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The Language of Change and Leadership Ideologies in Nigeria:

Updated on April 20, 2017
Odewoye Francis profile image

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

Introduction: The Language of change in History:

The concept of change is intrinsic to human life, such that at every second, there is the language of change heard, seen and expressed in the life of every living creature. Taking change to mean alteration, modification, variation, transformation, revolution, conversion, adjustment, development, amendment, difference and all possible synonyms, we will just realize when we analyze every aspect of human life, that change is part of human life. Change is experienced in our human growth and development physically/biologically; change is seen in our change of location, ideas/ideology, lifestyles, and friends/associations. In our institutions, whether religious, educational or political, there are traces of change. Was it not the reason why we have the axiom that change is the only permanent thing in life?

In the social and political life of Nigeria, right from the day one, we have experienced a lot of changes. While we shall not bother ourselves with the facts of the development of each tribe in Nigeria, suffice it to be said that a look at the history of the union of all these tribes as one nation has known deeply the language of change. We have not forgotten the language of change from the Royal Niger Company and the 19th and 20th Centuries’ changes that landed us into the 1914 amalgamation as one country. From then to independence, there was a change installed to the benefit of the British Aristocrats to send Governors to spearhead the affairs of the colony of Nigeria.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo  during independence in 1960
Chief Obafemi Awolowo during independence in 1960

i The Independent Language of Change:

The language of independence was coloured by the desire for change; change in leadership. The Pan-Nationalists believed that when Nigeria is controlled and administered by indigenous leaders, we will speak the language of progress in the lives of the common man. At last, October 1st 1960 saw the birth of a substantive change. Nigerians were allowed to control themselves and all they have both human and natural resources. Unfortunately, the military’s demand for change struck the first coup of January 15, 1966. The experience of the civil war received between that time till the end of 1070 was as a result of the demand for change. The Eastern Region wanted a change in the way things were done .The period of the post-civil war characterized with the changes of administrations from Murtala Mohammed to Abdulsalam Abubakar with the minute spice of Shehu Shagari’s civilian rule reveal the language of change in the political life of Nigeria. The Nigerian society was clamouring for a positive change of affairs. This clamour expressed in the need for the change to democracy was finally listened to. The highly thought “positive” change was left at the hands of the political party of People Democratic Party, the PDP!

President Buhari and Dr. Good Luck Jonathan
President Buhari and Dr. Good Luck Jonathan

ii. The change into today’s democracy:

Democracy has been described as the best form of government; for under this form of government can the individual’s autonomy expressed in the human rights are recognized and respected. It is a government which is derived from public opinion and it is accountable to the people. In other words of the great American Abraham Lincoln, democracy is government of the people by the people and for the people. This means that democracy is that government which belongs to the people, made by them and works for them as well.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) came up to control the Centre and virtually all the 36 states of the country from the May 29th 1999 birth time of democracy in Nigeria. Between 1999 and 2007, there were changes definitely in the society. But the social transformation in the positive realm was below expectation. At least there were rampant fuel queues at the petroleum stations and the hike of prices of goods and services. From 2007 till 2010, the second sets of PDP masters assumed the leadership role with several promises of a better Nigeria couched under7 point Agenda. Significantly, the electoral reform was initiated, but with the sudden death of Yar’Adua, that administration left the hopes of Nigerians shattered. From May 5th 2010 till May 29th 2015, the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan was experienced. Even while we do not remove the simple fact that there were areas such leadership did well, the polls of 2015 showed significantly that the Nigerian society was fed up with that leadership particular for the geometric increase in prices of goods and services, the enormous cases of corruption and the unashamed defence of corruption cases with the leader’s might, the non-security of lives and properties and the seemingly weakness to confront the malady of Boko Haram insurgence. Before the 2015 polls, during and after, the Nigeria society wanted a change in the leadership framework of the country. Hence, the good chances and the eventual victory of the All People Congress (APC) Victory at the Centre.

