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Wednesday, 21 March 2012


For two weeks now, Nigerians have been fed with a cocktail of stories from the National Assembly concerning instances of official corruption, financial scandals of monumental proportion involving even some of those finely educated Nigerians that are holding high profile political appointments in the three arms of government namely the Executive, legislative and judiciary which goes to show that Nigeria's disturbing cases of entrenched official corruption are perpetrated and perpetuated by core members of the political elite in Nigeria.   

What makes the Nigerian situation very shocking and peculiar is that a greater majority of these corrupt and thieving members of the core political elite were schooled in some of the best schools in the developed western World and are persons that have spent considerable amount of time in the developed and disciplined civilized parts of the World who ordinarily are expected to become role models and change agents in the collective drive to reposition Nigeria to take her rightful place in the comity of developed Nations.

To be very specific, Nigerians in mid March 2012 were treated to a huge dose of stories of scandals allegedly involving financial indiscretion in the running of  the Security and Exchange Commission headed by Miss. Arummah Otteh who only recently was seconded to the Nigeria's Security Exchange Commission from a reputable international financial institution. Appearing before an equally grossly corrupt and compromised Committee of the Federal House of Representatives on Capital Market, Miss. Otteh was accused of sundry allegations of financial malfeasance including but not limited to the allegation that she spent a princely sum of N85,000 on a particular day at the prestigious Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja and that so far she has burnt several millions of tax payers money on bills accumulated in the same hotel since assumption of office. On her own part, Miss. Otteh accused the House Committee and its Chairman Mr. Herman Hembe of the Peoples Democratic Party of demanding for bribe of over N40 million from the Security and Exchange Commission shortly before the commencement of the so-called public hearing on the capital market. Miss Otteh looked Mr. Hembe to his face and rebuked him for allegedly claiming a First Class Ticket to travel for a foreign seminar but failed to honour it or return the first class ticket and allowances he was advanced purportedly for that trip.

While rational human beings in Nigeria are battling to come to terms with the absurdity playing itself out in the Federal House of Representatives then comes another damaging report that the hierarchy of the Federal House of Representatives led by Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal allegedly increased the wage bills of each member of the lower Chamber from N15 million to nearly N30 million per quarter allegedly on the weight of monumental pressure mounted on the House hierarchy by the members angered by the fact that each Senator earns nearly fifty million quarterly whereas the House of Representative members are paid N15 million each up until the recent astronomic increment.

In the Senate of the Federal Republic about the same mid-March, huge discovery were made during the public hearing on the administration of Police Pension scheme relating to the disappearance of several billions of tax payers' money.

On March 19th 2012, the local media were awash with a story that a certain serving Permanent Secretary in the Federal civil service was found with N2 billion cash in his bedroom which he stole from the coffers of the Nigeria Police Force's pension office. The said Permanent Secretary was reportedly arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission headed by serving Deputy Commissioner of Police Ibrahim Lamorde but later left to enjoy his freedom on what is nebulously called 'administrative bail' of the anti-graft commission. The question is why will a man said to have stolen so much from the public treasury and a princely sum of N2 billion found on him be allowed to go Scot- free on bail even when the same anti-graft body allegedly detained a well known lawyer Mr. Amobi Nzelu over alleged N6 million fraud which the Courts quashed for lack of evidence? Several petty criminals like the 'yahoo boys' have been detained for so long in excruciating jail conditions in the different notorious EFCC detention facilities without trial but here is a Permanent Secretary who we were told by the anti-graft commission was found with over N2 billion cash of stolen fund yet he has been released on bail. This same EFCC is known to have detained several petty criminals and the small 'yahoo boys' for several months without fair trial and yet it is now granting arbitrary administrative bails to big suspects on the so called self cognizance. Some of us are not shocked after all the new Chairman of EFCC went through grueling confirmation procedure in which we read some reports that prominent religious and traditional leaders lobbied President Jonathan for his [Lamorde's] confirmation as substantive chairman. Could it be that the same powerful traditional and religious leaders have intervened on behalf of the indicted serving Permanent Secretary and since the Chairman of the anti-graft commission owe them some level of pay back, he may have listened? I am just thinking aloud. No indictment intended please.

Nigerian leaders are indeed ruthless and unfortunately the so-called followers are toothless because in other climes the discovery of N2 billion cash from one man's bedroom is enough motivation for widespread social discontent and civil unrest by the members of the public but in Nigeria no one pays attention talk less of demonstrating and venting their righteous indignation at this show of shame in the highest places.

