Why Nigeria joggles in leadership deficit


Why Nigeria joggles in leadership deficit

By Prof. Olivet Jagusah

At a time in my academic career, I had cause to study what was happening in South Africa and my interest was on the transition that was taking place in South Africa and the kind of people that Nelson Mandela was selecting to lead his government.

What I noticed about the study is the fact that these peoples’ biography of when they grew up and what happened to them was fundamental in forming their worldview.

What appealed to me was the fact that Mandela selected people whose life’s stories cohered with his own current view of reality. By this, I mean people who have gone through experience and have learnt from these experiences and were particularly capable of overcoming their own prejudices. Mandela selected them among the Indians, among the Africans, among the Caucasians to form the government that gave the kind of coherency and consistency to what Mandela was doing. This is what is missing in most of the African countries.

Following independence, the naivetés of independence was quite fresh. But these naiveté became hardened because wrong people forced themselves into government. And as you saw the regime of military all over Africa, you will realize that it is not the best quality of people that insisted on leading the nation.

Nigeria seems to be perpetuating that legacy of imposing leadership on people who are not ready. We know of some of our leaders who had wanted to end up being lecturers or senators who were forced to become presidents. So if you find a people who are not ready and you impose leadership positions on them, you are creating a kind of crisis, and Nigeria seems to be jumping from one crisis of leadership to another because we are not dealing with the question of preparing people for leadership.

We have a good example of the Nigerian Military. When you are admitted into Nigeria Defence Academy, there is classification of officers and men. An average Nigerian army officer is trained to be a leader. So whether we like it or not, in all strata of the society, you will find the army generals who are giving leadership positions because they have imbibed the ideas that they are leaders. They have been forced to deal with questions that an average Nigerian does not deal with. Based on that the Nigerian army will always provide leadership in this country, whether we like it or not.

Our civilian institutions are not preparing people for leadership. So we have a situation by which almost all our leaders are accidental leaders. If you look at all these, you will realize that leadership has always being a problem in Africa because qualities that should be determine on who should be a leader are not being used, but extra-ordinary and unrelated qualities are considered. For that reason, we will keep having that problem.

We also need to take a close look at our educational institutions and where they came from. We are people who have education of paper qualifications of whatever nature, as far as we are better than the people who don’t have. Our educational institutions are always continued to be eliminating institutions, rather than creating an access. We are still graduating about 4% to 5% of our population as university graduates. Just tell me how much difference will a 4% over 96% can make in improving the country?

Until we open the society, until we open the access, until we have different kinds of institutions doing different kinds and types of things, we will not be able to address the question of good governance. So much of our eliminating institutions like WAEC, JAMB, GCE and so forth are not necessarily educational assessment tools. They are more about eliminating and maintaining a certain kind of class structure. We need to address that in our body politics.

On the question of governance, you cannot sow bad seed and get good result. You cannot be rewarding crime while hoping for the good. The good people in Nigeria are punished and the evil are rewarded. If we create that mentality, we will keep jogging from one bad leader to another WV


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