Posted by News Express | 17 August 2018 | 1,433 times
Each time one ponders over the marriage of two unwilling brides who had no say in their forceful union – amalgamation of the Northern and the Southern protectorates by Sir Fredrick Lugard on February 14, 1914, a day (believers in Valentine) set aside to celebrate love all over the world – as well as the pre- and post-independence political structure of Nigeria, one leadership lesson comes flooding: great leaders encourage their followers to do what they don’t like in order to get what they want.
Like the human body, Nigeria via the amalgamation became a political entity that is symbolically constituted and necessarily located in the body not to function independently, but planned to be turned into grist for a symbiotic existence.
Perhaps, the British colonial overlords probably intended the protectorates to compete, cooperate and operate in a symmetrical manner, with no part of the amalgams claiming superiority over the other. And, at independence in 1960, Nigeria became a federation, resting firmly on a tripod of three federating units: Northern, Eastern and Western regions. Each of the regions, as envisaged, was economically and politically viable to steer its own ship, and the results were evidently visible.
This unity in diversity continued until the arrival of the “will-of-man” on our political domain; just immediately, the spirit of cooperation and sameness transcended to the teaching of regional specificity and tribal particularity.
While this re-schooling was ongoing, the “soul” of the triadic relationship departed the political space; mutual suspicion became the sum-total and the denominator of our nationhood. And as a consequence, despondency and drooping spirit descended on the nation once referred to as the Giant of Africa, and it stopped matching forward, but groped and stumbled; the people divided and confused while their moral values and confidence sank. This marked the beginning of our leadership challenge as a nation.
Not minding what others may say, the problem that led to the current polarised posturing of the nation’s political space is more of man-made than natural, more of leadership gaps than socio-economic challenges, compounded by a misguided view of the amalgamation by some segments of Nigerians, as more of a historicised occurrence without any bare-faced or hidden advantage to the nation; a mindset that further promoted deliberate demonstration of impunity, as well as superiority by one group or region against the other.
But in dramatising this superiority, the point the people forgot is: “Never should one be so foolish to believe that you are stirring admiration by flaunting the qualities that raised you above others. By making them aware of their inferior positions, you are only stirring unhappy admiration or envy that will gnaw at them until they undermine you in ways that you may not foresee. It is only the fools that dare the god of envy by flaunting his victory.”
The sad news, however, is that this avoidable situation was allowed to complete its gestation. Finally, it gave birth to what is now known in our political domain as “call for restructuring”, or agitation for resource control.
But at a more significant level is the leadership performance deficit, which has plundered the socio-economic affairs of the nation to a sorry state; an occurrence that stems from an unknown leadership style described by analysts as neither “system nor method-based”; without anything exemplary or impressive. While this appalling situation daily unfolds on our political space, the global leadership stage is littered with telling evidence of leaders that have demonstrated leadership sagacity and professional ingenuity; yet, our leaders have refused to replicate such resourcefulness on our shores.
For instance, in 1932, Franklin D Roosevelt - the United State of America’s Democratic Party candidate - was elected president in the midst of the Great Depression. At the time of inauguration in 1933, one-quarter of the labour force was out of job, with many thrown into poverty. Industrial production had fallen and investments had collapsed.
But within two years into his administration, he revived the economy and moved to the next stage of his agenda. He signed the Social Security Act, which introduced the modern welfare state into the United States pension at retirement, unemployment benefits and some public health-care and disability benefits. When asked how he was able to achieve that? He responded: “Extraordinary conditions call for extraordinary remedies.” This, to my mind, is leadership accomplishment worthy of emulation.
Regrettably, our leadership challenge is given a boost by the ground propensity and penchant for corrupt, nepotistic practices of our “leaders” since independence; a development that is gradually becoming a norm; a state of affairs vast majority of Nigerians claim was responsible for the inability of the nation’s successive leaders to alleviate the real condition of the poor, the deprived, the lonely, the oppressed or get into their lives and participate in their struggle.
Looking at commentaries, one can, therefore, discern that the above is largely responsible for the youth’s restiveness and tribal aggressions, as the masses continue to fight in order to register their grievance against state-sponsored socio-economic deprivations or one tribe against the other. It is also of considerable significance to this discourse to note that this leadership challenge has visited Nigerians with not just poverty but what analysts describe as “island poverty” or poverty in the midst of plenty. This has, in turn, promoted both hopelessness and powerlessness among innocent Nigerians.
But in all, one thing seems to stand out: our leadership challenge or bad governance was implanted by our leaders, and encouraged by our unquestioning obedience to the authorities. This situation can only be reduced or erased by Nigerians. Having discovered the challenge threatening the continued existence of our country, it, therefore, becomes imperative that whatever measure the nation may want to use in tackling this challenge can only succeed if it probably puts in place steps that will guarantee leadership restructuring.
Part of that effort will entail recognising that the solution to our leadership challenge may, after all, not be based on argument or debate, but by the quality of the people in charge. This will be followed by frantic effort to create a civil society that will help sort out the irresponsible from the responsible in leadership. Another inoculation that will cure this leadership challenge will demand development of mindset for details and history necessary for today’s leadership.
To succeed on the job, therefore, it will also be of paramount value if the nation can think of generational change in leadership. This could be achieved by placing their existential faith in the youth who has integrity, intellect and energy to build an enduring nation without minding the recent remark on the youth by President Muhammadu Buhari.
•Jerome-Mario Utomi, of Springnewsng.com, writes via email@example.com and can also be reached on 08032725574 (SMS)
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