OCTOBER 1, 2014.
The year 2014 is really significant for us as a nation. It is the year we as a country celebrated the first 100 years as a untied entity; we also held a national conference to discuss the modelities of the ethnic nationalities staying together under a beneficial union and how the country will be governed. And today, the nation celebrates its 54th anniversary as an independent nation while the crucial 2015 general election looms. It is under such weighty circumstances that we consider it necessary to ponder on a major ingredient that binds all these together. This is leadership.
It has often been said that leadership is the problem with the country. Poor leadership has been blamed for the many ills that have befallen this country: rising poverty, high crime rate, falling standards in education, inadequate health facilities, poor infrastructure, corruption, etcetera.
But despite the recognition of this reality, it is sad that most Nigerians cannot point to anything that is being done to solve this problem of leadership. How can anyone address the question: “how can a nation get good leadership”? What we see are structures that throw up or recycle the same leaders who have overseen the dabasement of the high offices they held or hold, the institutionalization of mediocrity, redundancy, retrogression, nepotism, lack of vision, etc, in the system. We have had cases of leaders convicted of corruption but who were never punished. Government have been known to abet corruption while rehabilitating the culprits, where they have looked the other way as contractors collect huge amounts of money for contracts, which were never executed and they were never prosecuted.
It is worrisome that there is no conscious national effort to future leaders with the vision of creating a platform from where the next line of leaders will learn from the mistakes of their predecessors and design programs to move this nation forward. Instead, we have a system, as seen from the debates in the last national conference that breeds tribal leaders under the guise of rotational presidency. What Nigerians want to see from that, is a situation where every citizen is qualified to hold even the highest political office in the land in spite of the persons moral standing or cognate experience.
The country should begin to make a more conscious and institutionalized effort at grooming a new set of leader to lead it into the next 100years. National institutions are even designed to manipulate processes to favour whosoever they want. For example, between the political parties and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), they can install anybody president, governor or lawmaker and not necessarily the right person.
We are worried that if this trend continues; only a bloody revolution can arrest the drift. We therefore call on the government to allow national institutions to work because that is one way of strengthening our democracy. For example, if the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the Judiciary do not do their work, how can corrupt governors or political office holders or corrupt local government chairmen be punished and removed from the system? But there are instances of how such institutions have been tailored to suit individuals in the corridors of leadership to the detriment of the nation. Punished politicians should not be granted political pardons because this is an abuse of the system.
The abuse of power and processes these days is a further indication of how things have sourced. The legislatures have become tools and organs of war and revenge. They are manipulated to impeach duly elected people for a fee or for the fancy of it or a show of power. A governor can be impeached if the legislature is not happy with him; the lawmakers also can be called to impeach a person who has fallen out of favour with his boss. The instrument of impeachment, which ordinarily should be means of checking abuse of power and poor leadership has become something else. This is worrisome.
The citizens are marking the independence anniversary, knowing that with better leadership and vision, the nation would have been more developed, our democracy stronger, economy more prosperous, infrastructure more developed, respect for the senior citizens, health facilities better paced to stop Nigerians from going to India for medical treatment.
We call on local governments, state and the federal governments to as a matter of policy to institute a programme in the curricula that will ensure the training and grooming of youths in the art of governance beyond the teaching of social studies in primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions.
We call on the Federal Government to review the structure and composition of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to become a pool from where leaders of tomorrow can be consciously trained to prove service and also strengthen of the one year programme which has become for many graduates as a routine. If you can become the leader, you ought to be on the inside, you will be able to become the leader you want to on the outside. People will want to follow you.
Leadership should be about service and by deploying these youth corps members to areas they can provide and offer tangible service; they can learn the rudiments of leadership. Not all of them will be leaders, but we believe that if properly monitored, from their ranks the nation and even the political parties can harvest young people they can present as candidates to run elections. The country should be looking to deploy homegrown methods in the search for the next set of leaders who will break the jink of bad leadership. Bad leadership is a bad habit, an attitude which can only be cured through a conscious effort, the alternative is scary, one day there could be a revolution. We aim must be to practice transformational leadership where peoples lives are changed for better.
As a leadership foundation, we are building an institute for the training and the education of youths and those interested in leadership. We will want to partner with some local governments in states for this training so that we can rain some of their staff with the aim of imparting on them some core values of leadership and service.