Leadership And Responsibilty

by Ephraim Adinlofu

Karl Marx ones wrote that “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstance, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” Africans have been held hostage for ages, by different traditional beliefs, cultures and mores. We are in real spiritual and economic bondage. The backwardness of the continent, despite its enormous human and mineral resources, can no longer be justified in this age. It has become seemingly archaic to keep blaming slavery and slave trade, colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism for our backwardness. It is true they are linear historical stages in our development but it is time for the blame culture to stop.

They have become ‘handymen’ explanations that are easy to bandy about. India, Malaysia, and Singapore, had in one way or the other, gone through those historical stages, but have long moved on and are seriously moving on. I don’t really know whether Walter Rodney’s published master thesis titled: HOW EUROPE UNDERDEVELOPED AFRICA {1972} can still stand the test of our present time. This position is further reinforced by the revelation by the EFCC that Nigeria has made between $400 to $500 billion from crude oil sales {alone} from 1958 to 2007 and yet, all that we have to show for it is festering corruption.

A studied look at the last three decades in Nigeria seems to show that there is no difference between the educated and the uneducated, the churched and the un-churched, in terms of cheating and looting of public funds. I am not in a position to reel out names of well educated and corrupt public servants. Nigerians know them and they also know the universities these public servants have attended. Run the statistics of looters of Nigerian treasury and one would be ashamed to call oneself a graduate. So, what then were these people taught in their “first class” universities in Nigeria, and abroad? How to steal and loot? The money Nigeria had realised from crude oil sales was enough to cover the deprivations we had gone through under slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. It was enough to jump-start our development and transform our country.

If therefore, you cannot use your education to improve humanity, as far as I am concerned, your education is not worth a tinker’s cuss. If you cannot participate in the fight for a just and safe society especially in the present fight against corruption and stunted economic growth and development in Nigeria, then, you probably have had a wrong education. With the pathetic situation in that country, we don’t need to hoard our ideas. We are not doing justice to our country. All hands should be on deck to effectively confront these political kleptomaniacs and miscreants that are holding us hostage. Even if you don’t have anything to write about, please you have the right, in the spirit of freedom of speech and expressions, to use your pen to insult these shameless political looters.

The political class are messing up that country and they no longer deserve any respect. I am really pissed off. It is now a country where everyone wants to be a president. Senator Nzeribe was ones quoted in an interview to have said that he was ready to “cut off ” his “arm just to rule Nigeria for one day.” What sort of desperation is that? Must you serve a people {only} when you are a president? There are other avenues one can serve a people if one is sincerely out to serve. The revelation coming out from OBJ’s govt of 8 years, shows why some queer politicians are desperate to rule Nigeria.

As at the last count, we now have about 50 political parties. So, in 2011 election, all things being equal, we should be expecting 50 presidential candidates. Now, when these parties have refused to coalesce into one or two strong opposition parties to the ruling party, how is the country going to nurture a credible opposition party? What is the guarantee, going by Chief Ogbulafor’s lack-of-respect-for-others hypothesis, that the PDP would not rule for 60 years?

There are leaders and there are followers. Everyone cannot be a leader. I don’t know whether the country has reached the stage where everyone will not be satisfied until each of us becomes literally a local government; so that I can trot to Abuja to go and collect my allocation. Anyway, leaders, as is often said, are made and not born. Unfortunately, those that have been ruling us have always been ’designer-made’ and imposed on us. With the exception of the betrayed 12th June 1993 election, never in our history, have Nigerians been given the free will to choose a leader of their own choice. Instead, the stooges, wrongly called leaders, are selected by a few, in very dubious and corrupting circumstances and imposed on us.

