Poor Leadership Is The Reason For Nigeria’s Underdevelopment – Eminent Nigerians

BAKASSI INDIGENES PROTEST MARGINALISATION—Senator Florence Ita Giwa, flanked by Bakassi indigenes, displaying their voters’ cards while protesting marginalisation by the Federal Government at the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, premises, Victoria Island, Lagos, yesterday.

BAKASSI INDIGENES PROTEST MARGINALISATION—Senator Florence Ita Giwa, flanked by Bakassi indigenes, displaying their voters’ cards while protesting marginalisation by the Federal Government at the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, premises, Victoria Island, Lagos, yesterday.

LAGOS— Again the reason for Nigeria’s underdevelopment has been blamed on bad leadership. This was the view of eminent persons, who gathered in Lagos, yesterday, for the presentation of a collection of essays, Moving in Circles written by four former directors of Newswatch magazine, Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese, Yakubu Mohammed and Soji Akinrinade

Chairman of the event, Prof. Anya Oko Anya, in his speech, lamented the inability of Nigeria to have a training programme for her leaders which he said had undermined Nigeria’s development. He attributed Nigeria’s loss of Bakassi to Cameroon as one of the leadership problems, alleging that former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon donated Bakassi to Cameroon and former President Olusegun Obasanjo completed the exercise without consulting the indigenes or the National Assembly.

And the comments made by eminent guests, who came to support the four erudite journalists to condemn, not just the suspension of the almost 27 years old magazine from the news stands but the sack of its founding directors.

Leadership, partriotism

From media chiefs to politicians, academia, journalists, including almost all the governors of the federation, who were represented, the message centred on leadership and the imbroglio involving the ex-directors and the magazine’s new publisher, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim.

However, Adamawa State Governor, Alhaji Murtala Nyako, who was represented by his Deputy, Bala Ngilari, expressed faith in Nigeria’s continued unity, adding that the book has provided the nation a platform to chart a new future. He argued that if Nigeria was to experience any change, it would come from journalists, whom he said speak the truth.

Also, his Kano State counterpart, Malam Rabiu Kwankwaso, represented by the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of the state newspaper, Triumph, Mr. Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo, hoped that the book would help to end Nigeria’s vicious cycle of underdevelopment because it has a lot to offer the people.

Reviewer of the book, former Managing Director of the defunct Post Express, Dr Chidi Amuta, said the essays spanning nearly four decades recollect the recurring nature of Nigerian history and society showing the repetitive profile of the country’s problems such as electricity, health, education, political violence, corruption, political repression of opposition and loss of faith in the country among others.

Nigeria‘s problems not Jonathan’s fault

Presenting the book, Anya noted that President Jonathan was grappling with problems he did not create, arguing that Nigeria’s problems had accumulated over the years and were often ignored.

He said: “This book made me remember two problems we have in Nigeria which are leadership and patriotism. Unfortunately, Nigeria does not have a training programme for its leaders, we just see it happen. We do not have processes and procedures that enable us to select leaders, they just come on board. Cast your mind back, Gowon just happened, Murtala Mohammed just happened, Olusegun Obasanjo just happened, General Buhari just came on board, Ibrahim Babangida just happened but none of these men went through a process of training on what is the most important assignment in life which is leadership, they just emerged.

“On patriotism, how will you be patriotic about a country that does not care for you? I can see a young American ready to die for his country because America is ready to go to war just because of one American. But what do you have in Nigeria today?”

Anya said the manner in which Nigeria lost Bakassi to Cameroon without Nigerians and the National Assembly being consulted before the oil rich zone was ceded was a pointer to the twin problems in Nigeria.

“Right now on the table is the issue of Bakassi. These are Nigerians and not strangers. Before the colonial people came, Bakassi was part of Nigeria. When we were getting Independence, Bakassi was part of Nigeria. Then we woke up one day and they said it is no more part of Nigeria. There is a process by which such matters are decided in countries that are serious. Ceding a territory is not something you decide without proper consultations with the elected representatives of the people, which is the parliament.

