By Jerome-Mario Utomi
Nigeria is afflicted with perennial ‘leadership haemorrhage. This particular fact among other signs in recent years, was brought to fore in the last couple of month’s protests by Nigerians against bad governance and demand for change in the country. From commentaries within this period, it was obvious that many Nigerians believe that the nation’s leadership crisis was aggregated by successive deficiency in leadership vision and in some cases made worse by public official’s understanding and interpretation of problems with clarity but lacking in political will to see or implement solutions.
A recently articulated commentary in this direction entitled; My Movement to Actualize Nigeria, by Tobechi Innocent Okwuonu, a Nigerian based in Canada, probably did more than anything else to convince Nigerians that leadership challenge in the country significantly has nothing to do with cluelessness. But largely depends on the understanding that their vision and agendas are at odds with the general inspirations and motivations of the population. Okwuonu’s position is the plot of this piece as it extensively provides leadership answers the nation needs to move into the future.
For a better understanding of his background, Tobechi Innocent Okwuonu is the founder of Venture Cell Business Services, an investment banking boutique, Rest Impact Foundation, a charity catering to select categories of indigent people in Africa and South East Asia, and Movement to Actualize Nations (MAN), a dedication to realize the full potential of mankind, of which having sustainable energy to support its civilization is a major focus. As an organic chemist, he has published in the Scientific Journal (Organic & Bio molecular Chemistry 2016) and Harvard Business Review (December 2010). He is the author of the book Shine Like “You:” Achieve Your Goals by Emulating Your Body, The Best Model of Success.
To copiously quote him, he in part said; i believe we do have a leadership and governance crisis in Nigeria. However, my understanding and assessment differ markedly from the conventional perception, which is the way both crises are seen, understood, and experienced by Nigerians, including those at the helm of affairs.
Nigerians tend to think that they have not been lucky with good leaders. That is, people who pilot the affairs of the nation at the three levels of government, lack good leadership qualities, therefore, they fall short in delivering the fruits of good leadership. The general feeling is that these set of people in government are clueless. On the contrary, no administration in Nigeria history, including the present one, is clueless. Clueless suggests lack of any vision or agenda. This is clearly not the case with those who have led and are leading Nigeria. Every administration at the Federal and State levels have always come into office with specific vision and agendas. This is correct for both the military and civilian governments.
The civilians always had their set agendas before assuming power, even if they present a different one to the electorate during their campaigns for election. Because Nigerian governments have their own visions and agendas, they are not clueless. But their vision and agendas are at odds with the general inspirations and motivations of the population.
The inspiration and motivations of the leadership and people of Nigeria have never been in alignment, instead, they are always at odds. Sometimes the odds are so great they result in chaos, which tethers dangerously on the brink of armed conflict. This is the leadership crisis that has bedeviled Nigeria and is plaguing her now. There is disharmony in what the government desires and is doing, and what the people desire and wish to see accomplished.
While I do, unlike the general sentiment in Nigeria, credit Nigerian governments with having a precise vision and agenda of their own, though it breeds leadership crisis, being at odds with the aspirations of everyone else but those in power, they lack the capability to implement their own agendas. In fact, I’d say they are clueless in implementing their agendas. They adopt often woeful tactics and strategies. The disharmony between their aspirations and those of the masses means there is unwilling cooperation at best, and clear opposition at worst, with the general populace. As a result, they find it difficult to implement their agenda. This is the governance crisis: the lack of capability of an administration to implement their vision and plans.
In a democracy, it is almost inevitable to avoid a governance crisis when a leadership crisis exists. Only in an absolute dictatorship can a governance crisis be prevented amidst glaring leadership crises – disharmony in the inspirations and motivations of the government and the people. Nigeria has never had an absolute dictatorship. So, leadership and governance crises have bedeviled her, even before her independence: the agitations for independence stem from the leadership crisis; the pro-independence activities were manifestations of governance crises spurred by leadership crises. The aspirations of the colonialists were certainly at odds with the desires and expectations of the general African-Nigerian populace.
Indeed, I have observed that absolute dictatorship can prevent governance crises. Yet, it cannot prevent or eliminate leadership crises because the latter emanates from the will of people, which is their mindset and natural tendency. A mindset can be subdued from manifesting at best. It can never be expunged. We might be prevented from expressing our inspirations, and manifesting our motivations, but they remain with us, buried deep in our hearts and minds. As long as they remain with us, they will always look for a way of expression and manifesting.
Consequently, the spectre of rebellion always looms in any suppressive system of exercising authority. The will cannot be suppressed indefinitely; hence dictatorships are bound to collapse. It is not an option for preventing governance crises. It is not viable; it is deplorable because it suppresses the will, which is like breathing. A viable alternative is a leadership style that allows the natural tendency of any people to flourish, by availing them with means to express their legitimate inspirations and manifest their reasonable motivations.
A political system that nurtures our legitimate natural tendencies promises to be devoid of leadership and governance crises. It would be in harmony with the spirit of any people, and this harmony will ensure that it gets sustained support and cooperation from the people. Such a political system inspired my foray into politics. I intend to build and establish such politics in Nigeria.
The current democracy has devolved to a pathetic state: prospective elected public servants seek office merely for the sake of politics. They are motivated by power and politics only. They campaign on lofty ideals to get the vote of their constituents, but when they are elected, they renege on their promises to their constituents. Instead, they tow the tired routine paths of their party in particular, and politics in general.
The only hope Nigeria and Nigerians have is the political restructuring. Without a politics that aligns the aspirations of the leaders with the people, and compel leaders to stick to their campaign mandates, preventing them from reneging when elected into power, the leadership and governance crises in Nigeria will not let up.
Also, without a politics that empowers marginalized constituents to attain the highest political power, and while in this position, compels them to prioritize placating the agitations of their constituents, sectarian tension will never abate in Nigeria.
This is one message Nigeria and Nigerians must not ignore.
Utomi is the Programme Cordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via; j[email protected]/08032725374.