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Servant-leadership – Remedy for politics of desperation in Nigeria – Part 5


Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of all Nigeria (Anglican Communion)

Root Causes Of Politics Of Desperation

Truth be told, Nigeria is yet to allow the crop of politicians and leaders that will move this country forward. Some of what we have today and for the greater part of our history as a nation, unfortunately, are people pursuing selfish, ethnic, religious and demonic agenda on the platform of politics and leadership. It is sad to state that Nigeria is not ripe yet for ordinary people to win elections into public offices. Until Nigeria is blessed with servant-leaders, it will be difficult to break away from the vices that have stagnated us since independence. Let us now look at some of the root causes of desperation in our politics:

Disunity: Although the Southern and Northern Protectorates were amalgamated in 1914 to form the nation, Nigeria, the unity of the entity has not grown with the years. The nation is more divided now than at the beginning. Therefore, when a key position goes to certain section of the country, others feel left out. The scenario is worsened when leaders, by word or action, show that they represent the interest of certain sections at the expense of the others. Consequently, the struggle by every section to occupy such positions creates politics of desperation.

Corruption: The endemic corruption in the country has eaten deep into the electoral process and as a result, the process can hardly produce the right candidates for leadership. The wrong people fight their way ruthlessly and desperately to power, in utter disregard for standing electoral rules. But they are usually not brought to book because of the corruption in the system.


Religious Politics: When religious fanaticism is mixed with politics, and public office holders begin to see themselves as representing and pursuing the interests of their religion, it breeds desperation. People of other religions feel marginalised and may, in the name of fighting for their turn, become desperate to clinch the position in the next political dispensation.

Money Politics: Politics in Nigeria over the years has become a business that only the excessively rich can get involved in. The electorate have got used to being induced with money before elections, so they look forward to it with zest. Men of integrity and sound character cannot contest elections unless they have amassed wealth, and are willing to lavish it on campaigns, vote buying, hiring of thugs, etc. Campaign is about money rather than ideas. It is so bad now that, unless a candidate gives money to the electorate indiscriminately, he may never be taken serious. It will, therefore, be difficult for a servant leader to win election in present day Nigeria. The implication of this is that Nigeria may never have good leadership, until her politics is liberated from the power of money.

Contract God-fatherism: Another worrisome dimension of money politics in Nigeria today is the practice of contract God-fatherism. These men sign pact with public office seekers to sponsor them on the ground that, if they eventually win, an agreed percentage of the State or Constituency allocation will be going to them throughout the tenure of the candidate they sponsored. Having signed such contract and received so much money, they get desperate to win. Furthermore, even while in office, they will still be desperate to fulfil the covenant.

Jumbo Pay to Political Office Holders: The entitlement of political office holders in Nigeria can only be rightly described as ‘jumbo pay’. The pay is so high and stupendous that it defies reason. The monetary benefits have become the key motivating factor for most politicians for wanting to serve. It has, therefore, become a good paying business and some could borrow money to contest election.


The Most Revd. Dr Nicholas D. Okoh is the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and the Chairman of the Ibru Centre Board of Directors.In order not to lose, they will go any length to ensure they recover the money spent, thus resulting in desperation.

Constitutional Inequality/Bias: The country’s Constitution, being a secular State, is supposed to treat every individual, ethnic group and religion equally, without bias or partiality. In a situation where the Constitution is seen to have favouritism enshrined within its provisions, such that certain ethnic group or religion is favoured over and above the others, desperation could be the result.

Winner-takes-all Syndrome: Another cause of politics of desperation in Nigeria is the ‘winner-takes-all’ attitude of politicians and political parties. Whenever a particular party wins election at Federal or State level, the other parties are cut off from government. Every appointment and project must revolve around the party in power. This makes the fear of losing election very serious and dreadful. Every party will, therefore, fight dirty to clinch power to avoid the unpleasant experience of losing elections and losing relevance, and in fact losing everything.The Most Revd. Dr Nicholas D. Okoh is the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and the Chairman of the Ibru Centre Board of Directors


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Nicholas Okoh
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