Lecture by Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe at the 12th Professor Wole Soyinka Lecture held at the GTV Broadcasting Hall, Abeokuta, Ogun State on Friday 7th August, 2009.
- The ‘Trouble with Nigeria’?
- The Thesis
- The State of Africa and Human Security
- Leadership Challenges, Attributes, Followers
- The MDGs, 7-point Agenda, Vision 2020
- The Disconnect-Africa and Development
- Strategy for Re-Emergence.
This presentation aims at analysing the nexus between leadership and national development, with particular reference to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 including President Umaru Yar’Adua’s 7-point agenda that will ultimately expire 2011/2015.
Amartya Sen (1998 Nobel Laureate in Economics) posited that development has to be concerned with the lives we live and the freedoms we enjoy. Determinants for freedom include Sustenance, Self-Esteem and Opportunities.
As Good Leadership enhances Human Security that emphasize the protection of individuals including empowerment, access to education and health care, human rights, equal opportunities, good governance etc: It is clear that under current spate of poor Leadership at almost all levels, Human Security is under threat!
Some of the risks and threats to human security top of which is inept and uninspiring Leadership as well as ‘advanced cases of stayism’ include corruption, poverty and several other structural issues (resource cause, ethno-linguistic fragmentation,religion,etc).
Leadership has been identified by various scholars and sociopolitical thinkers as a major factor in Nigeria’s, and indeed, Africa’s socio-economic and political development. Nigeria is confronted with many challenges: e.g. high level of corruption, poor infrastructural facilities, unemployment, poverty, political violence, high crime rate, ethnic/religious conflicts, etc.
For many years, these problems have been intractable in spite of the huge resource(s) available . However, it is believed that these problems can only be solved through good leadership. Issues about “failed” leadership, bad/poor leadership. Nigeria, indeed Africa, is richly endowed with material and human resources. A basic cause of relative under-development is bad leadership. This view was aptly emphasized in The Trouble with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe.
“The Trouble with Nigeria”
“The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership” (Chinua Achebe (1983:1).
Whilst we have the individual capability; we do not possess the collective capacity to get things done on a macro-scale-which is the ability to synergise the various individual capabilities. However, all hope is not lost provided that we agree on some fundamentals necessary for nationhood.
Given that Nigeria has abundant human, physical and other tangible resources necessary for rapid development; these are however not sufficient due to the inability to synergize collectively individual leadership capabilities and capacities. This presentation provides the necessary and robust strategies for rapid, efficient, effective and sustainable development! The story of is often referred to as a resource curse (oil, diamonds, even rubber!)
The State of Africa and Human Security
Africa was described as a continent of ‘hope’, jubilation and world applause some 60 years ago at the debut of independence. However, ten years after independence, it has progressively transverse from ‘hope’ to ‘almost hopelessness’; from the promising era of independence to infamies as we witness in Rwanda, Darfur, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Sierra Leone etc); from heroic foundations laid by Kwame Nkrumah, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Leopold Senghor and some other Greats including Nelson Mandela and to near anarchy! In Zimbabwe, Somalia, et al.
State of Africa and Human Security
Globally, Africa is currently described in negative termswars, strive, despotism, starvation, hunger, corruption, 419, Cybercrime, etc and several other deprivations. Clearly; from the chronological analysis of the ruler ship class in Africa in the past 50 years or so; it is bad leadership that has held the continent back!
In effect; Human Security as defined by UNESCO is virtually non-existing in Sub Saharan Africa. The top 20 Economies include those we started with (Taiwan, Turkey, Mexico, Iran, Brazil and Finland).
The 20 Best Economies.
The Global Competitive Ranking is based on Population, GDP/GDP per capita, Research and Development, International Trade. China and India has populations of 1.3billion and 1.1billion respectively with a GDP per capita of $6,800 and $3,700 in that order. Our GDP is about $680.with population of 140m.
The import of the above is to say that Nigeria population is not the key barrier even though a reduction of the growth rate to 1% from 3.5% is desirable.
