POLITICS and the genuine desire to lead should be a passion developed from earlier on in a person’s life from school, college or university…and not suddenly entered into as a final status enhancing and wealth acquisition bid later in life after failing in other careers and professions
Many past UK leaders are alumnus of top leadership training institutions such as Eton and Harrow; and of pedigree universities such as Oxford. Elitist, yes, but students were trained and prepared for a life of leadership from quite young ages. They mostly all started in politics right from school as student activists and student union leaders.
Many of the UK lawmakers also started from grassroots levels serving the local community in various capacities and working as foot soldiers in their respective party wards – getting to learn and understand the ethos of service and leadership; familiarizing themselves with the locals, understanding their communities and constituents and getting to know their various needs.
But the average Nigerian politician, many of them, products of Nigeria’s failing education system, sees politics and leadership as a career change after having worked as a medical doctor, accountant, teacher, cab man, security officer or photographer in the Diaspora.
Without having in any way or on any level been involved in local politics, a car wash attendant in London will suddenly sell up, cash in his savings and credit card balance and get on the plane to Nigeria and before you can say Murtala Mohammad Airport you are seeing them on flyers and posters asking for your support as a candidate for a senatorial or gubernatorial bid!!!!!!
A major part of the problems we have with political governance in Nigeria is that many who venture into it see it primarily as a wealth acquisition enterprise rather than a call to service. They are enticed by the upgraded status to “Honourable senator” or “His Excellency”; the huge mouth-watering salaries, the sycophantic entourage that follows them about and all the other privileges that come with their office – and very little or nothing whatsoever about genuinely caring about the welfare of the people they are meant to serve.
Many Nigerians who (somehow) get elected into positions of power have absolutely no clue of exactly what they are expected to do. Many in the chambers have never in their entire lives given a public speech and lack the most basic skills. Watching the videos of some of them just makes one want to cry!!
It is an absolutely ridiculous idea to place people with very little or even no education or intelligence in positions of power where they are meant to be drivers of national policy making processes, or national lawmakers as they are more commonly known. How can someone who cannot string a single intelligible sentence together interpret the constitution?
How can someone who makes a speech that is, heavily laden not only with serious grammatical and syntax errors, but is also an unclear, meaningless, incomprehensible, indecipherable rant, present meaningful arguments that are meant to represent the case of his constituents or seek the betterment of his own people?
People who are poorly equipped, poorly educated and lowly in intelligence should never be trusted with the heart of any nation. This is the reason why Nigeria and many similar nations are in the quandary there find themselves today. Being led and governed by men and women with inadequate literacy or culture, meagre exposure to civilisation and unrefined minds is the main bane of Nigeria.
Yet these educated morons who form not a small part of our lawmaking chambers gleefully claim their high unmerited salaries and often ridiculously high allowances (wardrobe, hardship, newspaper etc)
The salaries of many of these misfits in 1 year can pay the salaries of 100 civil servants. And what they claim for newspapers can feed an entire village.
The salaries of most of these (dis)honourables unbelievably top the salary of the President of the United States of the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister!!!
The huge “rewards of democracy” for Nigerian politicians will undoubtedly be the reason why many flock to politics and many of them will do whatever and anything it takes to ensure the realisation of their political ambitions including getting rid of anyone standing in their way. Many of them employ the services of impressionable poverty ridden local youth or louts to deal with or even do away with their opponents or rivals. Others sell of family heirlooms and properties to fund their ambitions.
Assassinations and abductions linked to political rivalries are not uncommon and then there is the high unashamed bribery and payment of voters sometimes in full view of law enforcement officers at polling centres. Only in Nigeria are voters queuing to vote handed cash and gift incentives to vote for a particular candidate!
But on eventually managing to bribe and corrupt their way into the corridors of power, what do our lawmakers actually do? Many bills especially those that will not directly favour the lawmakers themselves, are kicked up, down and around the houses till they are almost forgotten about. However those that will have impact on them and their wallets and balances are those given high priority.
One must not forget one bill these lot have successfully swiftly passed in the past 2 years is lowering the marriage age to 13! An official bill in favour of peadophilia!!! Only in Nigeria!!! Perhaps because many of them has a great fondness for underage brides and little girls!
A great part of 1 year was spent deliberating their entitlements and rights while the rest of the country wallowed in poverty brought about by unpaid salaries, pensions and wages.
Many so called Nigerian Senators started off as impoverished ordinary men with failed careers and professions or disillusioned diasporans struggling for relevance. But within years of successfully obtaining the party ticket and unbelievable, yet clear elections into the Government House or Senate House – have suddenly become overnight billionaires (millionaires in Nigeria are now the poor relations).