In a bourgeois democracy like we have it in Nigeria, chosen leaders are meant, whilst in power, to serve a particular “class interest” and not the “people’s interest“. Thus, during any of their electioneering campaigns, members of this privileged class confuse the rest of the people by making “their private interests look like a universal interest.” And, to get what “they” want by all means, “they” manipulate the media and religion simultaneously, then play chess using tribe, region, quota system, federal character and ethnicity, as pawns. True leaders cannot come out under this type of stratified social arrangements with in-built dominating tendencies. All our leaders had amazingly, served and protected a particular “class interest“. Read Bode Eluyera series to understand Nigeria’s “class interest“, which also incorporates and protects, “Northern interest”.

America, like Nigeria, operates a capitalist economic system concurrently with bourgeois democracy but with a rigid practice of separation of powers. Britain and most other European countries operate welfare capitalism concurrently with bourgeois democracy, and again, with a strong enforcement of the principles of separation of powers . The problem however, with Nigeria’s brand of capitalism and bourgeois democracy is that it is a crooked admixture that is too difficult to call and comprehend. It is riddled with contradictions. All powers lies with the president. Separation of powers is neither here nor there.

Thus under our own brand, responsibility of a ruler to “all the people” is a mirage. It is a responsibility that is limited in scope by the class to which the ruler belongs because he sees the people, through the eyes of his own privileged social longing. He sees a people to be ruthlessly subdued, subjugated and exploited; a people that once in a while, should be given peanuts as palliatives, to suppress their anger and frustration. To the ruler, the looting of the treasury is a competition and the raping of the economy is a pastime, thus the rat-race to out-loot one another because members of that special class know each other’s worth.

There is also an international dimension to it. Foreign governments and international multinational corporations have got stakes in Nigeria. They are involved in this “Corporate Nigeria”. But these “internationals” cannot operate without internal collaborators. These internal collaborators are called the “comprador bourgeoisies.” They are also members of the Nigerian ruling class. They occupy strategic economic positions which they use to escalate the fiscal crises of the Nigerian state. They also assert power and authority and are ready to mortgage their conscience and nationalistic spirit, for filthy lucre.

However, in a popular democracy, the leader is chosen by the people, under circumstances, not transmitted to them from generation to generation by the old brigades but under circumstances defined by them or already transformed by them {paraphrased Marx as above}. We have never in Nigeria, had a popular democracy nor a popular government. The only one that would have seemingly looked too close to call but was truncated by IBB, was the election of MKO Abiola. Most popular democracies pursue popular policies. Thus, Gerry Rawlings said in Abuja, that “transformational societies” bring out “transformational leaders.”

But the same Rawlings was the “transformational leader” who came out from the barracks to transform a rotten Ghana of the late 70s. Today, Nigerians are running to Ghana to go and buy property and enjoy constant electricity supply. Some Nigerians have {even} moved their offices to Ghana. Who led that foundation in Ghana? Answer: Rawlings! The responsibility of a leader, under popular democracy, to all the people, is total. He sees each individual through the eyes of all the people.

So, that Zik or Tafawa Balewa, Ironsi, Gowon, Obasanjo{twice}, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Chief Shonekon, Abacha and Abdulsalami, had all chosen not to transform Nigeria or became transformational leaders, was a matter of ideological choice. They were rulers who were out to serve a particular interest group, not the people‘s interest. Thus, Obasanjo, Shagari, and Babangida, who have had the best of opportunity to “transform” Nigeria were at best, “reformists”.

Of the lot, however, IBB and OBJ had the best chance to perform just as Hugo Chavez is presently doing in Venezuela. They chose to remain adamant and fixated to a rotting status quo. One of the crucial and critical questions before us as patriotic Nigerians therefore, is this: how do we evolve a “transformational leader”, under our brand of anomic democracy, who will transform our society? My answer is simple: a mass action by the people. After all, “democracy”, as re-defined by Professor Oluwole Adejare, “is the government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people…” What a fantastic definition! I rest my case!

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1 comment

Adejumo June 1, 2008 - 9:43 am

Another great piece. I just wish this people will listen to us. Enough is enough


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