NIGERIA: DICHOTOMY OF THE PAST AND THE FUTURE 

Editor’s Note: Sowemimo Abiodun, our Guest Writer for the week, delves into the past and present nature of national leadership in Nigeria. In this article, he explores the dangers of unpreparedness in leadership and suggests solutions for the sake of a better future. Sowemimo Abiodun is an Economics graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University. He won a United Nations commendation for his excellent contribution to rural development during his Youth Corps service in Abia State. He wrote from Abeokuta.

EXPERIENCE IN THE PAST

Nigeria’s experience in the last fifty-three years has been more of “woes” than of “blessings”. Considering the high level of prodigality displayed by our past leaders (either by ballot or by bullet), the state of Nigeria in the last five decades after the actualization of self-rule in 1960 confirms the accuracy of the wise man who said: “Destruction is certain for the land whose king is a child and whose leaders feast in the morning”. Although it is not totally wrong to behave like a child; in fact, some traits of a child are expected in a leader. It is, however, unfortunate that most of our leaders chose the paths of childishness that calls for chastisement and neglected those that improves leadership such as: teachability, humility, etc.
It’s bewildering that drunkenness depicted by corruption, mismanagement, violation of due processes, electoral fraud, and their cohorts have become the order of the day in Nigeria’s helm of affairs.
While leadership is paramount for the betterment of any country, we shouldn’t enshrine the poorly-thought argument that the role of followership is minimal. The slice of both are complementary and corresponding, because “human-kind is wired to make available leadership, but it is also design to need leadership”. Every leader got promotion as a follower to become a leader and every follower desires to become a leader. So, our leadership is a function of our followership, and that’s why the make-up of young people – the so-called “future leaders” – should be of greater concern to the nation. While the set of leaders that have been ruling us for the past fifty years regardless of their ages are fading away, we need to question the wiring and configuration of the coming leaders.
Sometimes, one may want to contest the future of this great country looking at the rate of indiscipline and vices that brand the lifestyles of prospective leaders of the new Nigeria.  However, we have a consolation about the salvation of Nigeria that “nothing can hinder God from saving, whether by many or by few”. The leadership we have witnessed in Nigeria so far is guilty of child abuse, since it has failed in its responsibilities to cater for the welfare of the Nigerian masses, particularly the younger generation. Nobility, probity and accountability have been feeble in our statecraft. On the part of the followership, it’s important for everyone to do away with unprofitable and harmful ventures that has contributed to Nigeria’s status-quo. We should transcend from having just a sense of belonging and start taking full responsibility for the betterment of our fatherland.  

OUR EXPECTATION IN THE FUTURE

An ancient King said: “Happy is the land whose king is a nobleman and whose leaders feast only to gain strength for their work, not to get drunk”. One will quickly recall the words of Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian nationalist, who once said, “I eat to live, to serve, and if it so happens, to enjoy, but I do not eat for the sake of enjoyment”. [I think this explains the reason behind Gandhi’s stature compared to those of most Nigerian leaders]. On a lighter but reflecting mood, the future of Nigeria calls for the resignation and banishment of our “big-belly” politicians from all activities associated with governance. Political drunkenness like corruption and discipline bankruptcy, has proven detrimental to our country’s progress. As young people and emerging leaders, these words of John Kennedy ring a bell: “…ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country”.
The answer to the question demands that young people start preparing to take responsibility for the pursuit of better life in Nigeria. We must stop mourning our ‘Sauls’ and start equipping the ‘Davids’ for excellent leadership. Preparation is basic, as this tells the difference between an “emergency leader” and an “emerging leader”. Young people must cease from their haste for personal aggrandizement. We must be properly configured to withstand the threats that would accompany the opportunities that are coming our ways without compromise. Most probably, a good percentage of our present rulers have the passion to fix things before their venture into governance but lack vision and the discipline to uphold their stand. “I will prepare and some day, my chance will come” – Abraham Lincoln Opportunities are imminent, but will be goofed if they are not greeted by thorough preparation.
Our values must be reset and well-defined; we must consciously develop good characters and work upon our weak spots. We must be prepared to make sacrifices in order to right the wrongs of this generation and make the country a better place for the generations coming after us.

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A media team that is unrepentantly committed to building young minds with thought-provoking articles containing scents of historical reflections.
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