Dilemma of leadership and economy in Nigeria (Part 1).

By Sir Jude Ejiogu
The Nigerian economy is largely oil-based. Some people would rather say it is a mono-product economy. The economy has been in dire straits over the years, because of a combination of the neglect of education, especially technical and vocational education and science-based technology education, poor leadership and governance, corruption, as well as poor monetary and fiscal policies. 
All these have made a review of the poor investment in human capital development, infrastructure and institutions that drive the Nigerian economy and national development rather compelling. The political leaders have always raised the people’s hope by painting glowing pictures of their development plans and how they would stimulate the economy and improve the people’s living conditions. 
Thus, they swore that they would give priority attention to human capital development and national development, and empower the citizens, particularly the poorly educated, unskilled, and unemployed youths, with relevant human skills capital and entrepreneurial skills to enable them to contribute profoundly to national development. 
According to Dike, ‘the political leaders have, over the years, failed to adequately fund education and strengthen the infrastructure and institutions that would drive the economy and create employment for the teeming population. Both the new-breed politicians, like the old politicians before them, are promising to transform the nation into an industrialized society and the people cannot hold their expectations’.
The reality though is that Nigeria cannot become an industrialized society without investing abundantly in human capital development (education and health), leadership, and technological capabilities, which means investing in the future development of the nation. 
It is quite obvious that good leadership enhances Human Security, this means protection of individuals including empowerment, access to education and health care, human rights, equal opportunities, good governance etc: It is clear that under current spate of poor Leadership at almost all levels, Human Security is under threat!
Some of the risks and threats to human security top of which is inept and uninspiring Leadership as well as ‘advanced cases of stayism’ include corruption, poverty and several other structural issues (resource cause, ethno-linguistic fragmentation, religion, etc).
Leadership has been identified by various scholars and sociopolitical thinkers as a major factor in Nigeria’s, and indeed, Africa’s socio-economic and political development. Nigeria is confronted with many challenges: e.g. high level of corruption, poor infrastructural facilities, unemployment, poverty, political violence, high crime rate, ethnic/religious conflicts, etc.
For many years, these problems have been intractable in spite of the huge resource(s) available. However, it is believed that these problems can only be solved through good leadership. Issues about “failed” leadership, bad/poor leadership. Nigeria, indeed Africa, is richly endowed with material and human resources. A basic cause of relative under-development is bad leadership. This view was aptly emphasized in The Trouble with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe.
“The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership” (Chinua Achebe (1983:1).
Whilst we have the individual capability; we do not possess the collective capacity to get things done on a macro-scale-which is the ability to synergize the various individual capabilities. However, all hope is not lost provided that we agree on some fundamentals necessary for nationhood.
It is rather painful that Nigeria has abundant human, physical and other tangible resources necessary for rapid development; these are however not sufficient due to the inability to synergize collectively individual leadership capabilities and capacities.
Good governance or leadership is, among other things, participatory, transparent and accountable. It is also effective and equitable. And it promotes the rule of law. Good governance ensures that political, social and economic priorities are based on broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest and the most vulnerable are heard in decision-making over the allocation of resources.
In a democratic government like ours, leadership derives its power from the mandate of the people who ideally set the tasks and appoints an elected few to implement the set tasks on their behalf, therefore making the elected few accountable to the people who selected them.
This process is however flawed where leaders are selected and forced upon the people by a privileged or self appointed “kingmakers” or “God fathers” as the case may be. The implication is that such leaders are not answerable to the people from which genuine mandate is derived, but to the whims and manipulations of those that put them in power.
In such situations, selfish desires and protection of personal and selected interests form the basis for policy priority settings, as against the clearly articulated needs of the citizenry. 
This has over the years produced leaders that have plundered the common wealth of the people rather than apply same to their development.
Leadership transparency and accountability must of a truth begin from very credible electoral system and processes, that ensures that the will of the people is respected and their popular choice of leaders are rightfully enthroned. Only then can such leaders be brought to book and be effectively held accountable should they be found wanting in the course of their stewardship to the people. 
Also only then can they have a listening ear to the cries and aspirations of the people. Civil Society Organizations and the Media can indeed do a lot to ensure that the votes of the people are carried, through voter’s mobilization and education campaigns in their various constituencies.
Legitimacy in a democratic government can only be conferred by the majority.
Good governance encourages inclusion in all aspects and bridges the gap between the leaders and the led; it breaks the ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ dichotomy that has long characterized governance. The citizenry must be carried along in the various stages of policy planning, decision-making and implementation processes. 
This is simply because a people oriented project is more likely to succeed as against an imposed project. People especially, the downtrodden of society (the poor and the youth) will always identify with what they are a part of, than what they have no hand in or are not a part of conception.
We have in some cases had leaders that have gone off as lone rangers only considering their cronies and allies whom they put into diverse positions of leadership to support their self selected priorities as the priorities of the states. Cheers!

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