Opinion | It’s Time to Save Nigeria: Thinking Outside The Box – by Ayokunle Fagbemi

An Abuja based political scientist, Ayokunle Fagbemi – the Executive Director, Center for Peacebuilding and Socio-Economic Resources Development (CePSERD). He is renowned for always “thinking outside the box” in what often turns out to be informed deviant, pseudo anti but apparently, pro-establishment posture has again made some interjections concerning the myriad sociopolitical, security and economic challenges confronting Nigeria. In his current interjection on the way forward for Nigeria, he has simply opined, “that for Nigeria to emerge as a stable, virile, self-reliant and egalitarian society based on social justice and mutual respect, Nigerians across board must agree to an Elite Consensus, which would allow for the preservation of Nigeria as a democracy. That is, democratic sustenance by uniting to hold the 2019 General Elections as scheduled but with the mindset of constituting a “Government of National Interest, Security and Unity (GoNISU)”.” In his view, “stakeholders of the Nigerian project must support the plan to emerge with a schema that will allow for major political actors, particularly, existing presidential aspirants to constitute GoNISU for the 2019 – 23 tenure.”


In envisioning “GoNISU, as a proactive statecraft design”, the former member of AU-ECOSOCC (2005 – 8) believes “that it will provide quick-win political agenda designed to run concurrently with an effectively efficient government system implemented within the first two years of the constitutional mandate of four years to secure legitimacy and wide-based support”. He has predicated GoNISU upon the “desire to bail Nigeria out of the ominously predicted economic collapse, destruction, breakup and/or protracted civil war”.


He has therefore called on the “Nigerian Elites: academia, cultural, economic, military, political, and religious – in country and Diaspora, to unite in forging the required unity to salvage Nigeria from the brink of disaster”. In his opinion, “the way forward, is to take serious the warnings on Nigeria from the series of Reports emanating from the Action Aid International Amnesty International (AI), Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), HSBC, The Economist, Transparency International (TI), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United States Institute for Peace (USIP), World Bank, Wall Street Journal and others”.


According to Ayokunle Fagbemi, “it is time to address, holistically, the consequential issues emanating from these reports”. He stressed, “That glaring negative status and rankings of Nigeria on human development indices and governance services delivery are demanding urgent attention, conscious of the current security challenges and the dynamics of domestic and global terrorism networking”. In his view, “the dynamics of the challenges have mutated into different shades to exacerbate the series of asymmetric warfare that Nigeria has engaged in for getting close to a decade”. In addition, he opined, “we should not go into another general election fractured and factionalized along the fault lines of ethno-religious divides and seeming agitations for self-determination in whatever guise”.


From his perspective, “the reports as empirical representation of realities have literally crystallized the issues for governance transition, primarily to include three issues as a tripod. They are (i) Security and Safety of Lives and Properties; (ii) Political Economics and Investors Confidence; and (iii) National Integration and Nation-building”.


Speaking further, Ayokunle Fagbemi predicates “GoNISU on US President Abraham Lincoln’s acclaimed successful implementation of Team of Rivals, which has been well articulated in the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (2005, Simon and Schuster) written by Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian Doris Kearns Goodwin”. The book is a biographical portrait of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and some of the men who served with him in his cabinet from 1861 to 1865. Three of his Cabinet members had previously run against Lincoln in the 1860 election: Attorney General Edward Bates, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase and Secretary of State William H. Seward. The book focuses on Lincoln’s mostly successful attempts to reconcile conflicting personalities and political factions on the path to abolition and victory in the American Civil War. The Executive Director, CePSERD, Fagbemi further reiterated, “We in Nigeria are definitely at such a threshold and require such strategic “thinking outside the box” in order to promptly address the issues of (i) Security and Safety of Lives and Properties; (ii)Political Economics and Investors Confidence; and (iii) National Integration and Nation-building. That is, as we strive for Nigeria to emerge as a stable, virile, self-reliant and egalitarian society based on social justice and mutual respect!”


Stakeholders, he advised, “should galvanize and harness the resources available in the political space to activate GoNISU. In order to underscore the point, I shall endeavour to paraphrase and contextualize the words of US President Abraham Lincoln as captured on page 319 of Doris Goodwin’s book on Team of Rivals: We need the strongest (Nigerian political actors to constitute the Federal Government of Nigeria). We needed to hold our own people together. (We must look beyond the myopic partisan political interests) and conclude that (we must engage) the very strongest men. (That we must not attempt to, because in the actual sense of it, we have) no right to deprive the country of their services.”


