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Forgotten pacesetters and faulty leadership

By Guardian Nigeria
23 August 2022   |   2:43 am
At a very recent function in Lagos, a participant placed this question before the gathering: What exacerbates Nigeria’s current political and socioeconomic challenges? And just immediately...

leadership

Sir: At a very recent function in Lagos, a participant placed this question before the gathering: What exacerbates Nigeria’s current political and socioeconomic challenges? And just immediately, he got two separate but related responses from two personalities I consider well informed, self contained and quietly influential Nigerians. 

 
The first stated thus; the situation (poor leadership) in the country is not party, tribe/ethnic, religion, state governors or Federal Government insulted.  Rather, it is a ‘total national leadership collapse in the country from ‘top to bottom.’ It is a brazen manifestation of a bunch that is yet to internalise the fact that power is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose – a strength required to bring about social, economic, political, cultural and religious changes.
 
The second captured his response this way: Not that the nation’s leadership is lacking in vision but their vision more often than not is not masses-centred. Even those that could qualify as people purposed are in most cases stripped of clear definition, the goals to be achieved, or the means chosen to address the problems and to achieve the goals and making the entire narrative a crisis is that the system has virtually no consideration for connecting the poor with good means of livelihood -food, job and security.
 
This is the only possible explanation for the situation and will continue until the present crop of leaders productively look back to draw both inspiration and lessons from the nation’s forgotten pacesetters and forbearers such as Pa Obafemi  Awolowo, the late Premiere of Nigeria Western Region, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello of Eastern and Northern regions respectively, Pa Michael Ajasin of old Ondo State and Ambrose Folorunsho Alli , the onetime governor of the now defunct Bendel State,  he concluded.  
 
Aside from assisting the nation not to wander in dilemma, the above action is important as ‘‘knowledge will forever govern ignorance. And people who want to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives.’’

Taken as an example, as documented in his Path to Nigerian Freedom (1947), Pa Awo drew the first systematic federalist manifesto. He advocated federalism as the only basis for equitable national integration and as head of the Action Group, he led demands for a federal constitution, which was introduced in the 1954 Lyttleton Constitution, following primarily the model proposed by the Western Region delegation led by him. As premier, he proved to be and was viewed as a man of vision and a dynamic administrator. He was also the country’s leading social democratic politician. He supported limited public ownership and limited central planning in government. 

Come 2023, Nigerians will not forget the present crossroad. But even if as humans they forget, history will be there to remind them.
 
Utomi Jerome-Mario is the programme coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-based non-governmental organisation.