By Chiedu Uche Okoye
IT is an incontrovertible fact that good and purposeful political leadership is the sine qua non for development in any country. So, no country in our today’s world can rise above the dreams and leadership ability of its national leader. That’s the chief reason why Nigeria is stuck in the mud of underdevelopment.
Since Nigeria’s attainment of political freedom in 1960, bad and inept political leaderships interspersed with despotic military regimes have been our collective lot. The departing British imperialists introduced the culture of imposition of leaders on us when they helped Alhaji Tafawa Balewa to become our Prime Minister at the expense of his political betters, such as Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
But Alhaji Tafawa Balewa’s mishandling of the problems besetting Nigeria and other factors coalesced to cause the truncation of the first republic. Consequently, the Igbo people of South-East of Nigeria fought a bloody secessionist war, which came on the heels of the January 1966 coup and the July 1966 counter-coup. So, after the end of the civil war in 1970, Nigeria experienced military interregnum between 1970 and 1979.
In the second republic, Nigeria started practising the Presidential system of government. And, Alhaji Shehu Shagari became the first executive President of Nigeria after the announcement of the 1979 Presidential election results showed that he was the winner. But, alongside other contenders for the presidential seat, Alhaji Shehu Shagari was a political dark horse, whose emergence as the President of Nigeria flowed from the existence of the culture of imposition of leaders on Nigerians.
Thereafter, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari became head of state. Muhammadu Buhari who exhibited dictatorial tendencies promulgated draconian decrees to circumscribe our fundamental human rights. He made decrees which had retroactive effects to punish drug offenders. Yet, laws ought to be forward-working, and not backward-looking. After ousting the President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, from office, he put him under house arrest while the Vice President of the country, Dr Alexander Ekwueme, was clamped into detention for alleged corrupt practices. Buhari’s adoption of double standards in treating Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Dr Alex Ekwueme portrayed him as an ethnic jingoist and religious bigot.
However, Buhari was removed from office via military coup by Gen Ibrahim Babangida (retd) on August 27, 1985. It was Babangida, who embarked on the detestable political transition programme rigmarole, which climaxed with his cancellation of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election. That presidential election was believed and adjudged to be the freest and fairnest in our political annals. In order to solve the problem of political impasse caused by the annulment of that presidential election, Chief Ernest Shoneka was made the interim president of Nigeria. However, Sani Abacha shoved aside the government of Ernest Shoneka.
Abacha, who combined kleptomania with sanguinary proclivities stole Nigeria blind and liquidated many members of NADECO, the group which fought relentlessly for the revalidation of MKO Abiola’s stolen political mandate. He maintained a suffocating stranglehold on Nigeria and circumscribed our fundamental human rights, which caused many members of the opposition groups to flee into exile. Fortunately, God saved us from the human vampire (Sani Abacha) when he died in mysterious circumstances.
Abdusalami Abubakar, who succeeded him, superintended over the transition to civil rule programme, which culminated in the emergence of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as our democratically elected president in 1999. His emergence as our national leader on the political platform of PDP heralded the PDP’s domination of political power at the centre in Nigeria from 1999 to 2015. His successors who presided over the affairs of Nigeria on the platform of PDP were Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. But it should be noted that Chief Obasanjo frittered away the opportunity given to him to transform Nigeria and better the lots of Nigerians.
Jonathan became president following the unexpected death of Yar’Adua. But his leadership of Nigeria showed that he was very ill-prepared for the challenges of political leadership. Tardiness, indeciveness, and perpetration of corrupt deeds by those in the corridors of power characterized his political administration.That’s why Muhammadu Buhari’s political mantra of change during the 2015 presidential election campaign found resonance among us. Consequently, Jonathan was swept out of office through electoral tsunami.
Then, Buhari became president, and millions of Nigerians believed him to be the political messiah, who would right the wrongs in our polity, revamp our distressed economy, address Nigeria’s ethno-religious problems, and set the country on the path of irreversible national development.
But it is sad that President Buhari’s occupation of the highest political seat in Nigeria has led to his demystification. Since he ascended into the loft of power, our economy has not witnessed astronomical growth, as only jejune and impractical economic policies are being implemented in the country. Consequently, now, millions of Nigerians have been reduced to sub-humans. And they live below the breadline.Again, the unemployment problem has not been solved because the economy has not been diversified.
More so, Nigeria has returned to the hobbesian state of nature where life is short, brutish, and nasty. Has the federal government successfully reined in the Boko Haram murderous activities? The answer is no. During the last governorship election in Kogi State, bloody violence marred the conduct of the election climaxing in the burning to death of the PDP women leader in the state by some members of the APC, who were seized with pyromania.
Worst still, President Buhari’s disdain for the constitution, which manifests in his disobeying courts orders, undermines and emarculates our democracy.Sheik El-ZakZaky and Sambo Dasuk had been granted bail by courts. However, they are still being detained after they had fulfilled and perfected their bail conditions. Muzzling the voices of dissent and cracking down on journalists and activists have become the trade mark and chief feature of the administration. President Buhari’s misdeeds and iron-fist rule will lead Nigeria to become a totalitarian and one party state. But it will spell doom for our country and hasten its disintegration.