Pay attention to the history of nations and corporations, wherever there was a monumental leap in the fortunes of a people, there was a leap in the class of leadership.
In a country like Nigeria where everywhere you look you find problems resulting from problems of yesteryears, one is tempted to think these problems in themselves are the challenges of this country but they are only the shoot of a root problem that has bedeviled the country for the better part of its existence.
When I was in Junior Secondary School, you would be hard pressed to see anyone use car seat belts. An average kid during that period in Lagos would find it hard to name seat belts amongst the things found inside a car. Years later a leader came and said it would amount to a traffic offence to be found not wearing the car seat belts. It was a herculean task getting Lagosians to wear this life saving appurtenance of cars. In the early days, most would rather quickly run the belt across their body when almost reaching police or traffic officers’ check points. The story has since changed. Lagosians now wear seat belts impulsively as soon as they get in their cars. The people of Lagos were not removed for new people to come in, only the leadership changed.
Have you been to Oshodi in Lagos lately? The last time I was there I was wowed! I said, “This is what transformation is about.” And I meant that with the most applicable literal meaning of the word “transformation.” Oshodi is not just about the park and the garden; it is about the whole atmosphere and sense of understanding that “something extraordinary happened here.” Only those who saw the old Oshodi will be in good stead to understand what these words mean. Now tell me, did we have to move new people to Oshodi to have this transformation or we had to change leadership? Leadership changed everything! It is easier to have one leader say “this is what my vision for this country is and this is what I want my people to do to achieve that vision” than it is for people to even commit to a vision. The people have no vision without leadership. It is leadership that defines the vision and any system without a vision is a system without a purpose of existence.
Pay attention to the history of nations and corporations, wherever there was a monumental leap in the fortunes of a people, there was a leap in the class of leadership. Empires rise and fall on the kind of leadership in place at any point in time. In the United States of America, shareholders are almost obsessed about who the Chief Operating Officer of their corporation is. Steve Jobs went all the way to Pepsi to headhunt for a CEO for Apple until he had to move Apple forward himself. Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great” emphasized the crucial essence of team members in building a lasting legacy but someone has to get these team members together.
I am absolutely certain that whatever makes Nigerians look like bad citizens, who only see things through the lens of religion and ethnicity will change given the right kind of leadership. The current holders of top offices in Nigeria especially the President have played the ethnic card so much you have to expect a largely illiterate population to follow suit. If we had a leader who is really and truly about service delivery and does same with the best of hands the nation has got to offer, few will care about where s/he comes from. When Nigerian rulers like Goodluck Jonathan fail, they feed the propaganda machine tales of ethnic colourations and excuses. So when a leader fails to fight corruption and deliver on other necessities of governance, he throws the ethnic card at you before you ask for his performance card.
We cannot change the behaviour of followers until we change the composition and character of leadership. The body will always go in the direction of the head. A nation will always go in the direction of its leaders. Nigerians are not the ones to prosecute all the men and women milking the nation dry, it takes a leader who understands that every incentive to steal from the nation will always lead to more of same. You could accuse Obasanjo’s EFCC of many things but you certainly would not say it was useless. The EFCC today is worse than useless! That uselessness is derived directly from the uselessness of leadership the current boss of Aso Rock provides. If we fix leadership we fix Nigeria. This I submit to you is remains our number one problem.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.