NIGERIANS made great sacrifices to steer military dictatorship out of today’s democracy.
Institutionalisation of democracy in Nigeria seems to be the surest way of bailing the nation out of the throes of an identity crisis; a stigma that persistently shrouds the nation’s image in international circles.
“Money was not what would change Africa, but the attitude and actions of its own leaders would”, Mozambique’s president, Joaquin Chissano told African leaders in the Economic Summit 2002 in Durban.
Dr Samson Onwumere, writing on political leadership in Africa, in the Sunday Herald, Feb 20, 1983, revealed that “Africa needs democratically minded leaders so that political, social, and economic development will be achieved. He informed that a serious consequence of political instability is failure to attain economic development.”
He maintained also that “leadership exist where there is followership. It is a two way traffic. Leadership exists if followers feel that their affairs are well administered by the leader; in this regard, the people render loyalty to the ruler for satisfying their needs.”
Still writing on political leadership in Africa, the same scholar revealed in his write up that “besides, African leaders optimistically and enthusiastically felt that the achievement of political independence would bring better things of modern life – it is on this ground, he continued, that President Kwame Nkrumanh of Ghana proudly stated that achievement of political independence would bring all things for the people. He informed, that both nationalistic leaders and the people were disappointed due to the failure to achieve a quick economic development.”
July 12, 1983, the Weekly News Magazine, Time Vol 142 No2 revealed that “what it all signifies has become painfully and globally evident of late; a failure by heads of government, sometimes entire parties and democratic systems, to come to grips with those issues that the governed consider most urgent. Of course, every land and age suspects that present generation fails to live up to achievements of the past.”
“In the history of the world, said Jean Lacouture, “ I cannot think of a period where there have been so few great leaders. Are they here and we are not aware of them?
The publication insightfully noted “certainly, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchcill were 20th century archetypes of the crisis leaders. What a great consensus type might be now, especially on the international scene has yet be defined. As Stanford University Professor, John W. Gardner, a former U.S. Health Education and Welfare Secretary points out in his book on leadership, ‘explosive crisis produce great leaders, creeping crisis don’t.”
Kurt Blidenkot, the premier of the state of Saxony and one of Germany’s most thought-provoking politicians, believed the leadership failure around the world’s today betokens a lack of “intellectual assets in governance. The stock of old answers are still using the old answers”. The lapses are more apparent. People are getting more restless with political performance. They cannot define what they mean by performance, but they can spot the signs that tell them these wrong people.”
He revealed that “we have seen globisation of science, technology and communications, and it has moved into economics. “Everything is becoming interconnected, and yet in the world of politics, we are still in the middle ages.” He stressed that arrangements for a new world of politics order “don’t happen because they are ordained in the order of stars. They require leadership. Our country doesn’t seem to understand that”. Nigerians, this is the time to ponder and ask ourselves challenging questions.
At our own independence, are we fully maximising our vast potentials as the giant of Africa?
Dr Samson Onwumere, writing on political leadership in Africa caught the vision saying that “modernisation brings about social change such as industrilisation, technological development, decent standard of living, development of bureaucracy and other institutions, organised interest groups, high degree of political consciousness; people become interested in political affairs that affect their life.”
“The status of the individual must remain our primary concern. All our institutions political, social and economic must further enhance the dignity of the citizens, promote the maximum development of his capabilities, stimulate their responsible exercise and widen the range and effectiveness of opportunities for individual choice”. This is a quote from Laszlo, detailed in his book, ‘Goals of Mankind’.
Writing in the Guardian of Wed 2012 ((Pg 52), Professor A.B. Nwosu, former Minister of Health in Nigeria, in a topic, ‘Achebe: Best Late Than Never (3), said, Achebe has not one bit. In the ‘Trouble with Nigeria’, published in 1993, he revealed that Nigeria is a nation favoured by providence. I believe that there were individuals as well as nations who account of peculiar gifts and circumstances are commandeered by history to facilitate mankind’s advancement. Nigeria is such a nation. The vast human and material wealth with which she is endowed on her role in Africa and the world, which no one else can assume or fulfill. The fear that should have betrayed irretrievably Nigeria’s high destiny.” He then questioned – we have lost the twentieth century: Are we bent on seeing our children also lose the 21st ? God forbid!
Essence of democracy in our present circumstance was to help reduce pains, afflictions and agony in our people.
“Nigeria has talents which if allowed, could solve the Nigerian’s predicament. Yet, this is one accomplishment that continue to elude this group or any such group in this country. The right people will not have the right opportunity, the right policy will not have the right following. The right theory will not have the right practice – a nation with round pegs in square hole, said, the late Odumegwu Ojukwu in a book: ‘I Did My Best’
The late Ikemba insightfully noted “there is need to sift the chaff from the grains in such a way as to ensure that right persons are chosen to lead. We must not confuse champions for leaders, nor prominence for preeminence. We must not confuse silence for wisdom. We must not confuse good looks for efficiency or bravado for courage.”
In this connection, political aspirants to whatever position being contested should give meaning to democracy rather than redefining it by the way it impacts positively on the lives of the people thereby bringing back much expected hope, promise and expectations which Nigeria’s current democracy was ushered in.
Sir Ivor Jennings in his book: ‘The Bristish Constitution’, revealed that “the nation requires to devote the services of its ablest members to its cause. The task of governing is undertaken by ignorant and vacillating minds. Western civilization will be torn down by monomaniacs if democratic states cannot rely upon the efforts of the most intelligent, the most altruistic of each of the generations.”