Ethnicity and leadership crisis in Africa, Nigeria as a case study. At least from 2007 to 2019


Price: 2000 Naira (BSC, MSC)



1.1 Background of the Study
It is an axiom that Nigeria is richly endowed by providence with human and material resources critical for national development and advancement. However, since gaining political independence, Nigeria has continued to meander the path befitting failed, weak and “juvenile” states. A state that had very great prospects at independence and was touted to lead Africa out of the backwoods of underdevelopment and economic dependency, Nigeria is still stuck in the league of very poor, corrupt, underdeveloped, infrastructurally decaying, crisis-riven, morally bankrupt and leadership-deficient countries of the South. Rather than become an exemplar for transformational leadership, modern bureaucracy, national development, national integration and innovation, Nigeria seems to be infamous for whatever is mediocre, corrupt, insanely violent and morally untoward.
Thus, one cannot but agree with the position that Nigeria is a victim of poor leadership and convoluted systemic corruption which has become pervasive and cancerous in the country’s national life. This view has been held strongly in literature by scholars and writers who have identified the inexorable nexus between leadership crisis and corruption in the country as the continued reason for Nigeria’s inglorious economic throes, political convolutions and national underdevelopment. Current debates rest on the conclusion that Nigerian leadership suffers from extreme moral depravity and attitudinal debauchery (Agbor, 2011; Agbor, 2012; Ezirim, 2010; Ebegbulem, 2009; Ogbunwezeh, 2007). In fact, Agbor argues that the success or failure of any society depends largely on the mannerism of its leadership. He adds that the result of poor leadership in Nigeria is embodied as poor governance manifested in consistent political crisis and insecurity, poverty of the extreme order among the citizens, debilitating miasma of corruption and rising unemployment indices. Tipping corruption as a dinosaur syndrome in Nigeria’s national life (anon, 2010), Nigeria’s nationhood has been caught in the whirlpool of a corrupt public sector that has remained a hotbed of all that is vice, sleazy and retrogressive. While not exclusive to Nigeria, a report considers corruption to be one of the most chronic macroeconomic problems confronting most African countries today (ACBF, 2007). It is seen as the root cause of the various economic and political crises that have plagued the African region, and continues to aggravate not only the problem of underdevelopment of each country, but also that of abject poverty of the citizenry. For example, political corruption is the cause of sit-tight political leaders, especially in Africa, with constitutional amendments making them eligible to contest presidential elections as long as they wish. The ability to continue to control state power enables them to allocate national resources as they wish. This promotes wanton, suboptimal allocation of national resources, and the ensuing macroeconomic mismanagement which result in persistent economic cataclysm.
Although not a Nigerian phenomenon, the specter of corruption seems to haunt the nation and has permeated the entire fabric of state. Aided by leadership crisis bedeviling the nation, corruption has become the singular most vicious albatross to national development.
This project seeks to investigate the inglorious roles that leadership crisis, ethnicity and corruption have played and are playing in stymieing national development in Nigeria. The project will also attempt a historical analysis of corruption in the country, examine existing literature on the twin problems of poor leadership and corruption in Nigeria and the impact these have on national development, identify the causes of corruption and leadership crisis in the country and suggest ways to tame this dinosaur or monster ala Mbama (2012).
Interactions with the journals, radio and television media, and of course colleagues and students before now, has thrown more light on the declining quality of leadership on the continent, and indeed the spatial culture of non-existent exemplary leadership, which David Oyedepo calls “Role Model”. We shall come to that shortly. There is lack of “leadership in Africa.” In our context, we will be looking at leadership in general and within the perspective of the environment as it relates to Africa. In terms of the ecological situation of leadership, it has to do with the socio-political environment, in which we have three key players namely, the leader, the follower and then the environment. Leadership responds to the environment, the same way followership works with leadership. In otherwords, there is a quintessential interface between leadership and followership, and the social space or environment.
