Nigerian Leadership Challenges And Realities

29 May 2012

By Babandi Gumel

In as much we all want succeed and move the Country forward Nigerians have always been patriotic but sometimes parochial carried by ethnic sentiments with religious intolerance vindictiveness coupled with tribal begot naturally in born in themselves but in the end come to their senses and continued the journey to make the Country great.

We are yet to reach our final destination with the recent rise of the Boko Haram in the North and the Niger Delta Emancipation another notorious Haram born in the South -South before the Boko Haram came into existence plus the restoration of the old Biafran wounds the Unfortunate Original Haram which led to thirty-month Civil War four and a half decades back and the pseudo tribal Oduduwa Elements founded to sustain the south-west- geo political region all help to explain the challenges facing the Country.

Majority of Nigerians were not born when the Country achieved its Independence with Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as the Prime Minister in October 1960.

The Politicians in the First Republic tried to keep the flag flying Moving the newly Independent Nation forward until it became a Republic with Dr Nmandi Azikiwe as Ceremonial President on 1st October 1963.

Few squabbles and political malpractices, election anomalies became the order of the day.

Despite the shortcomings the founding- fathers remained the better choice committed to sustaining the fledgling democracy and were much more transparent and honest compared with the current breed of politicians who are seen by many if not most as only making effort to enrich themselves rather than maintaining the democracy.

Unlike the previous politicians well respected the current politicians are seen by some as only self-seeking bigots trying to promote their own selfish agenda or that of their parties rather than national therefore nowhere or equal with previous in terms of quality of leadership and its likes.

Despite the founding fathers best effort to sustain the tempo of political maturity opposition parties who could not succeed becoming envious of the Tafawa Balewa's Regime leading to a plot against the NPC which ultimately saw the collapse of the Regime.

The Military- Leaders who initiated a coup d'état on the 15th January 1966 against the Civilian Government accused the politicians of nepotism and +favouritism.

The Military coup the first of its kind led to crisis especially in the North after the murder of the two most influential founding fathers Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa the Prime Minister and Ahmadu Bello Saradaunan Sokoto the Premier of the North .Other prominent Politicians that lost their lives included the

Premier of the Western Region Samuel Akintola as well as the Finance Minister Festus Okoti Eboh a Close Associate of the Prime Minister as well as Brigadier Zakari Mai Malari the Highest ranking Officer from the North. Major General J.T.U Agui Ironsi became the Commander in Chief forming a Unitary Government.

Despite the Military's effort to bring unity many Ibos fled the North after many were murdered.

Four Governors were appointed to help sustain the Regime which included Brigadier Hassan Usman Katsina for the North and Col Odumegu Ojukwu for the East and Adekunle Fajuyi of the West among others.

Ironsi's Government did not last long and he was abducted with his host together when he was on a tour in Western Nigeria in July 1966.

A new MiIitary Government was formed with Lt Col Yakubu Gowon from the Middle Belt as the new Head of State. He created twelve States abolishing the old Regions.

The former Governor of the Eastern Region Col Odumegwu Ojukwu refused to recognise Gowon as leader causing tension that led to meetings arranged to reconcile them including the famous Aburi meeting in Ghana.

On the 6th July 1967 Ojukwu seceded from the Federal Republic by declaring Biafra which led to the breaking of the Nigerian Civil War which lasted for 3o Month ending on the 12th January 1970. Among the things introduced by Gowon ‘s Administration included the NYSC Programme in 1973and the introduction of the new Naira and Kobo Currency.

However so many broken promises including the return to Civilian Regime which he described as unrealistic contributed to the fall of his Regime in July 1975.

The new Military Leaders under General Murtala Muhammed created seven more new states and promised to return to Civilian Rule in 1979.Unfortunately Muratla's Regime did not last long as it lasted six months and not withstanding they took decisive action on many issues including the transfer of the Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja making it a sort of progressive and corrective Regime.

The usual motorcade characterised with body guards on motor cycles and sirens and others the Head of State used to enjoy were all abolished during the time of Murtala.

