By Douglas Anele
That Nigeria is facing a huge crisis of leadership at the moment is beyond dispute. It is also beyond question that an increasing number of Nigerians are entertaining extreme (some might say weird) ideas about the best way to deal with the problem.
Deficiencies in leadership have reached such a disturbing level that more Nigerians are re-echoing late Chief Sam Mbakwe’s unduly criticised recommendation that we should invite Britain to recolonise the country. A few days ago Mbakwe’s proposal was reechoed by a close friend who lamented bitterly the continuing terrible mismanagement of public funds and infrastructure by politicians and their acolytes. At another occasion, a highly travelled associate of mine suggested that Nigerians should swallow their empty pride and give out the country on at least a fifty year lease to either the United States of America or China.
His argument, which has a ring of plausibility about it, is that Nigerian rulers have demonstrated their inability to govern a modern state efficiently and effectively. He also said that the quickest way for a Nigerian to get angry or depressed is to think about the depressing absurd condition of increasing suffering in the midst of plenty.
Certainly, it is easy to dismiss such cynicism about Nigeria as lazy arm-chair criticism and evidence of lack of love for one’s country. But to be candid, how many Nigerians, aside from parasites in the portals of political and economic power sucking the country dry, are genuinely happy with the way our country is going at this time? How many of us are comfortable with the agonising level of poverty, unemployment, insecurity, destitution, disillusionment, hopelessness and premature death nationwide?
Is Nigeria not increasingly approximating the infamous Hobbesian state of nature in which life is poor, solitary, nasty, brutish and short? The reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the above is that any sincere Nigerian who reflects on the current state of affairs knows that Nigeria has been very poorly administered, especially since 1970.
More tellingly, President Goodluck Jonathan’s shambolic approach to our problems is worsening, rather than lessening, an already bad situation. It seems that the end of the Biafran war marked the beginning of a downward trend in the country’s evolution as a geo-political entity, the commencement of an era characterised by mindless waste of incredible opportunities for greatness.
Germany and Japan are solid examples of how serious countries emerge from the ashes of a terrible war to rebuild themselves and transform into first grade players in the international scene. Unfortunately, in our own case the end of a devastating war actually brought about an epidemic of inept, corrupt and irresponsible leadership, with catastrophic consequences for the country with the largest concentration of blacks in the world.
To illustrate how Nigerians have been chasing shadows for decades consider the painful fact that, more than half a century after independence and forty three years after a bloody civil war, supposedly intelligent and well-educated politicians and opinion leaders in the society are still splitting hairs about the ethnic origin and religious affiliation of a would-be President, instead of focusing on the capability of the person to perform creditably, based on clearly defined relevant criteria for quality leadership.
Make no mistake about it; the average Nigerian politician is always eager to introduce silly and irrelevant parochial issues into leadership matters, especially when such diversionary strategy is favourable to his warped political ambition. Such immature approach to politics, coupled with a corruption-infested electoral system that delivers the highest votes to the highest bidder, makes politics the profession of hustlers, fraudsters, and carpetbaggers.
From a wider perspective, the ruling elite in Nigeria are too self-centred and visionless to realise that the strongest weapon against, and best refutation of, humiliating racism against black peoples of the world is a united, strong, economically virile and highly industrialised Nigeria, a country where universally acknowledged values of merit, excellence, freedom, transparency and accountability predominate.
White supremacist supporters cannot be routed by emotionally charged fallacious verbal attacks. Instead, what is required is for a black country like Nigeria to emerge as a dominant force in the global economy, education, industrialisation and socio-political engineering. Shortly after World War II, and even before then, Asians were subjected to serious racial slurs basically because of their physical appearance.
But now, with the emergence of China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other Asian Tigers on the global stage and competing favourably at the highest level of technological innovations and economic development with the most developed countries of Europe and North America, the situation has changed dramatically. No one in his right mind would consider a Chinese or Japanese etc. inferior to an American or European.
Thus, in the quest for equality of races, achievement and wealth production is everything, while biological endowment is everything else. When one considers the future of Nigeria from the perspective of its present ruling elite, there is little reason for optimism. This is due to the fact that the very poor attitudes to leadership characteristic of military dictators in the country are still predominant among politicians in positions of power and influence, from the presidency down to local government administration.