“On this matter, the National Assembly, as far as I know, has not been involved. It was alleged by Harold Smith, the former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, in his memoirs, that he was surprised at the way General Gowon was prepared to give away Bakassi. I hope one day I would have the opportunity to ask Gowon this question because Harold Smith alleged that when he asked, he was told that they wanted to make sure that the Eastern part of Nigeria had no access route to escape in case of a future war. That is the man that declared at the end of the civil war, ‘no victor- no vanquished’ but he was already planning how to avoid a future war by denying Nigerians what God gave them.

“If you must donate Nigerians, you must first ask the people whether they are ready to be donated and if you say that Gowon started the problem, what of Obasanjo that completed the process? As elected leader, you do not give away your country under any circumstances without having the backing of your country. It is Obasanjo that should have taken the matter to the National Assembly but he did not and that is an indication of the quality of leadership we have and how committed they are in the interest of Nigerians.”

In his welcome address, Chief Executive officer of MayFive Media, publishers of the book, Mr Ray Ekpu, said he and his colleagues were in the business of starting a new life in the writing and publishing arena which gave birth to the new book.

His words: “Since the four of us who are authors of this book retired from Newswatch on May 5, 2011, we registered a company called Mayfive Media Limited to reflect that watershed date of our exit from an enterprise we painstakingly nurtured for 27 years and we have so far published two books namely Ojukwu edited by Ray Ekpu and the Columnist’s Companion; the Art and Craft of Column writing by Dan Agbese while the third book is Moving in Circles which was just unveiled.

“For the four of us, this has been an incredible journey because we have known each other for 30 years and worked together in different combinations, although originally it was a four-man journey with Dele Giwa at the helm of the affairs. But it still remained a four-man journey with Soji Akinrinade joining the train and it has been a journey garnished by undiluted friendship, mutual respect, professionalism and rigorous intellectual exchange.”

Speaking on the face-off between them and the new core investor, Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, Ray Ekpu said they had thought that judging by the discussions they had with Ibrahim, the original vision of the magazine would be enriched by a value adding investment.

Newswatch and Jimoh Ibrahim

“As you already know, Newswatch magazine has been killed, its assets are currently being stripped, staff are in quandary and there is vicious strategy of ethnic cleansing going on at the office, even in our wildest imagination, we would never have thought that a magazine we had nursed for 27 years through rain and sunshine would come to such grief.”

He went on: “We thought Mr Ibrahim came to help journalism not to harm it, we thought he came to support journalism not to scuttle it, we thought he came to buy and build not to buy and bury our dear magazine. When you kill a publication, you kill the hopes and aspirations of million of readers, advertisers, distributors, vendors, researchers and the general public because Newspapers are more of a business, they are a nation’s battle-axe, the keeper of the nation’s conscience, the sentry on guard duty, the nemesis of scoundrels, dictators and other sundry; they defend the underdog against the top dog, the weak against the strong, they give voice to the voiceless.”

He however added, “Mr Ibrahim has been mouthing incomprehensible sentiments about our dear Dele Giwa, trying to fraudulently ingratiate himself with the iconic journalist. The Dele Giwa we knew would never have contemplated the non-publication of Newswatch even for one week. NEVER!”

According to him, “To see things that irked us more than three decades ago still dominate our public discourse today would justify the title of this volume. They include unreliable power supply, bad hospitals, rising inflation, falling education standards, corruption in high and low places, incompetent governance, decay in infrastructure, the celebration of decadent values, neglect of the welfare of the masses are all themes that will not go away.

