Between The Leaders And The Led | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Between The Leaders And The Led

Posted: Oct 6, 2015 at 12:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

According to the Holy Scripture – The Bible – God in his infinite wisdom in taking the Jews out of Egypt and settling them in the promised land of Canaan, He directly took charge of the leadership of the Israelites, through his anointed priests. That was the scenario until the prophet, Samuel, when the Jews, a very heady people as they were then, demanded to be led by a King as it was with other nations. Samuel naturally saw the Jews demand as a rejection of his leadership and cried to God saying: “Your people have rejected me.” But God consoled him and told him that it was not he (Samuel) that they have rejected but himself (God).

The true context of that is this; though Samuel saw himself as the leader of the nation of Israel, he actually was acting on behalf of God. God, too, acknowledged the right of the Jews to make demand, even when that demand was against his wish. So in granting them their demand, God, however, informed them of the implications: A king would take their sons and daughters for service to him; he would take the best of everything they owned (crops, cattle, and so on). They would eventually become slaves to the king. The Israelites would rather not heed the warning. That was how Saul emerged as the first king of the Jewish nation of Israel. The summarized story is contained in the Bible Book of 1st King, Chapters 8 and 9.

The import of that story in the relationship between the leaders and the led is the right for the led to make demands on their leaders; and for such demands to be fulfilled by the leaders, even if it is against the leadership interest. Please pardon my drift, I am neither a religious fanatic nor a theological student but I see a lesson in that story. Who really should determine the direction of leadership, particularly in a democratic setting? As it were, in Nigeria, leaders initiate policies, programmes and projects for those they lead without consultation with them; as against the aggregation of the collective will of the people. At the instance of the people, as was the Israel’s case, the collective will of the people was granted by God through Samuel.

We may therefore ask: Since the independence of Nigeria in1960, at what time have we identified our collective will as a people and what was the reaction of the leadership. Did they grant the peoples’ will? We have had several agitations as restructuring of the federation, true fiscal federalism, resource control and a host of others. Because Nigerian leaders see themselves as lords over the led, these agitations have continued as major causes of advocacy by varied interest and group; some altruistic and other mere attempts at heating up the polity, so much so, the one cannot be separated from the other. As a result of this Nigerian phenomena, the 2014 National Confab Reports that attempts to address some of the aforementioned issues presently lay abandoned somewhere in Aso Rock and may never see the light of day.

Our leaders mostly go into public office to serve personal interest not the will of the people they so aspire to lead. That is why 55years after sovereignty, no Nigerian leader can define our national interest. No doubt, there is none because the collective will of the people has never been articulated and defined by the leadership. We are a nation without a common national interest and aspirations. That simply explains the reason for successive administrations’ failure in pursuing a definite cause of national development, as everyone comes with its own agenda, which nonetheless ends up abandoned by the successor. 

One would have thought that democracy will bring a better relationship between the leaders and the led and that that would manifest in developments that meet the yearning of the people. But what we have is a leadership that stands aloof and dictates to the people what they want done. They play demigods, insisting that their interest is our national interest, and take the commonwealth as their personal estate. With security men kitted to their teeth, they intimidate us with their presence, if they ever come in the midst of the people, and we can no longer get near them. We are told that our Senators and Representatives as well the States Houses of Assembly members are supposed to represent our interest in governance but what obtains is a far cry. Such is the relationship between the Nigerian leaders and the led.

The Nigeria people are at crossroads, not know what to expect from governance. All expectations from successive administrations have been a disappointment. The Nigeria had hope in 1999 that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s newly inaugurated administration would be better that the past military administration and that Umaru Yar’ Adua cum Goodluck Jonathan would be better than Obasanjo’s; and now they fervently pray that President Muhammadu Buhari would offer a better hope. We all pray. But Buhari did not promise hope, he promised change. Change in the way we use to do things; change from theft of public funds, and what other?     

We are not told what other change to expect. Boko Haram is still at war against the Nigerian. The Naira continues on its fall. The economy is comatose. Infrastructures are decaying or dilapidated. The energy sector is a pity to behold. That is the state of the Nigeria nation. It could be referred to as a failing state or a banana republic and one would not be wrong. In this situation, the leaders ought to take the led into confidence and ask for a way out since it is the interest of the populace the leadership ought to serve.  But what we have are leaders that are all-knowing, but not knowing the will and the wishes of those they lead. Tomorrow, therefore, we may, like it has always been with previous administrations, be disappointed. Then the argument will continue; this or that administration was better than that or this. It is has always been a vicious circle in Nigerian leadership study; obviously for the simple reason that leaders do their will at the detriment of the led.