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Bad Leadership: The Tent on Which Nigeria’s Plights Is Pitched.

Updated on April 30, 2017
Odewoye Francis profile image

Odewoye,Graduate Electrical Engineering,Registered member, Engineering Council U.K,Registered member(COREN) Nigeria. Professional Engineer.


The histories of human societies have revealed that quality leadership is very crucial in the task of nation building. Many thinkers, right from antiquity have argued in support of the notion that there exist a nexus between leadership and the progress of any nation. While Plato maintained that the well-being of a state depends on the knowledge and character of its rulers, Aristotle, on the other hand, argued that the ability of the state to produce the good life for which it exists is made possible by the behaviours of its rulers. Evidence has shown that our country Nigeria is buried in a morass of predicament ranging from socio-political, economic, and cultural to moral inadequacies which stultifies its integral development. While morality and virtue are being exiled from our political system, injustice, corruption, violence and all forms of maladies, on the other hand, have characterized the politics. There seems to be an enthronement of Machiavelism (a political theory developed by Niccolo Machiavelli, which tries to remove morality from politics and grant politicians complete autonomy from any moral restraints or control). It is against this backdrop that this article is structured in a way to expose our country’s political system, with the sole aim of proffering some panaceas for the misdemeanors.

Before delving into the political system of our society, it is pertinent to first of all, conceptualize the term leadership for better understanding of the topic.

Meaning of Leadership:

Leadership can be seen as the ability of a person or group of person to persuade others to act by inspiring in them confidence in the rightness of one’s purposes, courage in their collective execution and obedience in the threat of resistance. It involves influencing people and institutions towards well defined goals, which contribute to the betterment or greater well-being of society. One things that stands out in leadership is that it has to be positive for it to lead to a better society. This is largely because; it is the leadership that drives the society into a desirable or undesirable direction depending on the qualities of such leadership.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo, A political Leader
Chief Obafemi Awolowo, A political Leader

A critical introspection on Nigeria’s political system:

A cursory look at the Nigerian political system would divulge that Nigeria’s crisis is squarely placed on leadership. Leadership has been identified as a major challenge of development in our country, Nigeria. It is on this standpoint that the Nigerian novelists, Prof. Chinua Achebe in his famous book “The Trouble with Nigeria, Published in 1983”, gave a candid assessment of the Nigerian situation and argued that the problem with Nigeria is nothing but the problem of leadership. In fact, from this, it is deduced that the Nigerian problem can aptly be described as the problem of leadership. He saw the emergence of quality leadership as the only antidote to the plethora of problems that bedevil our country. Right from her post-independent period, our country, Nigeria has tried to develop political arrangements that would better her lot ranging from the intervention of the military to the emergence of the presidential system. It is however very surprising that with the presence of these political arrangements, there has been resurgence of bad leadership. Evidences of bad leadership in our country Nigeria are reflected in our poor road network, epileptic power supply, perennial labour crisis in the health and education sectors, rising crime wave in our rural and urban centres and the worst of all, corruption of different sorts which has held back our country’s progress. It would not be quite surprising to say that Nigeria has grown too wonderfully successful in breeding and harboring all forms of corruptions.

Nigerian Political Leaders
Nigerian Political Leaders

Factors that influence the influx of corruption in Nigeria’s political system:

It is obvious that the influx of corruption into our political system is facilitated by many factors which include;

  1. Lack of essential prerequisites for leadership;

Critical assessments of our leaders since independence would indicate that majority of our leaders were never prepared and did not even possess the perquisite qualities for the task of leadership. There are various necessary qualities which a potential leader must at least, possess. Such qualities include such as zeal for the common good, right focus, vision, willingness to lead, knowledge of the societal problem and so on. Unfortunately, reverse has been the case as what we see in various leadership positions is nothing but the situations where the leaders were thrust forward by ill circumstances other than their initial dispositions and preparation to occupy such positions. Many of our leaders have the erroneous idea that leadership position is either what one will just wake up one day and assume or it is meant for every Tom, Dick and Harry. With this scenario at hand, one would not, of course expect something good to emerge from such leadership. The irony of the story is that, those who even spend time preparing themselves never get there because, our political system is designed in such a way that they would be denied of such opportunity.

