Failed Leadership in Nigeria: Followers are Not Without Blame

“We the followers have ourselves to blame. The leaders are terrible because we are terrible. Going by our mentality, we don’t deserve better leaders than these.”

There is no denying the fact that the country has suffered under the burden of irresponsible leadership. Our leaders have turned themselves into chief tormentors of the powerless masses. They pillage the country, carry out all manners of unlawful activities with impunity, and oppress the poor masses that voted them into power. Lots of them don’t have any plans for the country. The status of leadership in the country is an eyesore.

While the followers can effect a change, the leaders are in a stronger position to do just that. The followers can only shout and scream: they don’t have the resources to cause a change. The leaders can choose to listen or not and by their position that puts all the resources that belong to everybody into their hands, a single leader has the power greater than that of millions of followers. Of course, that’s what happens at elections: millions of followers relinquish their individual powers and give them as a single unit to a single leader. They become all-powerless while he becomes all-powerful. That’s why a single leader can effect the kind of change that millions of followers can’t.

But we may never get those kinds of leaders until the we the followers change our attitude. Leaders are a reflection of their followership and that happens in several ways.

One. Some of the leaders were once members of the masses and their irresponsible behaviour started when they were followers. The leaders didn’t drop from the sky. They came from among us. But just like some followers that are irresponsible now, so were those irresponsible leaders when they too were followers. So it’s not a surprise that when they got to the corridors of power, they started behaving this way. They had always been like that. Look at the lecturer that took a bribe from a student’s parents today to make him pass a course he actually didn’t pass. What do you think that that lecturer, the student, and the parents will do if they become Honorable Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria tomorrow?

“Some of the leaders were once members of the masses and their irresponsible behaviour started when they were followers. The leaders didn’t drop from the sky. They came from among us.”

Bukola Saraki, Nigerian Senate President , is under trial for misconduct but a section of the masses, the 'Sarakists', are against the judicial process.

Bukola Saraki, Nigerian Senate President , is under trial for misconduct but a section of the masses, the ‘Sarakists’, oppose the judicial process.

Two. These irresponsible leaders get massive, incredible, support from their oppressed followers. There are followers that know that a particular leader is the cause of their suffering but through a mixture of cognitive dissonance, selfish interests, and sheer stupidity, they keep supporting the same leader. I was with a group of boys one day when they were talking about a particular politician. They were complaining about his atrocities and his scandalous conduct as a public office holder. And they were cursing him. Suddenly, the person’s motorcade heaved in sight and immediately he got to where we were, the same set of boys started saluting the man and singing his accolades. I was shocked to the bones. When are we going to join hands together to boo the bad people and pelt them with pure water sachets? And we really want deliverance? From where?

One reason why it’s difficult to fight corruption in Nigeria is that the same people whose lives are being battered by the leaders’ corrupt practices are the same ones that will swing to action to protect the leader from prosecution. Just raise allegations against a politician and set up a judicial process. You will see how the masses will rise up to support him. Next thing, tribal, religious and political sentiments come in. Next thing, the same masses who are impoverished by the politician’s misconduct will gather to protest on his behalf and pray against his supposed witch-hunting. Who are we deceiving? If your idol is not guilty of any crime, why are you afraid? And should he even go scot-free just because you don’t mind how his actions have placed untold hardship on your well-being?

“The same masses who are impoverished by the politician’s misconduct will gather to protest on his behalf and pray against his supposed witch-hunting. Who are we deceiving?”

Of course, there are those followers who don’t even have an idea of how a leader should look like. Our National Assembly in particular is full of people, legislators, who make you wonder whether Nigeria can go anywhere with folks like these (see video below). That’s why it’s not a surprise that the budget got missing, later got found, and projects still got missing in the budget, all under the watch of the National Assembly. And you know that without the votes and support of the followers, they couldn’t have gotten there. Even election rigging can not take place without the connivance of the followers whether the sympathizers of the other party or the rigging party.

We the followers have ourselves to blame. The leaders are terrible because we are terrible. Going by our mentality, we don’t deserve better leaders than these. Of course, the top-bottom approach is possible and even easier. We can have a leader that has the right attitude and will force the followers to develop the right mentality. But I’m afraid we will have to start working the difficult way, the bottom-top approach. We the followers will need to get serious and receive abundant sense. We need to stop all sycophancy and negativity. We need to stop mortgaging our national welfare on the altar of selfishness, tribalism, religion, and political affiliation. We can not continue in these vices and still keep complaining about the state of the leadership.

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