By Prisca Sam-Duru
Bad leadership has been the bane of Nigeria’s development. The country touted previously as the giant of Africa, has had very unpatriotic rulers rather than leaders, who have been more concerned with looting our national treasury than making life worth living for the people.
Apart from Nationalists- Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and few others who made sacrifices to secure an independent country, there are very few men and women who have recorded outstanding contributions towards the country’s development.
Stating the obvious fact that Nigeria now, more than ever before, is in urgent need of men and women who will think, act and live like Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and his fellow nationalists who faced daunting challenges, former Senate President, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, GCON, said the heroes overcame their challenges and ended up achieving set objectives because of their commitment to building the country.
The nationalists he added, understood that nation building is an arduous task that calls for sacrifices, patience, tolerance, accommodation and consensus building insisting that “We need to imbibe the spirit that guided our leaders in the past”.
According to the former SGF and a Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, presidential aspirant in the 2023 general elections, Nigeria’s problems are now monumental and more complex, adding that the demand of leadership in the present-day Nigeria has become more daunting.
“For instance, our population has risen from about 45 million in 1960 to over 200 million in 2020. Most of that population are in the youthful bracket. Our economy has moved from the boom of the 1960s and 1970s to cycles of stunted growth and recession in the last decade.
“Our educational institutions have moved from the best rankings in the 1960s to mediocre positions in the 2020s. Our Naira has depreciated from 65 kobo to a dollar in the early 1980s to the present N568 to a dollar in 2021. Our labour market has moved from employment of choice in the 1970s to crises of underemployment and unemployment in the 2020s”.
Also in agriculture, he said the country has “gone from a net exporter of food and cash crops to a nation of food insecurity and import dependence. “Nigeria was founded on the principle of unity in diversity, but we are now more divided than ever in our history. Most of us will still remember when we were our brothers’ keepers, but today danger lurks at every corner, nobody is safe anywhere. Around the world our image has shifted from the giant of African to what some say is the poverty capital of the world”.
Anyim spoke when he was honoured with the prestigious 2020 Zik Prize in Political Leadership alongside others, in Lagos. The honour was in recognition of his impactful leadership qualities during his reign as both Senate President and the SGF, where he left indelible legacies.
In his acceptance speech made on behalf of recipients of 2020 ZIK AWARD, Sen. Anyim, expressed immense gratitude to the Award Selection Committee on behalf of all the Award recipients, for the honour which he described as priceless to any Nigerian. He also pledged their commitment to continue to uphold the ideals of the great personage in whose name the Awards were instituted.
“To be associated with the name Zik is a priceless honour to any Nigerian. The revered Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, exemplified principled, committed and focused leadership. Zik was an outstanding and charismatic leader; a passionate patriot, an unapologetic nationalist, a relentless defender of justice and an ardent believer in the unity of Nigeria.
“These qualities stood Zik and his fellow nationalists out as leaders who rose to the challenges of their time, who fought with all they had, liberated us from the shackles of colonialism and laid a solid foundation for a nation with every potential to be a strong and respected voice among the comity of nations”, Anyim stated.
It’s rather unfortunate that leaders with Zik’s leadership qualities needed to rescue Nigeria from total disintegration are very few.
The leadership approach that will cope with the country’s overwhelming challenges the former SGF disclosed, must be beyond the usual; the kind that will change these challenges to success stories. “Such leadership must have vision and capacity, be determined and above all be inclusive”, he added. Anyim further hinted that the challenges of leadership will be much more overwhelming as the world draws closer to the 2nd quarter of the 21st Century (2026 – 2050) due to the effects of the 4th industrial revolution- Industry 4.0 which has been described as “the next phase of dramatic technological expansion and social change.
“We are certain to experience unprecedented enhancement of the existing technologies, e.g., from electric vehicles to self-driving and self-assisted packing cars, from smartphones to smart homes, from cyberknife to robotics surgery, space travel to space colonization, from smart city to intelligent roads etc. The world no doubt will reach for an unprecedented level in technological expansion in the 2nd quarter of the 21st Century”, he revealed.
The worst part of his postulations for a country like Nigeria, was that in the next 25 years, oil companies and oil explorations will continue to phase out which will definitely depress economies that are oil dependent with consequential social and economic effects.
For Nigeria to survive and thrive, the former Senate President harped on the importance of peace in the country and respect abroad. For that to be achieved, the country must enthrone leadership with full understanding of her challenges as well as the imperatives and concomitant of the 4th Industrial Revolution. “We need leaders that must connect and engage with the people especially the youth. Such leaders must place the youth at the centre of every nation building effort in order to move them from the current valley of despair to the height of their potentials. “We need leaders that can build societal consensus, repair our broken social fabrics and show deep empathy for all Nigerians that are suffering deprivation, poverty and want of any kind. Our leaders must be skilled in the science and art of good governance. They must be visionary and ready to keep pace with contemporary social, economic and technological changes. They must be pragmatic and result-driven in dealing with security, education, health and other myriad of challenges that confront our nation”, he intoned.