In Africa, all we have seen is rulership or at best “managership”. Such rulership or misleadership often carries along with it the excess baggage of more innocuous problems for the continent-from Abidjan to Djibouti, Lagos to Johannesburg, Freetown to Kinshasa, Darfur to Kampala, and Cape to Cairo. Any impassioned person about the continent, capable of reading the context of the African dilemma and analyzing it, it is same story of one leadership ineptitude or the other. This does not however, mean the expression of afro-pessimism as some scholars have done (Ayodele, et al., 2005), but rather an afro-optimistic approach to developments as
they unfold.
Nigeria is a multi-ethnic nation-state with socio-cultural differences among its component ethnic groups all of which have resulted into cultural dissimilarities. These cultural dissimilarities have been manifested by, the differences in culture which may include language, diet, dress and type of social system.
The ethnic virus has been one of the most important causes of social crisis and political instability in Nigeria; and ethnicity has been perceived in general as a major obstacle to the overall politico-economic development of the country (Otite1990: 145).
Unarguably, Nigeria is a country that is blessed with enormous human and material resources, but ironically, the same country has become the bastion of inequitable state policies, injustice, barefaced corruption, social decay, poverty-ridden, etc., where ethnicity has pervaded every facet of the Nigerian life, and more fundamentally determines who gets what, when and how (Lassswell,1950).
Ethnicity has been considered to be the cause of the 1967-1970 Civil War in Nigeria, elections which have been rigged and those which have failed can be blamed on ethnicity, the manipulation of census figures can only be understood from the ethnic dimension.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Leadership has not been oversubscribed to as the problem of Africa, contrary to how some scholars have argued in recent times. It is contended in that line of thought that there are other dire straits in 21st century Africa that tend to render leadership to a secondary matter as they defy leadership (Anan, 2003). However, it is pertinent to note, leadership is an intervening variable in modern governable society as it increases or decreases the rate of the crisis, depending on policy choices, decisions and implementation (Samuel, 2006).
There are three types of leadership challenges at the generic level in the 21st century, namely, the contextual, the personal and the changing paradigms. At the contextual level in the case of Africa, the historical, environmental, diseases, poverty, wars and political instability, infrastructural and general underdevelopment are the turbulent issues. For instance, in Congo, there is the poverty of infrastructural development from inde-pendence to date. At the personal level, observation has shown that there is low drive or motivation towards self development on the part of Africans (leaders or followers), absence of leadership and general performance skills and a warped educational system, which started dying with the advent of unfocused military rule and political instability. For instance, it is largely evident that one can count the number of African rulers that is schooled up to the university level, or how many go back to school after one level of service. In Congo-Leopoldville (later Congo-Kinshasa, Zaire and now DR Congo) at independence for instance, only Patrice Lumumba had any significant tertiary education. The third is the challenge of whether Africa is responding well to changing paradigms such as globalization, world perspectives, technology, international speed of events and democratization.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The broad objective of the study is to examine the ethnicity and leadership crisis in Africa, Nigeria as a case study. Hence, the specific objectives of study are as follows;
1. To examine if there is any relationship between colonial legacy and political conflict in Nigeria.
2. To investigate corruption level in Nigeria Public sector.
1.4 Significant of the Study
This study has both practical and theoretical significance.
Practically, this study will be helpful to policy makers and those concerned with the Nigeria Ethnicity and leadership crisis as it proffers solution for peaceful resolution and management of the crisis.
The theoretical importance of the study is that it will add to the frontiers of knowledge on the issue under discussion. Students of social science and political science in particular will have added recourse base from which to study the cause, impact and solution to crisis in African states, especially Nigeria. It will also add to the pool of literature in the area under study. Therefore, this study will be of immense benefit to African head of States, academic communities, students and all the genuine lovers of peace, progress and equity.
1.5 Research Methodology
This study relied mainly on secondary source of information. Hence this study shall be drawn from institutional publications, journals, text books, magazines, and internet. Furthermore, government official website shall be accessed to retrieve official records, policy pronouncement; also publications from international agencies were sourced for relevant material for this research work.