From the foregoing, GoNISU as a novel idea, “will therefore emerge as an Elite Consensus of a seeming Collegiate Presidency where all the actors recognize that as per the 1999 Constitution (as amended) we can only have a President and Vice President in The Presidency. Cognizant of the constitutional realities; agreeing and appreciating that as ‘others’ they can only take other roles as appointed public officials, (re)emerge as legislators or seek lesser elective executive offices as governors in order to stabilize the country. They will elect doing this with full understanding that they are major stakeholders in transiting Nigeria into a viable political entity within the 2019 – 23 constitutional four-years. Thus, having an opportunity to engage in the monitoring and evaluation of the GoNISU designed political agenda aimed at addressing all major constitutional amendments for devolution of powers, terse, fiscal federalism, restructuring, reforms in Nigeria’s security management architecture, etc.”



Ayokunle Fagbemi


Ayokunle Fagbemi is currently the Executive Director, Center for Peacebuilding and Socio-Economic Resources Development (CePSERD). He graduated from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, 1987 with a Master of Science degree in International Relations (Study of Nigeria’s Military Statecraft). His first degree, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, 1985, (writing on the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) is from University of Benin, Nigeria. With over three decades of local and international working experience from governmental and non-governmental sectors, he has a strong knack for research, program planning and project management, broadcasting, monitoring and evaluation, preventive peacebuilding, democracy and good governance, development planning and financial management, personnel management and development, capacity strengthening, post-conflict peacebuilding, coordination and implementation of projects and programs.

A staunch advocate of good governance and democratic sustenance; Fagbemi actively participates in governance, democratic sustenance and public policy initiatives at national, regional and continental levels. This he has done from both state and civil society perspectives. He was a key staff of the Directorate for Social Mobilization (MAMSER), 1988 – 93 and the National Orientation Agency, 1993 – 95 which midwife the then President Ibrahim BabangidaTransition-to-Civil Rule Programs. He served on the many “think tanks” that produced the frameworks, political party systems and others during the era. He has contributed immensely to credible electoral process as facilitator in the design and implementation of many sociopolitical engineering (political education) programs as well as participating in election Observation in Nigeria and some African countries through CePSERD, WANEP and WACSOF. He has continued to demonstrate high levels of cognitive capacity with passion by bridging social research with theoretical, legal and policy frameworks for interrogating realities across the various tiers of geopolitical spaces, building scenarios and/or preparation of Policy Briefing Notes.A widely travelled Nigerian,Fagbemi has had cause to visit each of the 774LGAs in the course of his career till date to secure a realistic grasp of grassrootdynamicsin the determination of trends, stakeholders mapping, context mapping, interpretations of data for analyses, reporting and briefings.

From March 2005 – April 2008, he served as a member of an organ of the African Union, the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOCC); an active participant in the ECOWAS Peace Exchange Forum and a committed member of the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) – served as the Coordinator for Nigeria (July 2008 – August 2009). As part of the many initiatives that contributed to the smooth, near violence-free, 2015 Presidential Election in Nigeria, Fagbemi served as the Director (Research, Policy and Documentation) of the positive narrative advocacy platform for preventive peacebuilding, the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) from June – October 2014. He was equally the Coordinator, SPC Democratic Sustenance  Situation Room (October 2014 – May 2015), that is, a feedback schema for gathering early warning indicators and preparing reports, briefing notes and proactive response plans in support of then President, C-in-C to exit honorably.

He has acquired considerable Civil Society based experience as a development worker with a strong interest in statecraft dynamics, particularly, preventive peacebuilding for peace and security. As a Conflict Mitigation Specialist with interventions to promote sustainable peace, his prowess in Early Warning Early Response Mechanism within the West Africa sub region is worthy of note, accounting for his serving as Consultant to the GIZ sponsored ECOWAS Study on the introduction of National Early Warning Mechanisms and Systems for Member States (August 2011 – May 2012). A seasoned facilitator cum researcher, Fagbemi undoubtedly has participated practically in conflict analysis and peacebuilding activities in Nigeria and some other African countries including Burkina-Faso, Cameroun, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia.



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