THE IMPERATIVE OF VALUE-BASED LEADERSHIP IN NIGERIA, AFRICA
The recently released Mo Ibrahim African Governance Index report for year 2011 which ranked Nigeria at position 41 out of 53 African countries in its governance index report inspired this article when viewed against the backdrop of our socio-economic and political condition.
The report in its assessment of Nigeria on four governance indicators viz: Safety and Rule of Law, Participation and Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development returned a damning verdict on the quality of governance and leadership in the country.
Out of 100 marks, Nigeria scored 41 for governance quality and scored lower than the regional average for West Africa, which was 51 and lower than the continental average, 50. Its highest rank was in sub-categories of Rights and Education (26th) and lowest in Health (51st). In retrospect, over the past five years, between 2006 and 2010, Nigeria has consistently been found wanting on virtually all-key governance indicators. For instance, out of the 48 ranked countries then, Nigeria was the 40th in 2010, 35th in 2009 and 39th in 2008 respectively.
Despite the fact that the 2011 report includes new indicators for assessment like Physical and Telecommunications Infrastructure, Gender, Health, Welfare Service Provision; and Economic Management, Mauritius, Cape Verde, Seychelles and South Africa, performed creditably well in all the four categories. In terms of Good Governance, Mauritius clinched the first position, while Cape Verde came second. Among the 16 nations in the West Africa sub-region, Ghana was rated first in the sub-region and 7th in Africa, while Nigeria, the giant of Africa, maintained the 13th position in West Africa, while Somalia maintained its usual last position in Africa and Liberia and Sierra Leone recorded the most striking improvement in Governance, two countries that have emerged from protracted civil war. Liberia improved across all four categories of assessment.
From the foregoing, the importance of good governance, exemplary leadership, and efficient management of resources cannot be overemphasized. Good and visionary leadership is necessary in providing a sense of direction towards achieving individual and collective goals, as well as the harnessing and proper management, utilization and allocation of limited resources for the satisfaction of basic needs of the citizenry. At this juncture it is pertinent to define the meaning of the two keywords Values and Leadership in order to avoid ambiguity.
The Advanced Chambers Dictionary of Contemporary English Language usage defines Values as moral principles and standards, while Leadership is the ability to show the way by going first, to direct and to guide. Since there is no consensus as to the acceptable standard definition of leadership which led Warren Bennis et al, an authority in the field of leadership in their book entitled-'Leaders' to posit that 'like love, leadership continued to be something everybody knew existed but nobody could define' And they went further to assert that there are more than 350 definitions of leadership'.
But they conceded to the fact that one thing which is undisputable and not subject to semantic differences about leadership is that ' it is the pivotal force behind successful organization.' The organization in this case could be the home, government establishment, the places of worship (Churches, Mosques and Synagogues), educational institutions, business organizations (Private and Public) community development associations et cetera. The inference that could be drawn from the above definitions is that a value-based leadership is a leadership model centered or anchored on moral principles and standards.
A leadership that has a sense of right and wrong, and has the moral courage to choose what is right for the benefit of its citizens. A leadership with a sense of compassion and understanding. A leadership based on the core moral principles of interigrity, patriotism, dynamism, pragmatism, vision, courage, social justice, equity, fairness, transparency, accountability, prudent management of scarce, human and material resources, sacrifice, selfless service and above all respect for the value and dignity of the human person.
Since the emergence of Nigeria as a sovereign entity from British colonial rule on October 1st 1960, it has been grappling with lots of challenges. But the most pressing of all its challenges is the absence of visionary, transformative and exemplary leadership. A fact corroborated by the Nigerian celebrated literary giant and author of Things Fall Apart, the David and Marianna Fisher Professor of literature and Africana Studies at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S-Chinua Achebe in his book entitled:
The Trouble With Nigeria, rightly posited that '…The Nigeria Problem is the unwillingness or inability of it's leaders to rise to the responsibility and challenges of personal example, which are the hallmarks of true leadership.' With a population in excess of hundred and sixty-seven (167) million people, according to recent data released by the National Population Commission (NPC) and approximate land mass of one million square kilometers, suitable for commercial agriculture and abundant solid minerals, largely untapped, prides itself as the most populous Black country in the world. Ranked among the top ten crude oil and natural gas exporters in the world by the Vienna, Austria-based Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, (OPEC), with daily crude oil output of 2.2 million barrels per day (Mbpd), and a total of 32.8 cubit metres of natural gas daily.
Arinze writes from Lagos.