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LEADERSHIP AND GOOD GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA: ISSUES AND PROSPECTS FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The quest for quality leadership and good governance is the aspiration of citizens in most countries of the world. This is because the task of harnessing scarce resources in pursuit of human and national development is related to the quality and output of leadership (Richardson, 2008, P.3). The history of the development of great nations suggests that versatile leaders played a vital role in the transformation of their societies through good governance. Thus, the quality of citizens’ life and the overall development of a nation is a reflection of governance in the nation.
In United States of America (USA) for example, Abraham Lincoln stands out because of the courageous leadership he displayed during the 1861-1865 American Civil War (Norton, <http://home.att.net/rjnorton/Lincoln87.html>).This led to the preservation of the Union, vindication of democracy and abolition of slavery. These great feats were achieved by determination in pursuit of a more perfect and equal Union (Ibid, P.17). Lincoln eventually left a legacy being upheld in the USA till date as a good model of democracy and enduring governance.
Similarly, the unification of East and West Germany could be
credited to Otto Von Bismarck, one of the most significant political figures in German history. His efforts were fast-tracked by Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who ensured the enthronement of a federal system of government in a unified Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 (Germany, http://www.mongabay.com/reference/country-studies/germany/Government.html). This was considered cardinal to a stable constitutional democracy and good governance in the Country.
In China, Mao Tse-Tung set the stage that transformed China from a peasant economy to a major economic giant in the world. As a visionary leader, his primary goals were to catch up and surpass the rest of the world in economy, sports, science, technology and defence. Today, China is the fastest growing economy in the world with an average annual growth rate of about 9 percent in the last 2 decades (Chow and Li, 1952-2010). These accounts demonstrate that with visionary leadership and good governance, a nation could experience remarkable improvement and success in its overall development.
The continent of Africa has also produced visionary leaders who have contributed positively in the development of their countries. Nelson Mandela of South Africa holds sway as one of the greatest figures of black emancipation with his history of anti-apartheid struggle. Eventually, he was honored as the first democratically elected President of South Africa in 1994 (Mandela, 1994, Pp. 746-747). His exemplary leadership symbolizes the struggle of oppressed people around the world. He was able to steer South Africa towards sustainable development and good governance ideals, epitomized by smooth political transition.
In our country, issues of leadership and good governance have been of great concern since attainment of independence in 1960. Despite abundant human and natural resources, corruption and mismanagement of public wealth have hampered the pursuit of national development in the Country (http://www.nationencyclopedia.com/economies/Africa/Nigeria.overviewofteheconomy.htm.). Most Nigerian leaders are accused of lacking the requisite vision, passion and character for political leadership (Dike, 2009). The consequence is that despite Nigeria rich resource endowment, she has consistently ranked low in various international assessments on human development and good governance.
The United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index (UNDP-HDI) in its 2007/2008 report ranked Nigeria 158 out of 177 countries (New Partnership for Africa’s Development, 2008, P.67). Nigeria was also ranked 11 out of 16 in West Africa in the 2009 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) (Obi, http://www.businessday). It is estimated that about 70 percent of 150 million Nigerians live below poverty level of less than one US Dollar per day (Nnebe, 1999-2007 Vol.2, P). These low economic and development indices have been attributed to poor leadership and absence of good governance in Nigeria.
In this context, the leadership question’ vis-à-vis good governance has generated series of topical discussions at different policy and academic fora. This research is, therefore, motivated by the quest to address the question of leadership and its implication on good governance in Nigeria for national development. Thus, with a view to proffering measures that would strengthen leadership and ensure good governance in the country.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Since 1960, Nigeria has experienced persistent crisis associated with political leadership which has adversely affected the outcome of governance. Issues like problems of corruption, mismanagement of resources, coups and counter coups, etc have frustrated and diminished the process and outcome of governance. Consequently, many Nigerians lack access to basic health care, quality education, potable water, electricity and other basic necessities of modern life (Dike, 2009). Human and group rights are threatened resulting in the growing worry and loss of confidence by the citizenry in the Country’s political leadership.
Today, Nigeria lags behind in various indicators of good governance and global development trends (Ouagwu, 2002, P.99). This has equally affected the country’s external image among other nations. In view of the above problems, this research will address the following questions:
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objective of this study is to examine the effects of leadership on good governance in Nigeria for national development. Thus, with a view to identifying the issues, challenges, prospects, strategies etc associated with leadership and governance in Nigeria.
The specific objectives are to:
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The study attempts to make the following assumptions:
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The importance of this study to Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized. It would be significant for policy and academic purposes. It would aid political elite and policy makers at federal, state and local government levels on issues affecting leadership and good governance in the country. The study would help in citizenship training of the Media, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), students and indeed the entire Nigerian populace. It would be relevant to the academia as a useful reference material and a catalyst that would stimulate further studies on the subject.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The effects of political leadership on good governance for national development have permitted national discourse since independence especially between 1999 and 2010. The time frame was chosen to enable the researcher examine the effects of leadership on governance in Nigeria within democratic dispensation in the ongoing Fourth Republic. However, reference was made to some recent events on Nigeria’s political landscape that have bearing on the subject matter.
This research work was impaired by some limitations. The key limitations were that some individual earmarked for interview could not be reached due to their tight schedules. Also, certain data could not be obtained from some offices due to official restrictions or lack of such data. However, available secondary data were utilized to ensure that the objectives of the research are realized. Although, the data used were from reputable sources, the authenticity of their findings might not be insulated from bias.
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