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The International Writers Magazine: Africa

Nigeria still at 54:
The Bad-luck of having Leaders that cannot lead
• Adewale T Akande

Image: Lagos Traffic Chaos
Lagos Traffic Chaos

Albert Einstein has this to say centuries ago that “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking, if mankind is to survive... No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it”. A better Nigeria requires a better thinking for most significant breakthroughs from old ways of thinking. The four basic needs and motivations of all people are to live, to love, to learn and to leave a legacy. If anyone of these four parts of human nature is neglected, you turn that person into a thing, and chronic and acute problems arise.

What has befallen my fatherland? Historically, Nigeria was very fortunate to have had an enterprising, forward-thinking boy of twenty-nine years old in 1955 in the National Assembly. He was by name Anthony Eromosele Enahoro. This boy took the courage despite the dreaded faces of older colleagues in the House of Representatives to move the historical motion that eventually gave Independence to Nigeria in 1960. Five decades later, a set of subsequent leaders with the ages between forty and eighty years are now tearing apart what is supposed to be the giant of Africa.

Every part of our national life is collapsing. These five decades of mis-rule have really affected most people’s perception of good governance from those subsequent accidental rulers. That makes it difficult for us to move away from our preconceived idea about how things should be. It is no longer news that a great number of Nigerians are dying every day.  It is now public knowledge that it is getting more difficult for the government to find a lasting solution to these incessant killings of human beings. The terrorists kill now without limit, the kidnappers take with ease, armed-robbers stroll into any banks and apartment at will. There's no end in police extorting money from motorists on the roads with guns as if it does not bother anybody even with another new IG in control.

The simplest world driving rule of driving on the right lane, except when over-taking, cannot be remembered by any motorists. Heavy vehicles and trucks cannot be mandated to travel in the night as done in other countries to ease congestion of highways during the day-time. It has become a taboo to embark on construction and rehabilitation of the roads in the night on the excuse of security, but there are enough security operatives for our leaders to drive us off the road. In my fatherland, it is possible to have money to buy a motorcycle, but not enough money to buy and wear a compulsory helmet. The government has never come with a standing rule to ban any federal or state government officials (with or without uniform) from collecting money (fines and payments) from people as if some banks cannot be designated for that. It is impossible for peoples' representatives to declare their assets at the beginning and end of their tenure, if they truly mean to eradicate corruption and looting of the state treasury.

The promise of undisrupted electricity supply came up since 1999 - fifteen years ago– it now seems as if this feat has never happened in a country with greater population than ours.The teeming population are being denied good road networks, effective rail systems and efficient government buses to all parts of the country. Private telephone companies are extorting Nigerians hard-earned money with fake offers, lies and inadequate services, because of the governments inability to provide public telephones for its people.We have a vast land but eat fast food, as good food does not go around. We had different stories of how those who are supposed to be protecting the masses of this nation have fled to a neighbouring country for their safety. Lies, counter lies and propaganda fly on pages of our newspapers every day from the government of the day. We are so worried about which set of leaders we are experiencing in this century. They have become a great threat to the well-being of the ordinary Nigerian. The nation is sitting on a keg of gun powder.We must change our thinking to avoid a great calamity and soon.

The greatest danger now is that we fail to face up the leadership problems that are threatening the existence of the nation for so long at the detriment of the citizens. Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves according to Stephen R. Covey. We should remember that it is true that a house divided against itself by the spirit of religion, of political party, of ethnicity, of language, is a house that cannot stand.There should be fullest possible measure of the right to individual liberty, freedom of thought, information, speech, worship and national sense of justice. Nigerians have to move out of our comfort soon and seriously embark on constructive thinking, because the nation is in a war of insecurity, despite our political cabals who are more interested in the next years general election than in the welfare of the citizenry.

Let me crave the indulgence of Nigerians to please, pause and close our eyes for a moment and think what we have achieved since 1960 as a nation in relation with the present number of people languishing in poverty, deprivation, ignorance and disempowerment. Ask yourself why do we continue to stagnate as an economy? Are you still wondering about a rich nation whose citizens are among the poorest of the poor? Don’t we have intellectuals, professionals and statesmen of integrity to prevent and protect our democracy from being hijacked by political miscreants? Is it not an irony to be recruiting our Youth Corpers to conduct election and our intellectuals from Nigerian universities to announce elections result for unsympathetic, unpatriotic set of representatives without integrity? This is a nation with more potential opportunities for making fortunes in return for useful services than most countries of the world. This is a potential God’s own country by the way it was designed by Him.

