people I know just won the lottery and I thought, I know these people, I lived with them before, the way things are happening so fast, their lives will change for the better if not perfect. I wish my country can be like that, I wish my own government has half as much wit, will and transparency to solve persistent national problems.

No one in the new Malaysian government is blaming past governments for the current government’s inability to perform even the most mundane of leadership duties or to fulfill campaign promises. NO EXCUSES WHATSOEVER.

Many fairytalelike political events have happened in Malaysia in the past two weeks but the most important part of the last 16 days is that massive progressive reforms have been made. The impact of the removal of GST cannot be overstated, especially for students and poor families. I remember that even as an untaxed resident (Foreign Student), GST mixed with inflation had a negative effect on my finances, it reduced my ability to have disposable income not to talk of local families where the bread winners are out of job and they have no Daddy or Mummy to send money from overseas.

Why is Malaysia better than us and will continue to do better? The simple answer is leadership. After all, they were also colonized by the British and legend even has it that Nigeria gave them their first palm seeds, but look at what they have done with it, look at Simedarby. APC enjoyed similar goodwill like that of Pakatan, the difference is that Pakatan started working almost immediately and the people that wrote Pakatan’s manifesto are the ones running the government and advising the Prime Minister. Tun Mahathir did not move his clansmen from Kedah to Putrajaya and put them in strategic positions. He did not take 7 whole months to appoint an underwhelming line up of ministers. 

He did not refuse to probe 1MDB or SRC because some of the perpetrators are Malay or Muslim. Apart from the fact that Malaysian institutions are functional, Tun Mahathir is accessible and transparent enough, almost like a company’s CEO or director, people that work with or for him have access to him. The guy actually has a smartphone, he uses it and no CABAL can successfully “cage” him and make him lose sense and touch of what the country is like. Tun Mahathir is also always itching and ready for a debate, especially when he was retired and at 92, unscripted Mahathir is coherent and of sharp and sound mind anytime anywhere.

Most Malaysian leaders genuinely love their country, especially those in the new government. You can tell in how the carry themselves, their actions, their utterances, the products and businesses they patronize etc. It is difficult to say the same of Nigerian leaders.

Way Forward.

Moving forward, anyone that aspires to be our President needs to be scrutinised, he or she needs to be accessible and be willing to debate fellow aspirants, this person should be willing to answer damning questions anytime anywhere while campaigning and after they have won elections.

Having aspiring candidates in an environment not under the control of their aides and supporters will allow the electorate know the kind of person the candidate is, it will show us the candidate’s world view and national outlook, thus enabling us choose better. A “Private”, conceited candidate who is too big for debates, or too big to at least give a detailed presentation on how he or she intends to tackle our national and local problems should not have your vote, they don’t deserve it. The new Nigeria youth mantra should be - #NODEBATENOVOTE – No debate, no vote.

Finally, Let us look for leaders like Tun Mahathir, Men and Women that have mastered what Chief Obafemi Awolowo called “Self-Conquest”. Self-conquest as described by Chief Obafemi Awolowo and quoted by Professor Pius Adesanmi reads “Good Leadership involves self-conquest; and self-conquest is only attainable only by cultivating, as a first major step, what some applied psychologist have termed ‘the regime of mental magnitude’. In plain language, the regime of mental magnitude is cultivated when we are sexually continent, abstemious in food, abstain totally from alcoholic beverage and tobacco, and completely vanquish the emotions of greed and fear.”

So Naija youths, we need to stop voting for strangers to occupy important positions, get to know your candidates, get your PVC and choose wisely.

Olatunbosun E.B

Alumnus - Multimedia University Malaysia

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