Nigeria, on the Western coast of Africa, is one of the products of British colonialism. It encompasses over 250 ethnic groups and is endowed with abundant natural and human resources. The first capital territory was created by decree in 1976. Lagos was the former capital city of Nigeria and still retains its relevance as the most commercial city; Abuja is the present capital that was carved from Niger State.
Every state in Nigeria has one or more resources that make it unique. In past Nigeria relied heavily on farming and mining for its gross domestic product but the discovery of crude oil by Shell-BP in 1956 brought about a monopoly to the country’s economy.
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Despite the existence of huge stocks of resources, the question meandering in peoples’ minds is this: are those resources channelled in the best way to transform the economy and living standard of Nigerians?
The answer is NO, as there is a high number of Nigerians that can not afford two square meals a day. Nigeria is inundated with bad leadership since 1966 when the military first intervened. It usurped the legitimate government to salvage the system but ended up making life hard for the common man.
The enigmatic nature of Nigeria’s bad leadership has led to its diversion from the path of development in its attempt to achieve national development due to an invidious climate of personal interest, ethnicity, mediocrity, partisanship, sectionalism, cronyism, corrupt process of breeding leaders. All contributed in making Nigeria underdeveloped.
Agbor (2011) argues that ‘the success or failure of any society depends largely on the mannerism of its leadership, He further adds that the results of poor leadership in Nigeria is embodied on poor governance manifested in consistent political crisis, insecurity, poverty of the extreme order among the citizens, debilitating miasma of corruption and rising unemployment indices’.
Based on the above notion, Nigeria had many leaders but their abilities to continue controlling the country’s power enabled them to allocate national resources to their accounts, yet leaving citizens in abject poverty. Egocentric politicians are the major obstacles that slow development since the return of Nigeria to democracy in 1999.
Candidates of different political parties have been using similar strategies over the years during campaigns, i.e. the challenges of inadequate water, fragile electricity, jutting unemployment, unequipped schools and hospitals, just to accumulate votes and yet people are still suffering.
Unfortunately, egocentric styles of leadership start when an individual or group of people feels that to rule is only to live in luxury and accumulate wealth, not to lead and salvage people from financial and untold hardships. Therefore, egocentrism is caused by many factors which include greed. Majority of politicians are into politics to become richer than their fellows, budgeted funds that are set to execute projects end up being diverted for their gain.
They (selfish politicians) engage the services of like-minded staff to execute their treacherous plans of earning more than normal, and even if such leaders are dealt with, their elements in various sectors must be eliminated too.
Secondly is the political system; this has been the second major factor fuelling high ego amongst politicians, even when a leader assumes office with pure intention to serve, the system is already preoccupied by corrupt office holders that easily change such new leaders.
Nigeria as a young democratic country has inherited a system built by the military—the military that intervened initially to fight corruption, mismanaged it and ended up making it attractive for civilians as a lucrative way to be rich.
Third cause is the absence of patriotism; both citizens and candidates of various political parties view leadership as an alternative for edifying their dreams, this makes the level of love for the country less and egocentrism high.
In the past, when a citizen mishandled any national symbols like flags, many would gather to lament and condemn the act but nowadays it has been neglected.
Fourthly, unjustifiable judicial system; it happens times without number, where politicians are caught with evidence of embezzling public funds but they are stereotyped as saints and end up serving a few years behind bars. Recently, many corrupt politicians defected to the ruling party and government abated all corruption charges against them.
After due consideration, for our country to free itself from the shackles of egocentric politicians, there is need for leaders to lead for the betterment of lives and not rule for their interest; Nigerian leaders must shun selfish tendencies and promote the living standard of the populace, not eyeing benefits accorded to positions.
Policies and programmes should be free to all; citizens also have to beseech to know what their assembly representatives (in state and national assemblies) are doing, and, lastly, what the President is also doing for the whole nation. Any corrupt politician found guilty of mismanaging public funds needs to be dealt with in the court of law even if he or she belongs to the ruling party or relatives to leaders.
It is a civic and national task for every Nigerian to vote for candidates of their choice during elections, but it is sacrosanct to elect based on past stewardships. May our country be free from selfish politicians, amen.
Koli can be reached via, firstname.lastname@example.org