It was Claude Ake (1996), the late Political Science icon, who posited that “by all indications, political conditions in Africa are the greatest impediment to development.” This statement when critically examined, narrows down to one fundamental issue – the issue and essence of leadership in Africa generally and Nigeria particularly.
Leadership is, no doubt, a key factor in the whole gamut of public administration and the management of societal affairs. In the light of this, Nigeria’s lack of capacity in terms of the attainment of effective governance that addresses the issues of corruption, human rights abuse and mobilization of human and material resources for sustainable development is generally traced to leadership failure.
Since 1960, after the attainment of independence, the country’s abundant human and mineral resources are yet to be significantly harnessed to combat the impoverishment of ordinary Nigerians. Despite the oil wealth, majority of Nigerians still live in penury. This explains the paradoxical nature of the country where there is lack in the midst of plenty.
On the whole, the Nigerian state stands in between exhibiting attributes of state collapse and state failure. All thanks to the weak political leadership exemplified by the ruling elites who regard politics as an avenue to maintain their economic dominance and to sustain their business empires–a clear picture of politics without an agenda.
Due to the character of the political elites who have a limited understanding of what governance requires, democracy has not yielded the expected results. Indeed, once a political arrangement is dominated by visionless leaders, the country would perpetually struggle to attain peace and development.
This is the reason it has become challenging to eradicate impoverishment and unemployment, engage in infrastructural development, and stem the tides of insurgency and terrorism, which derails the country’s moderate political development.
For how long can the country’s economy endure the various excruciating pains it has persistently encountered in the hands of these visionless leaders?
Societies rise and fall on the altar of leadership. Given this, Nigeria needs a political reform – one that would pursue the eradication of underdevelopment, exploitation and dependence. A reform that should be directed at promoting political entrepreneurship, which increasingly seeks for innovation and creativity.
Suffice to mention that successive governments in Nigeria lack the political will to initiate or sustain policy or structural transformation, or to embark on sound economic reform to reposition the state for greatness.
Therefore, there is a need for a new generation of political entrepreneurs who will develop the new ideas, technologies, policies, visions, and civic actions to ensure that the advances in science and technology translate into prosperity for our state.
Given that the trust in the present political institutions has decreased, and many people are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo, we should encourage creativity and innovation. Hence, the need for the emergence of political entrepreneurs.
Political entrepreneurs are professionals who create ideas and innovations, and who move into the political arena and act as new leaders in the field of politics. They are individuals and groups who seek to improve the science and art of politics through praxis – less talk (promises/policy making) and more action (policy implementation).
To build this new generation of political entrepreneurs, we must encourage wider participation of the younger generation in politics. This will entail a process of expanding political party membership.
Ezinwanne Onwuka, Abuja