Leadership And Good Governance In Nigeria: Issues And Prospects For National Development

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Leadership And Good Governance In Nigeria: Issues And Prospects For National Development


The phenomenon of leadership and good governance has assumed greater interest in Africa. With the return of democratic governance to Nigeria, the study of the relationship between leadership and good governance for national development has become an imperative. The study looks at the challenges and prospects associated with leadership and good governance in Nigeria within the first decade of the Fourth Republic.

The study discovered that political leadership has been seriously constrained by corruption, electoral fraud, mismanagement of resources and poor infrastructural development. The study discovered the following challenges as hampering the institutionalization of good governance in Nigeria: delayed prosecution of corrupt officials and lack of grassroots development. Others are abuse of the electoral process, insecurity, negative orientation to governance and lack of patriotic politicians. The strategies proffered by the study to mitigate the challenges include; introduction of electronic voting system and proving of human and material security. Others are removal of immunity clause on political office holders and national re-orientation.

The field survey method and secondary analysis were used for the study. The field survey method was to obtain public perception on the subject matter using open ended questionnaires and unstructured interviews. The questionnaires were administered to respondents within the public and private sector as well as to students. The data obtained were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively to determine how leadership can be directed towards ensuring good governance in Nigeria for national development.

Chapter One

General Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

The quest for quality leadership and good governance is the aspiration of citizens in most countries of the world. This is because the task of harnessing scarce resources in pursuit of human and national development is related to the quality and output of leadership (Richardson, 2008, P.3). The history of the development of great nations suggests that versatile leaders played a vital role in the transformation of their societies through good governance. Thus, the quality of citizens’ life and the overall development of a nation is a reflection of governance in the nation.

In United States of America (USA) for example, Abraham Lincoln stands out because of the courageous leadership he displayed during the 1861-1865 American Civil War (Norton, ).This led to the preservation of the Union, vindication of democracy and abolition of slavery. These great feats were achieved by determination in pursuit of a more perfect and equal Union (Ibid, P.17). Lincoln eventually left a legacy being upheld in the USA till date as a good model of democracy and enduring governance.

Similarly, the unification of East and West Germany could be credited to Otto Von Bismarck, one of the most significant political figures in German history. His efforts were fast-tracked by Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who ensured the enthronement of a federal system of government in a unified Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 (Germany, http://www.mongabay.com/reference/country-studies/germany/Government.html). This was considered cardinal to a stable constitutional democracy and good governance in the Country.

In China, Mao Tse-Tung set the stage that transformed China from a peasant economy to a major economic giant in the world. As a visionary leader, his primary goals were to catch up and surpass the rest of the world in economy, sports, science, technology and defence. Today, China is the fastest growing economy in the world with an average annual growth rate of about 9 percent in the last 2 decades (Chow and Li, 1952-2010). These accounts demonstrate that with visionary leadership and good governance, a nation could experience remarkable improvement and success in its overall development.

The continent of Africa has also produced visionary leaders who have contributed positively in the development of their countries. Nelson Mandela of South Africa holds sway as one of the greatest figures of black emancipation with his history of anti-apartheid struggle. Eventually, he was honored as the first democratically elected President of South Africa in 1994 (Mandela, 1994, Pp. 746-747). His exemplary leadership symbolizes the struggle of oppressed people around the world. He was able to steer South Africa towards sustainable development and good governance ideals, epitomized by smooth political transition.

In our country, issues of leadership and good governance have been of great concern since attainment of independence in 1960. Despite abundant human and natural resources, corruption and mismanagement of public wealth have hampered the pursuit of national development in the Country. Most Nigerian leaders are accused of lacking the requisite vision, passion and character for political leadership (Dike, 2009). The consequence is that despite Nigeria rich resource endowment, she has consistently ranked low in various international assessments on human development and good governance.

The United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index (UNDP-HDI) in its 2007/2008 report ranked Nigeria 158 out of 177 countries (New Partnership for Africa’s Development, 2008, P.67). Nigeria was also ranked 11 out of 16 in West Africa in the 2009 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) (Obi, http://www.businessday). It is estimated that about 70 percent of 150 million Nigerians live below poverty level of less than one US Dollar per day (Nnebe, 1999-2007 Vol.2, P). These low economic and development indices have been attributed to poor leadership and absence of good governance in Nigeria.

In this context, the leadership question’ vis-à-vis good governance has generated series of topical discussions at different policy and academic fora. This research is, therefore, motivated by the quest to address the question of leadership and its implication on good governance in Nigeria for national development. Thus, with a view to proffering measures that would strengthen leadership and ensure good governance in the country.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Since 1960, Nigeria has experienced persistent crisis associated with political leadership which has adversely affected the outcome of governance. Issues like problems of corruption, mismanagement of resources, coups and counter coups, etc have frustrated and diminished the process and outcome of governance. Consequently, many Nigerians lack access to basic health care, quality education, potable water, electricity and other basic necessities of modern life (Dike, 2009). Human and group rights are threatened resulting in the growing worry and loss of confidence by the citizenry in the Country’s political leadership.

