If there is one thing that has set Nigeria up to where it is today, it is the absence of leadership for long stretches of time in our history. As a people, our understanding of leadership is clouded in relatives. We say things like “Our leaders are the ones killing us in this country” and for me that is an irony. Leaders do not kill, scratch that, a leader cannot kill, at least not his people. We are where we are today because we have been cursed by people who were inherently rulers. That curse remains to this day. It has even gotten worse because manageable is a ruler who at least knows what to do and could decide whether or not to do same. It is worse when you are ruled by a man who knows absolutely next to nothing about what to do in terms of moving a nation forward.
If you assign me to lead a project and I start by setting up a committee, you’d not be moved and probably think that’s normal. If after the committee submits its report and I inform you I intend to set up another committee for the same purpose the first committee was set up, you’d wonder if I was going to come up with a solution never seen before. If after the second committee concludes its job and I inform you that I intend to set up a committee to look into what the first and second committee came up with, there are at least two possible things that’d be running through your mind: that I am absolutely clueless about how to move forward with the job or more in tune with my own thoughts, that I am mad! For only a mad man would stay on the same spot moving backward relative to time and make as though he was moving forward. This is exactly the reality of governance in Nigeria today!
We are doing a lot without doing anything. We are setting up committees without committing to the development of our people. A former minister of the federation who is regarded as an anti-corruption czar once told me that she called the bluff of former PDP chairman Ahmadu Ali who told her to set up a governing board for a moribund department. She replied him to say there was nothing the board would be doing, but the man, insisted she set up the board. “That’s how it is done and I’ll report you to the president if you don’t comply.” Being one of those who helped the government look good in the eye of the public and someone who’d be picked up by the best organisations in the world upon any sign of availability, she called his bluff. He reported, but of course, Obasanjo may not have been too good a man, he was too smart to sacrifice those too good for his administration on the altar of PDP corruption. She had her way. She is an outlier. The reality of present day Nigeria is that government runs for the benefit of the ruling class to the detriment of the ruled. The measure of a leader is to create an avenue for his people, where no one is disadvantaged in the pursuit of his/her life goals. I don’t believe in governments that provide everything. A government that can provide everything can also take everything away. There are necessities government must provide. The rich, poor, weak and powerful must be equal before the law. Power, roads and a basic level of education must be available for all. Security must be seen to be provided not just budgeted for. A system must be in place that makes it possible for at least the middle class to own homes. These are the essence of government. Any government that cannot provide these is by inference a plundering one. To collect from the people and not in return provide what the people deserve as a contract in that relationship is called plunder. Today’s Nigerian government, like many before it, represents the classic case of a plundering elite backed by oppression. They are not leaders, they are by inference plunderers or at best rulers!
A leader is Nelson Mandela. The whole world is lighting up candles for this great man. Leaders are worthy beyond their time in office and beyond their climes. Happy birthday Madiba, 94 today.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.