“Bad leadership is worse than no leadership at all.” - Unknown

Every July 4th, American citizens around the world celebrate their independence from Great Britain with singing, parades, marching bands as well as fabulous foods. Families will gather to celebrate with barbecues, picnics, fun, gifts, pictures, crafts, games and entertainment.

Adults, young men and women, boys and girls will reflect on the history of their great country and the freedom they enjoy in their beloved nation. The national anthem will be sung and many foreigners that received the United States citizen will pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States.

4th of July also reminds of Africa’s long battle for independence against British rule in the 1950’s – Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, and host of others. In October 1st, 1960, Nigeria became an independent nation.

However, bad leadership, ethnic bias, tribalism, religious intolerance, injustice, unrighteousness, and civil war quickly marred our nation’s independence. MSince then, the Nigerian people have been denied true freedom, political peace, national development and prosperity. The majority of Nigerians are still marginalized and enslaved by few cultic and tyrannical leaders.

The picture is the same in most of Africa with poverty, hunger, pandemic disease, improvised infrastructure, and tribal conflicts. Africa has been labeled as a ‘bloody continent’, a ‘continent of death’ – of destruction, dump, doom and death. Africa is also a battleground between Islam, Christianity and traditional religions. Muslims and Christians kill each other in Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Senegal, Rwanda and Burundi. Fetish priests use hypnotism and witchcraft to kill and slaughter babies and young children for rituals. Regional, tribal and ethnic killings have decimated millions in countries like Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Somali, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Liberia.

Additionally, there are adulterous religious systems and Satanic religious leaders such as the cases of Okija shrine in Anambra State and thousands of other fetish shrines across the continent that are aiding to the problems by deceiving and dwindling ignorant, debased and hopeless Africans as prevalent in Nigeria today. These false prosperity preachers and fetish pastors promise their followers healing, wealth and prosperity when they are the only ones iniquitously exploiting their parishioners and enriching themselves. These ignorant followers refuse to study the Scripture to understand that God does not genuinely bless people who are living in disobedience to the Word and Commandments of God. So therefore what we have is some pragmatic psychological philosophies to obtaining financial success and solving spiritual problems rather than a sound exegetical and expository teaching of the Holy Scriptures.

Most of those who profess to be tongue speaking Holy Spirit filled believers are hypocrites and fully engaged in voodoo, sorcery and witchcraft. The landscape suffers from all kinds of violence because the religious leaders and royal fathers have woefully failed in their divine duties to rebuke sin and wickedness in high places; instead they compromise and contaminate themselves with the satanic shrines and corrupt politicians. And so, the political environment is filled with personalities that are callous, envious of one another, arrogant, greedy and exhibit behaviors and manners replete of voodoo, juju, witchcraft, sorcery, spirits, mediums and demonic influences. Therefore, what we have nowadays is a perilous political landscape with persistent idolatry and wickedness, oppression of the poor and the needy, crush of the weak and outspoken, maltreatment of the widows, orphans, the poor, children and elderly. In a nutshell, there is no democracy and freedom but a callous political environment.

A return to democratic and presidential system of government in 1999 has not helped at all but created rather ubiquitous challenges. The return to democratic presidential system of government has recorded the highest abuse of public treasury, money laundering and outright embezzlement of financial resources meant to uplift the lives of Nigerians. During the 8-year reign of former President Obansanjo, thirty-one out of thirty-six governors were indicted with money laundering, public treasury abuse and embezzlement including ministers and special assistants of the president. Today, most of those men and women are still walking around scout-free in Nigeria. In fact, some of them are still serving in government including the current administration of Jonathan/Sambo. This is sad indeed.