Today, Nigeria lags behind in various indicators of good governance and global development trends (Ouagwu, 2002, P.99). This has equally affected the country’s external image among other nations. In view of the above problems, this research will address the following questions:

  1. What is the relationship between leadership and good governance?
  2. What are the effects of leadership on good governance in Nigeria since 1999?
  3. What are the perceptions of political leadership since the return to democracy in 1999?
  4. What are the issues associated with leadership and good governance in Nigeria?
  5. Has political leadership provided good governance for national development?
  6. What are the prospects associated with leadership and good governance in Nigeria towards national development?
  7. What are the factors that affect the quality of leadership and good governance since independence?
  8. What are the expectations on political leadership and good governance for national development?
  9. What strategies can be adopted to ensure that leadership facilitates good governance for national development in Nigeria?

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The objective of this study is to examine the effects of leadership on good governance in Nigeria for national development. Thus, with a view to identifying the issues, challenges, prospects, strategies etc associated with leadership and governance in Nigeria.

The specific objectives are to:

  1. Establish the relationship between leadership and good governance.
  2. Determine the effects of leadership on good governance in Nigeria since 1999.
  3. Establish the perceptions of political leadership since the return to democracy in 1999.
  4. Establish the issues associated with leadership and good governance in Nigeria.
  5. Whether political leadership provided good governance for national development.
  6. Establish the prospects associated with leadership and good governance in Nigeria towards national development.
  7. Establish the factors that affect the quality of leadership and good governance since independence.
  8. Establish the expectations on political leadership and good governance for national development.
  9. Proffer strategies that can be adopted to ensure leadership facilitates good governance for national development in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Hypothesis

The study attempts to make the following assumptions:

  1. There is a strong nexus between leadership style and good governance.
  2. That democracy engenders good governance.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The importance of this study to Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized. It would be significant for policy and academic purposes. It would aid political elite and policy makers at federal, state and local government levels on issues affecting leadership and good governance in the country. The study would help in citizenship training of the Media, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), students and indeed the entire Nigerian populace. It would be relevant to the academia as a useful reference material and a catalyst that would stimulate further studies on the subject.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The effects of political leadership on good governance for national development have permitted national discourse since independence especially between 1999 and 2010. The time frame was chosen to enable the researcher examine the effects of leadership on governance in Nigeria within democratic dispensation in the ongoing Fourth Republic. However, reference was made to some recent events on Nigeria’s political landscape that have bearing on the subject matter.

1.7 Limitations

This research work was impaired by some limitations. The key limitations were that some individual earmarked for interview could not be reached due to their tight schedules. Also, certain data could not be obtained from some offices due to official restrictions or lack of such data. However, available secondary data were utilized to ensure that the objectives of the research are realized. Although, the data used were from reputable sources, the authenticity of their findings might not be insulated from bias.

1.8 Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework adopted for this research is the Social Contract Theory. The essential kernel of this theory is that governance is a contract between the citizens and the state. It is, however, important to highlight that the various intellectual precursors of the theory held divergent perceptions on the nature of the contract between the citizens and the state.

Hobbes maintained that the nature of the contract between the citizens and the state is absolute such that the emerging state had unlimited powers over the citizens.15 On the other hand, Locke and Rousseau emphasized limited powers of the state.16 The focus of Locke and Rousseau is that the citizens should retain the powers to replace the state in an event when the state represented by the government proves unable to fulfill its contract with the citizens. Consequently, Locke and Rousseau posit that the citizens can change a non-performing government.

The relevance of this theory to this research cannot be overemphasized. This is because it captures the interplay between leadership and good governance which is the hallmark of the social contract between the citizens and the state. It is on this basis that it is adopted for this research.

Chapter Five

Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

The above findings suffice that effective leadership requires a leader to seek the welfare of his people, and to guide them in achieving that objective. And because governance involves the exercise of authority, direction and control of a people, with the interest of the people in the front burner, good governance call for selfless, compassion, transparency and accountability, all of which are summary of the concept of dedication.

In all honesty, grabbling with the challenges of leadership and governance in Nigeria today is possible and achievable but rests on the preparedness of the leaders to bring to bear on our public conduct the principles of equity, justice and fairness, as well as judicious application of public resources, while putting the interest of the common man and the imperatives of building a nation that accommodates all, at the centre of our development objectives. The followers have major role to play in ensuring that the needed good governance through effective leadership is achieved by showing moral and guts instead of sycophancy and praise singing; all requiring dedication.

5.2 Recommendations

We therefore conclude this study with the following recommendations:

1. Leadership with Honour and Followership with Guts, And Morals.

As sad as it is, all Nigerian leaders have one thing in common, and it was neither compassion nor transparency. It is selfishness and wickedness; which is why they saw themselves as rulers of their people, not their leaders. Should they use their political powers to serve their people with vision, kindness, accountability, responsibility and transparency; should they serve selflessly and eschew ethnic partisanship and religious chauvinism; should they avoided self aggrandizement and delusion, Nigerian will been a better place to dwell in. Afteral. Behind every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader; a quote that Abraham Lincoln left for all black African leaders, including his son.

