Ask a question #AskDimeji
Q. What is your vision for Nigeria?

A. Nigeria has long been described as a country with huge potential, an emerging country and a future powerhouse. We have been satisfied for too long with being on this path. I want a Nigeria that is secure, enjoys good relations with its neighbors, is an active and leading member of the African Union. I want a Nigeria where oil is just one of many revenue streams the country can call upon. We have some of the most fertile, crop growing land on the continent; this must be made to work for the people, to feed our population and for export to generate much needed foreign currency income. I want a Nigeria where the people can have faith, trust and respect for their political figures, confident that they are working for the country not for themselves. I want to see the economic and educational divides that exist in our country shrink as quickly as possible, a country where a person’s skills, character and ability count more than where you are from. I am realistic about the pace at which change can happen in a country of our size but my vision for Nigeria is one that I want to see endure across generations. We must educate and equip leaders of tomorrow to carry this vision forward and make our country great.

Q. Will you be back in politics?

A. I have never left politics. True, I have not held political office recently, but politics remains in my blood. I love serving this country and will continue to contribute to the political debate where and when I can. If opportunities arise for me to undertake a more formal political role then so be it. For now, I am simply a concerned Nigerian citizen who, like so many of my countrymen and women, wants to see Nigeria prosper.

Q. What roles do you think Nigeria can play in Africa?

A. Nigeria is one of the leading countries on the continent. We have advanced military capability which should lead the way in fighting Boko Haram and contribute to the African Union and United Nations efforts against IS, Al Shabab and their affiliates, wherever they are in Africa. Nigeria has recently been declared the leading economy on the continent. While we should always be proud of our country’s achievements we should also be cautious. My economic diagnosis shows our economy is a long way from securing the robustness and economic complexity required to thrive in a competitive world market, whatever our status in Africa. Nigeria should be the standard bearer for African countries in terms of education and skills development, we should be the standard other countries aspire to achieve.

Q. What do you think are the essential qualities of a politician?

A. It is critical to understand the rhythms of politics, especially the uniqueness of Nigerian politics. Young politicians, full of vim and vigour often fail to see the fatal dangers of one word spoken out of place. There is nowhere for a politician to hide and it can be a lonely place. In the commercial sector and big business the top officers can refuse interviews, disappear at the time of a crisis, never to appear again (think Tony Hayward of BP during the Deep Water Horizon crisis or Martin Winterkorn, CEO during the recent VW emissions scandal). In Nigerian politics this is not an option. Political leaders must also possess huge reserves of energy and the ability to respond to unexpected crises. Boldness is critical and not just the appearance of being bold. Our political leaders must possess genuine courage and resist the temptation to follow social or traditional media trends; these come and go while true political belief and will endure. Finally, especially at a time of deep crisis, and we have many, Nigerian leaders must be resistant to negative criticism and attacks from opposing views.

Q. What makes you a proud Nigerian?

A. Like all good fathers I am proud of my family, my children and my wife, their accomplishments, achievements and the support they have given me. I am proud of our people and our potential. I am proud of Nigeria’s significant military contributions to United Nations peacekeeping missions. I am proud of young Nigerian innovators and brilliant minds that are changing lives and shaping the way we see the world.  I am proud of where we have come from as a Nation. I am proud of our diversity and proud of the potential contained in my fellow Nigerians and proud of what can be when we move in the right direction.

Q. What do you think of the new President?

A. My personal view of the new President is that of a strong, determined man. However, this question highlights what is so wrong in Nigerian politics and African politics for that matter; a fixation with the role of the individual rather than the role of the office they represent and way they perform that function. I think after the challenges of the past administration, a strict and disciplined leader such as President Buhari was inevitable, but is he the right man to build a political structure for Nigeria that possesses depth and breadth into the next 50 or 100 years, only time will tell.