- What then is this Leadership?
- The Vision and Imagination.
- The Mission and Commitment.
- Integrity and Selflessness.
- Strategy Mapping and Courage Sustenance.
- Knowledge and Competence.
- Foresight and Focus.
- Adaptive Capacity.
- Accountability and Transparency.
- Inspires and Guides
- Adhere to rules and regulations truthfully.
- Fair and firm to all.
- Available for public scrutiny.
Leadership, Followership, et.al.
- A good leader maintains continuous contact with followers.
- A good leader is a good listener and seek wise counsel at all times.
- He consciously develop a credible succession.
- Through continuous education-he is a ‘notch’ above others in knowledge sharing.
- A good leader must have gone through the ‘crucible process’.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 7-point Agenda et.al.
Eight development goals were identified and adopted by the United Nations in September 2000 to be achieved by all countries by 2015. The Millennium Declaration on the 8 development goals was adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state, including Nigeria. The eight development goals tagged Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are:
- Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (slow/54%)
- Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education (EFA)(Good/90%)
- Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women (Good/81%)
- Goal 4: Reduce child mortality (Worsening/30.3%)
- Goal 5: Improve maternal health (Worsening/>75/100,000 births)
- Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (e.g. TB) Good/TB (Slow detection rate)
- Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability (Worsening)
- Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development. (Slow).
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
The MDGs set targets to address the world’s most pressing problems that stand in the way of sustainable well-being (human security) in the developing world and which may endanger global peace and harmony.
- To halve the number of people living in extreme poverty(<<$1.00/day) between 1990 and 2015.
- To halve the proportion of people suffering from hunger.
- To ensure that all children complete primary education of adequate quality (EFA).
- To eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005
- To reduce child mortality by two-thirds among children
- To halve the spread of AIDS
- To halve the proportion of people without safe drinking water by 2015.
The MDGs and Leadership
The performance score by 2007 as published by the National Planning Commission is: 3 Good; 2 Slow and 3 Worsening. This is 37.5% – an F! But can we improve and make it?
President Yar’ Adua’s 7-Point Agenda
We can also consider the MDGs in the context of President Yar’ Adua’s 7-point Agenda
- Critical Infrastructure: Power, transportation, national gas distribution and telecommunications. The critical infrastructure must be developed for the goal of being one of the 20 largest economies in the world to be achieved by 2020. MDGoals 1,2,7,8.
- The Niger Delta: Apart from improving the quality of life of people in the area, developing the Niger Delta is crucial to national peace, security and development. MDGoals 1,7.
- Food Security: Key to poverty reduction and the realization of one of the MDGs. Can be achieved through agricultural development, development of modern technology and research. MDGoals 1, 4, 5, 6, 7.
- Human Capital Development: It has been noted that the wealth of a nation depends more on the human capital rather than physical/mineral resource. Human capital development is therefore crucial to national development. Mr. President’s 7-point Agenda notes that “Nigeria has a lower than average life expectancy, high maternal and child mortality, high preventable morbidity and mortality, and poor education output and learning outcomes”. Human capital development will enhance the achievement of sustainable national development.
- Land Tenure Changes and Ownership: Aimed at optimizing Nigeria’s growth through the release of land for housing, commercialized farming and other large-scale businesses by the private sector.
- National Security and Intelligence: The 7-Point Agenda recognizes the importance of the country’s national security for national development.
- Wealth Creation: Wealth creation is essential for poverty alleviation, which is one of the core MDGs. Creating an enabling environment for economic growth and to increase the personal incomes of individual citizens. The expected growth rate to achieve 20:2020 is 13%.