2. Egoistic and selfish reasons in political leadership:

It is crystal clear that leadership position in our country Nigeria has become an avenue for amassing public wealth as well as the fastest means of making money. It has been limited to a business venture and mere exercise of authority for selfish gains rather than for selfish less service. It is an open secret that many people aspire to leadership position with the sole aim of becoming somebody rather than doing something. The most pitiable situation is that everybody, including the learned and unlearned gentlemen and touts, scholars and illiterates, human beings and monsters, strong and heartless, good people and criminals are all involved in political leadership of our country Nigeria, each perpetuating evil. Because of these egoistic reasons on ground, our leaders pay lip services and apply cosmetic approaches to the issues of our country Nigeria. In fact, I would say that our political systems has been crassly gripped and defaced by those who thirst for power and means of siphoning of public fund.

3. Recycling of the expired leaders:

This is another prominent problem that accounts for the presence of corruption in our country’s political sphere. You would agree with me that the same categories of leaders who have been piloting affairs since the independent of our great nation are still the ones who dictate the political directions despite their failures in the past. For instance, one can see that many of our political leaders, who were formally military men, were transmogrified into civilian leaders, not minding the failures of their strategies and ideologies that have failed to bail us out from our problems in the past. Based on this, one would not be slow to conclude that the whole question of generational shift in leadership is justified. This shift implies the fact that most politicians reserve their political places for those whom they have ‘cloned’ in the political cycle.

4. Failures on the part of the followers:

It is a truism that, in an attempt to accuse our leaders for their failures, we, the followers have also failed to play our own role for the betterment of our society. The attitude of passing the buck and blaming our leaders for their irresponsibility has tremendously beclouded us from assuming our role as followers. The irony of the story is that we crave for leaders who will not loot our treasury, but we are not ready to discourage embezzlement and have also refused to be used as instrument for rigging elections. Followers are not forceful in demanding for good leaders, this is largely because of the ill-behaviors they have associated themselves with during the election of leaders. Due to this factor, they lack the moral power to rebuke the leaders who force themselves into power by ‘do-or-die’ approach.

Political Leaders in Nigeria.
Political Leaders in Nigeria.

Way Forward:

In the first place, Nigerians should develop the right attitude of mind about politics. Leadership position should not be seen as an avenue for ‘myonisation of power’, transmogrification of leadership aspirants, lordship and accumulation, but it has to be seen as a position of selfless service to God and people. A leader should be a man of probity and reputable character. Furthermore, he should be humane, God- fearing, honest, responsible, accountable, meek and gentle. Importantly, intelligence must not be divorced from the leaders.

In addition to the above, our concern and onus as followers should be to vote good, responsible and God-fearing people into leadership positions. Followers have to be enlightened enough in order to be able to constructively disagree with leaders and to avoid stagnation and leadership degeneration. We should not yield to favoritism and clandestine solidarity, but should objectively vote the right people into leadership position. Put differently, we the followers have to discharge our God-ordained responsibilities in the most credible manner. If we crave for leaders who will not loot our treasury, then we need followers who will not encourage embezzlement by castigating those who do such act while in office. Finally, we owe it as a duty to pray for our country Nigeria and her leaders. Based on this, the “prayer for Nigeria in distress” and prayer against bribery and corruption in Nigeria” are indispensable panaceas.


By way of conclusion, I would say that for leadership of any country to be bereft of corruption, it must take accountability, transparency, active participation, openness and others very serious. Our leaders should be reminded of the fact that no society can have institutions that are transparent, accountable, and democratic without leaders who have vision, integrity, intellect and commitment to progress. Finally, we, both the leaders and followers, should therefore eschew the factors that allow the possibility of corruption in our political system, in order to have good leaders who will not only bring development into our country but also take the citizens forward to a higher and greater level.


Abba Joebarth, , The contemporary Nigerian: Our faith, Glories, Woes and Prospects, Nsukka: Rise and Shine Publication, 1997.



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