It is widely attested that a land devoid of visionary leaders and a nation without integrity can hardly experience stability and growth. That is the story of Nigeria in recent years. Leaders with vision inspire citizens and mobilize them for nation-building. Leaders with crystal motives employ wisdom,
foresight, sense of purpose and commitment, to galvanise a people towards self-actualization and propel the national spirit in them.
History throws up quite a few outstanding leaders, true heroes of their time, who set the moral and political tones for their societies. Such leaders as George Washington of America, Mahatma Gandhi of India, Winston Churchill of Britain, Charles De Gaulle of France, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore and Nelson Mandela of South Africa, readily come to mind.
The generation of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Aminu Kano, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa played their parts well before the advent of the current winner takes it all.
If we are sincere about our search for a new economic direction, we must also have to take a critical look at the political factor of leadership which is the greatest problem militating against the economic development, and social-political cohesion in Nigeria.
The choice of leadership will always determine the political direction; if the choice of leadership is wrong politically, it is certain that the economic direction will also be wrong. Nigeria’s history has linked its economic fortune with its choice of leadership; and because the successive choices since independence had been wrong, it has affected the economic direction which has stagnated the nation to prosper.
The way out of this economic downturn should have its focus on leadership. This is attested by Segun Oke, a political analyst who said, “Nigeria needs a man with an exceptional endowment to harness both human and material resources efficiently which is the only way to make Nigeria and Africa what it ought to be”.
His words: “We need a leader with the capacity, the courage and the strength of will to destroy all the structures that obviously portray imbalance, injustice, unfair and parochial favouritism based on sectional interest as well as religious considerations. Such a leader must understand the dynamism of education as it correlates to self- discovery, talents and human capacity”.
“The leader of choice must be able to dismantle the present system of education and assemble intelligent scholars to design the 21st-century curriculums for Colleges and Universities. Also, history and management courses should not be taken lightly but infused into the curriculum right from the primary school level to the university level. This will not only build the nation but raise a new crop of leaders to harness and maximize the nation’s natural resources for growth and development”
The choice of leadership has plagued Nigeria and it is the right time to start playing the right notes to get Nigeria off stagnated boat that is going nowhere. The choice of leadership for a progressive citizen should be a transformer, progressive elite, performer, communicator, erudite, nation builder and change agent who will give the country a new direction socially, politically and economically.
By Olakunle Agboola