Speaking on the 12th of May, 2018, at Heartland Hotel, Effurun, during the graduation and matriculation ceremony of the Leadership and Strategy Development (LSD) Center on the topic: “Values, Leadership Failure, and Development in The Niger Delta and Nigeria in General”.
Dispensational values breed and throw up leadership. Donald Trump came into the Presidency in the USA because far-right politics and extreme nationalism is becoming increasingly popular. His emphasis on America first, ban on Muslim immigrants, recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and exiting the Iranian nuclear deal appealed to a conservative and hawkish base of the American white, rich, and Evangelical communities in the US. His promise to restore Christian values like Merry Christmas and his desire to be tough on trade negotiations that were not favourable to Americans made him win strategic electoral collegiate votes, despite losing the popular vote.
Donald Trump can be a serial monogamist, he could be very morally loose, unpredictable and not too presidential in etiquette, but that does not concern his electoral base. They are more concerned about who can uphold their values.
Rosa Parks was not a leader until she refused to vacate her seat and move to the back of the bus for a white man. She was jailed, then, in Montgomery in Alabama. She sparked the bus boycott by African Americans because her actions were a reflection of their inner desires—desire for equality and respect.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. became a leader because he was the Baptist minister newly transferred to town and was to be the spokesman for the people. However, their demands were based on societal values, bench-marked in the values of the American constitution.
Gandhi became a leader for independence in India because the desire for self-determination appealed to the nation and was a trending topic after the Second World War. Gandhi did not attack the caste system in India because it was part of the accepted values, then. He also did not complain about the apartheid system in South Africa, then, because it was not part of the PRIORITIES of the Indians.
As great as Jesus is, when He told the crowd that had followed Him because of bread that they would need to eat His body and drink His blood, they all walked away. The disciples that were left had a different value system. The answer Peter gave was a reflection of his values then—“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”. Jesus was not a failed leader; it was just that the people did not have value for His suggestions.
The problem with the followership in the Niger Delta and Nigeria is that followership is based on entitlement-mentality, spirit of immediacy, religious sentiments, regionalism, or tribalism. Nothing is done according to logic or proven and rational principles of development. Steel mills and refineries were sited based on politics and regionalism, not on economic viability. Even if an individual has great ideas and capacity that would move the Niger Delta and Nigeria forward, developmentally, they will not follow him. If he cannot conform to their values of immediate gratification, they will work against him.
A friend of mine who wants to contest elections into an electoral office asked me to introduce him to his party members in my area. I’m not a party member of any political party; however, I was ashamed when one of the leaders was asking how much he was going to place on the table. I was informed of how much other candidates had dropped. They were not interested in what he was going to do or even his ability. Sometime during the meeting, some youths grabbed the money on the table and ran off.
Another friend of mine was made the director of a traffic agency. Despite all his efforts and good intentions, women still display their wares on top of the bridge and encroach upon half the road on both sides of the dual carriageway. If you chase them out, the next day they are back. They don’t care about safety measures. Safety is not treasured in Nigeria. We usually think that prayers can avert avoidable and predictable accidents. You can see it in the way we drive. Have you ever wondered why meat is carried the way it is done in several cities in Nigeria, especially at Aba in South East Nigeria?
Your values determine your priorities. They determine developmental priorities and the quality of work we give and get. The values of a society determine resource allocations.
Nigerian youths spent about 45 Million Naira voting for stupid boys and girls having sex on TV. But they can’t raise that money to fund a political movement that can bring change to Nigeria. One million youths contributing One Thousand Naira, each, will yield One Billion Naira for their party. The winner of Big Brother Nigeria got 45 Million Naira and was made an ambassador for education in Imo state. However, a graduate was given 10 Thousand Naira by a bank for making a First Class in University. What is the relationship between having sex on TV and education? How many first-class graduates have been hosted by the Governor of Imo State?
Values will determine your systems, structures, and strategies of raising leaders. The sustainability of these systems is also based on values. Leadership failures are due to poor values in any society.
Developmental backwardness in any society is, sometimes, a reflection of philosophical backwardness. Have you ever wondered why youths who are sent for skill acquisition training will collect the allowances and send non-natives to replace them in the training? Have you wondered why women and youths will sell their starter packs after training by government or oil companies at very low prices to a man with a truck waiting outside the training center? Have you wondered why elders and deacons in a church will suddenly become idol worshipers who own shrines along a road construction site, just to get compensations? Some even molded concrete blocks and built houses along the East/West during the dualization process just to get compensations.
If you take all the 190 million Nigerians to the USA and leave their leaders behind, and if you take all the 300 million Americans and bring them to Nigeria without their leaders so that the Nigerian leaders left behind will govern them, in ten years, the Nigerians that went to America would have attempted to corrupt the Leadership in the USA. The other possibilities are that they would have made the place dirty and caused so much chaos that the American leaders would build more prisons to imprison them. In ten years they might start asking for help from the Americans in Nigeria. Remember the Zimbabwean farmers that came to Kwara State. In ten years the Americans would have voted out the Nigerian leadership left behind in Nigeria or revolted against them and jailed them or killed them. They would have created another USA in Nigeria and we would have created another Nigeria in the USA.
I agree there is leadership failure in Nigeria and the Niger Delta. However, we also have IRRESPONSIBLE followership. If you insist on things being done properly, if you insist on decency, punctuality, effectiveness, and frugality, people here will avoid you. A people who do not hold the aforementioned values dear would remain underdeveloped.
Nigerians like PROCEEDS without PROCESS. We defend thieves if they are from our party or tribe. We, most likely, would prefer Barabbas to Jesus in present-day Nigeria.
According to Alan Moore, “As people get more desperate, history suggests that they’re not going to rise in a mighty proletarian tidal wave and wash away their oppressors. They’re gonna turn on each other.” Poor value standards gave us morally-defective leadership, who made the people desperate, and today the people are set to fight themselves. We need to set our national values right, if not the war against corruption will be like fighting the wind. We are at a point where we can’t even define corruption.
Parents now set up their daughters to seduce married men. A nation and a people with such values can hardly develop.
God bless you.