Present at the event were Publisher of Vanguard, Sam Amuka; Dr Chidi Amuta; Dr Doyin Abiola; representative of Anambra State governor, Prof Akachi Ezeigbo; Dr Segun Babatope; Mr Rufai Ladipo; representative of Bayelsa State governor, Mr Francis Agbo; representative of Minister of Health, Prof Dele Oluleye; Kayode Soyinka; Mr Mike Awoyinfa; Dimgba Igwe; Ernest Okonkwo; representative of Osun State governor, Dr Adeleke Ipaye; former AIG, Tunji Alapini; Chief Yakubu Sanni; Dare Babarinsa; Editor-in-Chief/General Manager of Vanguard, Mr Gbenga Adefaye; Editor of Vanguard, Mr Mideno Bayagbon; Nollywood actor, Mr Nobert Young; Mr Mitchell Obi, and Prof Ralph Akinfeleye among many others.

  1. Vincent London Reply

    Obasanjo on poor leadership in Africa!

    What I consider is the main trouble in Nigeria’s political and administrative spectrum responsible for the poor performances across board in the country! Solution o his malaise lies in my Zoning formula if you can comprehend the imports, whoever is advising in Nigeria!

    Let’s consider the Council of State; think about the cynicism amongst the members I chose to refer to as DESPOTS inadvertently brought together under the umbrella, for this illustration, discussing matters they have interests personally! Shagari worn 1979 election under OBJ, Chief Awo did not like the result and he went to Court; Gen. M. Buhari ousted Shagari by coup-de-tat Dec. 1983; IBB and Abacha ousted Buhari by ‘in-House’ coup; Chief Ernest Shonikan Chaired an Interim government, which Sani Abacha disbanded in 1993 as a result of the elections debacle! Abacha offered Gen. Buhari a post as the PTF Boss, he detained OBJ and his kinsman Maj. Gen. Oladipo Diya – it was tense, for a fiend possible coup attempt! Maj. Gen. Abdusalamin stepped into the shoes at the demise of Gen. Sani Abacha and under his administration Chief M.K.O. Abiola died – mark you emissaries, including Arch-Bishop Desmund Tutu of South Africa, were sent to plead for clemency for MKO at the period!

    Behold, Afenifere is still waiting for Gen. Abdusalamin to tell (South West – Afenifere in particular) the whole truth about Mosood Abiola’s death in the wake of Al-Mustapha’s exposé, folks! By 1999 there was to be another revert/return to civilian Rule – military interregnum lasted for 15 years! OBJ returned to the political scene that year, cancelled Gen. Buhari’s PTF post handed to him (Buhari) by Abacha to placate him for ousting him in that inglorious/ignoble in-house coup 1985! This is not to say that OBJ’s return to politics in the intervening period improved the lot of Nigerians, No! By 2003 Gen. Buhari contested Presidential election against OBJ and failed to clinch it; by 2007 Gen. Buhari tried the Presidential election again supervised under OBJ but against Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua and Dr. Jonathan as running mate and he failed! Gen. M. Buhari went to Court to contest the results! Buhari is still in Court regarding the 2011 elections and you wonder when we can get out of this scenario in Nigeria after every election? Apparently Buhari is still itching to contest the election come 2015!

    Now, think about the chasm between these particularly whilst in the Council of State meetings; the psychology and influence (their whimsical deportment) on the other members including the Judges appointed by them – a thoroughly strange bedfellows for what we hope for country like Nigeria! It is not surprising what we are getting as ensuing results! Paints the picture (typical) of that Head of that large family on adventure I depicted in my publications, in turmoil (self induced, inflicted or created fractious situation, as it were) if you can visualise my thinking! And if we are to be true to the facts and be unabashed – not prejudiced in our thinking, you’ll agree that the spate of financial and other heinous misdemeanours occurring in the country particularly from the members of the Council – the CEOs, stem from the signals exuding from this Apex Chamber – just like that family supposedly in disarray or in desperation for ‘purposeful leadership’ and subsequent direction and benefits derivable from such leadership, if you like!

