Leadership and Nigeria’s Challenges By Karo Orovboni
I would like to take a quote from the holy bible, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” – Proverbs 29:2. To flesh out this bible quote, when the right people are in the position of leadership the nation is progressive and the people rejoice, but when the wicked people are in leadership positions, the nation is regressive and the people groan.
The special assistant to the president on new media, Reno Omokri argued that leadership is not the problem of Nigeria, that Nigeria’s problem is not the president. Some will argue saying don’t blame the president, the problems have been there before the current president came into power. Well, being the president of the Federal Republic on Nigeria comes with great responsibilities. You are not there to create problems, you are there to solve the problems that predate you and make people’s lives better, that is the reason you were voted.
So if people keep criticising the persisting problems, it is not because they are accusing you of creating the problems, they are agitated because they expect you to ameliorate or possibly eradicate the problems but you are falling way short of expectations.
Let us take for example a football manager. I use this example because millions of Nigerians can associate with it. Do you ever wonder why a football manager gets the sack when a team is under performing? Is the manager on the pitch kicking the ball? Is it the manager that missed an open goal? Or was he the one who failed to track the runs of other attacking midfielders running past him? Well, he certainly wasn’t the goalkeeper who allowed himself to be beaten at his near post. But the manager gets the sack simply because he is tasked with choosing the team, putting the right players in right positions, getting the players ready for the game, managing the players and getting the best out of them. When things are not going as planned on the pitch, he makes the right changes at the right time to salvage the game, he takes responsibility. That is what he is paid to do, if the team falls short of expectations, the manager is simply shown the exit door.
I’m sure many are familiar with the name Nelson Mandela, he became president of South Africa at the age of 75. He became president when there was huge disparity and broken race relations between white and black South Africans (which I think is bigger than the ethnic differences we have in Nigeria), amongst other numerous problems. He didn’t create the problems, he didn’t go around lamenting that the problems existed even before I went to prison, so don’t blame me. He united the nation; he went a long way in amending the broken race relations. He didn’t solve all the problems of South Africa though, but one thing he surely did, he left South Africa in a much better state than he found it – That is a true leader. A leader that didn’t act like Shaggy, it wasn’t me, he took responsibilities and acted accordingly. If you ask an average South African, Nelson Mandela was the best thing that happened to them since sliced bread.
So let us cut this it wasn’t me business, take responsibility and start solving problems. Nigeria has been a paradox for years, blessed with numerous natural and man resources but with little or nothing to show for it. This whole paradoxical nature can come to an end with the right leadership. Nigerians are tired of listening to excuses why things do not work the way they should. The Nigerian youths cry daily, our leaders have failed us. They are absolutely right because the leaders have truly failed. Nigerians have the right to criticise the government because the government has failed Nigerians.
So I am sat here, 34,000 feet above ground on a country’s national carrier, thinking to myself, once upon a time, we used to have Nigeria Airways. Well, Nigeria Airways is no more because of poor leadership.
We all know that corruption is endemic in Nigeria. But if Nigeria is going to be free from this corrupt culture, it must start from the very top, the president. The attitude of a leader is reflected on his followers. If you want to be a successful leader and have a big impact on those you lead, focus on your attitude and know that as you change your thinking and your attitude, your actions will start to change your work, your team and your nation. If the president rids himself of corruption, it will trickle down and reflect on his ministers, special assistants, and all the way down to the local government chairmen. That is not to say you will not have the few that will still be corrupt, but the impact of the leader will be hugely felt.
If you still do not believe the president is not responsible for the mess in the judiciary, then I do not know who should be enthroned with the task of cleansing the sector, maybe the average man on the streets. The president appointed the Attorney General and Minister of Justice as the head of the judicial system, so it is his responsibility if he fails. Our judicial system is like a spider’s cobweb; it only catches tiny insects while the big birds fly through.
Another example is a ridiculous argument by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Information, Enyinnaya Abaribe. He argued against those who called for a reduction in the National Assembly’s budget to direct their focus on other arms of the government, which represents 97 percent of the national budget, as the Assembly only represents 3 percent. He went further to accuse the person of Oby Ezekwesili, who also called for accountability in the National Assembly. You will notice that what Abaribe is most concerned about is that he does not want a reduction in their pay, yet he is disengaged with the yearnings of Nigerians who they claim to represent. That is not the sort of leadership that exalts a nation.
The minister of Information claims that the government is not financially viable to meet the requirements of ASUU. But you just wonder how on earth the government is viable to meet the request of 469 National Assembly members. This ‘3 percent’ is not up to the reported N87bn ASUU request. So if 3 percent of the budget would be more than enough to get over 10 million young Nigerian students back to their learning base, why suffer them to sit at home while you waste the 3 percent on 469 people. They set the minimum wage of Nigerians to be N18,000 but they earn 1,852 times more than the minimum wage. If this is the sort of leadership we have in this country, you need not look further to the reasons why the country is in the situation she finds herself. There is definitely problem with the leadership of this country.
The reconstruction of a road that has claimed many lives of innocent Nigerians over the years due to its dilapidated state (Lagos-Ibadan expressway) was awarded for N161bn, that is N11bn more than what 469 National Assembly members take home annually. You can now begin to wonder how many more lives can be saved and how many more capital projects can be completed if these people cut their fleece and profligacy. To our National Assembly public servants, choose you this day whom ye will serve: the people or your pockets!
No country in the world has the natural resources Nigeria can boast of and still have majority of her citizens live in abject poverty, no country. Now when the government is saying some people are criticising the government without proffering solutions, calling them names like ‘politweeters’, ‘QWERTY activists’, being paid by the opposition, etc., what the government is inadvertently saying is we are bereft of ideas and looking on to the opposition for solution. That will further buttress the point of the opposition and everyone else that the government is clueless and incompetent. If they don’t have solutions to our problems, why are they there? Any intelligent and well-meaning government will see solutions in criticisms. When someone criticises the government that the government is corrupt, what they are saying is ‘stop being corrupt’ – That is solution there. When they say our roads are bad, what they are saying is ‘build good roads’ – That is the solution. It isn’t rocket science.
If Nigeria is going to progress and not stagnate or regress, look up, the leadership.
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