The magic of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has come from his citizens, but nothing of significance he has done as leader of the nation. Blamocracy (blaming past administrations for the impossibility of addressing present troubles) and claimocracy (claiming credit for the achievements of former governments) now have the regard of significant achievements in themselves. Many citizens claim that while the federal government is clean, competent and thriving, the states and local governments make up the rotten parts of Nigerian for governance. Leadership has become excused of responsibility by so-called voters. We take on the challenge to examine this sticky fallacy.
First, the notion of a rotten nation or a nation whose parts are rotten is the natural state of countries or societies? The challenge of leadership and governance is to transform rotten and failing societies into decent, clean and workable societies. When you see a clean and well-governed society; it did not fall from heaven. It took the untiring dedicated inputs (vision, thought, effort, sacrifice, participation by the majority) by conscientious leaders and introductions of effective governance mechanisms to achieve such feats.
Second, two primary extensive roles of leadership exist, the rest is embellishment. It is the role of a leader (a visionary one) to take a nation out of the state of negative existence into one of positive existence. For example, from poverty to prosperity, from dependence to independence, from instability to stability, from conflicts to peace, from illiteracy to literacy, from lethargy to industry. Such a leader achieves or lays the foundations for homeostasis (robust independent stability) for the nation. The other role of a leader is to make sure the level of developmental achievements in society remains intact without decline/chaos. Continues development uses this format.
It is a legitimate self-reinforcing expectation everywhere that leaders, when campaigning or get elected into office, will improve things or at least not make them worse. It is the reason, under conditions of democracy, new leaders always bring the electorate fresh hope. Tafawa Balewa, Shehu Shagari, Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari; these politicians brought fresh hopes and expectations to Nigerians. The fate of those high election hopes and promises after election time is another matter.
When a nation or its parts are rotten, the leader of the country and the mechanisms of governance at his disposal have to work to get rid of that rot. Such is attainment sought through reform. Such reforms are institutional, cultural, economic, political, or judicial. Those are the instruments by which effective leaders transform rotten nations and societies into decent, offer and flourishing ones. Have you ever seen a presidential candidate promise electorate poverty, mass torture, increasing unemployment, zero spending on education and healthcare?
On a superb day, key reforms bring prosperity to nations as they lift millions of people out of poverty and offer them with access to modern societal facilities/capabilities. Institutional reforms make sure of general but effective good governance; the masses hold a sense of fairness, justice, equality and security, and pride in their government. Other reforms usher in a thoroughgoing renewal in society, be it restoration or movement into uncharted waters. Steep reforms have radical if not revolutionary impact on society such as SAP (structural adjustment programs), austerity, lockdowns, war times or theocracy.
If we move this argument further, imagine if Cross River State gets $40 Billion in investment from China. Within a few years, they transform the state into the most industrialised patch of land In Africa. Does it mean the 35 other states and the Federal Capital Territory are now industrial hubs? Does it mean that the entire nation itself is now on the industrial map?
We should not discount corrupt leaders and the effects of their reign/rule on the nations they govern. The arguments above assume that leaders are ready, willing, qualified and qualified to do the job of leadership with focus and competency. Inept leaders may not be terrible people in daily life; they are unfit to rule since they make their jurisdictions much worse off than they found them. They lack the expected capacities of an able or visionary leader. A ruthless, lying, greedy and vindictive man can be an exemplary leader while a saint can be a lousy leader. Nigeria is a paradise for corrupt leaders, the land of “Good leaders surrounded by evil men”. It is a severe curse on Nigeria, this condition of leadership.
Terrible leaders make rotten systems more rotten or moral systems rotten. Let us look at the parts that become rotten. The more impoverished people become poorer or affluent people struggle, simmering ethnic/religious tensions detonate, or a long-earned peace fails, weak economies become weaker or strong ones go into quick decline. Effete institutions become moribund or strong institutions become decadent. Political insensitivity becomes meaner, or it ignores a polity once well heard, attracting investment is near impossible or it causes existing investment to go into flight. These are the validated legacies of corrupt leaders.
We should not be unaware that rotten parts in Nigerian political parlance in defence of the federal government of the day mean individual federating units; states and local governments. Nigeria’s debilitating unitary style of government has rendered states and local government to be mere “revenue allocation recipients” with very shallow paraphernalia of governance; political appointments, minor elections, car sirens that drive by, political thuggery, temporary projects.
If anyone will change such state of affairs in Nigeria, i.e. the decay in the parts, it will not be a vain-promising, lying, insensitive president, but a man equipped, ready, willing and qualified to straighten out the problem (s). A man of vision, admirable action, who leads by desirable example, who the people’s trust. He has the people’s trust because his efforts have earned it and a “man surrounded by exemplary men.” Many will echo “We know!” The question then is, do they know? We do not see it in voting patterns during elections or the records of past or present leaders. Where then is the knowledge useful?
If history and contemporary observation confirm these facts, Nigeria will be rotten for a long time. Still, Nigerians know that when the right president comes along, it will not take long thoroughly reform the country.