Leadership Problems In Africa: In Search of A Solution

by Nnaemeka Oruh

In my article “The Man Dies…”, I had asserted that the leadership problem in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general does not require passivity or the innocuous use of pen and ink. Innocuous in the sense that pen and ink cannot wreck physical violence on our leaders, and thus will remain somewhat ineffective. The problem I believe will be solved only through violent confrontation with the agents of oppression. My reason is that the agents of oppression sustain their reign of terror through violence, and thus the only language they will understand is violence and indeed only violence can wrest power from them.

I further echoed the Russian socialist Vladimir Lenin in calling for an alliance of the military, the workers, and the peasants in this march to freedom land. This lays me open to the criticism of pro-democracy and anti-violence groups. To them, my position is tantamount to an open call for anarchy and the enthronement of military dictatorship which many scholars have recognized as the bane of African countries. But why is military rule frowned at? Simply, military rule is a type of government that rules without attention to the opinion of the masses. Military rules therefore become synonymous with dictatorship. If this then is the case, I make bold to assert that what we witness in Africa today is no democracy, but a disguised form of military rule.

One of the problems we have always had as a continent is our unbridled belief that what the West sets as the criterion for excellence must be the universal criterion. Thus if the West says that democracy is the best form of government, we embrace democracy even though in actuality, what we practice is plain oligarchy and dictatorship. Let it not be misconstrued that I am against democracy, no. What I am rather against is blind followership of the so called Western ideals even when in practice, such ideals are bastardized such that our people are yoked with severe hardship and torture. I am also against a type of government that resorts to unrestrained squandermania, the elevation of some to the position of owners, and the reduction of the greater majority into a class of slaves. More painful is the fact that this is happening in a country jointly owned by all of us. I am also against the fouling of our communal air by the corruption bloated politicians such that foul smell has become the perfume of all of us. Furthermore, I am vehemently against the littering of our society with faeces such that the formerly saintly find it impossible to live without a smear. Achebe will perhaps come for my jugular for talking so much about faeces and dirt, Yet I beg to be forgiven, for I cannot help but say things the way I perceive them and I believe that my perception is completely realistic. The picture I have tried to paint is what I have come to understand as democracy. Until such a time that this perception is changed through a change in the circumstances surrounding our democracy, I will continue to see democracy in this light, and so will a lot of Nigerian youths.

Frankly, I am not for any established form of government. I rather believe that in any society, humans in their flexible rationality, should be able to study their society, and consequently, be able to evolve a workable system of government. My assertion is that what we have in Nigeria and indeed most African countries, is not the ideal form of leadership. Otherwise, the groaning of the people would have been reduced by now.

Whenever something goes wrong, we call for a change of leadership whereas all we need is to seize power and have it re-distributed among ourselves. This is the assertion of Professor Femi Osofisan, in his preface to his play Aringindin and The Nightwatchman. This has always remained my position: a violent seizure of power and a careful redistribution among the masses such that we all would have a say in the running of our land. Not that some people will not be elevated a little above others, but it will be such that the elevated will be powerless without the support of those who elevated them. Anybody who doubts the workability of this, should take a trip to the history books and study how governance was carried out among the ancient Igbos. In any case, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart provides us with an orderly society without any sign of dictatorship, yet with enough powers to force such a powerful man as Okonkwo into exile. Try exiling IBB, Obasanjo today and let us see what will happen!

Perhaps the idea of a type of government where the electorates empower the elected, while the elected listen to the opinion of the electorates was probably what the proponents of Democracy had in mind. Unfortunately, this has become an unrealizable feat here. On my part, I believe that we must not force democracy to succeed, we should rather search conscientiously for a workable form of government even if such form of government has no antecedent anywhere in the world.


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Eshiet, I. James August 29, 2017 - 10:40 pm

This says it all about the Nigerian political scenario!

mensah November 8, 2009 - 6:11 pm

Its an interesting to and I think Dandaura’s comment is a call for an international conference for scholars to fashion out alternative approaches towards tackling Africa’s leadership problem

Dr Eman. S. Dandaura January 1, 2009 - 12:22 pm

a really inspiring alternative view to the search for solution to Africa’s leadership challenges. How do we realise this good treatise? or is it yet another “innocuous use of pen and ink”? I await your responses!

MABEL EVWIERHOMA April 21, 2008 - 3:28 pm

interesting and gazes into probabilities in governance

Anonymous July 17, 2005 - 1:06 am

This is an excellent write up by Emeka and a matured one.

This guy should be encouraged to move up.

Mike N.


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