Bad Leadership is The Bane of Nigeria’s Problem
First published in 2009 in the NEW NIGERIAN WEEKLY, March 21. Page 18.
LEADERSHIP is central to the economic development of any nation. While good leadership is capable of fast-tracking the process of development, bad leadership constitutes an obstacle to any meaningful progress. And this is why many social critics find issues relating to this subject a favorite theme for their writing.
Tony Oyatedor, a veteran journalist and president of Newstime Worldwide Foundation, is one of such social critics. In his book titled LEADERSHIP, he takes a critical view of leadership and its impact on national development with particular reference to Nigeria.
The 276-page book comprises of 14 chapters dealing with topics r ranging from political history to the challenges and prospects of Nigeria.
The opening chapters focus on the general overview of Nigeria in terms of geographical attributes; population, land mass, ethnic makeup etc. A vivid description aided with a map gives the reader a clear view of the most populous black nation.
Having given the introductory view, the author delves into a full discussion of the subject matter in the subsequent chapters. Narrating the country’s political development from 1960 when it gained independence from British colonial rule, he critically examines the fundamental problems it has faced so far.
Lack of good leadership is one of the major problems highlighted.
While commending past leaders like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Ahmadu Bello, he pointed out the inherent political problems that led to the deviation from the ideals of these exemplary leaders.
Among such problems is the failure of Nigerians; the leaders and the followers, to recognize the principle of political bargaining and compromise in solving political crises.
According to him, “In Nigeria, there is no civilized bargaining or compromise to solve conflicting interests or group problems; it is always ‘my way or no way at all’. Hence, you cannot call it politics, you either call it political autocracy or political dictatorship. (p.10)
He observed that for a political system to work, conflicts and interests must be broken down into small parts so that everyone would win something and lose something. And this, according to him, is the biggest stumbling block to Nigeria’s politics.
The author also critically examines all sectors of the economy, particularly the most problematic sectors like the National Electric Power Authority, NEPA (now known as the POWER HOLDING COMPANY OF NIGERIA – PHCN), oil exploitation in the Niger Delta area, and the neglect of viable economic areas like agriculture, etc. and he put the blame of all the shortcomings on bad governance. Most Nigerian leaders, he said, are so selfish that they treat issues that affect the lives of the masses nonchalantly.
The author then advised on the way out. First and foremost, he said “Nigerian government should stop serving itself and the economic elites, the government (any government – military or civilian) should start serving the Nigerian people and start putting the Nigerian people first, not last” (p. 51)
The larger part of the book, especially the last chapters, is dedicated to highlighting the fundamental principles guiding successful leadership, which leaders anywhere and at whatever level would find useful.
Therefore, for those who are interested in being good leaders and in knowing the challenges facing Nigerian politics, and how they could overcome them, this is the right book for them to read.
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