A couple of Sundays ago I wrote on leadership in Nigeria. I said our political leaders are created and not born. I got reactions from some readers. While some think I am harsh, the majority agreed that leadership in Nigeria is indeed attained, not by the vision you have, but who you know. Or better still, how you can position yourself for opportunities.
To be honest, Nigeria does not lack leadership. What is in contention is the quality of leadership offered by those who have been there. Most of the leaders were opportunists who had no clue what it was to lead a nation. A roll call of the individuals reveals most got shots at leadership not on merit but from where they are from.
Apart from the First Republic leaders, most of our political leaders “walked” to power by force. Nigeria has been unfortunate to have recurring military regimes since the sixties. It is a well-known fact that these guys were not in any way visionaries, but products of military coup d’états.
Some (if not all) of the coups that brought them to power were products of ethnic jingoism. They needed no vision or plan. They had guns and drafts of speeches to explain why they were taking over the running of the common “destiny”. These guys rose to power by the use of weapons supplied and maintained from taxes paid by the citizens.
Is it not ironic that some of these military boys have metamorphosed into new day “democrats”? Sad. The qualification for leadership for them is their participation in past coups. Today, they stand tall as we hail them as our leaders and messiahs. The lesson – forget the past and concentrate on the present.
The country obtained independence from colonial masters in 1960. It is instructive that citizens are still enslaved by the indigenous leaders. Many Nigerians have remarked that they could be better off under colonial rule.
Last week, once again, we rolled out the drums to celebrate Democracy Day. Every year, May 29th, we remind ourselves that the country is not yet in adulthood. It is not rude, but an awkward awakening that we are just about starting off the block. It is always a day when we gather together to remind ourselves how long it took us to become a “democratic nation”.