Nigeria At 49 – Leadership As An Epidemic


Dwight D. Einsenhower (1890-1969) was the President of the United States of America from 1953 until 1961 once defined leadsership as, “The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” This simply explains that a leader is someone you put in your trust to get things done successfully. Good leaders are known for their competence, patriotism, dedication, committed to excellence, confidence, enthusiasm, openness to change and recognition of the value of change.

These are the major yardsticks or components of ethos to understand Nigeria leadership. Nigeria military and democratic leaders since forty-nine years ago have perform below expectations considering the largely untapped natural and human resources, boundless possibilities and opportunities that abound in Nigeria. In fact, our leaders are nothing but what Rev.Matthew Hassan Kukah has recently tagged “accidental leaders”. They refuse to organise, unite and act to put their name in great history of transformation and development of this great nation.Our leaders fail to take advantage of the nation with world largest market. They fail to take advantage of our oil and gas to make life better for all Nigerians, instead we are facing with national psychosis of kidnapping, embezzlement of public funds, religion and ethnic conflicts, pervasive bribery and corruption, and massive election rigging.What have we done with our reserves that make us the tenth most petroleum-rich nation? Is it not a shame if we cannot boast of regular power and water supply at forty-nine years of independence? Is not a shame if our leaders cannot settle the ongoing federal universities workers’ strike of more than three months? Students are to suffer for this strike action in the long run.

Leadership behaviour should be a natural part of performance. It is getting things done and not wasting of human lives. Leader doesn’t tell his subordinates (ministers) what to do, but keep on inspiring them to see what they are capable of, or prompts others to be their best, then, helping them to get there. The reverse is the case in Nigeria. A leader will come to power by coup or election rigging, he will prefer to appoint a Yoruba graduate to head the ministry of agriculture and natural resources.This ministry boss in turns will appoint his relations, some party members and friends even if they are not qualified to complete his team.Are we expecting miracles from them? A round peg in a square hole is nothing but a misfit.Many qualified Nigerians are victims of this misfit.

It makes sense to recruit the best individual, an achiever who will do whatever it take to make sure he succeeds and not a kind a coward Professor who has shown face after SIXTEEN years to tell us the winner and those who annulled the most acclaimed, freest and fairest presidential election of June, 1993 that won by late Chief M.K.O.Abiola. He would have announce the result (be it in Nigeria or abroad) and made history for himself and Nigeria in laying good foundation for Nigeria`s democracy for the very first time that all Nigerians spoke with one voice. How is Ghana or Dubai in sixteen years ago? I have been living in Spain for the last few years. Spain was being ruled by General Francisco Franco for almost forty years of military dictatorship. Most Spainsh people left their country to look for greener pastures during the turbulent forty years of dictatorship. The death of the dictator in power on November 20, 1975, brought a turning point to the people of Spain. The country got her first democratic Constitution in 1978 (21 years ago) to ushered in a Parliamentary government led by Mr.Adolfo Suarez.Since 1978, the country has been experiencing a steady economic growth political stability coupled with quickly increasing mass-tourism which has favourable effects on their economy.

Meanwhile, leadership is a demonstrative ability. Good leaders always display sincerity, credibility, integrity, intelligence, competence in all their actions. They make timely and appropriate changes in thinking plans and methods to carry out their assignments out successfully. A good leader does not need up to 365 days before starting to perform with good results.He knows what is important to the people representing. We have witnessed that briefly in Nigeria with a man which was named after our former Lagos international airport, and we are still witnessing very few of our present democratic Governors performances. Their brilliant performances is a reflection of the characteristics and values of true leadership.This tells us that a new Nigeria is possible. It is either you are a bad leader or a good leader. Good leaders are very clear about their missions, goals, priorities and preferences.The poor ones will always refuse to do nothing after a lot of promises made in their political campaigns and voluminous party programmes. Since October, 1960, the only things we get from majority of our leaders is destructive leadership styles in which they violate the legitimate interest of the country and thereby sabotaging the socio-economic transformation for the development of the country. We should now get it clear that the behaviour exhibited by a leader may or may not reflect in their personalities. What do you think of a leader that traveled out to witness an inauguration of a University when he could not find solution to three months workers’strike actions of his country federal Universities ? Let our leaders know that the foundation of every state is the education of its youth.

Looking back from history, poor leadership in Nigeria appears to be an epidemic-a contagious disease that spreads rapidly and widly among particular population. This epiidemic disease time is up and we have to get rid of it with the help of immunization and quarantine of modern democratic principles and conceptions.According to Joseph Folkmania, “poor leadership in good times can be hidden. But poor leadership in bad times is a recipe for disaster”.We have to act now to safe imminent disaster in our political society. What has happened to the national political reforms conference deliberations and recommendations? Don’t we need true federalism? Don’t we need meaningful balance between federal jurisdiction and the development needs of the states.?

Sometimes, I am very sad when reading and hearing from few Nigerians that so much believe that it is very difficult to have new Nigeria with undistrupted electricity, regular pipe-borne water, good road network. All these are POSSIBLE with good political leaders with physical vitality and stamina, intelligence and action-oriented judgement. A leader that understand its follwers and their needs. The time of “godfatherism” in politics should be a thing of the past. We must have learnt our lessons by now. We have all what it takes to build a solid foundation for a great nation. Let vote for an achiever, a statesman with exemplary character of trustworthiness with good vision to accomplish political process which has political consequences in relation to government and policy.

I will be not doing justice to my piece if I forget the words of the great author, Chinua Achebe in his book titled:The Trouble With Nigeria, where he emphasized that there is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character, climate, land or water or air, but: “The Nigeria problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership….I am saying that Nigeria can change today if she discovers leaders who have the will, the ability and the vision” We need leaders that will provide the well-being of the led, and provide a social organization in which people feel relatively secure. In addition to this: We are not poor because we lack natural or human resources or because nature was cruel to us.We are poor and in this mess because we lack ATTITUDE and good LEADERSHIP. God bless Nigeria.

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