OBSERVATION: Leadership In Critical Times

OBSERVATION: Leadership In Critical Times
  • PublishedFebruary 19, 2021

By Yaya Ademola

LEADERSHIP is an act of motivating a group of people to behave in a particular way towards achieving a common objective. It has to do with the capacity of an individual to inspire others to act and giving direction to a particular way they must act. A leader must, therefore, possess critical thinking skill and ideas with which he/she will galvanise followers to act in a particular way. Above all, he/she must have courage, integrity, respect, gratitude and empathy among others.

After its Independence on 1st October, 1960, Nigeria was moving very fast to the path of development until when the Civil War broke out between the Nigerian government, headed by General Yakubu Gowon and the Secessionist State of Biafra, led by Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu between 6th July 1967 and 15th January 1970, where more than one million people died. After the “no-victor-no vanquished” war, Nigeria post-Civil War times were very peaceful, especially between 1970 and 1999; with booming economy as it retains the Number One position in Africa and 6th in the world, vis-a-vis crude oil production.  However, successive governments – military and civilian – with very few exceptions in the South-West states where Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) held sway squandered the boom and wreaked havoc to the system.  

Apart from institutionalising the culture of corruption in Nigerian politics, General Ibrahim Babangida-led military administration that ruled Nigeria from August 27th 1985 till August 26th 1993 created a solid foundation for future crises times between 1993 till date; with only a respite of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo years, which is a junior brethren of the Babangida experiences. And just one of many instances, Babangida military administration could not account for $12.4 billion crude oil money derived from 1991 Gulf War windfall! From return to unbroken civil rule from 1999 till date, instead of marching forthright to the high heavens in terms of delivery of democracy dividends to the mass majority of the poor, regarding better working and living conditions, it has been one step forward, several steps back as a result of leadership deficit in cumulation; and with Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan PDP 16 years of maladministration, new leadership was needed to move the country forward.

Specifically, in the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign tour in Abeokuta, Ogun State in 2014, the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu said on the podium, “we begged Muhammadu Buhari to contest again. Nigeria is challenged and we present to you a great leader who has the ability to think and do and equals to performance. Buhari is the man that can deliver because he is honest. He has integrity …..” Buhari, who had contested but lost in 2003, 2007 and 2011, was packaged as the man who would salvage the situation and take us to the Promised Land. It was a difficult time as crude oil price crashed to the extent that about 23 states could not pay workers’ salaries, as allocation to states from FAC plummeted; daily stealing of crude oil in the creeks; Boko Haram operational attacks in the North-East and kidnapping of people, especially, students in boarding schools; incessant increase in fuel price and scarcity especially at yuletide; constant blackout as national grid was always dropping from 3,000MW; open corruption with impunity and a host of other challenges too numerous to mention. 

Almost six years in power, APC campaign promises brandished as alternative agenda to PDP look like advanced fee fraud in retrospect. In today’s Nigeria, there is no day that kidnapping, banditry, Boko Haram, Herdsmen/farmers clash, gunmen will not unleash attacks on the people for ransom, abduction, outright killings, raping and various forms of terror that have led to deaths of hundreds of thousands and torment to many families. There has not been any improvement in electricity. What we are offered instead is increase in electricity tariff in darkness; incessant increase in the price of petrol – a fresh increase is looming; increase in prices of foodstuffs and all necessities of life while the politicians brazenly steal money meant for development and welfare of the people and go into a feign spell at the slighted presence before a public enquiry.

Yes, the Buhari APC-led administration has done some worthwhile things like reviving the rail transport system and some social investment programmes among few others but these are just little drop of water into the ocean. Why should our four refineries not working? How do we export crude oil and import its refined products at prohibitive international market prices while workers are not paid international wages? The refineries should not only be working optimally, we should have built new ones. Where is electricity/power promised? What has become of all the money from the World Bank from 1999 till now to help boost access to electricity in Nigeria and enhance the performance of electricity distribution companies? What has become of $16 billion allegedly spent on electricity under the Obasanjo administration between 1999 and 2007? If the two – refinery and electricity – had been fixed, our situation wouldn’t have been so dismal with respect to poverty alleviation and job opportunities, and consequently, security. Electricity/Power is the bedrock of any development. With our functional refineries, we could sell our petrol at our own market price since the crude oil is in our backyard.

Under Jonathan, Nigeria was on frying pan. Now, it is directly on fire! As at today, Nigeria drifts very fast to a status of a failed state, as its political and economic properties have become very weak to respond to its primary function – protection of lives and property. What Nigeria requires at this trying period is a leadership that will be ruthless with corruption, theft of public funds and violent crimes; that will promote real, deep education and skill acquisition, especially ICT; that will diversify economy, fix refineries and build new ones; that will fix electricity. All these are possible to actualise in two terms of eight years. It is inability to fix them that has left us gasping in the throes of insecurity, economic recession and unmitigated corruption. In the absence of such solid, visionary and upright leadership, fixing these problems will become a rocket science and very difficult as the complicated situation daily deteriorates alarmingly. Like Josiah Gilbert Holland said, “God, give us men! A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands: men whom the spoils of office cannot buy; men who possess opinions and a will; men who have honour; men who will not die.”


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