*Nigeria At 49: Leadership As An Epidemic
By Adewale T. Akande
Dwight D. Einsenhower (1890-1969), the President of the United States of America from 1953 to 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 successfuly. Good leaders are known for their competence, patriotism, dedication, commitment to excellence, confidence, enthusiasm and openess to change.
Nigerian military and politicians since independence have performed below expectations, considering the largely untapped natural and human resources, boundless possibilities and opportunities that abound in Nigeria. Infact, our leaders are nothing but what Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah recently tagged “accidental leaders”. They refuse to organize, unite and act to put their names in great history of transformation and development of this great nation. Our leaders fail to take advantage of the nation with one of the world's largest markets. They fail to take advantage of our oil and gas to make life better for all Nigerians, instead we are faced with the ills of kidnapping, embezzlement of public funds, religion/ethnic conficts, bribery and corruption and election rigging.
What have we done with our oil reserves that made us the tenth oil producer in the world? Is it not a shame if we cannot boast of regular power and water supply at forty-nine years of independence? Is it 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.
Good leadership roles should be natural traits of those that aspire to lead. It is getting things done and not wasting time nor human lives. Leaders are supposed to be men and women for the people, leading by examples and serving all. Leaders are not only to delegate to subordinates, but also directly or indirectly assess performance of assigned duties. They are not to practise nepotism, but are to base
appiontments on merit.
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 turn will appoint his relatives, some party members and friends even if they are not qualified to complete his team. Are we expecting miracles from them? No! 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 takes to make sure he succeeds.
We do not need a coward professor who shows face after sixteen years to tell us the winner and those who annuled the freest and fairest election of June, 1993 that was won by late Chief M.K.O.Abiola. This
Electoral Chair Prof would have announced the results( 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.
I have been living in Spain for the last few years, and can accurately narrate the success of the country. Spain was under the military dictatorship rule of General Francisco Franco for almost forty years. During this time, most Spainsh people left the country to look for greener pasture in other countries. The death of the dictator 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 ) that ushered in a parliamentary government led by Mr. Adolfo Suarez. Since then, the country is a success story; the economy has grown, and politically she is one of the most stable in the world.
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 bad ones will always refuse to do anything after a lot of promises made in their political campaigns and voluminous party programmes.
Since independence, the only thing we got from majority of our leaders is destructive leadership styles, in which they violate the legitimate interest of the country. This is sabotage of 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's 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 the people. This epiidemic disease's 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 leadeship in bad times is a recipe for disaster”. We have to act now to save us from imminent disaster. What has happened to the national political reform 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 a new Nigeria with uninterrupted electricity, regular pipe-borne water and good roads. All these are POSSIBLE with good leadership; one that understands 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 us vote for an achiever, a statesman with exemplary character of trustworthiness with good vision to accomplish
to lofty heights.
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, water and 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 setting in which people feel relatively secure. In addition to this - we are not poor because we lack natural or human resources nor because nature is cruel to us. We are poor and in this mess because we lack ATTITUDE and good LEADERSHIP. God bless Nigeria.
Adewale T. Akande
Author and Road Safety Consultant