THE HISTORIES OF human societies have revealed that quality leadership is very essential in the development of a nation. Many thinkers over the centuries have supported this view. Plato, in his book, “The Republic”, maintained that the progress of a state depends on the knowledge and character of its rulers. Aristotle in his “Nichomechian Ethics” also argued that the possibility of a state to develop, produce and stand depends on the capability of its leaders. However, “a country is poor because of its poor leaders.” Nevertheless, we will analyze the economic vicious cycle of poverty in the light of this theme.
Leadership involves the ability of influencing people and institutions towards well defined goals, which contribute to the betterment or greater well-being of society. One thing that stands out in leadership is that it has to be positive for it to lead to a better society. This is largely because; it is the leadership that drives the society into a desirable or undesirable direction depending on the quality of such leadership.
After a critical Introspection into Nigeria’s Political system, evidence has shown that leadership is one of the Nigeria’s major vicious cycles of poverty. There seems to be an enthronement of Machiavelism. Giving rise to injustice, corruption, violence, and all forms of maladies. Prof Chinua Achebe in his famous book, “The Trouble with Nigeria”, said that the problem with Nigeria is nothing but the problem of leadership. Achebe saw the emergence of quality leadership as the only antidote to the plethora of problems that bedevils our country.
The rueful aftermath of bad leadership in Nigeria is reflected in our poor road network, epileptic power supply, crippled health systems and facilities, crisis in the educational sectors, rising waves of crime and immorality and the worst of all is corruption. This stands as a factor holding the nation’s leaders and progress in all sectors of the economy. However, it is obvious that the influx of corruption into our political system is facilitated by many factors which include; Lack of essential prerequisites for leadership, Egoistic and selfish reasons in political leadership, Recycling of leaders, Failure on the part of the followers.
Qualities such as zeal for common good, right focus, vision, willingness to lead, and knowledge of the societal problem are needed in a leader. Critical assessment of our leaders since independence indicates that majority of our leaders were never prepared and did not even possess the requisite qualities for the task of leadership.
Secondly, egoistic and selfish reasons in political leadership are on the increase. Nigerian political system is now an avenue for amassing public wealth and making fast money. It has been limited to the exercise of selfish gains rather than for selfless services. Youths aspire to the leadership position with the sole aim of becoming somebody rather than doing something. Consequently, criminals, touts, and monsters easily pave their ways to politics.
Thirdly, we are running a recycling nation. Many of our political leaders, who were formally military men, were elevated into civilian leaders, not minding the failures from their previous government. Hence, politicians reserve their political places for those whom they have ‘cloned’ in the political cycle.
Nevertheless, followers have also failed in their part. Some of the citizens are bought over during the election; some are used as instrument of rigging elections and embezzlement of public funds. Due to these factors, the citizens lack the moral power to rebuke the leaders who force themselves into offices.
Hence, for the leadership of any country to be bereft of corruption, it must take accountability, transparency, active participation, openness and hospitality serious. We owe it our duty to elect God fearing, honest, responsible, accountable and transparent men into leadership positions. Followers have to be enlightened enough in order to constructively disagree with leaders and to avoid stagnation and leadership degeneration.
We should not yield to favoritism and clandestine solidarity, but should objectively vote the right people into leadership position. In addition, the followers ought to also discharge their God-ordained responsibilities in the most credible manner. If we crave for development, peace and progress, we need leaders who will not encourage embezzlement by castigating those who do such act while in office.
Right attitude of mind about politics need to be established in our youths. Hence, leadership positions should be seen as an avenue for selfless services, upholding developmental responsibilities, bringing unity, making room for justice and making tents for peace. Thus, a leader should be a man of reputable character.
Fellow country people, we owe it as a duty to always pray for our country Nigeria and her leaders. No prayer entrusted to God, the Saints or our Mother Mary has ever gone unanswered. The Saints intercede on our behalf. There are saints peculiar in solving particular problems. In that impossible situation, call on St. Jude Thaddeus. When you are in search of something call on St. Anthony of Padua. When in economic crisis, call on St. Olaf.
The fact remains that, no society can have institutions that are transparent, accountable, and democratic without leaders who have vision, integrity, focus, fear of God and commitment to progress. Thus, following Plato and Aristotle’s notion of an ideal state or nation, I strongly believe that the vicious cycle of poverty in Nigeria comes from its leaders. Thus, for the attainment of an ideal state; a state or nation devoid of corruption, injustice and violence, Nigeria needs capable and visionary leaders.