Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Public Assets And Wealth – Good Leadership – Public Good, By Andrew A. Erakhrumen

Scarcity has its basic definition(s) particularly in economics. It can be experienced, for clear and unclear reasons, in series of circumstances. We were told, in economics, that during scarcity, demand for a good or service is greater than availability of the good or service. Scarcity also means that resources are limited while human wants are unlimited. Of course, there is/are difference(s) between wants and needs; even so, basic needs for most Nigerians suffer the same fate as wants! While we believe that human beings are insatiable, for good or bad, it is a moral (and in some climes, legal) issue for sustainable systems to be erected and supported in order to make their (human beings’) basic needs realisable. This is still a difficult challenge in this part of the world. Unfortunately, Nigerian governments always leverage on the definition(s) of scarcity to explain away sheer wickedness and thievery of public wealth. For instance, why are those in government always telling ridiculous ‘stories’ that resources for funding education, health, security and other public good are scarce when humongous amounts of money are reported stolen, regularly, from public coffers? There are versions of these ‘stories’ that people have been hearing over the years! How these lies were sustained for this long in Nigeria is baffling; perhaps, it has to do with the possibility that “…..there are more people outside government waiting [in the queue for their chance] to steal in government than those currently stealing there…..” The moral decadence in Nigerian society, today, obviously supports this view. Morality has been made unimportant in the quests for (basic) needs.

Immorality – no matter how subjective its various definitional trajectories may take – can be a type of poverty. Sadly, poverty, in its different (concealed or revealed) expressions, is a serious disease. Unbelievably, many have been unknowingly seriously afflicted with this ailment for generations. This is why certain perpetually-restricting inanities and premordiality are the criteria governing the thinking of many concerning putting people in public offices, today. After enabling and empowering mediocrities in government using only these criteria, they thereafter continue to make the same mistake of believing that “strongmen/women” rather than strong organically-backed institutions are the solutions to the country’s socio-politico-economic challenges. Certainly, strong institutions are not built overnight, anywhere. They are built through a people’s tenacious sincerity of purpose and consistent demystification of pretenders such as past/current Nigerian political leaders interested only in looting the country! Yes, the politicians are not the only problem; there are many horrible top civil servants in governments’ bureaucracies. Politics is local but a people can learn from others. History will teach those who want to learn from it. Strongmen/women may have helped in other climes concerning visible national development; however, they have worsened the situation of underdevelopment in Nigeria. This country’s political system neither encourages excellence nor discourages dismal performance. The real concept of consequence(s) of action(s) is/are no more applicable in Nigeria’s public service except media trial/political victimisation.

What kind of a political system gives well-known brigands unrestricted, unrestrictable and unaccounted for access to public assets/wealth? Why are Nigerians expecting much from those (supposedly) serving them when laws are violated with reckless abandon by their leaders, and others, whose job is to uphold laws? Why these expectations when they (followers), in their corners, are guilty of the same (or worse) offences their political leaders are consistently accused of? Who are the sycophants hailing politicians in criminal enterprise? Leaders are to give leadership but what type of leadership? This is mainly determined by individual/societal values and priorities. Collectively, what is Nigeria’s value system? Are Nigerians interrogating morals? What kind of leaders will be unexplainably opulent at public’s expense while pushing the narrative “…..there is no money…..”? Leaders are from the society not the outer space. Thus, they mostly give the leadership type that resonates with their followers. The implication of the foregoing is that if followers dislike, or are not satisfied with, the deliverables from “leaders”, they (followers) are supposed to know what to do. Positive examples abound, worldwide. If there is no fear of consequences of offences, they will be repeated by offenders, again and again! So, there must be (a) problem(s) with a followership that always complain about its political leaders but still allows same scoundrels to lead it! Whose fault is it if followers allow themselves to be divided based on meaninglessness and pettiness that often benefit their oppressors? Whose fault is it if they refuse to team up in flushing lawbreakers out of office replacing them with the “good” leaders they yearn for? Well now, as it stands, it is clear that the leadership cadre deserved by Nigeria is the existing one until when people may finally decide to uproot it!

We have been convinced that Nigeria does not presently have the type of leadership pool from which “quality leaders” can emanate. We mean the type of leaders that encourage (in the country) such positive developmental strides being experienced in some former developing countries. Here, we are referring to those countries that were on the same (growth/developmental) level as Nigeria less than a half-century ago; nonetheless, it was hoped that the followers would wake up to find sustainable solution(s) to this challenge. High quality political leadership is basically for service. It is not about mercantile mindset powered by stolen public wealth! It is not the acquiring of, and putting on, well-sewn clean foreign suits, traditional attires and colognes/perfumes; any simpleton can do these! Where you have serious people, leadership is not about emptiness, noisiness and bullying saturating Nigeria’s political space. Alas, the supposed sanctuaries – Nigeria’s higher educational institutions – where robust intellectualism is thought to reign supreme have been invaded by this derangement! The “Town” and “Gown” are now seamlessly on the same page with the former giving direction to latter! Mediocrities are now the champions with mediocre deliveries all over! Tomorrow’s “leaders” (dealers/ruiners) are watching and learning! This reality is unbelievable, considering the preponderance of high quality humans in and out of Nigeria! This is lamentable! It is shameful to those who know what ignominiousness is about! We feel for the existing but diminishing sanities that are uninvolved in this madness! Irrespective of the darkening gloominess, positive advocacies should continue even if they may momentarily seem to connote hoping against hope!

Dr. Erakhrumen teaches at the Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.

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