(By M. Adindu)

The policies and decisions of a leader should be able to positively influence the life of the citizenry for the person to truly call himself or herself a leader. And that means mastering the art of leadership that enables one to be able to translate his good intention to practicality.

APART from ethnic, regional and religious sentiments which have unfortunately become the defining character of a greater percentage of Nigerians, there would have been a well orchestrated clamour at all fronts for the Opposition to win the next election at the centre come 2015. The reasons for this assertion are obvious. The PDP-led government has proven that it lacked the insight and ability it takes to turn Nigeria around since taking over power from the military in May, 2009. Virtually all the debilitating socio-economic pathologies that plague our country before the advent of this civilian rule have remained with us today and many have since then been added to them.

   Nigeria, the biggest black nation on earth, instead of being the pride of the African race, has become ‘the open sore of a continent’ as the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka aptly captures it. That Nigeria with all her huge human and material resources bestowed on her by providence is grappling with staggering human poverty, infrastructural decay, chaotic inefficient public sectors and institution, corruption, disease, et cetera, places a strong doubt on the sanity of those who had ruled us and those still ruling.

   The present Jonathan’s Administration, to be candid may have tried more than the previous government, since 1999, led by General Obasanjo and Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua to innovate in many fronts in an attempt to solve the seemly intractable Nigerian’s problems, but these attempts have made little or no visible impact on the lives of many Nigerians. The present President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan may have been a good man who means well for the country he presides over, as many are beginning to think, but the truth still remains that being a simple man or good man or a leader that means well for his nation doesn’t rank higher when leadership qualities are considered.

   When someone means well but lacks the will to put it into practice the person is better off an ordinary citizen than being a leader. A leader must be on top of things and must be seen as providing leadership by addressing the challenges facing the country and the people under him or her.

  The policies and decisions of a leader should be able to positively influence the life of the citizenry for the person to truly call himself or herself a leader. And that means mastering the art of leadership that enables one to be able to translate his good intention to practicality. And many of our leaders today, including the President, are abysmally lacking in basic leadership qualities. It is altruistic that President Jonathan, irrespective of the fact that he had been in many leadership positions before becoming the President was ill prepared for the enormous tasks of leading a sprawling country like Nigeria with all its ethnic and religious fault lines. Each time I contemplate the effort he might be making and the low score he is getting I feel deep sympathy for him the way one feels towards a student that is not getting the kind of mark he felt he should get. Jonathan cuts the image of a man who is in the depth of the turbid Ehu stream making frantic effort to see by opening both his eyes wide. If he tarries without being suffocated he might see, though not too far. But I don’t think a country with our kind of social and infrastructural malaise needs the patience and time a simple President learning slowly the art of leadership needs. Nigeria needs a quick and sure fix, and leaders who can do that are not out of our reach considering the abundant human resources within our country.

   This inability to halt the country from its continuous decay and create enabling atmosphere for accelerated development has made it imperative for the very few well meaning Nigerians to join their voices to that of the Opposition political parties in clamouring for a change of leadership at the centre. But there is an obvious dilemma in taking this course of action as a result of frustration over the ineptitude and inertia in the highest seat of power in our land. This is because the current ‘Opposition’ in Nigeria is a farce. The Opposition as it is at present organised and directed, have proven in many ways that they are not any better than the ruling People Democratic Party. The states originally won by the Opposition parties are not in any way better run than the PDP states. Be it the enthronement of democratic culture, delivering of democracy dividends, rising above religious, ethnic and other mundane sentiments, the state governors elected on the opposition platform and their party leaders have failed woefully just like their counterparts elected under the platform of PDP. Currently, apart from gloating in the numbers of the erstwhile PDP governors, legislators and members that have swelled their rank, the Opposition still lacks a thought-out idea on how to rejuvenate Nigeria beyond the platitude they noised about at party rallies or in the media. These are very strong telling proofs that the Opposition are not better prepared for leadership than the PDP they are opposing.

  The Opposition seems to have forgotten that the states and local governments they currently preside are the laboratories for the experimentation of the drug or vaccine they would apply to Nigerian ailments if they were given the chance. After the fanfare that heralded the emergence of the Opposition APC the party has consistently failed to seize the goodwill to present itself as a genuine alternative by combining fresh initiatives in the states they govern and constructive criticisms of the ruling party. At present the members of the APC have constituted themselves to noisemakers in a way that has served other than hamper the ills of our country, including the ruling PDP. This has sometimes made me think that the ruling party and the supposedly opposition parties are paradoxically in an alliance.

    Looking critically, one would see a grand elite arrangement— or is it conspiracy— at work whose whole purpose is to deceive the masses and make them believe that the elite are interested in their welfare. This notion that the Opposition is against the government because it has failed to provide for the masses is a complete dummy being sold to Nigerians. The ‘Opposition’ and those they are purportedly opposing are peoples of same ideological leaning. Politics for them is how much they can get into their pockets. That they can be in Opposition today and by tomorrow they would be with the ruling party. Nigerian politicians need to continually carry a tag for the people to be able to know the party they are in at any particular point in time.

   The inability to differentiate, even on face value, the two major political parties that jostle for our vote is an obvious dilemma we face as the 2015 general election approaches. In spite of this seemingly Hobson’s choice that we are faced with, Nigerians should make sure that 2015 election is a golden opportunity to change their destiny for the better. First of all, we should stop blaming politicians, whether they are in PDP or APC, for our woes but should blame our docility for allowing or aiding inept people to get to leadership positions where they decide in a most dangerous way our collective destiny. We should realise that the majority of our leaders today are united by a common goal: securing power for their selfish motive and keeping the masses in perpetual ignorance on the magic their resources would have wrought in their lives if applied well.

   Today many politicians and their supporters are playing ethnic and religious cards. This type of politics, apart from being an age long political gimmick of the barren Nigerian politicians, has an added value in that it is also the surest means of diverting the anger of the people from their thieving political leaders to their fellow poor. If the elite is not deploying religion to divert the masses attention from what is real to what is illusory; from what is tangible to the intangible, and from the here and now to the afterlife they would use it in the most obscene way to set us against one another. It has succeeded before and it is still succeeding today. We have been confused, divided and set against one and another while the elite squander our resources with careless abandon. The genius of our leaders, whether they are in power or they are opposing or they are religious leaders, is in how they have effectively manipulated us to overlook them and fight ourselves. They have turned our strength to our weakness and turned our uniting forces to forces of disunity, all to their advantage. Unlike the masses the politicians are not in doubt of the identity of their enemy. They know they only have one common enemy – the masses and they are not relenting in undermining them.

    As 2015 catches up with all of us, Nigerians should drive the political process by letting the politicians know the kind of leaders they would elect or reject at the next polls. Students and the youth should deploy their media exposure to Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp, Yahoo Messenger et cetera to good use by drafting, through them responsible, experienced and goal-orientated Nigerians into contesting various positions, come 2015.

• Adindu wrote from University of Ibadan via mpulegal@gmail.com

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