Our Parasitic Leaders

No Comments » March 22nd, 2009 posted by // Categories: General Articles

Cornelius Ewuoso

Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.



‘Nigeria: Good People, Great Nation’. You know I have seen many strange things happen in this my short stay here on earth. I have seen a mad man pretend to be sane, a baby acting like an adult, a policewoman strip a young man naked in public for allegedly sexually harassing her, a dog which cannot bark, a fat woman who is able to jump high, lawmakers who find it not so difficult to break law in public, two women fight in public over a man who is not even aware of their existence. But this thing called ‘re-branding’ beats them all. I wonder whether that is what we need at this stage of our historical development; whether it is not another attempt to avoid the more pressing issues of corruption, bad leadership, epileptic power supply and so on. Is this not a misplaced priority?


Learned men, you see, Nigerian political elites would never cease to amuse me. At this time when the nation is plagued by all sorts of social, economic, political, cultural and moral ills, an individual would just wake up one morning and say what we need now is an image re-orientation. In this time of wide-spread corruption and political negligence, the political elites are proposing a self-perceptive reformation. During this period of economic turmoil, civil unrest in the Niger/Delta, religious crisis, increase in poverty, absence of good healthcare delivery systems and personnel, fallen standards of education and naira, lack of good infrastructures, injustice, lack of pipe borne water and the likes, the government is saying what we need is an image deformation and reformation, put differently, we need to correct the erroneous notion the outside world has about us by thinking positively about ourselves. In the face of the more pressing issues begging for attention, the government wants the individual to turn inwards. But is this where the solution to our problems lie? Do the government officials want us to cease to think about these problems as if they are not a reality?


Nigerians, it is claimed, have been stigmatized and unfairly treated by the outside world. They have been branded with all sorts of names just because a few Nigerians disgraced the country outside.  Nigerians have been said to be, in her words, ‘untrustworthy, unreliable and ungovernable’ but not all Nigerians are the same. Probably this has to do with the way we have been perceiving ourselves. Hence, there is an urgent need for us to correct this image distortion by turning inwards in order to re-orient our own self-perception. In other words, think good about yourself and others will see you as good.


Learned men, there is nothing wrong in addressing external stigmatization, especially in the absence of some serious and pressing issues, and when it has been recognized that the failure to do so would be fatal to the country. But is this the case? But is it true that there are no other issues begging for attention? But let us consider this ourselves; even if it were to be true that it is not the case that all Nigerians are untrustworthy, unreliable and ungovernable, but can we deny that some Nigerians are? I am not sure. And this is not the case with Nigeria and Nigerians alone, it is the same everywhere. There will always be some dissidents out of every twelve. It is a universal problem. So how does a re-orientation of ourselves help solve that problem or the more pressing issues of corruption, enmity, injustice, hardships and so on? How does it negate the fact that there are some hardened criminals amongst us whom we need to uproot, or that many of our leaders are unreliable, corrupt and untrustworthy? What is supposed to be the purpose of this re-branding? Are we supposed to just start perceiving ourselves all as good and disregard the fact that corruption is reality in this country, or that the value of the Nigerian currency is dropping sharply and it is making life difficult for so many people, or that there is no poverty, enmity, war, injustice, and corruption in Nigeria? Is the purpose of this re-branding that of making us view all these remarks about Nigerians as some unfair conjectures or libellous remarks made by some people who desire nothing good for us? What is the purpose and can somebody please tell me this and how it bears directly on the economy or political situation in the country?


Albeit it may be reasonably shown by appealing to the rules of logic and demonstrations that not all Nigerians are untrustworthy or corrupt, but there is a sense in saying that ‘all Nigerians are the same’. We all are responsible for the present situation in the country hence, we are all culpable. For the many times we refused ‘to speak truth to power’ we share in this guilt. For the many times we refused to confront our leaders so as let them see the evil in their acts, we aid and abate them, and by the mere reason of this, we too are culpable by omission. By our ‘inactions’ we tell the outside world that we wish we were the ones in their positions; we wish we were the ones who get to loot public funds, deprive others of good healthcare delivery system and qualitative education, travel around the world in private jets, go for surgery in Paris and Germany, have dinner in Las Vegas, take breakfast in Dubai, watch the football match after lunch in London. By our inactions, we tell the outside world that we approve of corruption, embezzlement, criminal acts, injustice and so on. But there would have been no need for re-branding if we had nipped the problem on the board in the first place, that is if we had confronted our leaders from the very beginning we recognized that they were no longer pursing our common interest but there own private interest. Again, there would have been no need for an open confrontation with the leaders if they themselves were good persons who have good intentions for the country.


Hence what we rather be talking about now is leadership. How do we get good leaders? Leaders who will inspire us and motivate the populace. What we have in Nigeria, are epileptic and parasitic leaders. Those who have suck the resources of this nation dry. It strikes me whenever I think of the fact that we are the ones who protect the very ones who are essentially responsible for our present condition. I will explain this in a moment. I remember walking through a police barracks in Ibadan, Oyo State capital sometime ago. And you need to see the shacksthese men of the Nigerian Police Force call housing. The buildings were beginning to fall apart, the environment was in a sorry estate and yet these are the very men who protect, with their guns, the leaders who are responsible for their present condition. The members of the Nigerian Police Force, particularly those of them in lower ranks, are ones who keep vigil every night just so that these corrupt leaders can get a good night rest yet, the leaders don’t let them rest in peace. We understand what our problems are and how to solve them, but rather than do this, we help the problems to persist by our very actions. By not addressing the issue, and by protecting the very ones who should be scolded. By not doing this, we equally encourage them to do more; to steal more. This is why the recent showdown between Obasanjo and Nigerian Liberty Forum (NLF), at the London School of Economics represent a change in the right direction.


For this reason, if there is ever anything to be re-branded, then that should be the parasites, we call leaders. They are our problem. These are the ones we are responsible for our present condition including the way outside world view us. You know what a parasite does to its hosts, parasites exploit its hosts for food, habitat and dispersal. In the same way, our leaders are exploiting us; they deprive us of our right to healthy living. It is not the case that we have low self-esteem, but our problem in this country is that we lack good leaders. We do not have men and women who will work for the common good. Hence let us address this problem of bad leadership and the problem of stigmatization would have been a thing of history, not an image deformation and reformation.


This last point, therefore, offers us the opportunity to reflect on the qualities of a good leader. To be a good leader means that you can inspire others to follow your example, willingly and cheerfully. A good leader will both inspire confidence and give a strong example of what we should aim for. Finally the supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. The same showdown alluded to earlier on, at the London School of Economics (LSE), provides us a practical reason why as leader, your integrity should matter most to you. At that event, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was virtually humiliated. Obasanjo was booed in the hall as he spoke on the unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where he mediates on behalf of the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon. He lost his worth to speak on issues concerning Africa when he lost his integrity, and our present leaders have a lesson to learn here.

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