LEADERSHIP PRACTICES: The end-user effect on Nigerians
Any critical annotated analysis leadership practices of past and present leaders involved in the operation of the Nigerian government will produce such indigestible mix – some sort of tragicomedy.
By the reckoning of Christian Nwadike: “You will find Nigeria, a very interesting country, if you have the right mix of narcissism, sarcasm and sadism.”
Since its independence, the civil war, chains of military coup d’état, and consequent military interventions with intermittent democratic dispensations, fate have fashioned a Nigerian political environment that is not always seen as stable.
There has been a constant and utter lack of rule of law on the part of government, which engenders inexplicable confusion and volatility on the part of the governed. The most urgent issues in Nigeria today are lack of management of public trust by the elites, occasioned by impunity and poor maintenance of decaying amenities and infrastructures in the nation.
A root cause analysis of all these issues will implicate lack of pragmatic political philosophy among our leaders for the common good of the people.
The solution for addressing Nigeria’s problems and strengthening democratic governance in the federal republic lies in having a leadership that works on the principles of good governance and is, most importantly, accountable to the Nigerian people.
Good governance in Nigeria is essential to its stability and growth and that of the economies of West African countries in the Sub-region. While corruption and abuse of power have long been features of Nigeria’s economic and political landscapes, they do not have to remain in the country’s future.
In assessing the leadership situation in Nigeria, one would easily discover that most of the policy formulators as well as those involved in implementation of enacted policies are engaged in bribery, egoism, power drunkenness, and endemic corrupt practices. They are distracted to an extent that they forgot the nation’s emblematic motto aimed at improving the lives of people in the society. Although, people in a normal society are expected to be honest, law-abiding and hardworking, but in Nigeria, the lukewarm and unethical attitude of some of our leaders (and those who are supposed to maintain and enforce law and order) are leading the people to engage in corrupt behaviors. And that’s where the undoing of the masses stems.
Here, corruption is not just about embezzlement of fund, but perversion of values. It was poor understanding of what corruption entails that made us think that only political office holders can be corrupt, because we believed, it is all about stealing from the coffers of government. We forgot that corruption is entrenched when a citizen or group of citizens (irrespective of status) pervert values, as little as non-compliance with road safety laws, like use of seat belts.
However, this development should worry us as a country because the future is bleak for a nation whose young political managers squander public fund the way our leaders do in a lifestyle that does not reflect the underdevelopment in our land.
Between 1983 when Prof. Chinua Achebe of immortal memory published his book, “The Trouble With Nigeria”, and today when we celebrate 20 years of unbroken democracy, a lot has happened to prove Achebe right, that “the problem with Nigeria is Leadership.”
Though, men of books had maintained that bad leadership springs from bad followership, the truth remains that while one can accuse the followers of imprudence in choosing their leaders in a democracy, the leaders have the buck of the blame, in that power was vested on them to support or amend the trust of the people who elected them.
The wielding of power is what makes the difference between leaders and the led. And what one does with the power as a leader is what makes the difference between the good leader and a bad one.
Nigerians have had varied tastes of leadership styles. Career politicians have mounted the saddle, technocrats have had their time, and business moguls have been entrusted with the mantle as well. But in all, what scares people the most is that we don’t seem to be making progress. If all these class of people have failed, then who else could save us?
But then, we should not be oblivious of men and women of honour who have walked our sociopolitical space since our return to democratic rule. Think of the days of Mrs. Due process, Prof. Dora NAFDAC, Soludo of CBN, the short-lived Yar’dua years, and the Peter Obi exploits in Anambra State (that made This Day newspaper give him the Governor of the decade excellence award).
Truth is that no government official (whether elected or appointed) can attain such quality by accident; they get the same largesse that accrue to others in their offices.
Being a good leader, free of corrupt practices, is a product of fiscal discipline backed by financial modesty and realistic style.
That means leaders should approach governance as a business and as a foundation and make accountability paramount in all their dealings.
Meanwhile, the distasteful experience of leadership in our nation arose from a comparative analysis. That is to say, we compare regimes to regimes, instead of to ideals. And so, you hear people say: Jonathan’s days were better than Obasanjo’s leadership, or Yar’dua’s tenure was better than Gen. Buhari’s regime etc. By these comparisons, we lose sight of what ideal leadership was meant to be. That is an unnecessary acceptance of mediocrity as a way of life.
If we sincerely, go by the standard of ideal government, we would easily discover that all our leaders (past and present) failed us!
Although few exceptions abound, but averageness among majority obscures the good qualities of the few archetypical leaders. While we enjoyed the innovation of Prof. Akunyili in NAFDAC, her contemporaries in other ministries, departments and agencies of government were busy embezzling funds meant for dividend delivery to the people, like the power sector scandal of 2002 – 2005.
As a country, we need to have a template for exemplary leadership in all strata of governance.
While the likes of Govs. Makinde and Zulum are trying their best to give tasty representation of quality public leaderships in their states, Nigerians had kept yearning for more.
The ancient latin nugget: “De Rex num quam satis” – “for kings there can never be enough” is the slogan of the masses in Nigeria. We can never get enough or be tired of good leadership, and so, the urgent need for selfless detribalized champions to lead us remains endless.
This call becomes clarion, when one considers the ugly situations of ordinary citizens who are at the receiving end of bad leadership.
To those who make good use of power, nothing can be more desired of them by the masses than their continuity. But to those who abuse it, the reverse is the case.
In conclusion, we can echo with the deposed Emir of Kano in his last days in office, when he said: “May God bless us with good leaders.”
By Eze Jude