Even though Nigerians are so forgetful – it is okay to forgive but not to forget. Who will forget the scandals for bribe, tax evasion, Siemens and Wilbros bribery scandals for contracts, Halliburton, Chevron, Texaco, Royal Dutch and Bake Hughes bribe for tax evasion, looting and money laundering by the so-called leaders entrusted with public service, the National Identity card project fraud, the N300 billion embezzlement for road construction, the PTDF looting, privatization of Federal establishments to friends and families, and trillions of waste in the energy sector. The last ten years or so of democratic presidential government has been empty promises of dividends of democracy and deceptive economic acronyms. Corruption, fraudulent contracts, stealing, embezzlement, looting and all kinds of scandalous waste reached its zenith since the return to presidential system of government. What we need in Nigeria is a true federalism or a return to 1950’s parliamentary system of government.

The former chairman of EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu in his work with international financial institutions was bold enough to reveal to Nigerians in 2005 that past military rulers and politicians squandered over $400 billion US dollars in the last forty years. $400 billion is nearly forty times more than the $13 billion Marshall Plan economic aid and technical assistance that was packaged to rebuild sixteen European countries after the devastation of World War II in 1945. The World Bank, IMF and other reputable international organizations reported a few years ago that Nigeria risks collapse and disintegration if the current looting, corruption, religious killings and criminality do not stop. Transparency International (TL) rates Nigeria as one of the most corrupt nations in the world while the U.S. Intelligence agency forecasts that Nigeria will disintegrate in 2015.

And so, last week, I was shocked to my bones to read what the ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole told the Abuja Court regarding an improper loan of 10 Billion Naira, which he dishonestly obtained to pay allowances to the thieves and rogues in the Lower House. He said, ”No court has power to try me.” The embattled former Speaker challenged the power of an Abuja High Court to try him. That statement shows the height of self-indulgence, self-aggrandizement and self-loathing. It is the height of self-pride, ego and sheer arrogance. A genuine leader must not driven by such ego, self importance and arrogance. Mr. Dimeji Bankole has violated a subtle but important use of his power as the ex-Speaker by making such arrogant statement. This is the height of folly, pathological unconcern and cowardly betrayal of the trust of leadership.

Most of you will recall that Hon. Dimeji Bankole took over the leadership of the House from Mrs. Patricia Olubunmi Etteh, Nigeria’s first ever female speaker who was embroiled in house renovation scandal of 650 Million Naira. Most of us rejoiced when Mr. Dimeji Bankole was selected as the new speaker of the House to replace Mrs. Etteh. He is educated and talented young man. Most of us saw his selection as speaker to be a leadership shift to a younger generation. The same excitement, I had when Chief (Mrs.) Patricia Olubunmi Etteh was chosen to be the first ever Nigeria’s first female speaker. I was elated and rejoiced that Nigerians are thinking outside the box and that one day if not soon, we will be able to elect Nigeria’s first female president especially at a time when Nigerian women are occupying prominent leadership positions in global institutions. The other aspect of my joy was based on the fact that women tend to be more compassionate than men in their leadership duties. They would not normally abuse public funds and squander resources like their male counterparts. Within six months into that office, Mrs. Etteh lost it due to unbridled greed and lack of leadership preparedness. Then, a young talented and educated Dimeji Bankole was selected to replace her. Today, he is embroiled in the same vicious greed and corruption. What a shame!

If no courts in Nigeria has power to try ex-Speaker Bankole for financial fraud; who will? Are we still in a democratic system? Or is ours a demo-crazy and barbarous system? By the way, why aren’t the ex-speaker and ex-deputy speaker in handcuffs while being paraded by EFCC operatives? When did any Nigerian become above the laws of the land? Why are few Nigerians still untouchable? How long will we go on like this as nation? There are many corrupt past rulers, military leaders and politicians still walking free in Nigeria. What kind of country is this? What is wrong with Nigeria and Nigerians? This cannot happen in any civilized country that I know of. When will the masses rise up and say no to these uncivilized behaviors, mannerisms, incompetence and dishonor? Who will deliver Nigeria and Nigerians from these cultic, corrupt and satanic rulers?

