Are our Leaders Really Fit For Purpose ?

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Akintunde Akinkunmi 1 year, 6 months ago.

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    One cannot help but wonder what and where the problem of our collective under development lies. Why do we talk the talk, but never walk the walk.
    is it something in our DNA ? is it in our nurturing ? the discussion is open, please participate and lets resolve to ensuring that the future is indeed a place we would wish for and be proud of creating.


    Lekan Thomas

    Firstly, This website is a fantastic idea and a good start to get even our own back benchers involved in the way we are being governed and the evolution of this into actions is the must.

    Now back to the questions posed. Arguably, I believe that our collective under-development may yet lie in the constant and epidemic abuse of our soft and hard institutions, be it for selfish interests or just plain myopic policies (unsustainable). With this as a root-cause (weak institutions), we begin to witness the ravaging diseases, afflicting society, down to our psychological posture, such as “talking the talk & not the walk”, sycophancy etc.

    One such impact, of this institutional decay, is the flawed system that also produces current crop of “leaders” who are ill equipped or lack suitability (not fit for purpose) for the roles they hold. It may have been an easy way out, if the issue was in our DNA.

    Alas, we are just 1 human race and we witness the developments in some similar societies to ours, resolving their own set of issues and making headway. Ruling out such a plausible excuse.
    Link on DNA and 1 human race:

    To surmise and pose other questions to the title of this thread “Are our leaders really fit for purpose?”, I re-use a part of Hsin-yi Cohen work on leadership below:

    Do they focus on the long-term good of a country, above and ahead of any personal short-term gains?
    Do they have a combination of charisma and integrity?
    Do they posses the ability to assess a situation and make a decision based on what would be best for the greatest number of people?
    Do they behave like statesmen as opposed to just being a politician thus having the integrity and willingness to stand up for what is right, even if it means resigning a position in government or losing an election? • Do they serve as an example of integrity and loyalty to the people they represent, both to the public and to other political leaders?
    Do they have good communication and inter-personal skills, and can work with a range of other people, regardless of political party or opinion, to achieve the greatest good for the general population?
    Are they people who can resist the various temptations and lures of the political arena?

    The answer somewhere in between, methinks…….



    The simple answer is no. Our leaders are not fit for purpose. The followers and populace are also to blame. That is my take.We Nigerians are too complacent and not strong enough to stand up and demand good governance


    Sheriff Orekan

    The newspaper article below indicates that nigerians, especially government officials, have been corrupt since the 1930’s. It demonstrates the endemic nature of the problem. A sociologist coined the term ‘kleptocracy’ based on corrupt practices in our country. Benevolent dictatorship may be an option as it allows the government to carry out the right policies with firmness (i.e. punish offenders….China is an example) till we as a people can run our affairs properly (similar to bringing up children).

    On the issue of DNA, a general observation is that it’s difficult to point to a black man’s country that is developed. Another point is that countries nearer the equator are generally not well developed i.e. northern hemisphere versus southern hemisphere. It’s quite possible that significant environmental factors interact with our DNA because the caucasians as a group do very well in both hemispheres (South African is an example). Genetic codes in DNA determine almost all our characteristics including organisational and management skills, empathy etc. A group of people may not be corrupt but poor managers and lack foresight. For example, if all nigerians were moved to a developed country like Germany (without taking any personal possessions with them) and all germans were moved to nigeria today, how do we think the 2 countries will look like in 5 to 10 yrs time? I think Nigeria will become developed (at least significant development will be observed) and Germany will deteriorate.

    I’m sure further discussions need to take place to explore whether Africa can ever become developed or we need more time to get our acts together.


    This present darkness

    By Feyi Fawehinmi, Contributor   |   07 February 2017   |   3:23

    Before he died in 2015, the late Professor Stephen Ellis wrote his last book titled ‘This Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organised Crime’. Going through this book left me with several thoughts, most of them unpleasant.

    It is a fascinating read covering, not just organised crime, but the evolution of the Nigerian state (or maybe they are the same thing?). At any rate, I want to share 8 random things I found interesting in the book and I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

    1. In 1947, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo wrote that “Corruption is the greatest defect of the Native Court system.” He complained that not only did judges take bribes, people used their connections to enrich themselves and avoid punishment for their crimes. He also wrote that in the north, a new Emir always removed all the people appointed by the previous Emir and replaced them with his own people. He wrote all these as a complaint against the Indirect Rule system favoured by the British.

    2. In 1922, the Colonial Secretary in London, one Winston Churchill, wrote to Nigeria’s Governor General at the time, Sir Hugh Clifford, asking him to ban certain types of letters called ‘Charlatanic correspondences’. This was because J.K Macgregor who was Headmaster of Hope Waddell Institute for 36 years, had discovered hundreds of letters written and received by his students ordering all sorts of books, charms and even potions from England, America and India in particular. Most of the charms were nonsense and the students were invariably asked to send more money if they wanted more powerful ones. A total of 2,855 such letters were intercepted by the Posts & Telegraph Department between 1935 and 1938.

    3. In 1939, a Nigerian businessman based in Ghana named Prince Eikeneh, wrote to the colonial government in Nigeria complaining about the number of Nigerian girls who were coming to Ghana to work as sex workers. He said the girls were usually taken there by a Warri-based Madam named ‘Alice’ who told the girls they were going to learn a trade or get married. He concluded that the trade was very well-organised and profitable for the ring leaders.

