Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Why Are We So Blasé?

FORMER Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings has added his voice to those accusing Nigerians of being responsible for the type of leaders they have. In all cases, the accusers fall short of telling us what to do to stop the predictable bad leadership that paints the landscape at all levels.
The theory runs that where the people resist poor or bad leadership, they would get better leaders, who at least aspire to leadership and remember that they are accountable to the people.The practice is different in these parts.

What is leadership if it fails to improve the society? Those who claim to lead Nigeria arrive at the position by default. It is worse when civilians are in positions of authority and their only explanation for their poor results is that they underestimated the enormity of the burden of leading Nigeria.

This excuse has been replicated from the local government councils to the presidency. It is shameful that a leader in the 21st century comes to the position without preparation. It is more shameful that such a leader or his acolytes can make public defence of this horrible defect.

From 1979 when Alhaji Usman Aliyu Shehu Shagari, who wanted to be a senator, became president, against his will to General Olusegun Obasanjo, 20 years later, the presidency continues to be by imposition. General Obasanjo, out of prison in 1999, without adequate touch with the outside world, was made president. He confused the office with the military one he once occupied and he spent the first four years complaining about the problems, like the rest of us.

Obasanjo in turn imposed Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as president. The import of this arrangement is awesome. Six months to the election that made him president, his sponsors had not considered him for the job.

Today he leads with daunting situations. When did he study the challenges of this country? His defence for the slow pace of his administration is that he is correcting the mistakes of his predecessor.
Why are we so indifferent to the actions of our leaders? The reasons vary. One of them is that the people did not elect most of these leaders.

The other is that our people hold some of the leaders in utter contempt, a contempt that extends to their actions. In other cases, using poverty, beliefs and origins as their weapons, these leaders confuse the people, divide them, and make it difficult for anyone to ask them to account for their leadership.

We are so blasé because we are steeped in hope. We believe bad leadership will run its course soon. We see a better tomorrow. We refuse to allow the absurdity of our leaders to obstruct our faith in Nigeria. We believe the future holds no space for bad leaders.

Yet, when next we elect leaders, they must be people who have studied the situations they promise to redeem, not anyone who would insultingly tell us the problems are enormous, but is unwilling to leave the office.