In the method of data analysis, we adopted qualitative descriptive analysis. Asika (2006) defines qualitative descriptive analysis to mean summarizing the information gathered in the research verbally so as to further discover relationships among variables. The adoption of the foregoing analytical method becomes necessary as the study rely basically on secondary source of data.
1.6 Literature Review
The independence of African States signaled strong prospects and hope for a better and prosperous continent. That hope was informed by the dynamism of the crop of leadership that championed the struggle against colonialism as evinced by the mass support of Africans. This category of leaders who were mainly products of nationalistic struggle were fired by sheer determination to bring development to their various independent states, which seems to be politically and economically expedient especially at that point of the continent history. More than ever, the expediency becomes more interesting when viewed against the backdrop of the potentials of the continent in terms of human and material resources. However, these expectations were shortly met with abysmal failure of leadership to harness her vast human and natural resources for the benefit of her citizens. In fact, the present state of development on the continent has shown the developmental deficits brought about by failures of leadership on all spheres of human endeavour. The continent’s resources are personalized at the expense of the people; abject poverty, inadequate health facilities and housing problems pervade the land and these were borne out of the failure on the part of leadership (Obasanjo, 2002:153). More defining was the various forms of conflicts that have remained perennial and unsolvable. Crucial to the crisis engulfing Africa is the problem of purposeful leadership that could act as architects and engineers of progressive change and development. What the continent has benefited from these leaders are poverty, war, and monumental debt crisis. Therefore, why has Africa unable to thread the path of development when the Europeans and Asians are making geometrical progression? Why does it seem that all palliative mechanism and strategies seem to be inappropriate to solve the developmental crisis of the continent despite Eze (2002:1) posits that “all over the world leadership is the most important number one factor that determines whether a nation can developed or not”. He further argued that a leadership that is free, intelligent, brave, patriotic, people-oriented, and destination-bound; the leadership that understands psychology of leading and applies it to development of the people must be at the affairs of men (ibid). The history of nations has more or less been a history of personalities that have made enduring impact in socio-economic advancement and shaped the future of the people. In fact the promotion of human civilization has been the propelling force of leadership. However, for a proper analysis, it is imperative to give a proper definition of leadership and leader, even though they appear to be similar when indeed there is a gulf of difference despite been used interchangeably.
A leader in simple term means someone who leads plans, organizes, controls communicates, delegates, accepts the responsibility to reach the societal goals (Ogunbameru 2004:233). Put it differently, a leader is an individual appointed to a job with authority, and accountability to accomplish the goals and objectives of the society. A leader must be a good manager, as well as an individual who is able to effectively coordinate the activities of followers or a team towards pre–agreed or pre-defined goal/objectives within the limits of available resources. Thus a leader must be astute with both man and material. A leader must possess the ability to create in the followers the necessary enthusiasm/motivation to put in every necessary effort to deliver on set goals. Thus the ability not only to conceive but also to communicate a vision or idea is of utmost importance is an attribute of leadership. Above all, a leader must first and foremost be a member of his own team, internalise their feelings and galvanise their potentials towards reaching the goal.
The leader is one who guides, directs and provides leadership. Therefore, leadership presupposes that there is a leader. Leadership is the process of influencing group activities toward achieving set goals. Lynch (1997:433) opines that leadership means the influence of a leader, the ability, the art or process of influencing people so that they will strive willingly and enthusiastically towards the achievement of the group’s mission. A leader, according to Stacey (1996:128), must give directives on organizational goals and tasks of the work group; monitoring performance of the group in terms of goal achievement, ensures that a cohesive team is built and motivated to perform the task; supplying any skills or efforts that are missing in the team; and articulate purpose and reduce uncertainty that team members face.
A leader provides leadership for his followers. As Mandela observes “a leader is like a shepherd, he stays behind the flock letting the most nimble go ahead whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind”(Mandela cited in Anya O Anya, 2004:3). Thus, leadership involves the management of people and the circumstance needed to achieve clearly defined goals. It involves mobilizing and motivating people for greater productivity. As Maurick (cited in Anya O Anya, 2004:3) has observed, leadership is the ability to
bring out the number of talents and to operate effectively through other people making them gladly accepts your goals while still having the freedom to do things their way, it involves the vision as well as the ability to deploy creativity and innovation while recognizing this in others who share “a common vision based on knowledge of the big picture, reiteration of clear consistent values, crafting a culture and strategy” (Anya O Anya, ibid). Leadership involves the management of change or the nation. Organizational change may involve developmental change by building on and improving the quality of what already exists. Alternatively, it may involve transitional change by managing the transition from one stage to another. Fundamentally, leadership may take up transformational change in which an organization or nation changes completely from one state to a different state of being. A post-colonial or post-military environment obviously requires transformation. Thus a nation needs a leader that can provide total transformation which involves paradigm shifts driven by changes in mind set (ibid).
To accomplish the above, leaders or people in leadership positions should develop the capacity to manage resources by recognizing when to:
· Concentrate resources on key strategy goals;
· Accumulate resources for greater and direct impact on the nation’s goals;
· Complement different kinds of resources to create higher values;
· Conserve resources when necessary or needful and
· Recovers resources when vital.
In all, leadership connotes a process of influencing group activities toward achieving goals (Bass 1981:9). Leadership, therefore, is a supreme political virtue. It is a capacity to inspire confidence in the rightness of one’s purposes, courage in their collective execution and obedience in the threat of resistance.
It is suffice to say that the major problem facing the development of the Nigerian state is the crisis of leadership. Politicians, scholars, students, social critics, labour leaders and seasoned bureaucrats, even clergymen have consistently attributed it to be the major problem facing nation-building, integration and national development. An analysis of the plethora of leaders on
Nigeria’s political landscape revealed selfish, mediocre, tribal leaders and opportunistic small minded people masquerading as leaders. From Tafawa Balewa to Obasanjo, the crisis of leadership remains the same. Absence of pragmatic charismatic and selfless leadership to steer the ship of the nation remains a mirage. Chinua Achebe in his popular book “The Trouble With Nigeria” forthrightly indicts Nigeria’s political leadership and fails to see one shining act of bold selfless leadership at the top such unambiguous refusal to corrupt or tolerate corruption at the formation of authority which will radiate sensations of well being and pride through every nerve and artery of national life. Nigerians themselves rightly refuse to absolve their past leaders of historical and moral responsibility for the economic and political destruction they have wrought on the nation. The assessment of Arthur Nwankwo, a social critic aptly captures the character and impact of the past leaders on the socio-economic and political development of Nigeria. He began that with an analysis of coercive imposition of colonial structure, which by birth to neo-colonial institutions threw up ‘an enfooled generation of leaders’ (Nwankwo 1989: 144). Nwankwo (ibid) captures the administrations of past leaders thus;
AlhajiTafawa Balewa and his cabinet who confused their ignorance of what was involved in the smooth operation of the imposed institution simply behaved as amateur, sought ideas from their erstwhile colonialist… and made Nigeria a vital consistency of the world imperialist system which consistituted the most binding restraints on development. He lacked the capacity to chart a progressive course for national development because of lack of consciousness of development. His knack of kow towing the imperialist line of action increases the vulnerabity of the entire polity to external manipulation; he was unable to engender internal stability which eventually consumed his gullibity and incompetence (restricted and based on Nwankwo’s opinion).
J.J.U Aguiyi-Ironsi could not seize an opportunity afforded by the 15th January, 1966 coup to reset Nigeria on a progressive and development mapping. Brought up under the most passive and apolitical circumstances of colonialist’s military institution, he neither understood the meaning of politics in general nor was he able to diagnose the specialties of the Nigerian political system whose leadership was placed on his shoulders. He was neither confused nor misled; he was simply ignorant and naïve. His verbalist approach to power politics, and his epiphenomenal formula for Nigeria unity provoked the sordid massacres of 1967; which eventually led to the 30 months civil war (Nwankwo ibid).
General Gowon’s rhetoric about keeping Nigeria one and united, and creating a post civil war just and egalitarian society through the lackeyed principles of reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction, sounded more like a frivolous song of general amnesia, especially when listened to against the background stench of crimes committed during the civil war. As the then Head of State, General Gowon was apparently the only Head of Government anywhere in the world who had so much money that he did not know what to do with it. The transient national affluence occasioned by the innocent but unsolicited upsurge of mineral resources cast a spell of short-sightedness over Gowon and his reactionary advisers. They mistook the transient flow of petroleum for a permanent future of the Nigerian economy and without conducting a critical analysis of the international market forces which determine the cost of petroleum and its relevance place to national development. It is difficult to imagine how history can ever absolve the Gowon regime for its poor foresight; he was responsible for not seizing the greatest opportunity to stand the nation on a sound footing of development. It was during his era that super-powerful secretaries supervised the native elites predation of the economy through contract awards and the institution of kickbacks. While foreign private investors besiege the nation in an organized loot and plunder, with the collaboration of the native elites. The oil boom of his era was aptly described as oil doom for the nation (Nwankwo ibid).
The coming of General Murtala Mohammed was revolutionary as well as challenging. He brought a new sense of mission and was radical in his approach to governance; the extermination of the enfooled generation became his cardinal objective. He was however cut short by the inordinate ambition of young military officers, who cannot comprehend the fire brand approach to governance (Nwankwo ibid). The regime was however short to allow a better assessment.
Fate rather anything else remains the greatest asset of General Olusegun Obasanjo, a man who assumes leadership against his ‘will’ but by sheer providence and as such was not prepared for the challenges. He claimed to bring about prudent financial management in governance; he embarked on some developmental projects such as road construction, and infrastructural development. He charted a new course for democratic governance and constitutional development. He however has a pathological hatred for the intellectuals and did not see any intellectual dimension that is germane to national development. His policy actions were frustrating to the Ivory Tower, he starved the University of funds and began the distortion of the educational institutions through untoward policy action. Obasanjo’s regime opened the floodgate of staggering external debt whose adverse effects, persist till date. He is presently canvassing for debt forgiveness which he stupidly began during his military regime era.
Alhaji Shehu Shagari in Nwankwo’s view represents what professor Hussein Alatas (cited in Nwankwo ibid) defined as “the revolution of the fool”. A man whose towering ambition was to be a lawmaker (Senator) but who was drafted to the Presidency by the people who find him amenable to their selfish interest. Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s government did not strive to dismantle the existing power structure and a social relation that has kept Nigerian state prostrate. His administration was characterized by a wild appetite for transient materialism. It was the vicious circulation of reactionary of enfoolment that put an abrupt end to the democratic project and a new phase of military regime. He was eventually disposed by the ever restless military elite led by Gen. Buhari.
Signposts of the Buhari regime cut across several policy intentions which included the desire to maintain strict financial discipline and accountability. Thus corrupt politicians were imprisoned while draconian decrees were promulgated to check excessiveness of circulation of enfooled leaders. For example, Decree 4 was specifically draconic because of its power to detain without respect to the rights of citizens. The Buhari regime believed that he can internalize Nigerians with the spirit of patriotism and nationalism with the policy perspectives of the so called War against Indiscipline (WAI). But the regime folly rested on the conceptualization of the primary purpose of government as the imprisonments of activists and other critiques impaired the mundane value of a neo-colonial order. Having perceived indiscipline as the country’s major impediment to development, he thus began with architecting fear as an instrument of governance.
It was not long again before the fearful regime of Gen. Buhari collapsed under the weight of repression and tyranny. That his Chief of Army Staff, Gen Ibrahim Babangida appeared on the firmament of the Nigerian political scene was an indictment of the perceived loyalty that tends to define the military institution. Babangida’s generosity was a welcome relief from the regressive and tyrannical regime of Buhari. In fact, his assumed democratic and diplomatic character may have concealed his innermost disposition to governmental irresponsibility. He turned the nation to a political laboratory and came up with a grandiose political transition that was described as the most expensive transition in Africa and at the end produced no democracy. Babangida with his intelligence and personal charm, his visionary and innovative program could have been placed in a historical vantage position of a leader; however he was unable to meet it with sincerity and discipline. He thus squandered such a glorious opportunity to register himself in the heart of Nigerians. His evil ingenuity was his unmaking, he institutionalized prebendal politics and made little effort in infrastructure development. The elaborate democratization project culminated in the annulment of June 12 elections, which was purported to be the freest, fairest and detribalized election in the annals of Nigerian politics.
The Babangida regime created the dullardity of Ernest Shonekan, a captain of industry whose business experience holds no water in political terrain. True to type, he was unable to diffuse the tension generated from the annulment, the judiciary finally declared the government as unconstitutional.
Rather than blaming the interim regime of Shonekan for the emergence of General Abacha government, such blame should be on the annulment of the June 12 election. Abacha is today notoriously remembered for ruling with an iron-fist similar to Idi-Amin Dada of Uganda. While the entire country became an extension of his personal estate within the space of five years, he amassed so much wealth than most countries in Black Africa. His transmutation agenda was however cut short by divine intervention.
The coming of Gen Abubakar Abdulsalam could be described as an accident of history. He neither thought of ever being a Head of State. In fact he was contemplating on his retirement from a regime which has made senior officers to be prone to extermination through phantom coup plots. Nevertheless, the sudden death of Gen Sani Abacha thrusted leadership on his shoulder. He was cool headed and compassionate though he emptied the reserves in the name of democratic transition. His competence in nation building and transforming his immediate environment was not particularly challenging.
The second coming of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo as a civilian leader was believed to be a political compromise arising from the impasse of the annulment of June 12 election. His government recognized that corruption remained anti-development and perhaps the greatest enemy to good governance. His effort at combating the evil of corruption has gained momentum. He has introduced various reforms which are targeted at repositioning governance and the entire polity. These efforts are still to bring about the desired socio- economic development for national cohesion.
The above graphic analysis of past and present Nigerian leaders may not have been a comprehensive nor value free analysis, but there are evidences of massive failure on the part of successive leadership. This does not in any way absolve the followers who sometimes collaborate in the wasteful and predatory enterprise. When and how can the nation be rid of these crops of leadership? Who does not think contextually, both in terms of space and time in the dynamic inter-relationship of factors, (it) reacts only to the immediate and cannot see beyond, it
has a mind that thinks in terms of limited causes and not of successive causes and effects; as a creation of habits and is not critical of the foundation of its own thinking inconsistent and its not analytic in (its) but descriptive (Nwankwo 1989:156) These crop of leaders lacked the mental energy and always follow the line of least resistance and cannot speak at a higher level of abstraction without contradicting reality” (Ibid)
This is not to say that there have not been few exceptions in the leadership cadre in Nigeria worthy of emulation, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s achievement in the old Western region remained unequaled in the history of productive leadership. Presently, Dora Akinyuli, NAFDAC director general remains a symbol of pride to the feminine gender in leadership just as Nuhu RIbad is performing wonderfully well in Nigeria’s revered anti-corruption machinery- The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
1.7 Scope of the Study
The Scope of this study is to analyze the ethnicity and leadership crisis in Africa as a case study between the periods of 2007 to 2019
1.8 Limitation of the Study
The research work is limited to bread making industry in osogbo. The main constraint of the research is divided into the following parts.
a) Time constraints- due to the short time given for the study, the researcher could not get all the required information needed for the study.
b) Finance- as a result of money constraint the researcher had not enough money to carry out the study beyond the level. The researcher could not visit places where necessary information relevant to the study could be obtained.
c) Attitude of respondents – some of the respondents were unwilling to cooperate with the researcher because they felt, they have nothing to benefit from the study both financially and otherwise. Besides they were afraid of losing their jobs, if all information needed are released to the researcher.
1.9 Definition of the Study
Ethnicity: An ethnic group or an ethnicity, is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestry, language, history, society, culture or nation. Ethnicity is usually an inherited status based on the society in which one lives.
Crisis: A crisis is any event that is going to lead to an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society.
Leadership: Leadership is both a research area and a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual or organization to “lead” or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations

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