Does President Jonathan have the spine to deliver Nigeria and Nigerians from these moral dilemmas? This is quite an extraordinary and arduous time, with ubiquitous challenges for the nation. The current political muddle and hustle for ministerial appointments does not give one any hope either. Why would the same old stuck of individuals who had been in government all their lives continue to be rewarded with ministerial and political appointments? Why can’t President Jonathan look for fresh and innovative thinking Nigerians within and outside the continent? Why it is that someone who had been a minister twice already would be given the same or another ministerial position especially when he or she had not performed in the previous appointment? Why reward the same people of faulty thinking, skimpy knowledge and subjective ideas with ministerial appointments when there over 150 million Nigerians and hundreds of thousands of highly competent, trained, and professional Nigerians scattered around the globe.

Nigeria’s deliverance will certainly come one day. It may not be Jonathan/Sambo, but one day, Nigeria and Nigerians will be liberated from the current tyrannical and demonic leadership. It is a struggle that all well-meaning Nigerians must wage for – fight against the scourges of bad leadership, bribery and corruption. Someone has said that bad leadership is worse than no leadership at all. Bad leaders and corruption are the greatest challenges facing Nigeria as a nation today. Corruption is endemic in the fabric of our society and without godly courage, strength and character especially from those in position of power and authority; we would not be able to enjoy the freedom and dividends of democracy. President Jonathan has popularized himself as a transformational leader. A transformational leader is a transparent leader – a fighter for the common masses. One of the sterling qualities of good leadership is the ability to confront crisis and challenges with courage and divine strength. Corruption is a serious crisis facing Nigeria. It must be confronted just like terrorism, kidnapping and violence. Leading in times of conflict and crisis distinguishes between good and bad leaders. President Jonathan must lead with extraordinary courage, wisdom and compassion.

President Jonathan must not let history place him in the same vein like most of his predecessors. Four years may not be long enough for him, but I believe 4-year term is good enough to establish the road map for Nigeria’s transformation toward genuine development and progress. President Jonathan must begin now to lead with character and integrity. He must lead with vision that is embraced by all Nigerians and mission that will provide a sense of momentum and rekindle the passion and patriotism of all Nigerians. That vision must be communicated with powerful honesty and with profound compassion. President Jonathan must be must be willing to inspire and motivate all Nigerians to make impossibilities possible again. He has the position, power and ability to mobilize Nigerians to achieve greatness. His wife, the First Lady, Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan has demonstrated such vision, inspiration, and mobilization of Nigerian women with her Women for Change Initiative (WCI). I admire her a lot for that.

President Jonathan must be willing to establish a plain level environment for all Nigerians to succeed. He must be willing to give every boy, every girl, every old and young person the privilege and opportunity to succeed in Nigeria. President Jonathan must work hard and together with every willing hand to establish a value system of a pluralistic society that will shape our daily routines, drive our lives, dictate every decision and determine our life’s priorities. In so doing, the Nigerian people will not only contribute to the nation building but will create peaceful environment for good change with great opportunities for all Nigerians to live peacefully and responsibly in order to fulfill their God given potential in the continent and around the world.

The Jonathan/Sambo administration must be willing to accept responsibility and show good stewardship and transparency in their leadership duties. They must be transformational and compassionate leaders who truly and genuinely understand the yearnings of every Nigerian, which is the inalienable right to life, justice and pursuit of happiness. President Jonathan and VP Sambo must cast vision, show courage, give insight, and exude wisdom and discernment in handling the feelings of those under their leadership. They must learn how to create genuinely synergistic and winning team not just old political cabals. They must help all Nigerians to participate and share actively in the limitless opportunities of global economy and prosperity. They must understand that leadership is not just an honor but a sacred duty that entails hard work and sacrifice. The Nigerian people needs leaders who can guarantee their God given and basic necessities of life such as housing, clean water, electricity, medical care and access to quality education among other things. Nigeria must be salvaged in order to put a stop and eradicate the nation’s scandalous waste of human potential and enormous natural resources. Anything else is evil, satanic, and demonic leadership.

Dr. C. K. Ekeke is a theologian, author, IT consultant and leadership scholar.

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