He used to go alone only with his body guard travelling in the same car with no escort making security challenges daunting and difficult for this progressive Regime.

Unfortunately Dimka and his cohorts took advantage of this and waited for the Head of State on this fateful Friday 13th of February 1976 ambushing Murtala thus killing him with his ADC. Majority of the army Officers who took part were from the Middle Belt and many thought it was done to avenge the toppling of Gowon by Murtala.

On 14th February Lt General Olusegun Obasanjo the Deputy to Murtala became the new Head of State who continued with the policies of his boss General Murtala Muhammed.

As promised they handed over power to Civilian Rule in October 1979 and Alhaji Shehu Shagari became the first Executive Civilian President .

Shehu Shagari was personally seen as a descent person but unfortunately majority of those who surrounded him including the former Transport Minister Alhaji Umaru Dikko were regarded as corrupt who enriched themselves unnecessarily.

The Civilian Regime successfully executed its first Term however on the 31st of December 1983 the off-shoot military leaders of Murtala/Obasanjo Regime under General Muhammadu Buhari deposed the Civilian Government of Shagari.

Muhammadu Buhari and his Deputy Tunde Idiagbon jailed most of the politicians and brought sanity by introducing the famous War against Indiscipline. As part of that war the Regime attempted to kidnap the former Transport Minister Umaru Dikko who was living in exile here in London which was foiled only by the help British officials. Anyhow Nigerians learned to cue and sense of discipline was instilled in their persons.

However Buhari/Idiagbon Regime was toppled on 27th August 1985 by General Ibrahim Babangida accusing them of high handedness like dictator.

Babangida became the darling of the Press however corruption and nepotism became widespread during his time.

Famous episode that could not be forgotten was the cancellation of the election of Late M.K.O Abiola the Presidential Candidate of the SDP in June 1993 Election not preferred by the Military Regime of Babangida who came to be known as Maradona for the way he used to dribble Nigerians the way he liked like the famous footballer.

After the cancellation of the election widespread protest spearheaded by a group known as NADECO continued throughout Babangida's era forcing him to step aside unceremoniously on 26th Aug 1993.

The Military handed over power to Civilian Leader Ernest Shonekan a Yoruba like the presume winner of 1993 Election from the South West to appease NADECO and those protesting against the Regime. Unfortunately the protest continued causing chaos and lack of security needed by any government to prevail.

Therefore the Regime lasted less than 3 Months.

General Sani Abacha widely seen as dictator by many Nigerians took over from Shonekan on 17th November 1993.Although corruption was widespread but he improved the security situation with high handedness and the Country was suspended from the Commonwealth.

Due to the dictatorial tendency some prominent Nigerians that included Chief Arthur Nzeribe wanted General Abacha to contest the election in what was known as TAZARCE as many of his critics including the presumed winner of the Election Abiola the former Military Leader Obasanjo and his Deputy Shehu Musa 'Yar Adua were all put in prison.

God in his wisdom took the Life of Late Shehu ‘Yar Adua in prison and later Abacha suddenly died 8th June 1998.

General Abdussalam Abubakar took over on the 9th June and promised to hand over power in May the following year.

Babangida and other Generals quickly helped to bring Obasanjo out of the prison to contest the election which he won against Candidate of the ANPP General Muhammadu Buhari.

Thus Obasanjo was sworn in as the Civilian President in the 3rd Republic on May 29th 1999 and won the second Term in 2003 until 2007 when he was forced to retire.

Obsasanjo's second Term was embroiled with the 3rd Term Sinister Programme similar to the TAZARCE of Abacha which did not succeed.

In the end he found a successor in the name of Umaru Musa ‘Yar Adua the brother of the Late Shehu Musa ‘Yar Adua his former Second in Command during the Military Rule after Murtala's death.

The First Lady Stella Obasanjo suddenly died in October 2005.

