It has become very clear to me and a good number of the readers of this column all over the country and beyond that, there is a serious leadership deficit in almost all spheres of life in our country Nigeria. Unfortunately, the crisis started some decades ago, not only that we did do nothing to reshape the module, we went along with it thinking that it could correct itself. But what we have today is a repeat of some slogans, the same promises of change, the same blaming of the past government without improving on the mistakes of the past government, and in most cases doing the same all over and expecting a different result. In the words of Albert Einstein, it is termed insanity when you are doing the same thing all over and over and expecting a different result.
In this same column, some few years ago, I had written articles regarding leadership in Nigeria. I would like to lift a few lines from those articles to retrace back to what leadership is meant to be and what attributes leaders should possess to be able to lead a great nation.
In “Leadership in Nigeria: the Search Continues’, I opined that Leadership is also knowing when to quit the stage, an attribute greatly lacking in most of our African leaders. At this point, I should be clear that the burden of good leadership doesn’t just fall on those aiming to be leaders.
The truth is we can’t all be leaders but we can all demand accountability in leadership like it was done in the early days of Nigeria.
If we take time to reflect on the journey of leadership in Nigeria, from Independence to date, it forces us to ask if our leaders were really prepared for the challenges and obstacles they faced on their journey. With that being said, I find it very odd that we still dip into the same pool of leaders to select our heads of government during elections.
A ninety-five-year-old friend of mine told me not too long ago that he is very surprised that Nigerians still wait for promises that are being made by politicians and leaders before an election. He showed me manifestos of the sixties and gazetted decrees and declarations by both military and political leaders. The leaders of yesterday and politicians of today are the same and we may never have the changes that were promised over fifty years ago and also in our lifetime.
In Leadership and Legacy, there are many currently in leadership positions who seem to have forgotten that legacies are not about building monuments to be remembered by but by the impressions, we leave in the minds of those we led on the basis of our achievements, not promises. People remember ‘what’ but they also remember ‘who’. Do we still have leaders who can inspire change and cause a revolution? Sadly, I don’t see any standing among my mates even though they seem unable to relinquish power at the 11th hour. Yet I wonder if those who will be relinquishing power to also have what it takes to lead right.
My queries take nothing away from the amazing feats that young people have accomplished all over the world, particularly in my beloved country, Nigeria. Despite careless comments by he-who-shall-not-be-named about Nigerian youths being uneducated, unwilling to work, and dependent on revenue from oil to survive, we keep seeing how many young people continually counter such claims with their innovations and hard work.
However, leadership demands that, in all our innovations and hard work, we work towards something that will do more than line our pockets but will benefit many.
Before the 2019 election, the slogans that occupied most of the debate that took place were mainly Reconciliation, Restructuring, and Rehabilitation.
We remember that infrastructures were built across the North from the revenues reaped from the groundnut pyramids. We remember how revenues from cocoa were used to facilitate free, quality education in the West. We also recall that the proceeds from palm oil and coal were used to build landmark infrastructures in the East. We remember ‘what’ but we also remember the men who built them.
Strangely enough in this particular election, nothing is being said by all the politicians about restructuring because the individual political aspirants succeeded in restructuring themselves leaving the nation in limbo.
Once again, the Nigerian voters are being asked to go out and vote. But most of them do not know who and for what they are voting, because the right to know has been taken away by being paid to vote. For over half a century, they were told by leaders and politicians that voting would bring them some dividends in many ways. They were told then that the corruption and indiscipline that were holding back the nation from emerging were going to be checked and eradicated. Whilst they waited, they saw so much indiscipline and corruption among the same leaders; politicians, lawmakers, and security agencies all having a filled day with criminal activities everywhere, sometimes investigated with no reporting to the public.
For over 25 years, they saw the security of the nation deteriorating, making travelling by road or rails unsafe. It also became unsafe for our children and grandchildren to attend schools and colleges except for those that can afford security protocol or for those that can afford to send their children outside the country even to the neighbouring countries in search of quality education.
Water and power, the main engine that drives the development and industrialization of the nation as known all over the world was promised decades ago by leaders and politicians. Because the nation saw huge investments being made, they waited patiently. But most Nigerians big and small have resorted to acquiring millions of generators and boreholes in almost every household in the country, which has also become unsafe, unhealthy, and bad for the environment.
Not too long, I participated in a program in Abuja that had to do with sustainable development, and I was introduced as THE MAN WHO SAW THE FUTURE. I wasn’t comfortable with such a title because I have continued to receive potential political aspirants coming to me trying to make me accept the title of a prophet that I do not in any way qualify to be. This is the crisis of the Nation, the problem that we must confront and start looking for how best to position the future generation for leadership roles so as not to end up as the leaders we have today. Leadership demands that, in all our innovations and hard work, we work towards something that will do more than line our pockets but will benefit many. We will have to groom leaders who would take up the mantle of leadership for the benefit of the Nation and its development and not on how to enrich their pockets. Leadership is A Collective Responsibility.