Nigeria indeed need good leaders and active followers if we must transit from our current bad situation to a respectable position and if we must stop being laughing stocks in the comity of nations, the institutions of government set up to fight corruption must not politicize the fight against corruption as is the case whereby the members of the ruling party make up the greater percentage of the governing councils of these two anti-graft commissions.

If we may postulate on the big question confronting Nigeria today I will say like most intellectuals that what makes a good leader depends on the degree to which the individual’s qualities match the demands of the contexts. Whether a person is born a leader or develops skills and abilities to become a leader, there are some clear qualities that are found in good leaders, and they are as follows by Barbara White:
Leadership can be defined as one's ability to get others to willingly follow. Every organization needs leaders at every level. Leaders can be found and nurtured if you look for the following character traits.

A leader with vision has a clear, vivid picture of where to go, as well as a firm grasp on what success looks like and how to achieve it. But it’s not enough to have a vision; leaders must also share it and act upon it. Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric Co., said, "Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion."
Experts say that a good leader has an exemplary character. It is of utmost importance that a leader is trustworthy to lead others. A leader needs to be trusted and be known to live their life with honesty and integrity. A good leader “walks the talk” and in doing so earns the right to have responsibility for others. True authority is born from respect for the good character and trustworthiness of the person who leads.
 Scholars with considerable quality materials on leadership say rightly that a good leader is enthusiastic about their work or cause and also about their role as leader.

Miss. Nwamaka Asuzu, a political science graduate of Imo State University citing other works of established scholars wrote that people will respond more openly to a person of passion and dedication.

Miss. Asuzu said that from her findings, leaders need to be able to be  sources of inspiration, and become motivators towards the required action or cause.

For her just like most other younger observers, Nigeria is gravely bereft of these kind of political leadership since the nation gained political independence which accounts for the parlous economic situation and the ongoing anarchy and impunity in most parts of  Nigeria.

 Experts say that although the responsibilities and roles of a leader may be different, the leader needs to be seen to be part of the team working towards the goal. This kind of leaders will not be afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. The opposite is the case in Nigeria whereby the so-called leaders corner the greater percentage of the annual budget to service their salaries and obscene allowances at the detriment of good capital projects that would change the life of Nigerians who are increasingly becoming impoverished and unsecured. Unfortunately, Nigerians or those we may identify as the ordinary people are so toothless and clueless that they are not ready to reclaim Nigeria from the bad guys who have cornered all the resources to service themselves and their families including hundreds of local and international mistresses.
A good leader is  said by experts to be confident. In order to lead and set direction a leader needs to appear confident as a person and in the leadership role. Such a person, according to scholars inspires confidence in others and draws out the trust and best efforts of the team to complete the task well. A leader who conveys confidence towards the proposed objective inspires the best effort from team members. But in Nigeria we have political leaders who can not provide the commonest essential of good governance like security of lives and property of Nigerians and foreigners living in Nigeria and yet they still cling to leadership position using the force of arm even when they have lost legitimacy from the people who are daily bombarded by armed splinter groups fighting in the name of religious ideology in the North.
A leader also needs to function in an orderly and purposeful manner in situations of uncertainty. This attribute is grossly lacking in Nigeria under President Jonathan and shockingly the civil populace are so weak and toothless that they keep quiet even when poverty has ravaged about eighty percent of the populace while a tiny fraction of the political elite have cornered all the resources to their foreign bank accounts and are traveling all around the World to hide these looted public funds.

Ordinarily, it is generally believed in learned circle and by several writers that ordinary people ought to look at the leader during times of uncertainty and unfamiliarity and find reassurance and security when the leader portrays confidence and a positive demeanor. In Nigeria, from the President to the Governors, they have all become chief mourners of the hundreds of innocent persons murdered by armed Islamic fundamentalist group even while they are incapable of bringing these mass murderers to justice. 
A good leader as well as keeping the main goal in focus is able to think analytically, so says leading authorities in leadership. Not only does a good leader view a situation as a whole, but is able to break it down into sub parts for closer inspection. Not only is the goal in view but a good leader can break it down into manageable steps and make progress towards it.
A good leader is committed to excellence. Second best does not lead to success. The good leader not only maintains high standards, but also is proactive in raising the bar in order to achieve excellence in all areas. We in Nigeria can not say that what these scholars postulated is true of Nigeria because the kind of ministers and federal cabinet members we have are political sycophants like the minister of the Federal Capital Territory who is so bereft of innovative ideas on how to run Abuja so much so that the only thing he remembers is to name a District after the serving President who in any case is the head of the executive segment of the Federal Capital Territory. How can any analytic politician name a district after a serving President as is contemplated by the Abuja minister. It is only in Nigeria that Politicians have canonized sycophancy and mediocrity.

+ Emmanuel Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria and     wrote from


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