APC Political party leaders
APC Political party leaders

iii. The Leadership of APC and the desired change in Nigeria:

Nigerians are rational beings like other human beings. They know what is good and they nurture that desire for good things to come into place in the society. The APC promised Nigerians a positive change in the way and manner leadership and administration are carried out in the society. There was the promise of good economy with the control of the prices of goods and services so as to be accessible to the poor of the society; there was the promise of adequate security and the serious and unrelenting confrontation of the insurgency; there was the promise of provision of basic amenities. There was on the general level the promise of a general positive transformation of the Nigerian society especially on the ideologies associated with governance and public office administration as regards the total elimination of seeing public office as a means of enrichment at the expenses of the masses.

This trend of Change which begun with the victory at the polls has been expressing itself in some ways namely, the reduction of the cost of administration, the change of heads of government parastatals and agencies especially the NNPC where public treasure was changed to private treasures. We have witnessed the federal government intervention of financial assistance to the states to pay the salaries of workers. We have been hearing the news as well as experiencing the investigations of some people associated with corruption cases. These and many more seem hopeful about this present leadership of the country though not bereft of critics especially from the now sorrowful opposition PDP party. Even when Nigerians are anxiously waiting for perhaps a miraculous transformation of the society in all aspects, and whereas we intelligently know that change is gradual, the present leadership has continued to give signs of fulfilling their campaign promise of changing the nation for the better.

The APC Leaders and President Mohammed Buhari of Nigeria
The APC Leaders and President Mohammed Buhari of Nigeria

v. Change: Political party or ideology?

Nigerians are asking for a change in political ideology and not necessarily change of political parties. This is because even when new parties are formed or when some existing parties have increased in membership, a large percentage of the new entrants are coming from other parties who could not satisfy their perception of leadership which we cannot truly unveil since the hearth is known to the individual alone. But if this change has to necessarily and essentially call for a change of political party, it is okay. The change Nigerians need is a positive change of political ideology; the type that will pity the masses and alleviate their plight of poverty; the type that will consider extra penny too exorbitant since it will grossly affect the masses; the ideology that will see public office as a means of imprinting objective image on the lives of people; the type that considers public interest more than personal interest. Nigerians need leaders that will pay salaries, pensions and gratuity, and then ensure the eradication of poverty by the best means available. Our democracy should provide positive changes.

We need leaders who will build hospitals to the standard that they will confidently visit for medical services even for emergencies. We need leaders who will scrutinize and retire the aged and employ our youths and make education accessible to the people. We need leaders who will be contented with their salaries and working benefits. This is the change Nigerians are asking for the true ideology that speaks the language of care for the people! We do not need a change of political party for this but only a sincere change of individual’s ideology in matters on politics, governance and public leadership. Nothing less, nothing more and nothing else!

iv. Questioning the current trend of change:

In his assessment of Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration, Taiwo Samuel, noted that Nigeria has always longed for a messiah, she has seen leaders come and go with promising and mouthwatering propagandas at campaigns, yet the only things they fulfill as personal duty is ‘loot and move’. Thus, this accounts for the ever widening gap between a venal elite and the impoverished majority. Nigerians have experienced leaders of different kinds in the past as history sparkles with tyrants, dictators, schemers etc. that have handled the mantle of leadership at one point or the other. Nigerians got tired; indeed, when would the messiah come? They would always ask. Would we say she experienced the twilight of the ‘messianic’ entrance in the person of President Buhari or the members of the APC both old and new? This question becomes imperative given the fact that some of those surrounding the President were former members of PDP and other parties that have lost confidence in the voting and leadership eyes of the people. Yes, we have seen the changes from one party to another and with the supposed change of ideology not mainly on personal/ individual basis but on the party’s ideology or manifesto. We heard that some persons may have only changed their political party without a change of their personal and individual ideology when it comes to leadership in Nigeria. Perhaps, this accounts for some of the squabbles going on even within the supposed “messianic” APC party. Nigerians have seen changes from one leader to another at the local, state and federal levels. They have read and heard promises of positive transformation and they have seen the end of all the past leaders. The language of change is not new to Nigerians.



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