But the leaders alone are not to be blamed as followers also have their fare share of the leadership problem and bad governance in Nigeria. This is why, it is usually said that the understanding or misunderstanding of the concept of leadership has been the blight and often the bane of many men at the top in Nigeria. Misunderstanding the concept of followership is the other side of the same coin of failure or collapse of the society.

Until both the leaders and followers, get their roles right, good governance will continue to elude us. This is because, tyranny and sycophancy are two evils which feed on and sustain each other, usually obtainable in a situation of leadership bereft of honour and followership bereft of guts, and morals leading to government of sycophants, because present day Nigerians faced with mismanagement of nation’s economy by their own leaders have gone limp and dump; Each seeking safety in being accommodated in the public service or private sector for “a share of the national cake”, not minding that there is no future in securing a share of cake instead of helping to bake more cakes for the future Nigerians (Farm House Dialogue 2000).

2. Fix the Problem, not Blame

No other country is so richly and diversely endowed like Nigeria with both human and materials resources, and as such, poverty in Nigeria cannot be blamed on inherent poverty of the country or an act of God. Nor can the distraction of blaming the European scramble for Africa and colonization for the poverty in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular, be tolerated any longer, because the same European invaders had scrambled for Asia earlier, and colonized various East Asia countries for longer periods. Today, many of those countries have yank off the bogey of colonial hang-over, and embraced mass education, social and economic development, industrialization and global commerce. These measures have given them much better quality of life indices, and earned them the respect of the world (Farm House Dialogue 2000).

Regrettably, some apologists of our failure and improvidence still blame the European invaders and colonial masters. To achieve effective leadership for good governance, we must forgive the Europeans and understand their tricks, then plan for ourselves and ensure that we make up for those years lost during their domination developmentally. In that way, it could be said that we are trying, instead of continuous apportioning blame rather than fixing our problem.

Developmentally, Nigeria has improved significantly over the years in all respects, but leadership. Dudley Seers’ simple advice is check what is happening to unemployment, poverty and inequality. If all is not well with them, know that you are not developing no matter your GDP, but because Nigerian Leaders, who naturally are selfish, has refused to be dedicated to a course for which they were elected and as such are respected as such. A little dedication to the course of solving the problem of the people he is leading will make him examine to ascertain what is happening to unemployment, poverty and inequality. These factors are growing unchallenged in Nigeria while leaders are growing richer continuously.

3. General Amnesty for all Nigeria Leaders (Past and Present)

The test of any leadership or governance is on how it impacts on her economic advancement as it will be revealed on how the life of the people improves or deteriorates. Unfortunately, all that Nigerian leaders struggle for is the biggest share of the national cake. But suffice it here that there is no real safety in just ensuring “a share of the national cake, no matter the size” which will dwindle to vanishing point, if no input is made to replenish it by higher productivity in every sector. To those in various public offices, there is no real safety in indulging in graft and corruption in one’s work place to “match” the graft and corruption orchestrated by those in the political leadership positions.

Consequently, the increased rate of unemployment in the country is because monies meant for the economy has been looted by the leaders and their cronies. But looting the monies is no longer our problem but the lost incurred in the investible income these monies could have generated and so an “amnesty package” for all corrupt government officials to return those stolen monies stashed outside the country for investment in the country is highly recommended. If any of them does not fancy investment, let same simply lodge such monies in any of the Nigerian banks so that Nigerians can access such monies at interest rates not above 5%. By that act, the banks will instead of laying off their workers, employ more hands and people who are interested in entrepreneurship can get these monies as their capitals and start up their personal businesses. Afteral, it pays to be an employer than being an employee. By amnesty, I mean that these men who had looted the country on the course of their rulership/leadership, will not face the law so long as they brought all their monies back home and the international community shall confiscate any left after a stated period of time, while they are published worldwide as corrupt leaders and banned from active political life.

4. Adherence to Research Recommendations by the Authorities

Having established factually that the nature of governance in any given political system is determined by the quality of leadership in power, and that Nigeria, a nation endowed with natural and human resources still battles with crisis of leadership and governance after fifty-four years of independence, there is overwhelming need for research recommendations to be taken serious. For instance, the above identified maladies of the Nigerian economy has been there for decades and recommendations have highlighted the need to eschew them from our polity which was not paid heed to such that the obstinacy of the leaders was identified as the onefactor problem of Nigeria’s development and advancement hence a country so blessed with both human and material resources, devoid of major crisis, natural and artificial, still occupies almost the lowest rung of the ladder in globally developmental perspective.

This assertion serves as the corollary of various fora, conferences, seminars and other brainstorming organizations whose heartfelt expectation is to see a Nigeria where unemployment has reduced beyond imagination, inequality suffering a calamitous end and poverty a thing of the past. The assertion is made with such confidence as seen in the faces of Nigerian leaders rendering campaign promises and those seen in the Nigerian developmental plans.

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