Is Nigeria Addicted to Bad Leadership?
Tosan Okotie

Bad leadership has ensnared Nigerians to a point that, most of the leaders have no laurels on which to rest any skills. Rather, the leaders' skills are derivatives of revenue from oil/gas, cocoa and groundnut, and not of any management technique. This is a shame because there are dozens of Nigerians that have done well individually in their various professions at home and abroad. Unfortunately, these same people are unable to come together to accomplish an objective that is cohesive and coherent. Indeed, anyone is correct to say that, being progressive has eluded the country. So why the distrust among these successful individuals who are adept in management? The great ideas of the few people with unusual idiosyncrasy are being truncated by the vast majority of evil people who parade themselves as power brokers or community leaders. If the center of Nigeria's problem is corruption and graft, then this writer is advocating that, the president should waste no time in sending an amendment Bill to the National Assembly (NA). The Bill is to allow the president continuous prerogative to appoint the EFCC chairperson, but the removal and re-appointment would only be by 60% majority vote by the N/A. This way, the EFCC chairperson reports to the whole country.

Leadership in Nigeria is as simple as understanding the differing and conflicting needs of Nigerians in creating a value-based umbrella large enough to direct the human and natural resources in pursuit of a common goal of independent and sustainable development. Nigerians are saddened with their improvident leaders who are unable to buoy the people; as such, those with historic minds are compelled to be evocative of the likes of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo,(Awo) a benign person, and a scrupulous leader who brought so much progress to the West of Nigeria. If other regions had developed the way the West did, Nigeria would have been recognized in the comity of nations today. As Nigerians continue to experience bad leadership, the more people extol Awo, who has virtually become a paragon in Nigeria. Pa Awo, was never in ambivalence. He was always focused with a clear vision to move his community forward. Most interestingly, Awo, never lived nor died as a poor man despite his good leadership. Thus, he was a man with vision and foresight. Indeed, many believe that, when you embark on good leadership, you remain a poor person. That is a fallacy. Be that as it may, does it now mean that, without late Awo, Nigeria cannot progress? No, there are still dozens of Nigerians out there with good leadership skills ready to serve the nation. Retired Justice Ilori, who used his vision to better Lagos State judiciary and himself after retirement is a good example. People with vision are not likely to steal or be corrupt because they are confident of their tomorrow's bread/butter and water. Furthermore, people of this nature are not lobbyists you will see parading the vicinity of Aso Rock canvassing for Ministerial positions. Therefore, to curtail persistent bad leadership, an intrepid president, should step out of Aso Rock and look for them. Sitting within the confines of Aso Rock makes the president fall prey to the "charms" of sycophants who present themselves in Abuja as potential leaders. Any occupier of Aso Rock should be worried that, with all the revenue for the past years, there is nothing meaningful to show for it due to bad leadership.

It's ignominious to note that, quality leadership was not in the lives of most of Nigeria's leaders. General Babangida's leadership style was divide and rule coupled with secret killings. His successor, General Abacha, was a dragon who combined open killings with the use of Willie Lynch's strategy of sowing seed of distrust among slaves in America. Apparently, Willie Lynch was a slave owner in America who sowed seed of distrust among the slaves as a way to have absolute control over them. In Nigeria, Abacha adopted the same style in order to control the country. It has been reiterated severally that good leadership is facile. Confusion started in the Niger Delta in the era of gawky Abacha who sowed seed of distrust/hatred among the Itsekiris and Ijaws. The reality is that Abacha, being an overseer of Nigeria's government succeeded in sowing the seed because the community leaders were not oblivious to the danger of hatred among the people of the entire Niger Delta region. On the other hand, the community leaders in the Niger Delta who were positioned to uncover the ugly trend sold their conscience for Abacha's deceitful token naira.