Things that could not be forgotten during the first Term of Obasanjo was the appointment the no-nonsense Nuhu Ribadu as the Chairman of the EFCC becoming so powerful and influential in his war against corruption charging so many Governors including the famous Alameseigha who was impeached for money laundering and replaced by his deputy Jonathan Goodluck who is so lucky again to replace his other boss ‘Yar Adua later as President. So when Umaru ‘Yar Adua became the President contesting against the opposition leader General Muhammadu Buhari and lost he replaced the famous EFCC Anti Corruption Czar Nuhu Ribadu with a woman Farida Waziri.

The fighting against corruption initiated by Ribadu was reduced to extent however the Regime fought some Muslims followers of Late Muhammed Yusuf mainly youngsters who turned to be the current detested members of the Boko Haram.

The Police were accused of extra judicial killing of more than 800 of the sect members while on the one hand giving amnesty to the members of the Niger Delta militants.

During ‘Yar Adua the first woman Speaker Mrs Olubunmi Etteh was also forced to resign for corruption and was replaced by Dimeji Bankole.

In addition the former Central Bank Governor Soludo was replaced by Sanusi Lamido.

Unfortunately ‘Yar Adua died after protracted illness on the 6th May 2010 and was replaced by Ebele Jonathan Goodluck his Deputy who completed the Second Term of ‘Yar Adua in May 2011.

He contested the election after defeating candidates including the former Vice President of Obasanjo Atiku Abubakar to contest with his main rival Muhammadu Buhari who against lost to Jonathan on the 29th May 211.

When the Independent Electoral Commission INEC Chairman was replaced with Attahiru Jega a former Vice Chancellor of the Bayero University and former Head of University Staff Union seen as Progressive it was thought the Commission would take a new direction but to the disappointment of many they continued maintaining the status quo propping the Ruling Party of the PDD as accused by the Opposition Parties and other commentators.

As the war against corruption became soft since the removal of Ribadu the President replaced Farida Waziri with the former Deputy of Ribadu in an effort to silence the critics .

From 1966 altogether 11 military coups that took place to date beginning with that of Kaduna Chukuma Nzeogu on 15th January 1966.

The Second Military coup was led by Theophillus Danjuma which took place on the 29th July 1966 and the third led by Muratala Muhammed on the 25th July 1975.

The fourth unsuccessful Military takeover was on the 13th February 1976 led by Dimka which saw the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed and Colonel Ibrahim Taiwo Governor of Kwara State ardent supporter of the Regime.

The fifth attempt was by Bukar Mandara against the Civilian Government of Shagari in 1982 which was aborted then Brigadier Sani Abacha successfully led the sixth Military Coup on the 31st December 1983 which saw the installation of the Buhari/Idiagbon Regime.

Then Brigadier Joshua Dogon Yaro who successfully plotted against Buhari installed Babangida's Regime on the 27th August 1985.

Finally Mamman Vatsa unsuccessfully tried along with others to topple Babangida therefore found guilty and sentenced to death and shot by firing squad in 1986.

The ninth Military coup was led by Gideon Orkar in 1990 against Babangida's Regime which was aborted.

Then Lawan Gwadabe tried his brand unsuccessful coup on the 1st March 1995 and finally another attempt to topple Abacha's Regime was tried by Lt Gen Oladipo Diya in 1997.

When Obasanjo was installed the new Civilian President he promised to see the end of coup d'état in Nigeria the challenges facing the Nation.

Some could be regarded like fantasies and fairy tales while others typical realities the security as seen on the ground.

Therefore various challenges security wise including dialogue with all stakeholders and other means should be adopted with a view to solving the current impasse of violence with the wave of bombing campaign by the Boko Haram and other militants.

The only way forward is to sit down and discuss peacefully and have dialogue with militants so as to appease them as military strategy alone could not work and apparently is not working as expected.

Therefore unless every cooperates forgiving one another if possible giving amnesty to the militants as was done with the Niger Delta militants during ‘Yar Adua thus creating jobs for thousands of unemployed youths the militants may have nothing to lose in the confrontation which is not in the interest of the Nation and is far from over yet. As they say if there is a will there is a way both Government and the militants should sit down in a peaceful atmosphere and talk with a view to moving the Country forward.

Wa Akhiri Daaawana Anil Hamdu Lillahi Rabbil Alamin.


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