Poor leadership makes any nation not to breathe well! The whole world is crying due to lack of leadership even America that claims to be the Democracy capital of the whole world. The wonderful metaphor that is resonating about George Floyd “I can’t breathe” shows the lack of chemistry in the leadership of the world. George Floyd in his indignation and agony caused by the American Policeman; Derek Chauvin screamed “I can’t breathe”. This further exposes lack in thepresent American leadership. The comity of Nations has no appetite anymore for unjust laws that lead to brutalization of individuals and obnoxious laws that strip the individual of his rights to defend himself before being dumped in jail.
In Africa we are an everlasting victims of bad leadership especially the giant of Africa; our country Nigeria. Those in leadership see it as an opportunity to establish family dynasty and continue to lead till death. Some form godfathers to determine who clinches the leadership mantle of a state or the country and frustrates any of their god-sons that try to rebel. Some fix their children in top positions and impose them on people in certain sectors. Imagine a daughter of a politician imposing exploitative levies on traders and threatens them with locking up their businesses for non-compliance after receiving the mantle of market leadership from her mother. It is now a family business!
Development for general good is always diverted to their families and constituencies. Nigerian power revolves around one man. You cannot survive if you do not pay a primitive loyalty to the man in power. When you pay the primitive loyalty, you forget your people. In Nigeria “being close to power is like being close to God”. Since the Judiciary is an arm of the government, whatever you do is covered thereby allowing evil to circulate and the young becomes susceptible to whatever can make them rich faster.The recent arrest of a Nigerian internet celebrity; Hushpupi that has been a great negative influence on Nigerian youths comes to mind. His display of expensive lifestyle online has pushed many young ones into fraud to be like him. Every time you get more political fanatics who swell the political gladiators’ cadre. You cannot enter because you cannot breathe there. Politics of today is full of melodrama and very drastic to play. When you don’t play it well or play against your god-father you hurt yourself dearly and can meet your political waterloo with no win-win situation. This is a glaring situation in the political landscape of Edo state now. Those who are willing and sincere to serve in government are frustrated and their mandates seized. This happened in June 12, 1993 which has been declared a Democracy day in Nigeria. It is still happening in states and local governments.
You cannot play Nigerian politics well unless you are equipped by those who are already inside. You must be on the same political page with those already inside. You must flow with the political variables of manipulations,creating your own truths; being an intimidating man that people can’t challenge with the truthetc.You become the big iroko and a reference point to your group! You have forgotten our bad roads as we buy water, no electricity, and absence of better health facilities. There are no more town hall meetings to discuss challenges and ask questions when our politicians return home. The trusted opposition party we had has migrated to the party in power to get their own largesse and abandon us in the cold. It is funny to see some Pastors entering into politics to play the same game. This is a funny world. No wonder a respected Christians voiced out in an argument “God is good but the devil is not too bad” Can you see what I mean? The world is funny and strange. We cannot stay too long with our beliefs and faiths. Another Christian in a state of hardship said “If the devil gives me, I receive it with left hand” The mind is polluted because of the lure of money. At times we blame the politicians but the politicians do not know that the Christians are eyeing them to see if the politicians could finger them into their camps. We pay lips service to God. Leadership for money is what motivates many people to aspire for leadership in Nigeria. Leadership should have been primarily for service and selflessness. The opposite is the case in our society today where people- focused leadership can’t be found but leadership of selfishness and enrichment of family members and allies.
Good leadership breeds great development of the society and people. In a situation where Leaders divert all the resources of governance for selfish use, development becomes difficult. The reason Protesters covered the streets of America was because of their agitation for justice. Bad governance has driven them to the streets with their counterparts joining them in solidarity with the death of George Floyd who said “I can’t breathe” during his torture by the policemen and eventual death. We can see the power in one voice how it resonated all over the world. This power motivated by justice in this pandemic did not weaken their stamina to pursue social justice.
Looking at the now popular “I can’t breathe” metaphor, it is quite obvious that the major element that could suffocate one is bad leadership. Are we breathing well with the air of leadership around us to stimulate the development of our people and promote unity instead of divisiveness? Are we breathing well with the air of tribalism and ethnicity around us? Are we breathing well with the level of insecurity and regular killings in our lands? Is the press breathing well with intimidation on reporting accurately what they see that is unjust? Are the youths breathing very well with the situation of their country? Can they stand to sing the national anthem withpatriotism without remembering the several unfinished businesses of Nigeria that hinder progress? Are we breathing well with sectional and lopsided political appointments in Nigeria?
All the salient questions that are being asked can be reflected on good leadership and development of the people. At the moment, it is impossible to have a positive answer because it would take some time to overhaul the leadership quotient to gain great balance. Good leadership and development goes hand in hand. There can never be good leadership without development and there can never be development without good leadership. The Leaders of today should have a reorientation anddisengage themselves from primitive and selfish accumulation of wealth and listen to what people are saying about them.
The problem of our leaders is insincerity and lack of integrity. In developed countries, leaders show their dissatisfaction in government by boldly speaking out against injustice in the system and resigning their positions to align with the citizens that elected them to serve. We see that regularly in the USA.
Very Rev. Msgr. Ukah is a Catholic Priest, Author of many books and a Social Justice and Peace Advocate.