By Chiedu Uche Okoye
NIGERIA, a nation of nations, is an immensely blessed country, what with its abundant human and material resources. For example, beneath our soil lie such national resources as tin-ore, bauxite, limestone, crude oil and others.
It has equable weather conditions and vast arable land, which are incentives for the practice of mechanical agriculture. In addition to these, Nigeria has millions of graduates who possess both theoretical knowledge and skills in diverse areas of human endeavours. And it is humans with knowledge and skills that can drive developmental initiatives in any country.
So, why is Nigeria still stuck in the mud of underdevelopment for all its human and material resources? The answer is not far-fetched. Leadership crises is at the root of our national malaise. It should be noted that we have not got it right, politically, since our attainment of political independence in 1960. And there is a nexus between good political leadership and national development.
For example, without the patriotic and good political leadership offered by the Singaporean leader, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore would not have achieved economic prosperity and technological development. It takes good and visionary political leadership for any country to leapfrog to the zenith of economic and technological advancement.
No country can rise above the visions, dreams and aspirations of its national leader. For example, in the First Republic, when we practised cabinet system of government, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who tended towards the left, executed welfarist policies with success in the Western Region. Many people who benefited from his free education policy are contributing effectively to Nigeria’s development today.
However, First Republic politicians were men who set store by the acquisition of knowledge, probity, fealty and ideologies. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, our governor-general in the First Republic, was a well-read man, who wrote books. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who was the premier of the Western Region then, was very versed in law, metaphysics and other fields of study. The first prime minister of Nigeria, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, could hold his own when it came to splitting hairs over intellectual matters. More than all these, most First Republic politicians were men of probity.
After the collapse of the First Republic, and until 1999, the leadership of Nigeria alternated between despotic military regimes and inept corrupt democratic governments. The military boys, who ruled Nigeria, always portrayed their governments as corrective regimes. But, sadly, they rolled back the development of Nigeria by decades.
The beret-boys, who overthrew the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari in 1983, suspended the Constitution and enacted decrees, which had retroactive effects. The Buhari-led military government of 1983-85 trampled on our fundamental human rights in its efforts to right the wrongs in our polity. Gen.Ibrahim Babangida’s ascension to power via a military coup coincided with the onset of the erosion of moral values in Nigeria. His military regime was a bad influence on millions of Nigerians. So, many people stopped setting store by probity, honesty, tolerance, righteousness and holiness.
However, in our political annals, the dark goggle-wearing Sani Abacha remained the worst military officer ever to rule Nigeria. He combined sanguinary proclivities with unbridled rapacious kleptomania. Not only did he steal Nigeria blind, he also reportedly killed some members of NADECO who opposed his continued leadership of Nigeria. Till now, the Abacha loot is still being repatriated to Nigeria from foreign banks. That is proof of the high magnitude of his plunder of our national treasury.
So, Nigerians popped champagne, ate turkey and were sucked into the vortex of celebration following our country’s transition to civil rule in 1999. But, sadly, since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, and till now, Nigeria has not realised its vast potentialities. She is still called the Giant of Africa; however, she is a giant which has feet of clay. Yet, Nigeria has the human and material resources to take over the leadership of Africa. Sadly, our country is hamstrung and handicapped by bad political leadership.
It is sad that those, who are elected into exalted political offices in Nigeria perceive their occupation of those high offices as open sesame and licenses to make good for themselves by looting our collective financial tills. Now, many past governors in our dear country are still being hounded by EFCC for the financial crimes they perpetrated while in office. They bled Nigeria dry to satisfy their lust for material things. Even the governors who are presiding over the affairs of their states are neglecting issues besetting their states while they’re busy looting their state treasuries.
So, the reason behind Nigeria’s pitiable condition is that we are still experiencing the erosion of moral/family values in Nigeria. A good leader who offered good leadership to the people will be the butt of jokes if he leaves office impecunious. Here, we valorise, lionise, and eulogise people with ill-gotten wealth; however, a man of probity, who is poor, is ridiculed. That’s why we have scoundrels without scruples running our affairs today.
The panacea to our national ills lies in effecting moral regeneration among us. So, these three agents of socialisation, namely: religion, family, and school should play pivotal roles in effecting moral regeneration among us so that we can raise children who have positive morality-code and knowledge. When they assume leadership positions in the future, they’ll offer us good leadership based on their morality-code, probity and fealty.
Okoye, a poet, wrote from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State