    Add to the above quandary is this encumbrance from traditional groups in Nigeria, hermetically tribal and cultural in its orientation, continually playing on the system! How can you accept as solutions for success against what we are looking for its curtailment or end, if groups like the Afenifere and the other affiliates like it religious in outlook also can decide to solicit/commiserate (show solidarity) unashamedly for clemency on behalf of Governors (CEOs) or any other alleged suspected culprits from their ethnic extraction in Nigeria? What it means is that, like Mrs. Waziri has reminded us and the British Representative added his own views in the matter – that corruption and other malfeasance will continue to be bolstered in Nigeria with the consequent latent upsurges like the armed-robbery and innocent Nigerians made to remain in abject poverty – in bewilderment really in the hands of the few talked about if we can’t put a stop to this kind of interference or felicitations with its obvious adverse effects on the people in Nigeria! Otherwise, you are left wondering when would this end and a truly ‘New page’ – Rule of Law and SEPARATION of powers take centre stage (take full effect) for Nigerian economy, folks?

    Here is another and perhaps the most worrying in the whole gamut of what you are doing or hope to achieve in Nigeria about leadership OBJ has averred opinion! About the Council of State; it is not serving that useful purpose – you can’t arrest any of the members or as can be seen in this instance, your scope of reference is limited you can’t even make unabashed comments at the end of any findings of public enquiries where you had one – it is usually swept under carpet; away from the public knowledge what the findings are! All and all the composition is not a true representation of the people – Federal Character-wise because it doesn’t have an ex-Head of State from the entire East – one important reason why we must have ‘zoning’ for the Presidency and ‘proportional representation’ like I have proposed it for Nigeria or we may well go for that Federated States but strengthening our Rule of Law and Regulations!

    Yar’Adua’s Presidency was nipped as it were; after the rigmarole caused by the imperfections in the phraseology of the Constitution as to who/how a new President should emerge at the instance of the sudden demise of an incumbent, Dr. Jonathan was accepted under the improvised DOCTRIN of NECESSITY! By 2011 another election was conducted in which Gen. M. Buhari and Dr. Jonathan were the chief contestants amidst politically heated schisms! It led to killings of innocent youth corpers in parts of the North and followed by spate of the bombings witnessed in the country for which a Committee was set up to determine the cause! Lest we forget Buhari’s stance about the election was pinned as part of the reasons for the unfortunate mishaps in the country! And behold, Buhari is a member of the Council of State – so how do you rate the successes or lack of it about the Council; what useful purpose it serves in Nigeria? Reason why usefulness of the constituent membership must come under scrutiny or review too in your deliberations of we can arrive at that good leadership OBJ talked about! Surprising to hear them talk or discuss/ disclose reasons for our poor ratings, yet when solutions are handed in for the way forward they turn such down, folks!

    Mark you they do not have this kind of arrangement for the U.S. or for the United Kingdom where Presidents and Prime Ministers get to end of their tenures of office and they walk away so that their successors can clean out ‘the stable’, or was it so in that 1957 Nigerian Constitution? Well, if you cannot see the flaws and or dangers in this invidious arrangement we may just as well go for the ‘Federated States’ because we cannot leave our destiny and children’s in the hands of the renegades, folks! It is now clearer; What goes around comes around in this day-and-age! Therefore, the dangers are showing and we appear to be dilly-dallying – dithering is the word tell you the truth, folks! The arrangement is gravely floored – it doesn’t give you room to develop scope for good leadership aspiration/ traits for Nigeria rather it acts as ‘protected haven’ for the few – i. e. absentee landlords or DESPOTS, as it were! They enjoy such astonishing privilege we know only those in the ‘Sharecropping’ system are associated with!

