A good obstetrician is not the brilliant, but one that delivers safely. By Owei Lakemfa.

President Bola Tinubu is being praised to the high heavens for the alleged giant strides and courageous decisions he had taken in the first four weeks of his government. The international community led by the World Bank have also been full of praises, claiming that the confidence of international investors is being restored.

The triumphant song out there is that President Tinubu hit the ground running. I went back to see where he hit the ground and found some debris. Otherwise, the aircraft appears in perfect condition. So the debris might just be a few loose panels or bolts.
Personally, I would suggest to the Ashiwaju that while continuing his run full steam, he should ask the Accident Investigation Department to examine the site and ascertain if there is really a problem. The most obvious to me is the astronomical hike in the cost of fuel prices which pushed PMS from N189 to N530 per litre with obvious indications, that this will be the first increase in many to come.
Obviously, Tinubu is praised for being a tough and strong man who took an unpalatable decision even when his immediate team did not think it was a wise decision to take on the very day of his inauguration. But our President must calm down; he needs be told from onset that the President Nigerians need is not a strong, tough one, but one with empathy – which I used to know Tinubu for –and a team player which he promised he would be. In his inauguration speech the President made a sacred vow to the people: “Our administration shall govern on your behalf but never rule over you. We shall consult and dialogue but never dictate.” He needs to keep to this.
President Tinubu made a tragic mistake in listening to hawks, including local and international undertakers, and imposing the sharp fuel prices on Nigerians. This has led to what Fela would have called “Sorrow, Tears and Blood”. Tinubu is human and fallible and as a good leader, he needs to listen to the cries of the people in the street and take immediate steps by reviewing the astronomical fuel prices. This will portray him not as a weak leader, but a strong passionate one who listens to the people he leads.
For the compelling reasons why he has to act immediately, I suggest he listens to the viral video of Majeed Dahiru on the subject, and for the scientific analysis, he could cause his aides to summarise for him, the presentations of Professor Izielen Agbon which are available on the net.
On my part, I will tell a true story that buttresses my conviction that a good obstetrician is not necessarily the brilliant, but one that delivers safely.
The Union Bank of Nigeria was one of the three biggest banks in the country. Along with the UBA and the First Bank, they were known as the Solid Three. The bank itself was established in 1917, three years after the country was amalgamated. It was fittingly called the Colonial Bank before it was renamed in 1925 as the Barclays Bank DCO (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas.) The bank was one of those supporting the Apartheid regime in South Africa and was therefore taken over in 1979 and renamed Union Bank.
In 2009, the Central Bank revealed that the bank’s management had been undermining the bank, including giving collateral-free multi-billion dollar loans to “speculators”. To rescue it, a new management under a financial expert and leading banker, Mrs Funke Osibodu was appointed to rescue the bank.
When in trying to reposition the bank, the new management touched the Legacy contributory pension fund of the staff, there was a protest and the management dismissed 13 leaders of the staff union. When the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institution Employees protested against the sack, union branch leaders were punitively transferred across the country. The management banned the union, seized its offices and finances.
When labour protested , the management approached the National Industrial Court, NIC, which granted an injunction barring Labour from going on strike or obstructing the services of the bank in any way. The security services, including the police and the States Security Services, perhaps to enforce the NIC injunction, took over security on the bank premises. When the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, approached the Federal Ministry of Labour to get the labour issues sorted out, the bank, apart from getting some labour leaders openly aligned to it, also got the Ministry’s endorsement as the Labour Minister pointed out that a court order already existed and Labour itself was split.
As the triumphant management rose from the meeting with the Minister, I approached the Managing Director to beg her to avoid a collapse of the bank which can result if a labour strike occurs and customers, who were already weary of the viability of the bank, make a run on it. I suggested that she focused on reviving the bank and resuscitating it rather than risk being diverted and sucked into an avoidable, potentially bruising labour crises.
She listened to me, but her lawyers and officials were hailing her and asked her to ignore my appeals.
All the powers of government, including the security services, Labour Ministry and most labour leaders were on her side. In any case, she was the expert. However, her most senior official at our meetings, Mr. Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi, the Executive Director, Information Technology and Development thought there should be some caution. We opened back channels trying to end the labour crises.
Eventually, on February 14, 2011, the staff and their labour allies sent Mrs Osibodu a valentine message by shutting down the bank. It was a gruelling struggle. The management did not recover from it, Mrs Osibodu had to leave the following year and the now tottering bank eventually collapsed and was taken over.
Mr. Shonubi, Osibodu’s Executive Director who thought the management should focus on its primary objective of reviving the bank rather than taking on the staff, has now been appointed by Tinubu as the Acting Governor of the Central Bank. The lesson in the Union Bank story is the need to listen to other persons rather than be carried away by accolades.
President Tinubu’s primary focus should be the security of the populace and the welfare of the long suffering people of Nigeria many of whom despite being one of the biggest oil producers in the world live in abject poverty.
I need not tell President Tinubu to beware of those who praise him for engaging in a sprint in the first four weeks of his administration when he is actually in a four-year marathon race.

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