Since self rule on October 1, 1960, Nigeria has encountered various forms of leadership with their unique system.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous state, has gone through lots of difficulties in governance for the past 58 years ranging from military regimes to democratic leadership. On October 1, 1963, Nigeria became a republic. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was the nation’s first premier while Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was Nigeria’s first President.
During this era, the regional structures flourished, bringing workable policy goals and effective competition among regions, the Northern Region, the Western Region and the Eastern Region. Each of these regions, were led by visionary leaders.
However, fierce competitions among regions inflamed the strong desire for power grab at the central government. Additionally, intra-party wrangling such as the one in the Western Region turned out to be calamitous between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his deputy, Samuel Ladoke Akintola.
Nigeria had inherited a weak socio-political structure and intensified ethnic consciousness and rivalries.
Infighting in the Action Group crisis of 1962 and 1963, Western Region election debacle of 1965, population census crisis, Tiv-riots and a string of other problems paved way for military intervention on January 15, 1966. A counter-coup ensued on July 29, 1966 which precipitated in ethnic massacres of easterners and civil war.
General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) assumed leadership under military rule in 1966. Since then, Nigeria has witnessed series of coups and overthrow of democratic regimes.
Over these past decades, changes occurred in leadership through forceful take-over of power by military juntas. The democratic government that came to power in 1979 under Shehu Shagari era was toppled by the military in 1983. A last ditch effort to return to democracy was burgled up when General Ibrahim Badomosi Babangida (rtd) annulled the general elections that were held on June 12, 1993. The election, won by late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, till date, is regarded as the freest and fairest election in Nigeria’s political history.
After so much political upheaval that characterised the annulment, Nigeria finally returned to democracy, with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the greatest beneficiary, having won the presidential election in 1999. Thereafter, he was succeeded by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Sequel to his untimely exit, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the Vice President under late Yar’Adua era assumed interim president by doctrine of necessity. He, thereafter, won the 2011 presidential poll. He was succeeded by President Mahammadu Buhari on May 29, 2015.
Having gone through a sequence of leadership changes, Nigerians deserve good governance and effective administration. The clamour for reforms, good leadership and socio-economic development has been limitless and can be heard across nooks and crannies of the nation.
In all these previous administrations, Nigeria has experienced the good, the bad and the ugly. Subsequent regimes have been characterised by corruption, maladministration, inept leadership, misrule, arbitrary policies, subjugation of democratic institutions, high-handedness, gross abuse of power and other sundry evils.
Indeed, it is no wonder that the late novelist, Chinua Achebe, in his book “The Trouble With Nigeria” attributed Nigeria’s core problem to poor leadership.
On the brighter side, Nigeria can turn a new leaf by making positive and effective turnaround in leadership. Having good leadership that ushers reform in all sectors of the country is the greatest desire of all citizens. We must not leave the populace broken or in a state of despair.
In order to rid the country of corruption, injustices, communal clashes, political upheaval, self aggrandizement, moral decay, economic hardship, and social decadence, a strong, capable and committed leader is desired to confront these challenges and usher in the change mantra which in turn, produces prosperity in governance which the present regime of President Buhari is yet to put in place as promised three years ago.
Ambrose writes from Oyigbo.