    Until you can agree on (comprehend) the rationale/ silver lining in my ‘Zoning formula’ for Nigeria in place of a National Conference that would result to Confederated States, which is more likely to lead you to separation in most distasteful or diabolic manner, better contemplated than seen in practical terms eventually, we may be approaching the precipice and disaster before long! The leadership in Nigeria presently cannot manage the burden in such gigantic proposal – think about United Kingdom, after all the years when they first formed the Union 1606/7 with Scotland now proposing ‘Separation’, looks rather more like ‘Day-dreaming’ than it can be actualised going by the quantum of water that passed under the Bridge all this while and what it’ll mean in the International discourse, folks! Ours could have been easier under that ABURI ACCORD if they were that clairvoyant not now! ABURI ACCORD was, in all manners of the arguments today (intent and purposes) a missed opportunity for Nigeria, yet there were the so-labelled ‘visionary leaders’ at the helm of affairs of NIGERIA at the time it was tabled! Even with present day standards to conformity we don’t see how Confederated States can work purposefully for Nigeria under the engrained animosity and mistrust – Wales and Northern Ireland’s problems still in the air not totally solved and it may open another arm of the canker-warm plaguing the Union – they may also sue for separation!

    I will suggest you look into my New Zoning poposal and thn weigh up the advantages hich by far outweighs the disadvantages – I mean you have seen the problems (mistakes) created in Ghana and now in Kenya in their attempt to go E-Voting rather than what we did in Nigeria under the Option A-4 approach, which you will agree is simpler and more assuring! They could have agreed on the simple small number (500 or lesser electorates) for voting venues like we did in Nigeria – end of the day, number of votes counted, entries made, signed by party representatives and results announced on the spot to be confirmed by collation later! But they went wrong by relying on electronic voting which we know, obviously has latent teething problems and cannot be predicted especially under human errors! So, like I keep saying it, try my New Formula for the purpose of good leadership and see what you get about change in arriving at good leaders for Nigeria! There is nothing in your present approach than all of them struggling to get in through that mago-mago syndrome in Nigeria all in the hope for the obvious perquisites and they go free end of their tenures! But if you don’t we may yet remain on the Hire-wire compounding the political and social problems the more, folks!

    In conclusion here are the reasons for the poor leadership in Nigeria and indeed Africa and to correct the floors you must work to improve to record improvement on all of them, thus,: –

     Lack of National Orientation for (to tame the psyche of) prospective leaders/ politicians for Nigeria was raised as part essentials before handing over under IBB.
     All those who supervised Nigeria’s political Affairs before and post civil war were not the kind you’ll classify as ‘revolutionary’ both in character and outlook don’t mind the rhetoric now – Gen. M. Buhari may be acting under effect of afterthought! He had the opportunity to do something for Nigeria with Tunde Idiagbon but he let it slip off his grip, folks!
     The cost to attain to the post is made to be prohibitive even at the time of OBJ in 1999! He felt he had not the kind of funds to meet the cost – he was assisted by groups who felt he was the one to be used to appease the South West people after that MKO’s 1993 June debacle!
     The Electoral Act and the Constitution are skewed to act as impediment for prospective candidates in Nigeria, based/deriving support from totally gullible electorates yet even as we pontificate issues.
     The immunity provision in the Constitution perhaps (obviously) is the major hindrance! A situation where you cannot be arrested or charge past Heads/ CEOs of States in Nigeria – it is regarded as an uphill task in present setting in the country! What/ how do you go bout this, even the BNA members cannot see the clanger in the provision!
     Then comes the religious and tribal encumbrances – you’re in ‘it’ not only to bolster the well being of your own tribesmen not even women as we have seen it all these years happening in the North, but for your own and group (caucus – those who made it possible for you to get into the post) aggrandisement!
     Then what about that do-or-die syndrome OBJ has himself proffered must be part of electioneering strategy where he considered challenged by a possible opposition to his idiosyncrasies! Not allowing the effect of grass root to play a major part in electing public office holders/ politicians for Nigeria!

    Looking at the above I decided the way out of the malaise must be by that ‘Zoning’ whereby you can be sure we had the opportunity to now vote for the ‘Best amongst equals’ in Nigeria irrespective of his/ her ethnic and religious leanings, folks! How I wish you can see the ‘silver lining/ the imports’ in this proposal and decide to accept it as solution for Nigeria and indeed Kenya!

  2. Rita Reply

    Let them look for solution

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