Leadership- Nigeria’s own Disaster By Obayomi Abiola Benjamin
The word ‘disaster’ is not only limited to something that is devastating or sudden misfortune. It is also synonymous with utter failure. There are two ways in which disasters could manifest. It could take the form of man-made, or it may occur naturally. Natural disaster represents a devastating occurrence that is produced by nature itself. Most of the time, they occur not as a result of man-made activities. For example, some days ago; a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck in Nepal leaving over 5000 people dead and more than 10,000 people injured. Some historical sites (World heritage centers) and properties worth millions of dollars have been lost to the earthquake. Efforts are still underway by rescuers and aid agencies to bring alive those still trapped under the rubbles and give necessary supports to those who survived the devastation.
Nigeria is not known to be a natural disaster prone country. As a matter of fact, the Creator didn’t just bless us with plenty of natural and human resources. He also gave us a good territory that is not earthquake or volcanic eruption prone. The only contemporary disaster recorded lately in Nigeria was the 2012 flood that claimed the lives of about 363 people and over 2,100,000 people displaced. What made this particular disaster so massive was that it cuts across about four states at the same time namely Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau and Benue states respectively. Apart from this documented disaster profiled above, Nigeria is known to be absolutely natural disaster free.
But in actual terms, there is a major disaster that we have always known with us. I termed it ‘Leadershp disaster’ in this short article. Let me quickly take some few lines to explain what I meant by that. The development of any Nation no doubt is hinged on whom and who takes the shot in such nations. Apart from having abundant natural and human resources, leadership is what gives direction and also ensures that coordinated and articulated development takes place in any nation. In the words of Peter Drucker, “leadership is simply doing the right things”. The reverse is what we experience in Nigeria. What Nigeria have experienced so far is nothing short of leadership crisis, and this is partly responsible for our stagnation as a nation, and why we are yet to take our rightful place amongst the committee of nations in the World. Leadership is about taking responsibility and not making excuses. We have consistently been plagued by leaders, both at the national and local level; who make excuses as to why we have remained where we are today as a country. President Jonathan was once quoted saying “the issue of insecurity and insurgency did not begin with his administration”. No wonder his administration could not do much to solve the problem.
Some Nigerian leaders have publicly proclaimed that the late Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore is their role model. But none of them is ready to toe the path that the late Yew followed to bring Singapore from a third-world nation to the first-world in a single generation under his leadership. In the process of transforming Singapore, Yew forged a widely admired system of meritocratic, corruption-free and highly efficient government and civil service. Many of Yew’s policies are now taught at the Lee Kuan Yew School of public policy. Let me burst your bubble a little. How many Nigerian Leaders (both past and present) economic policies can be recommended to be studied in our Schools? I believe we do not have any answer to that question yet.
So, what should be the way forward? How can we salvage Nigeria from this leadership disaster? The answers to these questions are not far-fetched. First of all, we must stop electing idiots to be our leaders, both at the National, state and local level. We must ensure that at every elections or any opportunity to vote, we remove bad, ill-performed leaders and enthrone new ones. We have already initiated this process in our last polls by collectively electing General Muhammadu Buhari to be our next President. We can only hope that Buhari’s administration will represent the beginning of greatness that Nigerians and Nigeria have long waited for. Secondly, we must ensure that our leaders are accountable. They must be able to give proper account of their stewardship while in office or after they have left. In the words of Bene Brown, she said and I quote “when we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated”. This is true for us as Nigerians. We must consistently demand accountability from our leaders.
And lastly, the development of Nigeria is a collective responsibility of all of us. Each and every one of us must be seen to be doing the right thing at every point in time. As much as we have leaders who are willing to work, we also must cooperate with them to ensure that they succeed. As the new administration of General Muhammadu Buhari is gearing up to come on board by May, 29th; we can only hope that this will mark the beginning of greater things in our dear nation.
Thank you for your time.
Obayomi Abiola Benjamin