Metropole Magazine

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30 Sep Written by  Japheth Omojuwa

The Followership Question

We are a deluded nation and a country serially immersed in the illusion of light behind the sounds of bullets and cosmetic leadership changes. One needs to write about the realities of our history so that somehow, someway, at least some of us will stop getting carried away by election cycles and leadership changes.

There will always be good leaders and there will always be useless ones, but the people who want change must look beyond their leadership to get the change they want. Do my words make you angry already? If not, we are good to take a peek at where our country was coming from.

Of the many military coups that litter Nigeria’s 53 year history, the only one that was not met with some measure of jubilation would probably be the bloodless coup that ousted the Chief Ernest Sonekan led Interim National Government. Apart from new military leaders, Nigerians are naturally excited and hopeful about new leadership.

Somewhere in our national psyche, we somehow believe “new” means “better” and we are soon back to a quest for another new leader to replace the former new one we had believed would usher in the much desired prosperity. As 2015 approaches, we remain locked in that now permanent illusion: everything will be fine as long as we change this government. But we should know better.

Sure, leadership means a lot.  The perception and fortunes surrounding countries change overnight just by the change of leadership alone. Iran will show this again with the current leaning of its new leader on the path of international diplomacy instead of the hard stance of its previous leader. That one can readily remember Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew and not whom he succeeded or who succeeded him tells you the effect and influence of leadership on a country cannot be overemphasized.

This point had to be made because it would be easy for some to summarize this article as saying Nigeria’s age-long challenge is not as much about bad leadership as it is about the followership. Leadership is important but the followership in Nigeria has cost the nation almost more if not more than the leadership.

Instead of us to make demands on the system, to put our democracy to test by demanding all-round transparency and accountability from every cadre and arm of government, we are hoping 2015 would come to deliver the right leaders who would do things the right way. We think politicians are the only ones who live for election cycles but whether we know it or not, we have since been sucked into the obsession with election years.

The earlier we know this the better. We stand a better chance for a better country by making demands on the government of the day to do the right thing, rather than expect that one day the so-called bad government would be gone and another of a different, better make would replace it. We have gone through these cycles – democratic and forced – for over half a century. Certainly, we must now know that we need to use the fortune in our hands.

Democracy places the responsibility of change on the shoulders of the citizenry and we must get over the delusion and misconception that that change can only come from the change of government. That change comes from knowing we must make change happen, per time, per day and per issue we care about irrespective of how good or bad the government in power is. How can our lawmakers earn hardship allowance for instance? Should we wait till Nelson Mandela becomes our president before we right some of these wrongs?