It does not require a special skill or intelligence to recognise that Nigeria is ailing. Although those at the helm of affairs may find it a bitter pill to swallow, the problem of the country is inextricably tied to the poor quality of leadership it is plagued with. Little wonder the nation’s fortune has continued to plummet just as she diminishes in stature and integrity.
Of course, the dearth of quality leadership cannot be divorced from a poor recruitment process. The consequence of poor choices at the polls, if choices have ever been truly permitted, is the election of wrong persons into public management offices, who in turn appoint the wrong persons as aides. No country, afterall, can rise above the level of its workforce, especially at the decision-making or leadership level, hence the state of the nation.
It is so bad that at the national level and in most states, untested hands are appointed ministers or commissioners and into other sensitive political offices. The refrain is that the best of Nigerians are outside the government. This tragedy is a vicious cycle: The collapse of businesses and poor economic environment due to poor political and economic decisions have made government and partisan politics a major and most rewarding source of livelihood, the only thriving business, the surest way of climbing to the top with little or no sweat.
Those who failed in business, in their education and some who at one time or the other, contributed to the economic downturn of the nation continue to be recycled in political offices giving them the opportunity to perpetuate their failure in the affairs of the nation. The result is what obtains today: Widespread ineptitude in the body politic.
And there is so much deficit of integrity and honour! Universities have remained shut for close to three months due to ASUU strike at a time when their counterparts in the polytechnics had just called off their six-month industrial action; hospitals just resumed work from a week of industrial action with its attendant loss of lives. In spite of renewed and repeated assurances of regular and uninterrupted power supply by government, it has remained epileptic and unreliable.
Insecurity is at its worst while poverty is on the ascendancy. The economy is ailing in spite of the statistics government reels out from time to time. Yet there are men and women in these high places of responsibility appointed and maintained sumptuously with public funds to provide direction and to prevent this unwholesome situation. In the face of these failures, they still cling to their offices. Legislators at all levels portray themselves as self-seeking and conceited with so much reward for doing so little.
The judiciary is a shadow of its age-long tradition of being the last hope of the people, noticeable from its questionable and highly controversial and conflicting decisions, and having in its midst shadowy characters. And just at its recently concluded annual conference, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) decried the declining standard in the appointment of judges and warned against its politicisation. Everywhere, it is a sad tale. What the leaders have going for them is the resilience of Nigerians and their undying spirit, now obviously stretched to the limit.
Yet, what the country deserves at this critical point is a crop of leaders that are endowed with the gift of steady application, imbued with the ability to control events rather than drift with the tides, and who in range of vision and depth of conception, tower above their contemporaries. Nigeria needs leaders of iron resolve, indomitable courage and sharp intellect with acute and exceptional sense of history to lead the people out of the doldrums.
Such people abound in their numbers in this country but are choked by warped and corrupt recruitment processes, the major albatross of the country. Something, afterall, is wrong with a process which makes a few persons, in certain offices or with some dubious connections, see it as their exclusive right to nominate people for appointment to all offices in the land.
Of course, the overriding consideration to these power-mongers is the political patronage which this portends. It is often an opportunity to nominate only those who are rabidly loyal and subservient to them regardless of their suitability for the office. The primary mandate of such a nominee is to feather the nest of his patron to whom he is beholden and who he perceives as his godfather.
More often than not, such appointees are mere mediocrities, clueless and inept, ill-equipped for the enormous responsibility of nation-building. The nation undoubtedly gets a raw deal when the wrong people get into offices. Even if their age is no problem, what about the age of their ideas?
Nigerians alone can effect a change. And quickly too. They must sit down and address critically, the phenomenon of having wrong people in offices. Men of proven integrity should also come out and give it what it takes to assume positions of responsibility. The price good people pay for abstaining from office is that they allow wrong people to lead them.
Nigerian leaders at all levels currently must have a sense of shame. They owe it a duty to fish out patriotic and right thinking citizens to man positions of responsibility. The stature of a leader is not diminished but enhanced by appointing those who are better and bigger than himself into public offices. He takes the glory at the end of the day for a job well done. Above all, he leaves his name on the sand of time.
Of course, it takes character to be such a leader. And yet, that is what this nation needs today.
Source: The Guardian
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