But for how long will the coalition of bad leaders misrule Nigeria? It will last as long as hunger persists among the people. In normal circumstances, who cares of who sits on the throne in Aso Rock when the stomach is full? The ultimate is the economic state of the nation. Therefore, the selection of leaders such as Ministers, etc becomes paramount. As a developing nation, every sector of the economy has its teething problem. If the ruling Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP) hierarchy decides for example to give Agriculture Minister position to someone from the North-East, then the presidency should interview the best 3-5 candidates from that region whose CV/resumes state some experiences on Agriculture. Ask the candidates for the procedure or the processes to tackle the ministry's problems. The best is chosen. This way, a PDP campaign financial donor from the North-East would have done his homework to nominate a reputable candidate for that position. It's absolute nonsense to appoint people of mediocrity as Ministers and Commissioners because party members must be compensated for killing fellow human-beings to have elections won. When vision is not evinced in the live of any leader, his reign becomes ephemeral. Any leader must devote sometime to think positively. Unfortunately, most Nigeria's leaders don't do any positive thinking because they rely on being rewarded after committing atrocities against the people they are supposed to protect as leaders.

What must be imminent in the governance of Nigeria is vision. Nigerian Tribune newspaper of Sept.10, 2008 quoted the World Economic Forum, (WEF) as having said that, "Nigeria's financial system among world's worst." Besides the WEF's survey, is it a secret to anyone that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its leadership is a total failure to the nation? The zenith of planlessness in the leadership of CBN is glaring when you recall that, the CBN governor, Professor Soludo, spent so much money to introduce large currency denomination into the financial system. And in another barely 18 months, the same leadership solicited that the large currencies be thrashed in order to pave way for his new currency redenomination policy. Under the Governor's watch, lending rates are cutting the roof, and inflation is skyrocketing resulting in total decline in the manufacturing sector. In another development, what satisfies the Governor, as the nation's monetary manager is to see banks move money expensively with helicopters in this jet age when the use of cash should be in decline. Does the CBN even know the estimated total value of its naira in circulation? Another satisfactory matter to the CBN Chief was to see the banks doll out loans to put artificial pressure on the stock market. It's not the CBN's business to compel the banks to lend to the agricultural/manufacturing sectors in order to elevate hunger. Yet the NA will applause the Honorable Governor for buying "best performance certificates" from a coffee shop in Europe. The same Governor gave a punishing blow to the rest of the nation through his employment policy at the CBN. The Punch newspaper of July 29, 2008 told us that, Professor Oba Abdul Raheem, Executive chairman of Federal Character Commission said, "the bias in the CBN recruitment had created an imbalance in the staff profile. Over one third of the nation is left on the lurch while one part is favored." Abuja should be reminded that one of the reasons why the Niger Delta has come on world news is because the people from the Niger Delta had been relegated to the background in terms of employment in the oil and gas industry. Does Abuja ever think that, the various past panel recommendations on the Niger Delta would have been executed when in reality those who were suppose to do so were not from the region? Of course, not, ÔÇścause the typical Nigerians are the likes of Professor Soludo. With the present day structure, the CBN is the most important agency to the stomach of Nigerians. Therefore, Professor Soludo's catastrophic failure calls for having two equal Governors to do the job.

A good leader contemplating successful power project in Nigeria should not be timorous but be able to articulate how to trail and tackle generator dealers' association with a view to curtail them if the need be. Don't be surprise that these dealers may want to derail the power project by instigating host communities of the power projects against the Federal Government's efforts to improve energy production.

When you analyze the issues on ground, you're likely to agree that, the generation of present day active Nigeria's followerships are ignorant of true leadership. They have never had a functional government because of the disconnect between the various government's agenda and the masses. To say that Nigeria is addicted to bad leadership is an illusion because it's not as if this same group of followers has experienced good leadership at a time but is tolerant of subsequent hopeless governments. Nigeria needs inspirational leaders with empathy. It's only when the leaders take advantage of the myriad of opportunities that exist to make a difference that the nation would attain her destiny. 

Tosan Okotie Lives in Texas, USA

September 17, 2008.