“Save your people. Bless those who belong to you. Lead them and honour them forever.”
-Psalm 28 verse 9 (ERV)
Happy New Year to all Nigerians! The year 2017 has come and gone. The New Year was ushered in with double-digit inflation, rising unemployed and underemployed labour force, and slow Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in Nigeria. The homily reflected above was reverberating in my mind as most Nigerians celebrated both the Christmas and New Year festivities in a low key because there was scarcity of fuel in most parts of Nigeria. Although the psalmist was making a request to his creator, but those in leadership positions need to save their people, bless and provide leadership for them, and ensure that they are always honoured in 2018 and beyond. This piece is a request to those placed in positions of authority, be it political, military, or business that they need to see to the upliftment of those committed to their care.
Leadership encompasses the totality of the human capacity that is displayed or that can be put into driving a process at various levels in the society for the purpose of providing necessary convincing guidance to the followership. The notion of leadership combines the theory of power and critical decision making to facilitate positive change. But what this writer has observed for several decades is that leaders come and go sweeping the problems they created and those they inherited under the carpet while Nigeria remains the same- a less developed country.
The year 2018 marks the beginning of election campaigns in which governance will most likely be deferred for politics. When the economy of the nation is relegated to the background because of politics, the citizens are likely to be more miserable than they were in previous years. The economic problems of most Nigerians are numerous that a cycle of poverty has already been established. The cycle of poverty is that ‘set of factors or events by which poverty, once started, is likely to continue unless there is outside intervention.’ The cycle of poverty can be referred to as ‘development trap’ when it is applied to countries (Wikipedia).
The factors that generate poverty are: lack of education, disease, apathy, famine, dishonesty and overpopulation. These in turn contribute to secondary factors namely, lack of markets, poor infrastructure, poor leadership, bad governance, under-employment, lack of skills, and lack of capital amongst others.
Since 1993, events that have contributed to ‘development trap’ in Nigeria are frequent electricity supply interruptions and recurrent fuel scarcity. Frequent electricity supply interruptions and recurrent fuel scarcity are products of poor articulation and implementation of policies, thus most Nigerians are caught in a complex web of ‘development trap.’ Some Nigerians who were indigent in 1993 because they could barely spend US$2/day have either expired or are gracelessly living with the same amount in the year of our Lord 2018. When will the nation stop having frequent electricity supply interruptions and when will the recurrent fuel scarcity cease to be the order of the day in Nigeria? Will there be an external intervention by governments at local, state and federal levels, to enable improvement in the lives of people in 2018?
Due to development trap of several years, most states in Nigeria have been oscillating between one crisis or the other. Indeed, the country is in a state of tireless crisis. These crises assume political, social, economic, environmental, developmental and even humanitarian dimensions. Some political analysts have observed that most states in Nigeria ended 2017 with more misery and underdevelopment than they started with. And subsequently, entered 2018 as the poorest, most troubled, least developed and hungriest states in the country. Regrettably, Nigeria is currently going through a situation where young men and women migrants are stranded in Libya en route to Europe. While those who are unfortunate die in the Mediterranean Sea.
As a result of this lacklustre performance coupled with a fragile economy, an overwhelming majority of Nigerians remain severely impoverished. Hunger, ill-health and lack of access to safe drinking water, limited access to education, exclusion, extremism and violence remained very prominent marks of most parts of the country. By this pitiable profile, Nigeria remains perhaps, one of the countries in the African Continent where all critical gauges of development show unacceptable decline and where all the socio-economic and political ills that were very conspicuous in the 1990s still continued till today.
The parlous state of affairs have been blamed by some political experts squarely on leadership in the country characterized by fraud and smuggling on a major scale, the plundering of natural resources, the privatization of state institutions and the development of an economy of plunder. Accordingly, these observers reason that the country and institutions of government are a “vehicle for organized criminal activities.” Remember the infamous Maina saga of 2017.
This writer believes that those in authority have seen that the nation is already manoeuvring with difficulties in stormy waters. The challenge of leadership in Nigeria therefore demands that concerted efforts should be invested in achieving a true and lasting democracy through a credible pattern of political succession devoid of bitterness and rancour.
As the nation approaches another election season, this writer calls for particular attention to be paid to economic matters to avoid going back into recession. It is suggested advisedly though, that issues associated with elections and political recruitments must be based on sound patriotic values that accommodate honesty, integrity, public service, justice and equity. To this effect, it is mandatory that relevant government agencies ensure the credibility of the electoral process and strict commitment to constitutional morality. These are germane in order to avert the recurrent challenges associated with political leadership in Nigeria.
Happy New Year to all Nigerians, and indeed my respected readers.