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The leadership curse on South-East

By News Express on 04/10/2017

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The coming of democracy or civil rule in Nigeria in 1999 threw open a can of worms and, indeed, exposed the varying degrees of rapid deterioration of political leadership.

The above assertion is not to invalidate the rich literature that speaks about spectacular leadership failures in all facets of Nigeria, since after the colonial rulers left for their United Kingdom homeland.

For instance, in the Second Republic, a globally-acclaimed novelist and writer, Prof Chinua Achebe, had authored a book – The Trouble With Nigeria  in which he rightly argued that Nigeria is accursed with poor and bad leadership. 

Prof Achebe of blessed memory stated that the Nigerian geography or climate is not the source of worry, but that leadership failure presents the worst kind of problems occasioning the crippling of development of the country. Again, long before the above mentioned book, Achebe, Prof Wole Soyinka, and a host of other excellent writers had also written several books on how messy Nigeria’s leadership profile had assumed, even in the First Republic, or soon after the political independence in 1960. 

In all of these, the military, which frequently seized political power, have contributed in the deterioration of leadership qualities at play in the polity. So, it can safely be argued that Nigeria’s leadership troubles pre-date the advent of civil rule in 1999.

This is because the processes that characterised the introduction of the extant grund-norm (1999 Constitution), were shrouded in lots of conspiratorial manipulations, suggesting that the military rulers hand-picked the writers of that Constitution to import and insert lots of provisions that completely favour a particular zone of the country, the North, from where most of the top military rulers originated in the over 30 years of military interventions in politics.

For instance, the sharing formula of federally-generated revenues is in such a distorted status that some states from where the crude oil resources are derived aren't adequately compensated. 

But the birth of elective government in 1999 also delivered the unforeseen issues of electoral manipulations by godfathers, who have consistently imposed their surrogates in offices at different levels both state and federal governments. The worst affected region or geo-political zone is the South-east of Nigeria, whereby these rash of impositions of bad politicians as office holders have progressively denied majority of the people living in the region of the benefits that usually comes from good governance, accountability and sustainable development.

There seems to be a peculiar kind of leadership curse, most especially, in states such as Abia, Imo, Ebonyi and Enugu. Anambra may have escaped some of these adversarial leadership curses because, evidence abounds to demonstrate that in the last 14 years, Anambra State has been lucky to have elected quality political statesmen to steer their ship of state.  Notwithstanding, good people of Anambra State still complains of certain manifestations by the political leadership, such as lack of proper accountability, as a big challenge. 

For instance, Peter Obi was governor for eight years before he handed over to Mr Willy Obiano. He left lots of cash to the credit of the state treasury.  Soon after the transition of power, stories started trending of alleged misapplication of these huge amounts left behind by Peter Obi; and the pace of infrastructural development could not justify the uses to which these massive resources saved for Anambra State was put to by his successor.

The poor quality of governance in the entirety of South-east of Nigeria was one of the two major reasons for the growth of youth restiveness and agitation for self-determination. The larger issue of marginalisation of the zone is very fundamental in giving rise to overwhelming agitation for self-determination. But since charity begins at home, there is a general perception that the bad state of governance in the entirety of South-East of Nigeria is the single largest factor that instigates youth restiveness and the clamour for independence, since there is a general perception that even from the centre, the sharing formula of the national cake doesn't favour the South-east, which has fewer number of local government areas and states, unlike the other two equally dominant ethnicities of Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani. The Constitution, which was written by the Sani Abacha's military dictatorship, made local government areas as the basis for sharing of allocations generated federally, notwithstanding the level of endowments found in the states with fewer local area councils created by successive military dictators. Then again, even the allocations coming into the South-East, trillions are simply pocketed by the political class and taken away to other countries for private safe-keeping, while millions of ordinary citizens of South-east citizens wallow in want, poverty and lack of development.  Given that millions of young persons from the South-Eastern Nigeria who graduate from schools can't easily find jobs, in either the public or private sectors, these alienated young people become restive, and then chose to demand reasons for the neglect. 

Some of them also lost hope in the ability of the existing political structures and persons to be able to steer the South-East away from failed infrastructures and lack of good governance. Mind you, the old Eastern Region suffered devastations from the bombing campaign waged for 30 months by the federal forces and their allies from the West against the then Biafra Republic. The end of the war in 1970 did not lead to reconstruction and rebuilding of the destroyed privately-built assets and public infrastructures. 

•RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA). He can be reached via 08033327672 (sms only) or via doziebiko@yahoo.com 

Source News Express

Posted 04/10/2017 8:38:53 PM

 

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