Leadership and the Future of Nigeria

I believe that we must search elsewhere for the causes or origins of our national wahala.  While acknowledging the systemic limitations and contradictions, I want to believe that the managers of that system must be carefully examined to know their level of culpability.  The failures and failings of the past have squandered the legacy of independence, undermined the present and mortgaged the future.  What is perhaps more frightening is the way in which current balances of power and policies, especially in the last two decades, have tended to marginalise and discourage genuine leaders while promoting opportunists, charlatans and mediocres.  Actually, can we say that the majority of our people are better off today than at independence?  Have we made much progress since 1960.
It is possible to contend that there is very little structural distinction between Nigeria’s yesterday and today.  This is because the legacies of colonialism and peripheralisation in the global divisions of labour, power and exchange have continued to shape the character of production, exchange and consumption, and they remain essentially unaltered even after almost half a century of political independence.  From the distortions in the economy and the fragility of the state to the largely unproductive disposition of the power elite and the marginalization of the political economy in the global political economy not much has changed in Nigeria.  We have had reforms, restructurings, minor adjustments here and there and political epochs but no revolution, effective reformation, or structural transformation.
It is true that we can point at new local governments, new states, new infrastructure, new national anthem, new federal capital, new political parties, a new constitution, a wider but not necessarily stronger economy, deeper involvement in the global market due mainly to oil exports, and new discourses on politics and economy.  But they have, in large measure, and in spite of the civil war, several military juntas, and transitions, been no more than motion in a barber’s chair: a lot of motion but very little movement or progress.  Countless opportunities to move forward, give our people hope, restructure and reposition the political economy and improve the living conditions of the people have been carelessly squandered without apologies by the governing elite.
True, the Nigeria state is still one in formation.  It is quite easy to worry about the rather unfortunate state of the nation today.  But a proper historical understanding of the Nigerian reality can enable any analyst to place our conditions and predicaments in proper context.  It is true that the global political economy has been hostile to Nigeria in several ways, but we have failed to initiate structures, institutions and processes to contain or respond adequately to our extant challenges.  We have also failed, like most African states, to take advantage of openings in the global economy to restructure, reform, recompose and redirect the character of state and class in Nigeria.  Even well-intended policies and programmes, have been easily undermined by prevailing contradictions, limitations, and conflicts in the system.  Our political, social and economic power blocs have adjusted to the distorted and unproductive system that recycles underdevelopment and crisis. They have persistently shied away from a serious-minded, consistent and focused structural transformation and repositioning of the political economy.  It is therefore not amazing that in spite of Nigerianisation, Africanisation, indigenisation, war against poverty, operation feed the nation, the Reform Agenda, Development plans, local government and state creation, the oil boom, Rolling Plans, stabilisation, structural adjustment and other publicly celebrated strategies, Nigeria is yet to find an answer to any of its numerous challenges.  Even good leaders with vision, the few islands of integrity, easily get contaminated, compromised and corrupted. Their ideas and achievements are often easily swallowed by a strong and diabolical contraption of indiscipline, political rascality, elite insensitivity and irresponsibility.  No nation on earth has ever made progress in that way.

2 thoughts on “Leadership and the Future of Nigeria”

  1. Akemokue Lukman

    Dear Prof,
    May God give our leaders the wisdom, the will and the courage to access this treatise and practice at least a bit, if not all of the content therein. It is a wonderful piece meant for consumption, practice and for the record. Keep the flag flying. All hope is not lost. Not when one can still access this type of information from a resourceful mind.

  2. Omueti Oviebo Godfre

    Those who know your problem are far from you.i wish you know problem…

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