Hobbled By…

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Abubakar D. Sani, Esq.,

 

Few nations have been cursed

With such a sustained surfeit

Of bad leadership

As one which shall, for now, remain anonymous

 

But not for long

As shall become clear

As we go along

Albeit by inference

 

It was touted as the hope

Of the black race – nay, Continent

At independence

All of three score years ago

 

The political leadership

Which that water-shed moment birthed

Particularly at the center

Consisting of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Tafawa Balewa

 

Had little prior experience

Of managing such a complex structure

Beyond colonially-superintended

Stints in the Regions

 

 

However, their shortcomings were

More attitudinal than anything else

Best summed up as

Nepotism, corruption and words similar

 

Little surprise, then

That their political immaturity

And, indeed,  naivety

Ensured that they lasted less than six years

 

But, alas, their successors

Whose starched uniforms

Gave them the aura of integrity

Were worse (it was merely a mystique)

 

They first led the country

Into a disastrous civil war

Which, even though its end was

Proclaimed as “No victor, no vanquished”

 

Has continued to haunt its citizens

As those animosities and tensions

Which directly led to it

Have remained with us

 

Indeed, they’ve been compounded

By newer, deadlier, threats:

A religious insurgency

And armed banditry

 

You’d think such a cocktail

Of centripetal forces

Tearing at a Nation-State

Would catalyze the requisite leadership

 

 

After all, it is said that

“Cometh the hour, cometh the man”

Unfortunately, in our case

Successive leaders have been our bane

 

The military adventurists

Who abandoned their primary calling

Ostensibly to “save” the rest of us

Soon showed their true colours

 

Their motivation was no different

From those that were elected:

To live out their delusions of grandeur

And gain access to the national purse

 

For the good things of life

Everything that money can buy

This applies to all of them –

Except, perhaps, Gowon, Ironsi and Murtala Mohammed

 

Indeed, in many cases, they out-did the civilians

In outright looting and graft

Infamously exemplified by Sani Abacha

Who seemingly turned it into an art

 

But before him was Babangida

The gap-toothed General

Who was worldly-wise and politically-savvy

Far beyond his primary constituency

 

His endless experiments and political chicanery

Pushed the country so close to the abyss

That he was forced to ‘step aside’:

His exit was anything but dignified

 

Not to forget the man from Otta

Whose post-retirement status was a chicken farmer

A reluctant successor to Murtala,

He returned triumphantly 20 years later

 

This time, as a civilian President

But, in reality, still a soldier to the core

As he brooked no nonsense

And was constantly at odds with the Legislature

 

Because of his perceived token efforts

At fighting corruption

That charge continues to be made

Against him to this day

 

How was he able to rise,

Phoenix-like

From the ashes

Of post-prison penury?

 

Arising from his incarceration

By Abacha for a coup that never was

However, given that the evidence is purely anecdotal

He surely deserves the benefit of the doubt

 

Of those that came after him:

Yar’adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Buhari

Only his immediate successor, Yar’adua

Came away relatively intact

 

In terms of legacy and reputation

The median one – that is, Goodluck

Seems to have fared the worst

Fortunately, he redeemed himself – somewhat

 

By his gracious concession

Of defeat to Buhari at the 2015 Presidential elections

Talking of whom, no one seems quite sure anymore

Indeed,  he is the subject of much speculation:

 

Is it really him?

If not, who is it?

A body double, perhaps?

If he is ill, is it dementia?

 

Allegations of nepotism

Incompetence and cronyism

Are rife and are, indeed

Credible, given the evidence and the optics

 

From all indications

This is not the Buhari of yore

The no-nonsense, tough-talking General

Whom some of us recall with nostalgia

 

So what went wrong?

Not with Buhari – no

But with all of us

Why is the place we call home

 

Perpetually crawling

Always failing to live up to expectations

While its erstwhile contemporaries

The likes of South Korea, India and Singapore

 

Have made the transition

(Or have almost done so)

From Third-World status

To rubbing shoulders with Europe

 

In terms of diagnosis,

The answer is simple: Leadership

As famously observed by the author of “Things Fall Apart”

In another book: “The Trouble with Nigeria”

 

So much for the analysis

What about the prognosis?

Is there a solution in sight?

Will we ever get it right?

Only a brave man, indeed

Will hazard a guess

As to when – or if

We will ever solve our leadership problems

 

In the interim

We will keep plodding along

Stumbling from crisis to crisis

Waiting, perhaps, for the Lord’s intervention

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abubakar D. Sani, Esq.

18th January, 2021

 


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