By Isaac Kanu
It has always been a maxim widely taken as real that leaders are born, made or has it conferred on them. Probing further, one could affirm that leaders do not emerge from the blues, but are prepared ahead despite the fact that divine attribution could be accorded to it.
When the question of leadership comes up, one wonders if the crop of those that constitute leaders are actually so when one considers the Nigerian scenario as a case study. Interestingly, leaders that occupy leadership positions must be able to persuade followers to realize their potentials and must be willing to position themselves at all times to enable those that are under them realize the essence of their lives.
In the same view, sacrificial living must be part and parcel of what their office demands and they must offer it. It is also important that a good political ideology which is in consonance with the wishes and aspirations of the polity must also be captured and sustained by would-be leaders willing to provide good governance. In essence, honesty and faithfulness in the management of the resources of the state must not be compromised. From a good standpoint, leaders must be elected by the people and not selected and imposed by powers that be. Therefore, it is good that an enabling environment be provided by leaders to allow the citizens derive the benefits of living.
Another outstanding trait of leaders is to consistently seek after the welfare of the led. Leaders are equally expected to empathize and sympathize with the people. It is also expedient for leaders to allow for integration by carrying the citizens along and be accountable to the people.
Unfortunately however, the sterling qualities which characterize good leaders are non-existent in Nigeria. The positions of leadership are heavily politicized in the Nigerian state. The system and structures meant to field those entrusted with the collective will of the Nigerian people are shrouded in fraud because more often than not, vying for elective positions is devoid of democratic norms as practiced in developed countries. In Nigeria, it is a serious issue because of the ‘benefits’ which accrue from leadership positions. Instead of seeing it as a service to the citizenry, people kill, defraud, corrupt, manipulate and exploit all avenues to win elective positions and remain in politics even when they have nothing to offer. When compared with other nations and other advanced democracies, leaders and leadership positions are not for every Tom, Dick and Harry.
For Nigerian ‘elites’, this is not the same. Some individuals believe that Nigeria is their private property and can be managed not necessarily according to the constitution in the interest of the masses of this great country.
Little wonder then that since independence, the Nigerian State has not been able to get it right in terms of the right leadership; hence, most of the so-called leaders do not have any business being there. To them, leadership is synonymous with wealth, power, luxury and comfort, leaving out the business of carefully articulating what it takes to improve the living standards of the people they are meant to lead.
It must also be reiterated that leadership positions have been merchandise. That is, individuals vie for elective positions for material benefits and not for exploring ways to improve the lives of the people. In South Africa, Nelson Mandela showed the example of good leadership, governance and love for his people. Even with the aura of his office and popularity, he did not allow the pomp and pageantry of power to make him lose focus of leadership. To him, leadership was service to the people. No wonder that he was celebrated and highly loved by the people because he exhibited what leadership should be. He was not the type that defrauded his people through looting of the treasury and acquisition of wealth. Even in death, he still remains an idol not only in South Africa, but globally.
Mandela made Africa proud; spent twenty-seven years in prison fighting for the rights of his people against racism and white domination. When his tenure ended as president, he did not seek any re-election, but vacated the position to a successor- Thabo Mbeki. At his demise, the white world stood for him and ex- American president, Barack Obama reiterated unequivocally that the world may not have any other person like Nelson Mandela again.
Back to Nigeria, everyone witnessed all that happened and even read about the life and times of Nelson Mandela. What is therefore disturbing is the reason why Nigerian leaders cannot learn and even attempt to imbibe some of the traits of this great hero of Africa.
The question is, how many of our so-called current leaders will be celebrated when they passed on or when they are not seemingly relevant while they are still alive? It is a food for thought. Nothing indeed has really changed as they are vigorously stealing, embezzling and deeply rooted in corruption and abuse of office. Instead of being pre-occupied with the business of leadership and good governance, they are busy chasing shadows-scheming for power, decamping from one party to another and engage in the politics of money laundering, character assassinations, cross-carpeting, money politics and god-fatherism.
In essence, they compound to the problem of the citizens by undue exhibition of power and affluence. Few years ago, when the former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and current Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido openly indicted the National Assembly for appropriating 75% of the budget to themselves, they did not refute the allegation.
Politicking is seen as the fastest means of acquiring wealth. It was quite evident in the just concluded elections that the process of scheming for votes from the electorates through vote-buying by the elite will still remain with us because of the desperation to be in power through any means.