We have the power to choose our leaders. Change begins with the decisions we make. In every country, politics is one of the most significant components, whereby it makes decisions, creates laws, promote productivity that will help boost the economy of the country. In contemporary Nigeria, there have been complaints and lamentations of previous and present administrations on how they have failed the nation and the citizens. How long should we complain about the failure of leadership in Nigeria? We have failed to question why we attach so much importance to religious and ethnic background than the individual political aspirant who does not understand the political and socio-economic problem in the country and have no sense of the future other than that of their private bank accounts.
Some scholars have argued that one of the major issues in Nigeria is as a result of the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorate in 1914, that this protectorate had no relationship before and during colonialism. While some scholars argue that Nigeria has the highest population in Africa and that the population is the reason why she is faced with many challenges, I disagree because before we became an independent country, our founding fathers who fought for the independence, knew about their differences and decided to use that as an advantage to gain power. Also, population has nothing to do with our challenges, we have countries like China that is doing well in the global markets and yet with the highest population in the world.
The situation of failed leadership in Nigeria is a foundation problem and the legacy has been carried on from one generation to the next. I looked at the first political parties and leaders and I see how the foundation created by the founding fathers who fought for self-government in Nigeria during colonial period in 1940s to 1950s. The political parties then were formed based on geo-ethnic background, and the parties created a legacy where they made the people to have so much attachment to their ethnic and religious background in terms of choosing their leaders.
These founding fathers laid so much emphasis on why their ethnic group should vote for them instead of voting for other leaders who came from different ethnic groups. They did not form a political structure of true leadership that will unite and not divide the people, instead they created a structure where ethnic background came first than an individual who has the quality of a leader.
So, the question is: how has the importance of ethnicity and religion impacted Nigeria as a nation? Because we are still challenged with bad roads, poor health facilities, increase of crime, terrorism, financial meltdown, poor infrastructure in the country. The question now is how can we overcome these challenges? It starts with every citizen and not the leaders of Nigeria, it starts with our willingness to have a different mindset in our choices and decisions we make when it comes to politics and leadership in Nigeria. Until we open our eyes and think of our poor choices, we will not be able to understand my point. We can overcome this challenge when we put our selfish sentiments on which region should preside over Nigeria and begin to look for an individual who is passionate about Nigeria and willing to encourage development in Nigeria.
This is the time to look for an individual who is loyal, committed, honest to the country and willing to encourage nationality and not ethnic or religious differences, one who is not biased and willing to give official position to qualified individual not minding their ethnic differences, this will keep the people together and erase fear of trust for each other.
This is the time to look for an individual with the quality of a leader who is interested in building industries that will stimulate our natioanal economy. This is the time to look for a leader who is interested in youth empowerment to encourage them to acquire skills that can be used for indigenous development. If the youths get training, they will begin to build our roads, build our houses, work in our own refineries, make our own clothes, shoes, have livestock and poultry. When projects are being given to this set of trained youths, they will execute such projects with passion and dedication to the government to make the country proud. This is the time to look for a leader that is ready to empower the uneducated, so that they will be able to analyses each candidate and be aware of who they are, so as not to make wrong choices on who to vote for.
If we begin to make choices like this in choosing our leaders, the problems that were created over the years will be defeated. This will produce achievers and not deceivers that we have always had in previous governments. If we decide to have such leaders this will make every man and woman who is aspiring to become a leader to come up with plans and ideas of building the nation. This will also inspire political parties to have a game plan, new strategy in nation building to convince people to entrust them in developing the country.
– Oji wrote from City College of New York
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