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Nigeria, a nation with a rich tapestry of cultures and a complex history, has experienced a dynamic journey in terms of leadership. From pre-independence struggles to post-colonial challenges, the country has navigated through various political landscapes. Examining the trajectory of leadership in Nigeria provides insights into the successes, setbacks, and ongoing efforts to shape a better future.
In the article, I wrote a few weeks ago titled, “Leadership Deficits in Nigeria”, I mentioned 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 we did do nothing to reshape the module, but 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. Upon contemplating the trajectory of leadership in Nigeria, spanning from
Independence to the present, prompts us to question the preparedness of our leaders for the challenges encountered on their journey. It strikes me as peculiar that, despite this, we consistently draw from the same pool of leaders when choosing heads of government in elections.

Pre-Independence Struggles:
The seeds of leadership in Nigeria were sown during the struggle for independence from British colonial rule. Visionaries like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Ahmadu Bello played pivotal roles in mobilizing the
people towards self-governance. Their leadership styles differed, reflecting diverse regional aspirations. This era laid the foundation for a federal structure that sought to accommodate Nigeria’s ethnic and cultural diversity.

Post-Independence Challenges:

Upon gaining independence in 1960, Nigeria faced the arduous task of nation-building. The first few decades were marked by political instability, military coups, and economic struggles. Leaders such as Yakubu Gowon, Murtala
Muhammed and Olusegun Obasanjo grappled with the complexities of unifying a diverse nation. The oil boom of the 1970s brought economic opportunities but also heightened corruption, creating challenges that
continue to be addressed today.

Military Rule and Democratic Transitions:

A significant chapter in Nigeria’s leadership journey is the period of military rule, characterized by coups and authoritarian governance. The transition to civilian rule in 1999 marked a turning point. Leaders like Olusegun Obasanjo and Umaru Yar’Adua aimed to restore democracy and address the socio-economic issues facing the country. However, challenges persisted, including corruption, electoral irregularities, inconclusive census results, and insurgency.

Contemporary Leadership Dynamics:

In recent years, Nigeria has witnessed a mix of leaders grappling with contemporary issues. Goodluck Jonathan faced challenges such as the Boko Haram insurgency and economic pressures, while Muhammadu Buhari focused on anti-corruption efforts and security concerns. The dynamics of leadership in Nigeria continue to evolve, with a growing emphasis on youth participation and the need for inclusive governance.


Leadership in Nigeria has encountered persistent challenges, including corruption, ethnic tensions, and economic disparities. However, there are also opportunities for positive change. Civil society organizations, advocacy groups,
and a vibrant youth population are actively engaging in shaping the country’s future. The push for accountability, transparency, and effective governance is gaining momentum.

Economic Dimensions:
The Nigerian economy has experienced fluctuations, with oil dependency posing challenges. Leaders are increasingly recognizing the need for economic diversification and sustainable development. Initiatives aimed at promoting
entrepreneurship, infrastructure development, and foreign investment are pivotal in steering the country towards economic stability.

Security Concerns:
Security remains a critical issue in Nigeria, with the Boko Haram insurgency, communal clashes, and kidnappings posing significant threats. Leaders are tasked with not only addressing immediate security concerns but also
implementing long-term strategies for peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

Inclusive Leadership:
The importance of inclusive leadership cannot be overstated in a nation as diverse as Nigeria. Recognizing and respecting the various ethnic, religious, and cultural identities is essential for fostering unity. Leaders who prioritize inclusivity contribute to a sense of belonging among citizens, strengthening the social fabric of the nation.

The Role of Youth:
The youth in Nigeria represent a dynamic force for change. With a large demographic of young people, there is a growing demand for increased youth participation in politics and decision-making. Leaders who harness the
potential of the youth demographic can drive innovation, address social issues, and contribute to the overall development of the country.

The Journey Ahead
International Collaboration and Diplomacy:
The foreseeable future for Nigeria is intricately linked to its role in the global community. Strengthening diplomatic ties, attracting foreign investment, and engaging in mutually beneficial partnerships will open avenues for shared
prosperity. Nigeria’s influence on the African continent and its participation in international forums position it to contribute significantly to global conversations on issues such as climate change, health, and economic development.

Environmental Sustainability:
The impact of climate change poses challenges that cannot be ignored. The foreseeable future necessitates a commitment to environmental sustainability. Implementing eco-friendly policies, like the Nelson Mandela Garden which stands at the forefront of promoting renewable energy sources, and adopting conservation practices will not only mitigate environmental risks but also contribute to a more resilient and sustainable future.

In tracing the journey of leadership in Nigeria, it is evident that the nation has faced multifaceted challenges and made significant strides. The ongoing quest for effective governance, economic prosperity, and social cohesion requires a collective effort from leaders, citizens, and stakeholders. As Nigeria continues its journey, the ability to learn from the past, adapt to present challenges, and envision a shared future will be crucial for sustained progress and development. The resilience of the Nigerian people and their leaders in the face of adversity is a testament to the potential for a brighter, more inclusive future. Nigerians must stop to think of how to answer some very difficult questions because that is the only way to prepare for a difficult road ahead, what happens when the oil stops flowing or a crash in the oil market. Bola Ahmed Tinubu was able to manage Lagos for a few years without oil money, can he do the same with the whole of Nigeria?

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