“Nigeria is poised to become a major economic force,” McKinsey said in the report 'Nigeria 2030'. “Nigeria has a huge endowment of resources, a growing consuming class, and rapidly growing trade and consumer sectors to propel growth.”

As Africa’s largest oil producer with a population of about 170 million, Nigeria has consistently posted annual growth rates in excess of 4 percent over the past decade. That’s spurred foreign investors such as Unilever Plc (ULVR), Nestle SA (NESN) and Shoprite Holdings Ltd. (SHP) to expand operations despite an upsurge in violence by militants in the north.

Based on McKinsey’s growth estimates for the economy, annual sales in consumer goods could more than triple to $1.4 trillion by 2030 from $388 billion currently, it said.

Let’s recollect what kind of development the country has achieved since 1984 to project again for the next fifteen years of the same faces of the set of rulers who have failed to protect our lives and property, give us clean water, efficient public telephone, undisrupted electricity supply, employment opportunities for our graduates, effective network of train and bus transportation, standard good road network (this set of leaders cannot even think of rehabilitating the most travelled roads-Lagos/Ibadan expressway and other highways around the nation into five lanes on each side in this century).

We are getting older everyday. Even, a graduate of 25 years today will be 40 years old in the next fifteen years (2029).

It can be deduced that Nigeria does not merit being in the present position because we keep on putting the wrong set of greedy people to represent us in government. Unless we put in place a set of leadership that will exercise the political will to transform the nation to emerge in the next general election, the country will remain stagnant till 2029 as they will keep on telling stories as usual.

Secondly, let’s try and find out and review the yearly budget of our country, states, local government authorities and even wards if it corresponds to the present development in your area, constituency, state or the nation at large. Review the amount of salaries and bonuses being paid to your leaders and representatives monthly and annually despite having nothing to offer than enriching themselves and their cronies. Compare their salaries and bonuses to those who give us education (teachers) and those who protect us (doctors, police and soldiers). This is among shameful misdeeds of those who are now parading themselves as leaders.  It is just a mere waste of resources at the expense of suffering masses. You now know why a regime claiming to be fighting corruption cannot declare its assets at the beginning of their administration!

Thirdly, there is no other question that so preoccupies our people than getting the best of leaders to deliver our people from poverty. It is time to critically assess the calibre of people who we are to assign or elect to represent us in government. Majority of them cannot provide solution to urgent problems of the people they are representing. This is what Professor Wole Soyinka called ¨…There is too much false intellectualism¨. We must engage the most brilliant minds from the educated elite to be in cabinet and not political jobbers who cannot exercise mental skills and thinking to produce ideas to propel societal development where justice and honour is built. I wonder what the likes of Papa Awolowo, Azikiwe, and Balewa would be feeling now about those leaders who refuse to better the lives of their people. Pa Awolowo spent government money wisely to build the first television station in Africa, the first tallest building then (Cocoa-house, Ibadan), the LibertyStadium that can accommodate eighty thousand people and his name will never be forgotten by more generations to come. These are leaders with vision and passion and not those cabals who are running up and down the corridor of power to loot our treasury in buying private jets, buying properties abroad, building events centres, enriching themselves and their families.

Fellow Nigerians, the time to say No to bad governance is now. It is time to live a life of greatness, a life of real contribution to make a significant difference and leave behind a life of mediocrity. Action must be taken now with the forthcoming general elections for positive change. We have to get our country back from inept leaders who do not see anything wrong from the present complex calamities. We must be determined not only to win our nation back by our votes but to win peace and freedom for a better Nigeria. It is a change we can win without bloodshed. God has never been cruel to us by this untapped natural and human resources. But, this set of same repeated leaders have been cruel to us in all ramifications. We cannot continue with the generation of imbeciles in political life of this country again. They should all go back to the farm and not destroy the hope and aspiration of that twenty-nine years old boy (Enahoro) who in 1955 was inspired to present the independence bills for all of us to have a place called Nigeria.

When we change our thinking for the better, we become a better nation. Our country cannot be better until ourselves –Nigerians start speaking the truth and love each other.We need a set of leaders that will sense the need, with their conscience to take action and match their disciplined talents and passion to provide a lasting solution. God bless Nigeria. All eligible voting adults must get their Permanent Voting Cards (PVC) and vote wisely and massively. Vote for a good government and not good luck. Vote for transformation and not transaction. Vote for a change and a new Nigeria of peace and unity.

© Adewale T Akande Jan 2015
An Author and Road Safety Traffic Consultant based in Barcelona, Spain.
adewale_akande at
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