A Lawyer and multilateral diplomat, Dr Babafemi Badejo, has blamed Nigeria’s underdevelopment to a lack of visionary leadership. Speaking at the annual lecture of The Ilishan Club in Ogun State, he said the country’s political leadership has been characterised by “very pro-elite Aggrandisement and morbidly anti-masses development values and laws”.
According to him, materialism, mismanagement, lack of accountability and corruption are becoming “a way of life”. Badejo, one-time Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, added that nepotism and injustice “are beginning to be seen as normal”.
His words, The discarding of very important leadership values explains why certain principles (honour, tolerance, hard work, diligence, self-reliance, honesty, social responsibility, integrity, selflessness, respect, loyalty, devotion to one’s parents as expressed in Ifa Corpus, ethics, truth and abhorrence for lies, tale-bearing or unfaithfulness) advocated by the Omoluabi concept among the Yoruba, are being abused.
“Criminals and school drop-outs are being celebrated and honoured as models. “The absence of or suppression of the values of Omoluabi is part of the price the Nigerian society is paying dearly for today.” The Omoluabi is a philosophical and cultural concept that is native to the Yoruba people. It is used to describe a person of good character.
The Omoluabi concept signifies courage, hard work, humility and respect. Badejo, a former University of Lagos (UNILAG) political science teacher, who consults for the African Union (AU), said visionary leadership at the highest political and economic levels in Nigeria is in high deficiency. He added.
This demand for quality leadership appears to be confronted with poverty of visions. “Vision has been commonly described as a mental picture of the future; an idea of what the future can hold that is yet to materialise. “In the context of leadership, the leader is expected to first catch the vision, then possess the ability to help the followers see the vision, as well as how to work collectively as leader and followers on making the vision their collective reality. “It then clearly means that the leaders must be people of visions, people who continually aspire, dream and seek for better ideas.
When there is a vision, there is guidance; there is the desire to grow and expand. Vision embodies hopes and ideals, creates a sense of purpose. “To practice leadership without vision and ability to respond to change is to accept to keep doing things the same old way and soon end in oblivion and irrelevance.
According to Badejo, evidence of leadership failure in Nigeria includes low life expectancy and high level of corruption. He said: “Using the life expectancy index, we compared Nigeria, alongside other nine countries in Africa and elsewhere, for a period of nine years, covering 2009-2017. “Nigeria’s highest life expectancy stood at 54.0 in 2017, while the USA recorded 78.5, Malaysia 75.8, Canada 82.2, Indonesia 71.3, Brazil 75.5, Rwanda 68.3, Norway 82.5, India 69.2, and China 76.5.” Badejo said the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is another key indicator of leadership failure in Nigeria.
He said between 2000 and 2018, Nigeria recorded abysmal CPI ranking as one of the most corrupt in the world. He said Nigeria also fared badly in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index Ranking. “For a period of five years, of over 180 countries studied, Nigeria’s best performance stood at 156 on the ranking,” he said. On the way forward, Badejo said: “It is important for Nigerians to begin to organise in forming a critical mass or voice for appropriate leadership values. “Nigerians must begin to rise for the right kind of values important for leadership.”
Compiled by Egbe Buduzhi
For EKPEYE TV © 2020