1.1 Background of the Study
In his political philosophy, Plato thinks that the most qualified in the state should be the person to rule. Following this trend, those who have the greatest of the great qualities should have the first place unless they fail in some other respect, and for the scripture, when the good man is in power the people will rejoice. Today in Nigeria, leadership in all facets of our life - government, industry, education, church and what have you - has come to be the hub of the country’s problem. Chinua Achebe summarized it thus in his book “The Trouble with Nigeria” that, “the problem with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.” In a global level, Oyebola minced no words when he said in his, “Blackman’s Dilemma” that, “very poor leadership appears to be the Blackman’s greatest problem.” Achebe, articulated it further as the inability of the leaders to rise to their responsibility: There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenges of personal example, which are the hallmarks of true leadership. Lack of genuine leadership has been chorusly condemned and generally blamed for poverty and the travails of the Nigeria society. There is no doubt that Nigeria’s or Africa’s problem is due to lack of leadership. Rev. C. Kingston Ekeke, Nigerian-Atlanta based pastor observed that there are at least three main areas of failure in Nigeria’s leadership. For him they include: “lack of bold and courageous leadership, lack of moral ingredients of leadership and premature exposure to leadership.” Our country is doing little to develop the younger generation on the act of leadership. No one wants to take the risk for the survival of our country. The few who want to demand for their right are being pursued about. Think of Alhaji Mujaheeden Dokubo Asari, the fearless and outspoken leader of the militant Ijaw youth who has persistently and passionately called for an independent state of Ijaw people and peaceful separation of Ijaw people from Nigeria.
Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, the leader of the revived movement for the actualisation of the sovereign state of Biafra (MASSOB) is not left out. There is nothing like press freedom in the dictionary of Nigerian leaders. The military dictator of Abacha was able to silence the people of Ogoni after the brutal killing of Ken Saro Wiwa, a man of intellectual ability, and his Ogoni compatriots. Most of those who were at the helm of affairs both at the federal and state levels were retired military men who were trained …to defend the nation from external and internal aggressions. Their war-war style of administration instead of the jaw- jaw method practiced by civilized human beings took this country many years back. Many of our leaders, weighed down by avalanche of criticisms, always fall out with the Press. Think of several imprisonments of human rights defenders like Gani Fawhinmi, Femi Falana, and Baba Omojola. Nations must certainly grow out of challenges and criticisms. Many Nigerians are yet to enjoy much of the dividends of democracy such as good roads, pipe borne water, rural electrification, healthcare services due to the poor performance of our leaders. For our leaders, all this matter not. Today millions of Nigerians would not be starving to death if our leaders had known that their primary duty is to care for the masses and not to enrich their foreign accounts and western mentors. Regrettably, all they are interested in is having master’s degree in travelling outside the state, competing on who becomes the widest traveler, and making every possible plan to handover a state berefts of infrastructure. Now that we have seen that our problem is that of leadership, we have to implore the idea of one of the prominent political theorists, Plato -philosopher king. Leadership crisis has done more harm than good in this nation of ours. The paupers are marginalized, men are shouting, women are screaming, children are crying- it is chaotic. The most baffling and awful of all is that Nigeria has all that it requires to be great, but who can bell the cat? Who can lead the people of Nigeria out of this dungeon? Our leaders have lost the quintessence of true leadership in pursuit of shadows. We have not truly had any significant input into the design and structure of our polity. Consequently, Nigeria is gradually but inevitably dwindling into mediocrity and ineffectiveness. Our leaders are no longer servants but masters. There is utter disregard for Ojukwu’s advice that Those who aspire to lead must bear in mind the fact that they are servants and as such cannot ever be greater than the people, their masters. The most urgent issue in Nigeria currently seems to be the issue on how to address the problem of leadership. Having done away with military leadership, Nigerians thought that embracing democratic rule would bring to us a responsive and responsible political institution that would promote a government that is accountable, government that would prevent corruption, respect human and civil rights, and ensure popular sovereignty, but the reverse is the case. In view of this, it is necessary to see how the issues of corruption, incompetent leadership, tribalism and nepotism, since they remain the most difficult problems in Nigeria leadership system, could be addressed. This study therefore attempted to explore the Nigerian leadership crises in the light of Plato’s Idea of the Philosopher king, and to inform on the way forward as regards the political situation of the country.
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