Following the publication of my article titled “The President as a Role Model”, I had a profoundly worrisome encounter, which produced a narrative that necessitated this reprise and seemed to answer the closing question at the end of the original article thus: “What type of role model is the ruling class about to hoist on millions of Nigerians with a Tinubu Presidency?” This reprise is very instructive here. Over the years, Nigerian parents whisked and still whisk their children from Primary Five to secondary school without their writing the First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC) examination. This phenomenon has become the new norm. As a result, most children enter secondary schools without benefiting from the knowledge and childhood development inherent in Primary Six. While this creates intellectual deficiency that places the child at a disadvantage in early secondary school, it leaves a nagging default in the sequence of the child’s certificates. This played out in the following narrative. After completing the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program, a graduate job seeker opened the portal of an organization that advertised for employment. Looking through the requirements for employment, he saw FSLC as number one. He was alarmed and wondered what that was; his friend informed him. Hastily, he contacted his school mates who were also seeking employment in the same organization and who also skipped Primary Six; they reassured him that there was a way out. “Chill”, they said to him in the trending parlance. Within two days, the young man went home with an FSLC duly signed by the relevant authorities (at least so it seemed) and the process of the application was completed.
A few days thereafter, the young man’s uncle stumbled on the FSLC and, being an educationist, identified the document as fake. Alarmed, the uncle asked his nephew where he got the certificate and the young man answered that they “dubbed it”, which means that it is a forgery. Further alarmed, the uncle demanded to know the source, and here is where the crux of this article lies. The young man said thus: “the President of Nigeria didn’t present his school certificate and the president-elect is brandishing false degree and false age. Is it this what’s the name (he didn’t remember FSLC) for a lowly job that will bring down the roof on Nigeria?” The acerbity of the answer left the uncle dumbfounded. In soliloquy, he whispered “Nigeria is finished”. The cultural definition of a role model is a person who serves as an example of values, attitudinal disposition and behaviors that are acceptable for a given role in the society. Role models can also be persons who distinguish themselves in their personal endeavor in such a way that others admire and want to emulate them. For example, a woman who becomes a successful brain surgeon or airline pilot can be described as a role model for other women.
In its basic form, role modeling is integral with leadership; as a matter of fact, it is the silent, salient and most sensitive part of leadership as its effects and outcomes outlive the model. The persona of the model, the manner of speech and every attitude and behavior that personify him or her add up to the capacity to be an effective model. Role modeling is a responsibility each individual owes society for the continuance of a culture of which virtue, ethos and decorum form the foundation. It is a social responsibility that cuts across every strata of human society: at each point in time, place and layer of a human society, there are people who are, willy-nilly, performing the function of role modeling. The higher the position occupied in society the wider the spectrum of role modeling. For Dan Agbese, “The president is our national role model…He leads, we follow. He talks, we listen. He decides and acts, we accept”. So, it is hereby asked: If the allegations of false claims of primary and secondary schools attended, the forgery of university certificate, age, and that of conviction in a drug related offense in the US leveled against Bola Tinubu are true, what type of role model is the ruling class intending to hoist on millions of Nigerians with a Tinubu presidency? Even before inauguration, we can see the effect on young graduate job seekers. As it is, this has already sent a very strong wrong signal to Nigerian youths and the damage to the nation’s psyche will be unfathomable and irreparable. It is said that the easiest way to destroy a nation is to compromise its educational system; hoisting two presidents whose educational certificates are questionable back to back on Nigerians will definitely deal a devastating blow on education in Nigeria. In view of what is public knowledge regarding the education of the out-going president and the president-elect, on what moral pedestals will a technocrat, bureaucrat or jurist stand to bring to book any school leaver over a fake certificate? Besides that, how would the Nigerian society and justice delivery system perceive an accused drug pusher where the president was convicted for drug offense? Again, if Tinubu was born in 1952 and took his bachelor’s degree in 1979, then he graduated at the age of twenty-seven years, which is within the age for National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program. So, where and when did he undertake his NYSC program? If he didn’t go under the service, then how do you justify enforcing the NYSC decree. Over the years, we overlooked evil in Nigeria; then, we permitted evil by legalizing it, thereby giving it wings. Today, we are about to promote evil to the highest position in this land. Naturally, those who still call evil by its name will be hounded and persecuted by evil doers and evil will be audaciously afoot across the land. Then, Nigeria will degenerate into a doomed domain of the demented. Osai, Professor of Development Studies of Department of Political Science, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, can be reached via email@example.com