Nigeria has been a tragic experiment in failed leadership and failed leaders. The foundations were laid by the British colonization of the country in the late 1880s and in 1914 when Lord Lugard christened the country. Even from the beginning, it was an uncomfortable marriage.
When the British gave the country up in 1960, Nigerians had an opportunity to steer their country in the direction they wanted it to go. That opportunity quickly went begging as military coup followed military coup before plunging the country into a cataclysmic civil war from 1967-70. It was a tragic moment for a newly independent country.
The country has never got it right since then as civilian and military regimes have failed to improve the leadership fortunes of the country. In fact, the heists perpetrated on the country especially under different military regimes have been responsible for laying the firm foundations of corruption in the country.
Even when democracy returned to the country in 1999, the dismal situation witnessed little improvement as early promise soon gave way to disastrous outings by successive Nigerian administrations.
Different Nigerian presidents have come and gone since them, some leaving legacies more odious than those of their predecessors. But under President Muhammadu Buhari, the last seven years have been a new low.
A country grasping for breath
To be fair to him, President Muhammadu Buhari was honest enough to disclose upon assumption of office that he was surprised at the depth of the problems Nigeria was sinking in . His early days in office were marked by a constant reaffirmation of his commitment to tackle Nigeria`s problems. And Nigerians ever patient and full of fortitude were ready to give him the benefit of the doubt.
The readiness of Nigerians to extend the benefit of doubt to President Muhammadu Buhari was not without good reasons. As he ran for the country`s highest office, the well-oiled propaganda machine of the All Progressives Congress had presented the Daura-born retired military officer as one who stood out for his clean image in a corruption-infested society, while exaggerating the country`s problems under an administration it relentlessly projected as inept and corrupt. It worked a treat.
However, the enthusiasm with which Nigerians first welcome an opportunity for a new lease of life under a different political party than the one that had been in power for sixteen years by 2015 has long been deflated. As incompetence has marched in lockstep with nonchalance and nepotism under the APC-led administration in the ensuing years, Nigerians have had a golden opportunity to learn that not all that glitters is gold.But have they learnt? Have the particularly hard lessons that have been in abundant supply since 2015 but especially since 2019 been learnt?
A moment of truth
Come February next year, when the ballot box opens up, Nigerians would have an opportunity to have a say in how the leadership of the country will be constituted for the next four year. It will be a moment of truth indeed.
To say that things have not been rosy in the last few years will be the understatement of the decade. Things have in fact been rocky. Soaring inflation has succeeded in wiping food off the tables of many Nigerians families. Insecurity has morphed into a national nightmare as deadly attack after deadly attack all over the country have left many Nigerians living in absolute fear. As all these have gone on, the APC-led federal Government has appeared overwhelmed by it all, switching listlessly between incompetence and inertia.
With the 2023 general elections around the corner, and with campaigns having officially opened on September 28,2022, Nigerians must be on the lookout for those who will come to them mouthing that they have what it takes to fix Nigeria when their antecedents do not stand them in good stead for the delicate task of rebuilding a country torn apart by bad governance and nepotism.
Nigerians must be especially circumspect about the choices they will favour in the upcoming elections because if the mistakes of the past are repeated, the country may be long gone before any survival tale can be spun.