NIGERIA AND VISIONARY LEADERSHIP: THE AMERICAN EXAMPLE

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By Abai Francis


Let me open this discourse with some quotations from the book, ‘Built To Last’ by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, that towards the founding of the United States of America, USA, “the critical question at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was not “Who should be president? Who should lead? Who is the wisest? Who would be the best king?”

No, the founders of the country concentrated on such questions as “What process can we create that will give good presidents long after we’re dead and gone? What type of enduring country do we want to build? On what principles? How should it operate? What guidelines and mechanisms should we construct that will give us the kind of country we envision?


“[The trio of] Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Adams were not charismatic visionary leaders in the “it all depends on me” mode.


No, they were organizational visionaries. They created a constitution to which they and all future leaders would be subservient. They focused on building a country. They rejected the good-king model.
They took an architectural approach.

They were clock builders!.. It’s a clock based on human ideals and values. It’s a clock built on human needs and aspirations. It’s a clock with a spirit.”


Indeed, it’s people that make a nation. It’s not the natural resources of water, crude oil, iron ore, gold, diamond, and other precious substance deposited in the earth underneath; neither is it the agricultural resources of palm oil, millet, cocoa, yams, etcetera on its surface nor is it the breed of animals reared on it.


Yet, the most populous black nation on earth, Nigeria, seems to base its existence on natural and material possessions, and not on her citizens or any human ideals!


If there’s one thing that a country like Nigeria lacks, it’s VISIONARY LEADERSHIP. Its so-called leaders are more focused on building a time-telling machine that is centered on the philosophy of living-for-the-moment than in building a clock which drives the present and future time towards innovative changes in both human and infrastructural developments.


It is this lack of visionary leadership mentality that has accumulated into the waste of its national resources and the plunging of its most prized assets (citizens) into the world’s poverty index level.


Evidence of the dearth of visionary leadership abounds in the country’s approach to solving current challenges, economically, socially, politically and religiously. For instance, while the world is making gigantic strides by investing in renewable energy sources, Nigeria is still fighting internal wars over ownership of its crude oil wealth which it cannot harness to generate constant electricity needs for her growing population.

While other countries are constructing and building world class transport systems on land, air and water, Nigeria is still fixated on mending her multiplicity of bad roads, neglecting water transport sector, and of recent vying into railway transport utilising out modeled locomotive trains.

And while other nations are investing on citizens to help drive innovative change in this 21st century, Nigeria’s leaders are busy investing on material possessions such as buying palatial houses, automobiles, fashion, jewelries, exotic liquor; having multiple wives and series of concubines, etcetera resulting in rising unemployment.

At most, empowerment programmes are embarked upon using short term strategies to want to accomplish long term objectives.

The founding of Nigeria as a country lacks the  foundation of human ideals. History is replete with tales of Nigerian nationalists pushing for independence without recourse to any set of human ideals other than “we want to be in charge” philosophy. As such, it wasn’t a surprise that the first civil war broke out in 1967, just six years after the country gained its so-called political, but not economic independence.

And till date, echoes of war still resonates while a silent war has been ongoing for decades within. 

Clearly, Nigeria is a political creation designed to impose lordship by the majority over its minorities, and even at that, the majority ethnic groups are at loggerheads with themselves. The minorities who are at the receiving end of injustice are infested with suspicion and mistrust which daily pits them against their collective interest and existence. A country whose creation is centered on human ideals would never exhibit such traits or degrade so low in character.
The foundation of Nigeria is very poor as it is not laid in reverence to its citizens. In contrast, the first amendment of the American constitution gives all its citizens the right of freedom of speech regardless of their ideology.

And so, the people of that country are not only held in very high esteem but their identity is protected all over the world. Again, compare that to Nigeria where majority of her citizens are killed like flies at home and abroad on a daily basis and majority of her population are facing acute poverty as a result of joblessness.


Visionary leaders do not live in the present only, they think ahead of tomorrow, and by so doing they help to solve current and future problems before they arise.

On that note, those leaders that are leading in Nigeria are no leaders and are not fit to be addressed as such because majority of them lack innate leadership qualities.

At best, these individuals are political scavengers who make use of the platforms of leadership to amass unethical riches for themselves to the detriment of the rest of the population.

If not so, why is that after more than five decades of independence, Nigerians cannot boast of world class infrastructures in terms of constant power supply, adequate roads, railways and bridges, health and educational institutions, secured environment etcetera despite the massive natural resources at their disposal. They should also give good reasons why Nigerians are desperate to migrate abroad in search of opportunities that abound here at home; or why the nation’s citizens are constantly enmeshed in ethnic, religious and political conflicts, refusing to see themselves as a people with a common heritage.


In nation building, visionary leaders build a nation for the future, and not for the present. Are our so-called leaders building a positive future for this country?


Sir Francis Abai, a social commentator and business coach, writes from Igoba/Kokodiagbene community near Warri, Delta state. 08037449157Email: francisabai5@gmail.com

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