The issue of leadership-inflicted hardship on Nigerians over the decades has been obviously exhausted enough, that it is now rather boring unless of course when considered within the framework of a genuine effort to tackle it, which is unfortunately unlikely at least for now. Realistically speaking, the worsening hopelessness among average Nigerians is quite understandable, in view of the absence of any reliable prospect of reform at the moment. Nevertheless what particularly worries me is how that hopelessness has virtually confused average Nigerians as regards their actual rights and obligations in relation to their leaders.
This confusion has subtly pushed average Nigerians to effectively narrow the scope of their rights, unnecessarily widen the extent of their obligations, lower the level of their expectations, compromise their standards and indeed confuse leaders’ basic obligations with their (i.e. leaders’) prerogatives, which they can perform or withhold at their convenience. That is why it is quite common to see communities for instance trooping to their leaders to thank them for, say, constructing an open gutter or providing a borehole for them. This confusion is what actually undermines the prospect of any meaningful reform in the country at the moment, because the public have to be enlightened enough to be able to imbibe and successfully pursue any reform strategy. I therefore highlight some of such confusions and their implications.
Leadership confused with Administration
The vast majority of Nigerians have effectively compromised the conceptual value of leadership to confuse it with mere routine administrative practices. And unfortunately this confusion has led to a situation whereby the two concepts i.e. administration and leadership are mistakenly used interchangeably, and leaders are being evaluated on administrative standards instead of leadership standards. Alas the leaders fail anyway.
The reality is that, leadership as opposed to mere administrative practice is all about a vision and an innovative ability to articulate that vision and turn it into a realistic program of work in a coherent and measured manner. Administration on the other hand is more or less to administer the necessary procedure and implement the leader’s policies on the ground.
Assessing the current leaders (and even those likely to replace them) in various levels of government in Nigeria against the aforementioned concept of leadership, would reveal how the vast majority of them –if not all of them- do not deserve to be leaders or even justifiably aspire for it in the first place. You may wonder how many among them have invented any viable solution to any chronic challenge bedeviling their respective areas of jurisdiction and follow it through? In fact how many of them seem to even realize what is exactly expected from them as leaders in the first place? So, when they struggle to provide, say, water or electricity, which they yet fail, they are confirming their blatant ignorance of what leadership is all about.
Spiritual Integrity Equated with Professional Competency
Being largely “religious” in nature, Nigerians
admire people with high spiritual integrity, however the complication arises when such spiritual integrity is equated with leadership ability. Though spiritual integrity implies trustworthiness, which is crucial for a successful leadership, it however does not singlehandedly qualify one to be a good leader. In addition to it a successful leader has to also have necessary professional competency, attitude and personality. After all, there have been many leaders in Nigeria with even religious titles and appearances e.g. pastors and Mallams
, who have been entrusted with leadership primarily for their perceived religiosity only to woefully fail to deliver.
Economic Growth Confused with Economic Development
The credit claimed by Nigerian leaders from time to time when the economy grows, is also another misleading ploy, as they effectively make impression that economic growth and economic development mean the same thing hence can be used interchangeably. The reality is that, economy can grow without necessarily impacting on the real development index, which is unfortunately is the case in Nigeria. This is because Nigeria’s economy is helplessly subject to oil price fluctuation in international market; it simply appreciates when price goes up and depreciates accordingly, hence the leaders can’t justifiably claim credit when it grows as such. So, once they flaunt any figures suggesting a rise in the revenue, they should be challenged to prove (with corresponding figures) how they have been able to improve the lives of the common people. The absence of such corresponding figures necessarily means the leaders are excited for the revenue rise in order to increase their loots, period. The same also applies to states and local governments governors and chairmen respectively, who sometimes go to the extent of hiring “consultancy firms” who in turn effectively extort money from the less privileged citizens and pass the loot to the leaders for instant embezzlement.
Job Provision confused with Job Creation
These terms are also manipulated in Nigeria, where leaders and their apologists present them interchangeably thereby claiming credit for simply “employing” people to do virtually nothing, thereby adding unnecessary pressure on the already meager resources ostensibly meant for development projects. Incidentally, the worst manifestation of this reckless practice is the leaders’ tendency to appoint any D*** and Harry as a political appointee, most of whom also have their own government-paid staffs and other appointees. Interestingly, a state governor in the current dispensation has fifteen thousand special assistants.
In reality, to provide one with a job does not necessarily mean creating a job opportunity. Job creation means to create a viable enterprise or expand an existing one with potentials to add a real value to the economy in terms of revenue rise and/or improvement in the citizens’ quality of life. Whereas, job provision simply means employing the necessary manpower to run those enterprises. Therefore you have to -first of all- create the opportunity before you look for the right candidate for it. Nigerian leaders’ failure to improve and expand the economy has institutionalized virtual redundancy in all public establishments throughout the country. It is quite common to see several people doing ordinarily a one man job, yet with no appropriate productivity.
In essence, it is the responsibility of the progressive-minded educated elite to be more specific in their public enlightenment approaches. The usual general approach would only add confusion among the masses. Nigerian masses have the potentials to turn things around if better enlightened.