1.1 Background of the Study
The pride of any government is the attainment of higher value level of development in such a way that its citizens would derive natural attachment to governance. However, for a nation to be in a phase of development there must be some pre-requisites, which include socio-political and economic stability.
The gap between the developed and the developing countries is not static or narrow but is continually widening. Nigeria, like other developing nations of the world, is being faced continuously with the issue of effective leadership, political stability and national development. Frank (2009) posited that the problem of leadership in the Nigerian state has been aggravated by Nigerian size, history and colonial experience. Thus, since her independence in 1960, the country has made various attempts to fashion out a political system that would guarantee an orderly society with an effective and efficient development plan that will not be exclusively related to economic and political terrains, but will also be intertwined with certain socio-cultural factors.
Nigeria has not been able to engender meaningful development in spite of her huge resources endowment. This has greatly affected her quest to improved quality of life of her citizens. Poverty, unemployment and starvation still pervade the nook and cranny of the country. Asouzu (2003) is of the view that leadership involves the process of social influences in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. Bennis (1989) observed that leadership, although largely talked about, has been described as one of the least understood concepts across all civilizations.
Frank (2009) identified certain elements associated with leadership and these include; influence, group goals to direct, and vision. He further said that, based on the identified elements of leadership, a leader is a person who perceives the need of the group vision, initiates a course of action towards the vision and takes responsibility for the group by showing the way (direct) towards attaining the set goals.
From the perspective presented above, an observable fact is that before an individual who is a leader is capable of perceiving the groups needs, such a person must have lived, existed and dwelt with the group. Frank (2009) further opined that on identifying the common denominator, he then take steps and mobilizes the entire group towards the identified goals. Thus, for one to be an efficient leader, the entire group should be made to understand and share in the needs identified by the emerging leaders.
When the above perspective is applied to the Nigerian political system, Frank (2009), opined that it would mean a Nigerian leader would have to identify for instance, the objectives living conditions common to all Nigerians in the North, South, East and West as well as design where they ought to have been and then make this known to the citizens.
The reverse has however been the case in the Nigerian state. This is because Nigerian leaders have not critically analyzed and understood the needs of the citizens. In fact, Nigerian leaders tend to view the achievement of nation building as utopian, something that can never be achieved (Enoh, 2009). In other to ascertain the above view, Usua (2010) postulated that the plans of nation building or national development of various government in the nation has not been able to achieve its anticipated objectives as a result of poor leadership performance inherent in the country.
This paper begins by acknowledging the fact that Nigeria, for the past 56 years after independence, had faced various challenges major among which is leadership. The military had ruled after the civil war 29.8 years, sand-witched by pseudo democracy for years (1999-2016); which were championed or ruled by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government. Notable among others in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd republics democracies were their common characteristics in rigging, forgery, embezzlement of public funds and brutal thuggery. This implies that victories at the polls as claimed by the then political leaders were false as they exemplified this by their general disposition of not being answerable to the electorate-masses (Adawo, 2013). Therefore, the following questions are begging for answers: How could Nigeria with its largest population (about 170 million) in Africa and 7th in the world suffer acute shortage of good leaders amidst abundant human/natural resources? Why is the country filled with politicians who seem to care more for their elections than they do for future generation? More so, where are the good and promising nationalists Nigeria produced in the 60s toward nation building?
To further buttress the above points, Sekoni (2013) quoted Maktoun as having said “writing further about the transformation of Dubai within a federation, our distinctive development experience in the UAE is a good example of what can be done when God blesses a country with an unselfish leaders that strives for the good of its people and not its own”. Indeed, leadership orchestrates nation building and not the other way round. There seem therefore to be a strong relationship between leadership challenge and nation-building in Nigeria.
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