By Babatunde Jose
“No man is good enough to govern another man
without that other’s consent.” – Abraham Lincoln.
“Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34.
In Marxist philosophy, the bourgeoisie is the social class that came to own the means of production during modern industrialization and whose societal concerns are the value of property and the preservation of capital to ensure the perpetuation of their economic supremacy in society. Joseph Schumpeter saw the creation of the bourgeoisie as the driving force behind the capitalist engine, particularly entrepreneurs who took risks to bring innovation to industries and the economy through the process of creative destruction.
Today, in our clime and most African countries that social order is dominated by a new bourgeoisie, made up of political leaders and not captains of industry. They are rent-collectors who make huge profits without investments; they have no factories and are neither entrepreneurs nor employers of labour but they own huge amount of money but they are not investors or creators of wealth; they live a life of opulence like royalty but they are not royalty; they bestride our narrow world like colossi, master of all they see. Impervious to the suffering and tribulations of the people they are supposed to serve, they are as callous as the proverbial ‘agbalowo meri, Bale Jontolo’.
Not content with living in the old Government Reservations, our politicopreneurs have opted to build mansions on hilltops, like the ubiquitous Colonial District Officers, far removed from their people. Perhaps like Jomo Kenyatta wrote in Facing Mount Kenya, there they ‘commune with the gods’. These are our leaders! Much has been written about them.
Vexed by their shenanigans Obi Ezekwesili said: “Our political leaders have turned democracy into a criminal enterprise breaking all the principles of representative government. They have not illuminated or advanced Nigeria. Under their watch, Nigeria has become the epicentre of human greed, avarice, official impunity and duplicity. Success is now measured in what you could corner for yourself, no matter how many children were left starving to death. That is why the country is littered with policy hoaxes and uncompleted projects and programmes, including a $16bn electricity scam; misappropriation of foreign aid for the betterment of heath care; such as HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; most of which disappeared into the quicksand of ramshackle governance in Abuja championed by the former administration; another donation of $660m made recently will likely to go the same way”.
In a paper: THE CHALLENGES OF LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA, Godwin Okaneme submitted: “From the time of the nation’s independence up till now, it has seriously grappled with the challenges of poor leadership and governance or what has been popularly referred to as leadership and governance ineptitude. Governance therefore has become an all comers affair where the qualified and the unqualified, the high and the low as well as the rich and the poor all jostle inordinately for political power. The paper opines that in order to solve the nation’s intractable leadership and governance challenges conclusively, the country needs a true and transparent transformational leadership structure which will drive the political and governmental system in the country for effective and efficient political leadership and governance that will ultimately usher in genuine and verifiable development in the country for the overall benefit of the entire citizenry. The paper further canvasses for an open, accountable, transparent and competitive leadership recruitment process which will give all citizens who genuinely wish to take up political positions the fair and unimpeded chance to do so without any let or hindrance since politics is generally regarded the world over as a call to serve humanity and not an opportunity for self-enrichment as many see it presently in Nigeria”.
Whatever the argument is, the important point is that leadership challenge has been a clog in the wheel of progress in Nigeria. Thus, present and past leaders of Nigeria seem to have failed to provide quality leadership capable of addressing numerous challenges confronting the country”. Nigeria and the Challenges of Leadership in the 21st Century: A Critique by CHRIS. IWEJUO NWAGBOSO and OTU DUKE ; International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Vol. 2 No. 13; July 2012.
The socio-economic and political development of any country depends largely on the ability of its leadership to facilitate, entrench and sustain good governance. Over the years, we have had leaders who, prior to ascending leadership positions, are sold to the masses as beacons of hope amidst the misery viciously staring them in the face. They cream their way into the hearts and minds of unsuspecting masses with their humble disposition, camaraderie, or seeming understanding of the plight and sufferings of the people, only to assume leadership positions and become total strangers and despots, insensitive to the plight of the masses. As one commentator puts it, “Nigerian political leadership is an entangled, mangled and cluttered perplexity of subterfuge machinations and deception. They seem divided along ethnic and religious lines but are eternally united in thievery and corruption; enemies by day and gang of marauding highwaymen at night”.
According to Valentine Achum: “They sing sonorous and sensuous songs of reforms, only to end up with ‘cacophonous choruses’ of deforms. They serenade the masses with pleasing and teasing tunes of prosperity, only to leave the masses grieving and grinding with elegies of poverty. They fly into office as angels, only to crawl out as demons. They vivaciously jog into office as heroes, only to sluggishly stroll out as villains. For the few with good intentions, they end up being corrupted by the bad ones. They go into office as doctors, and leave as patients’’.
‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’; we certainly need leaders who can translate visions into reality. A leadership that spent so much money in putting up the iconic Trade-Fair Complex in Lagos only to abandon and turn it into a motor spare-part market, can never be a goal oriented leadership, nor can we describe a leadership that watched the deterioration of the Lagos/Ibadan, Sagamu/Benin and other road infrastructure, as a serious leadership. Equally, we cannot vouch for the earnestness of a leadership that allowed the two roads leading into our busiest ports to virtually close down. Leaders that abandon and allow Ajaokuta Complex to waste away are not progressive leaders; the same goes for the leaders that allowed the Aluminum Smelter Complex at Ikot Abasi or the various Steel Rolling Mills to rot. There are over a thousand abandoned projects in Nigeria ranging from the multibillion dollar to multimillion dollar ones. The iniquities of our leaders is not pleasing to the Almighty. Fortunately, we all know the solutions to these problems. They are characterological and behavioral.
Nigeria’s underdevelopment is more of poor implementation than lack of development goals and programmes. Policy summersault and development projects abandonment are common.
Retired AIG Farida Waziri in a seminal lecture, ‘Leadership and the Challenges of Good Governance in Nigeria said “Leadership should be born out of understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.” The world over, it is servant leaders that have made the difference in the lives of their people and advanced their governments over time through vigorous and sacrificial pursuit of positive change with great respect for acceptable societal values. Effective and productive leadership must be seen to be transparent and accountable to the citizenry. This increases goodwill amongst the people and the chances of elected leaders succeeding in their endeavors. This also promotes legitimacy, acceptance and most importantly role modeling. Available resources must be properly harnessed and used based on the principles of equity and equality, so that the impact is felt through the rank and file of society. The government must be service oriented and promote effective delivery of public services so as to enhance local and small-scale economic development aimed at improving the lot of the youth and the poor. Information must be made available to the people especially to non state actors for enhanced purposeful engagement with leadership”. Need we say more?
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend