Elder statesman and a delegate to the National Conference, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, has identified leadership as one of the major problems affecting Nigeria as a nation.
He stated that unless it is addressed, Nigeria would continue to lag behind countries that it started with as a sovereign nation from independence.
Yakassai in a memorandum he submitted to the conference Committee on Political Restructuring said central to the issue of governance is the role of leadership.
According to the 87-year-old delegate from Kano State, “Leadership at any level is crucial because by definition, it is the driving force of a group or any organisation. In government, great leadership requires a great vision, which inspires the leader to inspire the nation and set it on the path of greatness.
“A leader must have vision that would inspire and mobilise his people to achieve objectives of government. He must set great goals. One of the greatest elements of leadership is the ability to think big, dream great dreams and set high targets. For a leader to lead effectively, he must be visionary…have foresight into the future and above all, have the capacity to translate his vision into reality and achievements. And that is the crux of the matter.
“The problem with governance in this country over the years, like all other problems that we have, in the words of late Chinua Achebe, is wholly and squarely a leadership problem. A great leader would inspire his people to think big and achieve greatness.
“An incompetent leader on the other hand will reduce the size of government to the level of his ambition and his capacity. Former president of the United States of America, Richard Nixon, did a study of contemporary world leaders and came to the conclusion that most of the successful leaders of his acquaintance “have been highly intelligent, highly disciplined, hardworking, supremely self-confident, driven by a dream, driving others, all have looked beyond the horizon. Some have seen more clearly than others.”
He explained that these qualities were not circumscribed by geography, creed or colour, adding that issues of governance are basically the same all over the world, Nigeria cannot therefore be an exception.
However, Yakassai explained that: “But with us, the exception has almost become the rule, especially since the return to the current democratic dispensation in 1999. Progressively, our country seems to have been afflicted by leadership deficiency. Ill-prepared, ill-equipped candidates get “elected” or rigged into offices using security agencies and the electoral umpire to conpose results.
“Winners from such elections are immediately confronted with the issues of governance, for which they are ill prepared and unqualified. They spend almost the first term learning the rudiments of office. No real governance takes place. What we get is the symbol and appearance but not the substance.
“The constitution provides spheres of influence for the three arms of government: executive, legislature and the judiciary. Unfortunately, those who should serve as check on the executive have today become appendages of the executive because that is the arm that holds the purse. Without checks and balances, there can be no guarantee of good governance.
“In fact the absence of checks and balances breeds corruption and the culture of impunity that have today defined how we are governed.”