OLORUNFEMI, Olaoluwa Christopher
The term “leader” has different definitions applicable to different situations in different contexts but of noteworthy mention is that given by the former Director- General of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri as “one who fosters change”1. From the current socio-economic situation in the country and a dearth of meaningful change, we do not seem to have leaders as seen in this context but merely short-sighted individuals who have not effected any positive change but have, so far, acted out of selfish interest without care or interest to the masses whom they govern.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE LEADERSHIP SYSTEM IN NIGERIA SO FAR
Nigeria currently operates the federal style of government (i.e. a federal republic with a presidential system) in which there is a central head of government (the President), thirty-six state governments and seven hundred and seventy-four local governments. However, the power, policy and funding majorly devolves from the Federal Government as broad policy and funding comes from the ‘center’. However, this was not always the case. From 1960 to 1966, Nigeria operated a regional form of government in which there were semi-autonomous regions (North, West and east) headed by Premiers. The government then was headed by a ceremonial President and a Prime-Minister.
The change in the style of government seemed to mark a change in the fortunes of the nation. We have moved from regions which could generate revenue internally as seen by the groundnut pyramids in the North, cocoa plantations in the West and palm-oil or rubber plantations in the East alongside giant strides like the first skyscraper in Africa(Cocoa House) and the first TV station in Africa(Western Nigeria TV) to moribund states which show little or no leadership initiative except to go to the center, cap-in-hand, to beg for allocations to placate the needs of their state with no new projects(except new roads and transformers) to show.
RECURRENT THEMES IN LEADERSHIP IN NIGERIA SO FAR
- Lack of initiative
Over time, there seems to have been a dearth of initiative so far in Nigerian leadership. This can be best highlighted by the “agendas” rolled out each election period by the publicists of contestants. Olusegun Obasanjo rolled out the “Fight against Corruption” which established the EFCC and ICPC2. Shehu Musa Yar-Adua served us the seven-point agenda which included “Power and Energy, Food Security, Wealth Creation, Transportation, Land Reforms, Security, Education”3. Goodluck Jonathan presented the nine-point agenda including “Anti-corruption, Oil and Gas, Education, Boko-Haram (aka Security), Power and Energy, the North, the Health Sector”4. President Muhammad Buhari dished out the Change mantra which includes “mass employment (aka Wealth Creation), Security, Anti-Corruption, improved infrastructure and Education”5.The highlighted points have been repeated by four different governments spanning thirteen years of leadership. What new methods have been employed to tackle the deleterious problems that have plagued us since time immemorial? In addition to this, it was reported by the Daily Post that no new capital project was carried out in 2017 by the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing6. What this implies is that we have nothing new to show as a nation regarding electricity or housing for 365 days. This situation does not look like it would improve any time soon. Lastly, our inability as individual states and as a nation to wean ourselves off oil-derived wealth seems to point to a lack of initiative of successive governments.
This hydra-headed endemic problem is not new to us as a nation. It can be highlighted from the N20 notes collected by the Nigerian policeman to the billions of dollars stashed in soak ways and refrigerators by our leaders. Despite the establishment of anti-graft agencies by former administrations, this cancer still has not abated its burrowing into the very fiber of our nationhood. Corruption is no new topic to this nation, however. General Abacha, a former military Head of State, was reported to have salted away over 321 million dollars7 while the former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke seemed intent on milking the nation dry8, going by the seemingly-endless accusations of corruption being released on an almost daily basis. It is safe to assume that merely having the amount of money that has been stolen so far in circulation would be enough to boost our ailing economy.
- Silence and Inaction
This seems to be the stock in trade of successive governments. Ranging from inaction on the kidnapped Chibok girls to silence(not as much as a press release or a statement) concerning the recent Benue killings, the government withdraws within its shell when its output is needed the most for the reassurance of frightened and concerned citizens. If lovers need the statement “I love you” from time to time as a re-demonstration of their love, why then should the government keep quiet when it needs to speak the most?
Other pressing issues include recycling of old leaders, nepotism, ethnicity, bureaucracy and red-tapism.
WHAT CAN WE DO AS THE PANACEA PROJECT?
- Restructuring of our values
As said earlier, corruption has eaten deep into us as individuals and as a nation. Due to repeated exposure, we no longer see corrupt acts as a bad deed, only screaming out in outrage when the amounts mentioned run into billions, causing us to have developed a form of “immunity” to it. It is up to make sure that all acts of corruption are not swept under the carpet but brought into the light of public opinion.
We also have a moral duty to orient others about the need to speak up when wrongs are done, thus setting off a chain-reaction of value-restructuring. In due time, corrupt deeds would no longer seen as the norm, rather as a misdeed which requires punishment. By re-branding our individual selves, we can rebrand the nation as a whole
- Training and running for leadership positions
“He who would move mountains must start by moving small stones”– Confucius. By partaking in leadership trainings, seminars and also involving ourselves in student politics (i.e. student organisations and bodies), we can hone skills that would prepare and aid us when the time comes for us to take over the reins of power. As long as we remain aloof concerning matters of leadership, things might never change.
No matter the scale of outrage or suffering that we complain about as a nation, things would never change as long as we do not exercise our civic duty by voting in competent and qualified individuals for office. It is our only ticket out of bad leadership.
The above is by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive presentation concerning the myriad problems befalling us as a nation or solutions to them. It is only hoped that the above can bring pertinent issues to our awareness and trigger a need for change within the core of our beings. By tackling recurring problems of the past with innovative ideas of the present, we can create a positive future for the individual and the nation.
- Proshare (Internet). Abuja; Proshare; 2006-2018. Leadership and the challenges of good governance in Nigeria. 19-10-2009(cited 28-01-2018).
- com (Internet). Rasheedat Ola; 2011-2018. Yaradua’s seven-point agenda: any hope for the Nigerian people? 23-01-2009(cited 28-01-2018).
- com (Internet). Rasheedat Ola. 2011-2018. Yaradua’s seven-point agenda: any hope for the Nigerian people? 23-01-2009(cited 28-01-2018).
- com (Internet). Lagos, Nigeria. Naij. 2011-2018. Jonathan releases his 9-point agenda for 2nd term. 2015(cited 28-01-2018).
- The Nation Nigeria (Internet). Lagos, Nigeria; The Nation Nigeria. 2006-2018. 2006-2018. 2015: My five-point agenda, by Buhari. 1-1-2015(Cited 28-01-2018).
- Daily Post Nigeria (Internet). Nigeria. Ameh Comrade Godwin; Why works Ministry didn’t carry out any capital projects in 2017- Fashola. 20-1-2018(cited 28-01-2018).
- Premium Times (Internet). Nigeria. 2017. Premium Times. $321 million Abacha loot: Nigeria concludes negotiations with Switzerland. 26-10-2017(cited 11-3-2018).
- Buzz Nigeria (Internet). Nigeria. 2018. Chinwendu Mmuojoke. Diezani Allison-Madueke: All you need to know about the corruption scandal. Cited 11-3-2018.