Columns - Guest Contributors
The search is on. Another general election in Nigeria is upon us. What does it mean to Nigerians? What are the expectations of the average Nigerian? What are the expectations of the international community? The questions are endless. How about the solution(s)?
I am passionate about many things: the quality of education, the opportunities available for an individual in any society, the availability of basic amenities or infrastructures. Just a few of what improves the standard of living.
There is no doubt that since the beginning of the Babaginda administration, through the civilian government of Chief Obasanjo, that good governance and quality leadership have taken flight from Nigeria, things have gotten from bad to worse. Standard of living went south and cost of living has so skyrocketed that Nigeria may be described as not a developing or under developing country, but a country that has refused to develop. The problem with governance in Nigeria is gross failure in leadership.
Nigeria’s independence in 1960 brought with it good governance by good and reputable leaders. Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Belawa, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Anthony Enahoro and Chief Obafemi Awolowo were national leaders who gave Nigeria dedicated leadership. They were responsible leaders who put the country ahead of any interests, personal or party’s. Other regional leaders, Chief Dennis Osadebe, Chief Samuel Akintola, Dr. Michael Okpara, and Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, also knew what responsible leadership meant. Nigeria, following independence, didn’t become a first world, but Nigerians enjoyed basic amenities that a responsible government should and must provide its citizens.
The art of leadership, according to Max Depree, is liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible. Max describes a true leader as the “servant” who enables his or her followers to realize their full potentials. A true leader is also a good listener, who listens to ideas, needs, aspirations, and wishes of the followers and then within the context of his or her own, and with a good degree of will power, responds appropriately. Good leaders are motivated to achieve common good and gain willing followers.
By denying Nigerians the simple basic amenities and infrastructures, Nigerian leaders of the last three decades have simply failed to enable Nigerians to realize their full potentials. Bill Clinton, a former US president, in a speech in Nigeria recently, urged the “federal government of Nigeria to pay more attention to good policies and good governance as the only recipe capable of lifting the country from its present state of underdevelopment”.
Nigeria needs and deserves good policies and good governance. A nation deserves the leadership that it gets. This may be true, but it’s also true that Nigerians have suffered from bad leadership, stemming from selfishness, greed, corruption, nepotism, theft and gross abuse of power. The entire system has failed and is still failing. We do not need an agency of the United States to tell us that Nigeria as a nation will cease to exist at such appointed time.
One question remains: Does Nigeria have good leaders? The answer is an unqualified yes. The truth be told, Nigeria has produced some of the best in all aspects of human endeavors; sciences, economics, medicine, and social sciences. A good number of Nigerians, worthy leaders in their respect endeavors, left Nigeria to help develop other nations. And so we find that, according to US President Obama, yes we can, and I will add if we want. Nigerians can and, if they desire, will get the leaders they deserve, leaders that will pay attention to such policy issues as energy, credible elections, economic transformation, the Freedom of Information, the protection of Nigerians’ lives and property, and the achievement of true human rights. Nigeria deserves and should get leaders that will cultivate and expand governmental accountability and transparency. Nigeria needs leaders that have good moral character, dignity and integrity.
The leaders that Nigeria needs at this time must meet the five leadership traits or qualities as described by Kouzes and Posner, which are: Honesty, Forward-Looking, Competence, Inspiration and Intelligence. Voters in the forthcoming elections are encouraged to look for these traits in the individuals that present themselves to be elected. Only effective political leadership can show the way for desperately needed development. In year 2011, all candidates, presidential, governorship, senatorial, federal and state houses, must embrace effective political leadership that must include: setting goals, motivating people and evaluating them to make certain that electoral promises are fulfilled.
In my view and estimation, all the frontline presidential candidates, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, General Muhammadu Buhari (Retired), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and Governor Ibrahim Shekaru, are all qualified in their own rights to lead the country. What I believe the winner in the election will need is the courage and will power to govern and provide exceptional leadership that will ultimately develop Nigeria. In the states, some of the governorship candidates who do have relevant experience are equally in a position to provide good governance if they are able to muster the much needed will power to provide good leadership.
There are a number of incumbent governors that have shown requisite leadership traits described by Kouzes and Posner, and are expected to continue to provide purposeful and effective leadership. They are Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, Martin Elechi of Ebonyi State, Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers, Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State, and Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State.
Some of the candidates seeking the senate assignments have excellent curricula vitae of years of dedicated leadership experience in business and politics. Senatorial candidates Chief Ighoyota Amori of Delta State, Dr. Domingo Obende of Edo State, Alhaji Saminu Turaki of Jigawa State and Dr. Peter A. Fayose of Ekiti State are leaders that are prepared for legislative duties, and if they win, will add legislative value to the senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The elections 2011 has presented Nigerians with the opportunity to make their voices heard. By going to the polls, every qualified voter has the unique opportunity to change Nigeria forever by voting for individuals they trust that can do the job. The goal is to get Nigeria moving again.
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