By CHINELO OBOGO
Former speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole has identified that Nigeria’s major problem is leadership.
Speaking at the start of the 2012/2013 session of the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Bankole stated that lack of adequate preparation for leadership, especially in public life was a critical missing link in the nation’s search for solutions.
According to him, “In Nigeria, as in most parts of Africa, many leaders, especially at the political level, are preoccupied with succeeding themselves that often, they leave a leadership vacuum or confusion behind them. Mohammed Siad Barre, the former strongman of Somalia was reported to have boasted on the eve of his eviction from office that after him, there would be chaos.
Sadly, it appears that this unwholesome scenario is not limited to the political leadership; it is also a critical issue in the public service as well as the corporate and civil society organizations. The failure of leaders to be purpose-driven, rather than self-absorbed and to design credible agenda for leadership renewal in the form of mentoring has given rise to the pervasive and recurrent multiple malaise now plaguing our country.
“Even in Nigeria, the ill- fated attempt to alter the constitution to allow for a third term in office for the President was seen as a local manifestation of an African malady. It has been argued in some quarters that the instability of the post 2007 dispensation and a lot of the threatening challenges of the present times are probably consequences of the lack of sincere mentoring and our leaders’ preference not to pay sufficient attention to successive planning. Some have even posited that the emergence of the late Yar’Adua was a half-hearted, some say cynical, option that was hurriedly activated following the failure of a second term bid.”
Continuing, he said that the country must urgently start the process of disallowing untutored and untested persons from mounting the saddle of leadership, as this would only set the country backwards.
His words: “I need to comment on the modalities for choosing leaders, especially, those that occupy second-in-command positions. Everyone will agree with me that the lack of planned succession is what results in accidental leadership in our national life.
I wish to propose that we give further thought to ensuring that the choice of deputies is underlined by the requirements of competence and a modicum of collective enlightened self-interest, so that we can avoid future recurrence of situations where unprepared deputies suddenly find themselves in positions of power. A situation whereby aspirants appear to prefer unsuitable or compromised persons as deputies does not augur well for the growth of our democracy.
We must also seek to rebuild a system that enables us make creative use of people who have occupied leading positions in our national life to gain useful experience. Leadership, was about hard choices and how you live with them.
Incumbents should not view their predecessors as threats, while the predecessors should also cultivate the maturity needed to help their successors to succeed.”
He also harped on the need to develop Nigeria’s agricultural sector, which he said is the core mandate of the university. “Studies have shown that our farming population across the country is ageing fast if not disappearing altogether, yet we have a situation where many state governments across the country have been importing farmers to boost agriculture.
I am of the opinion that the greater challenge is for us to ensure that our young people, especially, graduates of institutions use the expatriate farmers initiatives as learning opportunities as to rekindle youth interest in agriculture” he stated.