The State of Nigeria and Africa: How/where do we stand in relation to the MDGs
|Life Expectancy at Birth (Years, 2003) (UNDP, 2005)
|Adult Literacy %) (UNDP, 2005)||66.8||61.3||76.6
|Without sustainable access to an improved water source (2002) (UNDP, 2005)
|Population below income poverty line ($1 a day) (UNDP, 2005)
|One-year-olds fully immunized against tuberculosis (UNDP, 2005)
|Births attended by skilled personnel (%) (UNDP, 2005)
|Population with sustainable access to improved sanitation (2002) (UNDP,
|Infant Mortality Rate per 1,000 births (2003) (UNDP, 2005)
|Under-five mortality rate (2003)||201
The State of Nigeria: How/where do we stand in relation to the MDGs
|GDP per Capita||158,123.9
|Life Expectancy at Birth (Years)||54.0
|Adult Literacy Rate (%)||64.2
|Incidence of Poverty||54|
|Total installed electricity generation capacity (CBN, 2007)||7,011.6
|Unemployment (CBN, 2007:106)||14.6% (8.9m)|
|Registered Medical Practitioners (2005)||42,563|
|Total enrolment in primary schools (2006)||23,017,129|
|Total number of teachers in primary schools (2006)||586,749
|Pupil teacher ratio (2006) (NBS)||1:39|
|Number of classrooms (2006) (NBS)||252,685|
|Total enrolment post-primary (2006) (NBS)||6,536,038|
|National Unemployment Rate (2005) (NBS)||3.3|
Where are we in respect of the MDGs.
The projected GDP (2008) is US$216.4 trillion with a per capita of US$1,500.(N180,000.) up from US$158.1(2007)trillion with a per capita of US$1,130.(N135,000.) with a growth rate of 25%.
The Disconnect-Africa and Development.
The inference is that Nigeria in particular and Africa in general, have not fared well on a global scale. Nigeria, which is so blessed in human and natural resources is currently ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world! This is why there is poverty in the midst of plenty! The country produces over 2 million barrels of crude oil per day. However, the nation’s resources have not been properly harnessed for general development – for the benefit of all. As the Nigeria Human Development Report 1998 (UNDP, Nigeria 1998:13) noted, “Nigeria is a rich country with a poor population …”.
Problems of Inept Leadership and Corruption
This is a pointer to poor/inept leadership. A conclusion that can be reached from this is that Nigeria, and most of Africa has not been blessed with good leaders. Most of the leaders have not been focused, dedicated and selfless. Evidence for this is found in the scale of corruption and mismanagement/ misappropriation of funds. There has also been a lack of effective followership.
We need to distinguish between process or strategies (such as ‘due process’ or ‘rule of law’?) needed to achieve a goal from the goal/objective itself!
What is needed is a focused, selfless, bold and visionary leadership; the 7-point agenda is a set of achievable goals to be executed through an articulated timed strategy/schedule for the achievement of the laudable agenda.
Great Leaders become great by finding substance in adversity-in traumatic and unplanned crucible experiences and then transforming those experiences into improved performance.
Nelson Mandela (apartheid in South Africa) and Mother Teresa (poverty in Calcutta) are Great Leaders!
The challenge for is to create and nurture leaders who have the same vigour and enthusiasm as Mandela and Lady Teresa.
Strategy for Africa’s Re-Emergence.
- Nigeria is the real ‘Heart’ of Africa.
- Other nations are naturally and oftentimes jealously? looking up to Nigeria.
- 1/3 of Africans are Nigerians
- Nigeria’s success is crucial to Africa’s success.
- More than one-quarter of the Nigerian and African populations are youth within the age bracket (12-35 years). (1991 Census).
The need for good leadership
- Leadership is important for organization, group or national progress and development. It is “good leadership” can make a difference. An organization, group or nation is as good as its leadership is. If the leadership is deficient, the organization or nation is likely to be equally deficient.
- Good leadership is necessary for sustainable development. The promise in this regard is that with good leadership, the fortunes of Nigeria and Africa in general can be turned around for the good.
What is “Leadership”?
- Who is a “Leader”? Dictionary definition states as follows: A Leader is someone who rules, guides or inspires others.
- The key words are those that relates to Guidance and Inspiration.
