When Nigeria achieved political emancipation in 1960, it evinced the tendencies and potentialities of a country that would become great, economically, technologically and politically. Think of it, our country had such natural resources as gold, tin, iron ore, bauxite and crude oil buried beneath our soil. On the other hand, our country had seasoned politicians like Chief Awolowo, who was a political sage, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the doyen of journalism in West Africa and many others.
Unfortunately, the departing British imperialists left the egregious political legacy of the imposition of leaders on the populace. This offbeat led to the sudden emergence of politicians who were not prepared for the challenges of political leadership.
Nigeria’s current economic woes and technological underdevelopment are not unconnected with past political maladministration and military dictatorships which beset our country in the past. Our political leaders and the military stalled our national development with their bumbling, inept, corrupt, visionless and rudderless leaderships. The ugly chain reaction continued.
Then came the present APC, which is a coalition of many political parties. Initially this party seemed to have swept away the old political order. Our current President, Muhammadu Buhari, was reputed to have a zero tolerance for corruption. In the past, he is a martinet for discipline under the huge umbrella of Idiagbon. During his reign as Nigeria’s military head of state between 1983 and 1985, the duo inculcated the habit of orderliness into Nigerians.
This apparent ascetic leader swept to power on the coat tail of his political antecedents and reputation. He was believed to be the messiah that will right the wrongs in our political landscape, turn around our ailing economy and take Nigeria to a great technological height. But, President Buhari’s tardiness and political missteps have caused some critical minds to become skeptical and cynical regarding his electioneering promises.
Today, Nigerians seem to have gotten tired waiting for him to offer us purposeful and people-oriented leadership that will transform Nigeria.
History has it that we have sustained uninterrupted democracy from 1999 till date, though not without occasional hiccups. We have had civilian-to-civilian transition of governments despite accusations of the process being tainted with electoral infractions. We have conducted some free and fair national elections but there is need for great improvement in this area as many of our elections are still riddled with malpractices. We still engage in politics of money, ethnicity and other primordial considerations.We are yet to master the political game. Most of our politicians indulge in undemocratic acts and run the government as if it is their personal estate with unhidden intolerance of the opposition. Most of them have great disdain for constructive criticism and opposing viewpoints. Instead of politics of inclusion, we run politics of exclusion in which strongmen” dictate who gets what. Politics of issues is often thrown into the dustbin.
Presently, the most pressing problem facing the nation is lack of purposeful leadership. We have not been fortunate to have leaders that can rise above self and lead by personal example. Instead, vain preachments and sloganeering are paraded as part of the scenery. We are in dire need of servant-leaders that will lead by practical example and not precepts. We need charismatic leaders at all levels of governance in the country.
One other problem that Nigerian leaders should fight is the endemic corruption in the land. Things do not work in the country simply because corruption has been elevated to statecraft. Political office holders dip their hands in the treasury without batting an eyelid. There is overt corruption at all levels of governance in the country. The most thriving enterprise in the land is politics. In spite of the nation’s immense human and material resources, Nigeria is still confronted with myriads of existential problems. After 58 years, we are still grappling with everyday basic needs like good roads, water, qualitative and affordable healthcare, housing, food, steady power supply and adequate supply of petroleum products that are taken for granted in other countries.Perhaps, the greatest problem facing the nation at present is general insecurity. While the militant Boko Haram sect is terrorizing the entire North, especially the North-East axis, armed robbery, herdsmen and kidnapping are ravaging the entire South, especially the South-East and South-South geo-political zones. We are fast sliding into stone age, with citizens now killed at random.
So far, the Federal Government has not risen up to the security challenge the way it ought to. Not even its advertised dialogue with the Islamic sect appears to be working. All the elephant promises to tame terrorism, armed robbery and kidnapping, have remained in the cooler. We are fast descending into the doldrums. We are daily coming very close to the orbit of volatile countries of the Middle East characterized by frequent violence and mindless loss of lives.
For a start, it is pertinent that government does all it can to fulfill its promises to the people. A country where over 70 percent of the population is poor needs both financial and political restructuring. Let us therefore use the outcome of the almost forgotten constitutional conference to redesign a Nigeria that will be fair and equitable to all its citizens, irrespectively of tribe or creed. That is the surest way to ensure our unity and continued existence as one nation. By so doing, the dreams of our founding fathers will be fulfilled to the glory of God.
Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu