Leadership, Decision Making, The North, The Military And Development In Nigeria: A System Analysis (Part 1)

by Bode Eluyera

As far back as 27th January 1961 late Chief Obafemi Awolowo delivered a lecture titled Politics and Religion in which he stated:

“In private life, before we entrust our personal or business affairs to anyone, we take steps to inquire into his qualifications both as to competence and character. Such an inquiry as this is done in private, because what is at issue is a private concern. But the competence and character of politicians must of a necessity be examined in the full glare of public limelight because what is at issue is the welfare of the community or nation. In the management of private affairs, a gross mistake would only affect the fortunes of one man or a family or a small group of persons. A serious error of judgment in the management of public affairs might adversely affect the lives and fortunes of millions of people.

For this reason, there is need for the competence and character of public men to be subjected to severer and stricter scrutiny and that mainly in public than those of persons engaged in private concerns.

Abuse or vilification in private or public life is to be deplored, because it stems from a mind which is depraved and warped. But the community which a politician seeks to serve is an amalgam of saints and sinners, with a sprinkling of the former as against an over-abundance of the latter. The gentle rebuke and occasional eulogy of the one may be fascinating, but the constant tauntings of the other must be accommodated.

Politicians are born not made; and anyone who has not the stomach for the railings of the masses and is only interested in their occasional hosannas, has no right to enter into public life.” (nigerianmuse)

Most Nigerians agree with the fact that ‘good leadership’ is the main obstacle or the bane to our development. In addition, some believe that it doesn’t really matter what part of the country a leader comes from, as far as he is able to deliver. Definitely, all things being equal, this should be the norm in any progressive and democratic society. However, with all due respect to those who hold this view, nevertheless, I beg to disagree with this opinion. In this article, using a system analysis approach, I’ll try to show or prove that the probability of a leader succeeding, at least as far as the Nigerian context is concerned has a lot to do with his origin. Using econometrics, we will try to find a correlation between good leadership and the origin of a leader, President to be more precise.

In particular, we will try to examine the correlation between good decision making, leadership, the North, military and development, based on statistical analysis.

For the lay man. In simple terms, econometrics deals with the application of statistical methods to economics. Unlike economic statistics, which is mainly statistical data, econometrics is distinguished by the unification of economic theory, mathematical tools, and statistical methodology. More broadly, it is concerned with:

(1) estimating economic relationship;

(2) confronting economic theory with facts and testing hypotheses involving economic behaviour;

(3) forecasting the behaviour of economic variables.

What is leadership in the first place? Leadeship has its roots from the verb “to lead.” But in order to lead successfully, a leader must not only “take decision” as regards to his “destination” i.e. where he wants to lead his followers, he must as well have a “road map” detailing how to get to the destination, and the team that will accompany him to implement various difficult tasks along the rough journey. In short, a good leader must have vision.

The task of choosing what path to follow – which political, economic, social policies to pursue, and with which team to implement them, undoubtedly are not easy tasks for a leader. Definitely, a well-defined destination plays a significant role in the success of a leader.

Good leadership is about not just making decisions but the right decisions, at least most of the time. Decision can either be good, very good, excellent, bad, very bad or catastrophic. Even, the decision to take or not take a decision on an issue is itself a decision, and definitely has its consequence.

The quality of the decision a leader makes depends on a lot of factors: level of education, special training, professional experience, moral values, level of patriotism, general background e.t.c. No wonder, in the corporate world, top managers are highly sorted after and handsomely rewarded. It is believed that with their financial, management, marketing and production experience acquired either from an M.B.A. progamme, years spent studying in the universities and years of professional experience, all things being equal, they are best equipped to make and implement the right commercial decisions in the interest of their companies. Obviously, these right commercial decisions reflect in the financial statements or reports as profits.

In a situation whereby a leader takes a wrong decision, the consequence could be grave. The consequence of a wrong decision is like financial mathematics, compound interest to be precise, or geometric progression. One bad decision compounds, progresses or leads to 3 problems. 3 wrong decisions leads to 27 problems e.t.c.

What political path and/or level of democracy a country should allow, calibre of ministers in the cabinet, how and on which projects the country’s budget should be spent, level of government intervention in the economy, monetary policy, stand on corruption, e.t.c. are critical decisions that a leader/president must take during his term in office. The negative effects of bad decision is like a chain reaction. In the corporate world, the consequence is the inevitable death of a company, or to put it simply, the company goes bankrupt.

Asfar as the economy is concerned too, there are no miracles. As you lay your bed so you lie on it. Wrong decisions lead to galloping inflation, mass unemployment, mass immigration, high rate of crime, corruption, poor educational system, regular plane crashes, inadequate health and pension systems, coup-detats, large mortal rates from diseases, unstable power supply, delapidated roads, non-functioning public transportation system, non-existence of functioning public water supply system; the list is endless.


According to statistics, Nigeria, since independence has been ruled “virtually” by the North and the military. Emphasy is placed here on virtually, because the author strongly believes that OBJ is a continuation of the rule of the North – since he was never the Yorubas’ candidate. It is a well known secret that OBJ was sponsored by the North. To show the extent of the unpopularity of his candidacy among The Yorubas, he lost the 1999 election even in his local government and state respectively. Although, OBJ is a Yoruba man, he was not The Yorubas’ candidate. Therefore, it could be rightly argued that The Yorubas’ chance to providequality leadership has not only be wasted but they have been robbed the opportunity to provide quality leadership, that definitely would have taken the country out of the doldrums it is presently in at the end of his 8 year visionless ‘reign.’If there was a gentleman agreement as is being claimed, then why did Buhari contest against OBJ in 2003? Would we have been talking about “gentleman’s agreement” now if Buhari had won the 2003 presidential election?


We need some vital data for our analysis. I want to implore the readers to carry out a little experiment with me. For the validity and objectivity ofour analysis, this experiment must be carried out before reading on. Please get a sheet of paper. Write down 20 names ‘each’ of renowned and accomplished Nigerians in the following fields or professions: Musicians, actors, actresses, footballers (men), footballers (women), sports men (apart from football), sports women, lawyers (SAN), writers, bankers/economists/top m

anagers, professors and educators. Now write down 20 names of Nigerian retired military officers and politicians.

I can bet with you that apart from the retired military officers and politicians’ list, at least 90% or 19 names/people on your lists in other categories are Southerners. What conclusion can we draw from this? The conclusion is that the core of the intellectual or human capital of the country is concentrated in the South. The Nigerians on your lists, through their professional activities are the ones that make us to be proud to be Nigerians and promote the country on the international arena. The Soyinkas, Achebes, Olajuwons, Emeagwalis, Fawehinmis, Kanus, Okochas,Utomis, nollywood stars, the nigerian musicians e.t.c. In economic terms, these are the wealth creators.


Another conclusion we can also draw is that Northerners are not competitive with Southerners in all fields of human endeavour where there is ‘free competition’ except in the military and politics, which the North hasintentionally hijacked by purposely limiting the number of Southerners that can enroll, and has stolen so much money in order to be active and relevant in Nigerian politics.That explains the significant presence of retired Northern military officers and their Northern civilian counterparts in the list of politicians.

It is also worth mentioning that a large number of the so called Northern graduates and professionals are products of quota system i.e. they did not go through the normal procedure entailing fierce and free competition to secure admission, places were automatically reserved for them. These Northern graduates later are appointed as ministers, advisers, ambassadors, diplomats, permanent secretaries, chief executive officers of our public companies e.t.c., also on quota system and using the privilege that their kingsmen were in power.

Based on this analysis, I wrote in my previous article titled “A battle cry to reverse the poor state of the nation” that “For every Northerner occupying a federal post, there are at least 100 Southerners that are much better qualified but been denied the opportunity.” Millions of Southerners are victims of quota system, a system that unfortunately still operates at all levels even at the time of writing.

In the same article, I also wrote about my shock discovery on getting to Russia to study. After our interaction with Bureau for External Aids scholarship students from the North, what we realised to our greatest surprise and disappointment was that our Northern colleagues had inferior WAEC, GCE results compared to ours. I remembered some of my colleagues who had distinctions but were denied scholarship because equal number of students had to be chosen from each state. There were even several occasions when Northern scholarship students sent to study Medicine in Russia had never studied biology or/and chemistry before! It was then that I understood not only the real meaning, damage and danger of quota system, but I as well realised the injustice in our system and the heavy price the South is paying to accommodate or co-exist with the North.

By the way, talking about quota system, I wonder why we don’t use quota system in sports, for example. Imagine using quota system to choose our footballers or the olympic team that won gold in Atlanta in 1994. Imagine choosing 3 Northerners with finishing time of more than 20 seconds for our 4X100m relay team in the olympics. What are our chances of winning? Zero, you will definitely say. It sounds absurd of course to choose athletics with finishing time of more than 20 seconds to represent the country. It is obvious that in order for our country to excel at international competitions, we need to choose the best of the best among us to represent us.

But, has it ever occurred to you that in actual fact, for the past 46 years, that is exactly what we have been doing. All along, we are being ruled by people, who at best ought to have been ‘night guards’ or ‘megidas’ in our houses, but were fortunate to enroll in the army, and grossly abused the privilege and trust bestowed on them by the nation, by carrying out one coup after the other. The Northern directors, advisers, ambassadors, journalists, diplomats, civil servants, specialists, e.t.c., of our public institutions and companies were mainly based on politics or quota system, and not on merits or qualification. There are numerous examples, most especially during the reign of Northern head of states. That explains the total breakdown of our public companies.

On the global scale, it is the same picture.Irrespective of our desire, Nigeria as a country is always in global competition. To be competitive globally, a country must keep on developing or moving in the right direction, otherwise, it is taken over by other countries economically, and eventually becomes irrelevant in world politics and economy. We compete with other countries in the world not only for a share of Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) in our economy, but for the increase in the export of non-oil products to other countries as well. Definitely, choosing an economic team, ministerial positions or the president based on state of origin, region or quota system, and not on merits weakens the quality of decisions that are taken, and consequently undermines our competitiveness in the global economy.

Why is it that Northerners politicians, both retired military officers and their civilian counterparts are active and competitive only in politics? First, because you need a lot of money to go into politics in order to be relevant in Nigeria, and the notherners and the military have more money at their disposal acquired through outright embezzlement during their rule. Secondly, since the North is not competitive with the South in all other aspects of human endeavours, subsequently, they have no other means of survival apart from politics, otherwise, the North would have given the country first class lawyers, footballers, writers, sprinters, boxers, scholars, managers, bankers, actors, actresses, artists, musicians, engineers, basketball players, e.t.c.

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ibrahim indeed4real@yahoo.com September 2, 2009 - 10:23 pm

.I think u went to russia to become ignorant naïve and stupid to round it u became an unscruplous nonentity.if u don’t know (which u don’t know)obj enahoro awolowo were members of carbinet in gowons regime,omenka (an ibo man)olu were al hit men for abacha.my brother there has never been a nothern autocracy wthout its southern collaborators.if they can work as tyrants to destroy this nation then they can also work as democrats to build this nation.let me fill your daft brain,somalia is a country wit one religion ,one ethnic group yet they are stil in chaos,america. I s homogeneous country yet they are envied by many.I love chinue achebe , wole soyinka,maitama sule,gani bcos they view nigeria as whole not as a region.I have lived wit an ibo man for 15 years and I see him as father not as an ibo man.don’t envy and hate your fellow nigerian because he has achieved wat u cannot.north and south is just an english word to devide us.nigeria remains an indivisible nation till d day u die,and for ever and ever.naija for life . Am inviting u to face me on a debate

NATHANIEL ASABA April 17, 2008 - 11:19 am

I am a proudly Nigerian,it pains me to the marrow what is happening in my country your article is the naked truth.I also want to be one of Nigerian great scientist in aeronautics engineering,by the special grace of God i will be one of them and contribute my quota to develop NIGERIA.


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