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Friday Sermon: Leadership Conundrum Revisited 1

By Babatunde Jose

“That Nigeria has for years been a state in retreat is not in doubt given the way government is becoming removed from our lives. It started with public utilities in which people began to buy generator to provide their own electricity and then we moved to digging boreholes to provide our water. Then we subverted the public schools and health institutions. Of course, everybody also started providing his own security by erecting iron gates and employing security guards with communities relying on Vigilantes. . . . . . If there is anything that points to state failure, I cannot see any better evidence than that.”  Segun Adeniyi

Evidence of bad leadership abi ! A leadership bereft of vision and mission; a leadership without road-map or plan for its route march. A leadership solely rooted in consumption of state resources; resources which it has failed to exploit judiciously or grow. A leadership that is content on living for the day, like our proverbial man who says Allah will provide for tomorrow. A leadership that watches its people degenerates into abject poverty and extreme deprivation.

With our myriad of challenges, we urgently need purposeful and focused leadership at the various critical levels which unfortunately we have not seen being demonstrated in recent times.

And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to practice regular charity; and they constantly served Us (and Us only). (Quran 21: 73)

A good example is the oil sector of the economy which has taken us 22 years of corruption and lackadaisical attitude to bring into ruin. Nigeria is the only major oil producer importing refined petroleum.  We thought it was a joke when the refineries started breaking down because some smart Alek’s discovered that repair of refineries was a quick route to riches. Hence, the breakdown of the refineries begat importation, and we have not slept ever since. Everybody has been on the gravy train, from those who should have been in the Sahel cultivating cotton and groundnuts, to riverside buccaneers and their children, and their women too who ought to have been in the oil palm and rubber plantations, not to talk of the western cocoa farmers who have abandoned the farms for the juicy lucre of oil. The ‘oil Mafioso’ now graces the list of Forbes richest men and women. Allah says in Sura Al-Mutaffifin (The Defaulters in Duty):

Woe to those that deal in fraud. Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure,  But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due.  Due they not think that they will be called to account? On a Mighty Day,  A Day when (all) mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds?   Nay! Surely the Record of the Wicked is (preserved) in Sijjin. And what will explain to thee what Sijjin is?  (There is) a Register (fully) inscribed. Woe, that Day, to those that deny. Those that deny the Day of Judgment. And none can deny it but the Transgressor beyond bounds, the Sinner!   When Our Signs are rehearsed to him, he says, “Tales of the Ancients!” By no means! But on their hearts is the stain of the (ill) which they do! Verily, from (the Light of) their Lord, that Day, will they be veiled. Further, they will enter the Fire of Hell.  Further, it will be said to them: “This is the (reality) which ye rejected as false!  (Quran 83: 1-17)

Let them not forget Quran 101 Sura Al-Qari’ah where Allah promises a reckoning:

The (Day) of Noise and Clamor: What is the (Day) of Noise and Clamor? And what will explain to thee what the (Day) of Noise and Clamor is?  (It is) a Day whereon men will be like moths scattered about, and the mountains will be like carded wool. Then, he whose balance (of good deeds) will be (found) heavy, Will be in a Life of good pleasure and satisfaction. But he whose balance (of good deed) will be (found) light, Will have his home in a (bottomless) Pit. And what will explain to thee what this is?  (It is) a Fire blazing fiercely!  (Quran 101:1-11)

Only in this clime will a  former student of a secretarial school in London, with RSA Stage ll, who returned to work as a secretary to a power broker,  had a stint as a fashion designer and got lucky with a patronage in the proverbial oil and gas Eldorado,  is today on the Forbes list. We could go on and on. This is how our country is being run; where social climbers and parasites are rewarded with the ‘juicy morsel’: A great epitome to the failure of leadership.

There are incontrovertible facts to show that there is no government which has permanent structures or set permanent structures in this country than General Gowon’s government. Failure to build on those structures has been blamed on lack of quality based leadership. In 1967 there was less than 7,000 miles of Federal roads in the country but by 1975 we had about 21,000 miles of road.

According to Alhaji Femi Okunnu, Federal Commissioner for Works in the Gowon Administration, “It’s unfortunate that succeeding governments since 1974 failed to maintain most of those roads let alone to reconstruct them.  You see, these roads were not built to last forever.  You ought to maintain them, repair them when they become worn out and the heavily used roads within seven years will need not just rehabilitation but reconstruction.  Unfortunately since 1975 the new roads we reconstructed or we built at that time, nothing satisfactorily has been done on them.”

Okunnu concluded: “In short, many of our leaders, Heads of State, are shortsighted.  All these years, there are areas where they should have made some positive contributions to the well-being of Nigerians and to the greatness of economic prosperity of this country of which they have woefully failed! Woefully failed! Mention one area they have not failed! Is it infrastructure like roads we’ve been talking about?”

There are many other areas they have failed too.

Fortunately the ‘gates of Hell’ are not yet closed. The Messenger of God said“Any man whom Allah has given the authority of ruling some people and he does not look after them in an honest manner, will never feel even the smell of Paradise.” Sahih Muslim. 

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend

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