Nigerian Leadership. Leaping With Bounds Yet Covering No Grounds.

NIGERIAN LEADERSHIP. LEAPING WITH BOUNDS YET COVERING NO GROUNDS: An article on the life of the Echelon of the Nigerian political class...

I keep thinking to myself: "If only they can have humility!' And I don't mean the near-idiotic, apologetic, self-effacing, "I am loyal sir" brand of humility. I simply mean the clear recognition of the limitations of one's physical and mental powers and the horizon of one's experience. As a leader or aspiring one, love of power by itself is not a damning trait. It is obnoxious and dangerous only when it is coupled with too much pride and cruelty. After all, we all love the power of one sort or another. The acquisition of some form of power is a basic and powerful psychological need. Some, like this writer, exercise this power in the temple of Justice, the law courts where they hold sway over their adoring clients and litigants, others exercise it by beating up their wives, and so on. In a way, it is a mercy that there are so many avenues to power, for otherwise, we would encounter more frustration than we could cope with.

Occasionally the desire for power through the acquisition of public office by certain people and quarters becomes an obsession, and then the megalomaniacs emerge. In my thinking, Democratic governance is an ideal that goes beyond the moral capabilities of the leaders of a nation. So many of our leaders are too parochial and uneducated: parochial in that they are only conscious of the needs of their immediate families, uneducated in that their sense of values is grievously warped. To them, money is everything. The maniac who spends his time in public office grabbing money always earns applause, and so the miserable faces who he may see at a distance surely have no message for him. At one time, it was hoped that education would improve matters. To our chagrin, dismay, and mortification our youths abandon proper idealism as soon as they leave the large crested gates of the university and plunge into the search for money. What went wrong? How could it be that to be great in the eye of the nation you had to be rich? Only very few, indeed very few are acclaimed by the nation for naked honesty, hard work, or sacrifice. What can the young do but copy hook, line, sinker, and even fisherman the prevailing standards of the present day? There is absolutely nothing wrong with our education.

Leaders of today simply lack the courage to break new moral ground in the teeth of strong opposition. How could one hold public office without magnificent houses, a garage of mammoth cars, and a fat overseas bank account? Such a person would surely be jeered at for stupidity. Such public office holders could not bear the resentment of one's families. And so even politicians who begin with a burning genuine desire to right the wrongs of the nation end up ravaging her instead, all for lack of courage. I sometimes think that it is this lack of courage, spineless drive, this reluctance to break new ground, and not a lack of intellect, that has kept us far behind the developed nations in government, technology, and even the arts. Some mentally diabetic pundits believe that we need not, indeed dare not, exercise initiative in these things until we have caught up with the advanced nations by copying every single achievement of theirs. What an insipid deduction. Our present leaders and aspiring leaders must learn to contribute original ideas and earn the respect and gratitude of those they have taken an allegiance to be stewards. Only then, a baby step at a time, can we move towards the light.

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