- With particular reference to national leadership, Chief Arthur Mbanefo (2005) defined leadership as: “… the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management, at all levels, of a country’s affairs”.
- Leadership is a position that is held in trust – for the people.
- Leadership is about accountability. Leaders must perform. Live up to election manifesto. Live up to promises.
- Leadership is about integrity – Leaders must do what they say they will do.
- Leave a good legacy – something good and enduring. Leaders should make a positive difference.
- Leadership is a call to service – not just occupying positions. Many leaders do not seem to appreciate this. This is why many “public servants” see themselves as “public bosses”
Qualities of good leadership
Vision and imagination (to lead the nation and the people to greater heights). However, not only should a good leader be a visionary, he should make his followers buy into his vision/dream (support his vision). This is why leadership is also sometimes defined as the ability to make the followers agree or comply (willingly) with the leader’s position.
- Commitment (to national goals and aspirations).
- Selflessness (to serve collective/national interest, rather than self) – collective/national interests take priority. Must be ready to make sacrifices.
- Integrity – must be able to live above board
- Courage (to vigorously pursue set objectives; the political will to take appropriate decisions), to implement tough policy decisions. This is a challenge in Nigeria, with various contending groups and factions (religious, ethnic, regional, state, etc.).
- Knowledge – should be knowledgeable about things, situations and events. Should know what is to be done, when, how, by whom, with what, etc. To lead is to be in front. You cannot lead from behind. The leader should always be a step ahead of the followers in terms of knowledge.
- Competence – leaders must be competent in the performance of their duties. Leaders should be professionals.
- Foresight – leaders should have foresight. This will enable them to plan/think ahead.
- Good listener – listen to advice, seek wise counsel Maintain contact with the followers
- Focus – do first things first. Do the important things. Not easily distracted.
Qualities of Outstanding Leaders
- Adaptive Capacity – the ability to learn including resilience, creativity, openness, acute observational skill.
- Engaging others through shared meaning is teaching and listening with deep sense of purpose and focus, self-awareness and emotional intelligence, obsessive and skilled communication, comfort with dissent.
- Integrity is about knowing what you stand for-possessing a strong moral compass-clear values, balance among ambition, technique.
Prospects of Development
There has been a disconnect between Africa and development. From all indications, good leadership is lacking in Nigeria, and Africa in general. There is no doubt that Nigeria has the potential to become one of the largest economies in the world by year 2020. Strategies for this have been outlined in the Vision 20:20 document and Mr. President’s 7-Point Agenda.
How to achieve good leadership
- Uphold the rule of law. Follow due process.
- Responsible electorate: Continuous vigilance on the part of the electorate.
- Fearless and objective media
- Credible and active civil society organizations, NGOs, etc.
- Effective discharge of roles by all arms of the government: executive, legislature and judiciary.
How to achieve good leadership
- Effective and impartial law enforcement by appropriate institutions, e.g. the police, ICPC, EFCC, etc.
- Fair and credible election process as well as knowledgeable electorate.
- Curtailment of money politics. Issues about party funding, political “god fathers”, etc.
- Accountability and transparency.
- Leadership by example, not precept.
- Commitment: As the late American President John F. Kennedy noted: ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. Political leaders must see their election/appointment as a call to service, not for personal aggrandizement.
Great Leaders become great by finding substance in adversity-in traumatic and unplanned crucible experiences and then transforming those experiences into improved performances. We can be in the league of 20 best economies in the world if only we can honestly resolve some fundamental issues of governance at the Federal level.
This paper has examined the role of leadership in national development. The paper recognized the importance of good leadership and believes that the progress towards the achievement of the MDGs can be accelerated through good leadership. The qualities of good leadership are discussed, as well as suggestions for achieving good leadership.
Knowledge is a key defining aspect of contemporary and future societies in view of globalisation and ensuing competitiveness.
As Adrian Pais remarked, “it is often in times of turmoil that great leaders are born. Nigeria, and Africa in general, is going through difficult times. This is the time for true leaders to emerge!