Nigerians could argue that the entire problem (both real and probable) currently confronting the nation are caused by the inability of the present administration to effectively secure the nation and manage the nation’s resources. From that point, the story is well known. Such an argument cannot be viewed as lacking in merit particularly as the Muhammadu Buhari led administration has no excuse for not engineering prosperity lavishly promised in 2015. The situation becomes a crisis of the sort when one remembers that across the world; well known leaders in the past had upon assumption of office faced a more precarious situation than what President Buhari met on ground.
Yet, such leaders were able to turn around the fortune of their nation.
Take as illustration, in 1932, Franklin D Roosevelt, the Democratic Party candidate, United States of America was elected president in the midst of the great depression. At the time of inauguration in 1933, one-quarter of the labor force was out of a job, with many thrown into poverty. Industrial production had fallen and investments had collapsed.
But within two years of his administration, he revived the economy and moved to the next stage of his agenda. He signed the social security act which introduced the modern welfare state into the United States pension at retirement, unemployment benefits and some public health care and disability benefits. When asked how? he responded thus;”extraordinary conditions call for extraordinary remedies”
Obviously an alluring account, and a lesson that any leader desirous to serve and save his people must internalize, however, beyond this understanding, one can make a stronger case that the problem, failure/failings of the present administration in Nigeria was more related to the failure of followership than leadership.
People often dismiss such a line of thinking even when it is the truth. It is argued that ‘there is always the relationship between cause and effect, especially in efficient causality. The relationship is a relationship of participation; the cause being the whole; the effect being the part. The causal efficiency is directly proportional to the substantial perfection’.
The truth is that the inefficiency of this administration did not just start. It all started just immediately after the 2015 general elections. Despite this awareness of challenges/underperformance, Nigerians, against all known logic, during 2019, voted the administration for the second time.
So in my view, Nigerians are to a greater extent the architect of the current challenge in the country. Tragically unique is that presently, they (Nigerians) are both the victims/causality of such political miscalculation. So, one can understand why the current regret and shout of good old days by Nigerians qualify more as misplaced.
Just before you argue with me, this piece will clarify the above claim by examining the issues, challenges and failures recorded between May 2015 – May 2019 that ordinarily should have acted as an emblematic pointer to Nigerians that there exists deeply troubling development if the administration is voted back to power.
Fundamentally, apart from the fact that the nation’s economy within the period under review(first term), and under President Buhari’s watch went into recession and unemployment/underemployment got to a galloping stage, our mind eyes tell us that President Muhammadu Buhari’s first tenure was neither impressive nor exemplary. Rather, it was wantonly characterized by insecurity, poor strategy for development, lack of focus on sectors that will improve the conditions of living of the people, such as education, health and agriculture. Consequently, this led to the affirmation of Nigeria as the world poverty capital, a development that analysts believe has its root in the administration’s constant blame of others for failed projects and inability to live up to expectation.
It was equally obvious that within his first term in office, Mr. President did not grow a democracy that guarantees social justice and promotes social mobility or take action in the following areas: strengthening the economy, tackling insecurity, job creation, and development of the power sector and massive infrastructural development.
Again, it should be clear from the summary given above that, the inability of Mr. President to pick the right people as Minister and give them their rightful position, which of course is the first responsibility of a good leader, not only set the stage for the socioeconomic challenges currently bedeviling the nation but has finally become an unusually costly burden for Nigeria and Nigerians.
Yet, there exists another costly mistake that has finally brought the nation to its socioeconomic knees.
It is the fact that after going through, and observing with dissatisfaction Mr. President’s not too impressive or better still, below average performance, between May 2015 and 2019, Nigerians against all known logic went ahead to have him re-elected for the second time in office.
More specifically, another event within Mr. President’s first term in office that probably did more than anything else to convince Nigerians with critical interest to look differently at the out of ordered direction the administration was taking the country was Mr. President appointments/constitution of his cabinet. Aside from enjoying long gestation period, President Buhari, in making those appointments appeared to be unmindful of the fact that the first opinion that is formed of a leader’s intelligence, according to Niccolo Machiavelli, is based on the quality of men he has around him. For when they are competent and loyal, he can always be considered wise, because he has been able to recognize their competence and to keep them loyal. But when they are otherwise, the ruler is always open to adverse criticism because his first mistake has been in the choice of his ministers.
Still on the appointment, the nation’s 1999 Constitution underscored the need to base all appointments on the provisions of Paragraph 8(1)(b)of Part 1 of the third schedule of the 1999 constitution, which among other provisions, clearly stipulate that the Federal Character Commission must ensure the equitable distribution of all appointments and positions at the federal levels among the federating units.
Despite the clarity of this provision, Nigerians with critical minds have observed with dismay a high magnitude of visible infringement. While recalling that any leader who disobeys the law becomes a threat to the constitution he swore to protect, they concluded that there has never been such brazen abuse of the principle as witnessed in this administration.
To avoid repetition of similar challenges in the future, particularly as the nation races toward another general election come 2023, I hold the opinion that Nigerians must recognize that at the minimum, followers’ needs to have/gain thorough understanding of their prospective leaders and his or her context. At intervals, they need to demand, commend or contradict their leader’s goals and pressures his or her strengths and weaknesses. Evaluate his/her organizational and personal objectives; discover his/her long suits and blind spots, his preferred style of working; does he or she thrive on conflict or try to minimize it?
Definitely, without this information, there is bound to be unnecessary conflicts, misunderstandings, and other problems will be inevitable.
Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via;firstname.lastname@example.org/