    4. In 1950, Abubakar Tafewa Balewa said ‘the twin curses of bribery and corruption pervade every rank and department of government’. At that time, the word ‘awoof’ was already being used to describe how civil servants used their positions to enrich themselves. In 1952, an anti-corruption campaigner named Eyo A. Akak complained that Nigerians were abandoning farming for trade due to materialism and consumerism. He said that every ex-serviceman now wanted to own a Raleigh bicycle before going back to his village while every civil servant wanted to own a car. He even blamed women (partly) for this because all of them only wanted to marry rich men.

    5. In 1959, there were 60,000 school graduates in the Western Region. By the following year, the number had increased to 200,000. However, this led to a now familiar problem. By 1963, primary education was turning out 180,000 graduates a year but only 80,000 of them could find jobs, according to the Regional Minister of Finance. The same minister also said he was ‘looking for a method to crackdown on school principals who were collecting money from students for a variety of services’.

    6. In 1968, a Polish-British sociologist named Stanislav Andreski coined the term ‘kleptocracy’ to describe the system of government he found in Nigeria. He said ‘Nigeria is the most perfect example of kleptocracy since power itself rests on the ability to bribe’.

    7. In 1975, a report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the shortage of petroleum products found that a lot of the petrol being imported into Nigeria (due to the inability of the Port-Harcourt refinery to meet local demand) was being smuggled to Chad and Niger Republic. As soon as NNPC was formed, people swarmed around it and all sorts of people got crude oil lifting contracts. The US Embassy in Paris reported in 1973 that a random American walked into the Embassy and showed them a contract he had to lift 2 million tons of Nigerian crude oil. He told the Embassy that ‘a great deal of under the table payments were taking place in Nigeria to obtain crude oil’.

    8.Around 1979, a British bank, Johnson Matthey collaborated with the Central Bank of Nigeria to export huge amounts of forex from Nigeria on behalf of politicians like Alhaji Umaru Dikko in contravention of foreign exchange controls. The bank later collapsed due to unsecured loans to Nigeria and had to be bailed out by the Bank of England with £100m in 1984 – the first time the Bank of England had ever rescued a private bank in British history. It also led to the passing of the Insolvency Act by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1986. One of the directors of the bank, Vasant Advani, ran to Nigeria in 1986 but returned to the UK in 2008 for treatment when he was diagnosed with cancer. In 2011, at the age of 67, he was sentenced to 16 months in prison for the fraud that brought down that bank. No official on the Nigerian side, to the best of my knowledge, was ever convicted.

    What do these stories tell us? Is Nigeria hopeless or cursed? Can things ever change? Have we always been this way or is it a recent thing?

    I have a simple answer to all of these questions – we don’t take our problems seriously enough. None of our challenges can withstand the power of sustained thinking if we really apply ourselves. But we start by misdiagnosing the problems and then naturally applying the wrong treatment.

    As a result, the hand of history remains strong on Nigeria.

    Copyright © 2017 Guardian Newspapers. All Rights Reserved. 


    Seyi Awofeso

    In its current existential crisis, the leadership type required for Nigeria is one which can swiftly and forcefully resolve the long-standing effects of bribes and thefts; so as to restore or at least gingerly engender trust in public institutions, since theft creates a sense of cheating; and un-punished theft can never co-exist with patriotism – same as bribe; to the same extent that those hard done by the bribe will psychologically lose faith in the national community as one totally un-governed by fairness, especially if the known thief or bribe-taker is left to go free and announce himself to the rest of society as the living example of how to be a successful person.


    Henry Balogun

    This indeed is the major challenge for which we must proffer a solution. It stems from a broken value system that no longer identifies wrong as wrong and even at times seems to elevate wrong above right. There is also the lack of understanding that serving in government is about helping humanity and not to promote a self cause. A good book I read often times speaks about individual transformation through the renewing of the mind as well as putting new wine into old wineskin or old wine into new wineskin.

    Nigeria’s transformation will come when we have new leaders with a renewed mindset. As long as those seeking elective office or political appointment see democracy as government of the people, by the people for the elected, we will continue on this trajectory for a while.

    We must define and clarify the qualities we want for qualification for leadership and not just accept anyone thrown at us. We must look at the values that drive our political parties. We must understand the mandate that drives those we support. The list is endless. What must happen however is this, if yesterday was too soon, tomorrow will be too late, now is the time to begin to create the New Nigeria. It’s beyond change it’s about creating the future. We have dwelt on this mountain for too long and our nation has remained covered in darkness, we need a set of new leaders who will come in and declare “Let there be Light.”


    Lekan Thomas

    Please see Financial Times link below on Nigerian President missing in action:

    Of interest, is the section which states “The mosaic of Nigerian politics is complicated by the need to balance power between north and south and between the plethora of regions and linguistic groups represented in the cabinet. That makes for a parasitic state, not one that can solve problems, This is a system designed to fail even if you have capable people in charge”

    And leading to the title of this discussion, Can this be true, even when you have “Fit for purpose leaders”?


    Akintunde Akinkunmi

    Short answer to the question is NO. And the reason for that is that the Nigerian society of today is so thoroughly warped that it thrives on anarchy and entropy- which means that it will not easily allow those leaders who might be fit for purpose to make it to the top. There is therefore, in my humble opinion, a need for a radical reboot of the value system of our society…which may necessitate revisiting the old saying about it being impossible to make an omelette without breaking eggs….

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