I must quickly add that I do not see political aspirations or ambitions as undesirable or even wrong. However, what people must not forget that they are there first, foremost and primarily to serve the people and protect their rights and welfare and cater to their needs. Public service, whatever it’s rewards, must put the needs of the people first and above personal gain and self elevation.
But looking at Nigerian leaders and lawmakers, the reverse is the case.
In the US and the UK, you will find people who entered into politics primarily because they have a humanitarian issue that needs to be brought to the very centre of policy making. And on getting through the doors, they make the issue their lifetime issue throughout their tenure (eg environment, health, human rights etc)
But you will be hardly pressed to find a single Nigerian politician who has a personal area of interest that they make their “baby” or a project that they bring to the house with a view to enforcing changes to policies, that have direct bearing on issues affecting their constituents. For example, has any Nigerian lawmaker ever brought to any of the Houses, a bill to protect the rights of tenants? Many tenants pay exorbitant fees for shabby properties that have no running water or constant electricity supply. But in the UK, these are all rights that tenants are fully entitled to. But no Nigerian lawmaker has seen it fit to introduce bills that will give way to laws that ensure landlords provide these basic amenities for their tenants with failing landlords facing huge penalties and fines.
In developed countries, established lawmakers will willingly and honourably stand down and resign at the slightest whiff of a health related issue, family problems or even scandals and allegations of wrongdoings.
But their Nigerian counterparts will refuse to bulge, be bulged or even moved – regardless of the scale of their ill health or scandal.
Nigeria’s current President Buhari spent a huge part of 2017 on medical leave in the United Kingdom. Many called for his resignation due to his protracted absence from office and others questioned why a country’s leader saw it fit to spend such a long period of time receiving treatment from an undisclosed illness outside of the country. The calls for him to step down went largely ignored and the questions unanswered. But while Nigerians have chosen to forgive him for abandoning the country for well over 6 months, President Buhari is reportedly considering to run a second term in office and not surprisingly, many Nigerians are seriously opposed to this.
Nigerians including most of those who supported his candidacy for president are grossly disillusioned in Buhari and have lost their confidence in him. The general consensus is for him to peacefully retire after his time in office and make way for a younger more fit and able candidate. Outrageously, we had many politicians including state governors from his party, blatantly ignoring the wishes of the people and rallying round to call for the president to go for a second term!
In a civilized scenario, he would do the decent thing and step down on concluding his current tenure. The party stalwarts will take citizens opinion into account and elect to drop the candidate rather than risk losing the election and the concerned candidate will not want any of their actions to reflect badly on their party or affect their constituency.
But in Nigeria, our leaders are selfish, self involved, self absorbed and self interested.
Their sole desire for being in politics and leadership is not for what they can do for their country, its citizens or even their own party. It is all for them, about what they can get out of the system and how the system can benefit them. That is why you see them jumping like prostitutes, from the bed of one political party to another as soon as things stop working for them or according to their specific or personal agenda.
Many current Nigerian leaders, most specifically the Senate President Bukonla Saraki, have had their tenures dogged by legal issues, court cases and series of allegations of corruption. But rather than do the honourable thing and resign his post to face his legal issues, he has held on tightly and refused all calls to step down. He, with the alarming support of his fellow senators, many of whom took the unbelievable effrontery and audacity to leave their posts and accompany him on one of his court appearances, has continued in his role as Senate president while at the same time attending court and sitting in the dock as defendant on serious corruption charges.
And let’s also not forget those that see their position of power as a weapon to intimidate, cheat and bully those who are “below” them. Nowadays, we see Governors, Assembly men, Ministers, Senators and even Nigerian politicians in the Diaspora quickly resorting to legal action at the slightest provocation. In a particular case, a councillor took legal action for a post on facebook even though in no way whatsoever did the post refer to them!
This will never happen in a civilized world.
Holding on when calls are made for you to step down should never happen
Stepping into the race when you are ill or poorly equipped for the job should never happen
Going in for the sole purpose of making money and not to impact lives should never happen
There are many Nigerians with the right background, the right training, the right pedigree and the right motives who can do the job. Perhaps, even better. The time has come to make way for them.
No one should see the job of leadership as a lifetime occupation. Or as a means to self enrichment.
Leadership is about motivating others and encouraging them to fulfilling their own potentials.
Leadership is about carrying others along, not leaving them behind.
Leadership is a calling. Not a profession.
Leadership is never a right – it is a priviledge.