Pseudo-Leadership and Nigerian Politics

Akintokunbo Adejumo

Akintokunbo AdejumoThere is nothing intrinsically wrong with us as a people and as a nation, only the leaders, most of the time aided by sycophants excerpt “I therefore, urge Danjuma, Obasanjo and their likes to please let Nigeria be. We do not want WAR again. Lesson of life – Never put your mouth in motion without thinking deeply. By God’s grace, we shall overcome” – Rev. Fr. Felix Ajakaye – St Michael’s Catholic Church, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State in “Danjuma, Obasanjo and Co.”, The Guardian, Monday, March 24, 2008.


“The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian land, or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership “– Prof. Chinua Achebe, “The Trouble With Nigeria. 1984”

The above two quotations just about sum up the problems we have in Nigeria. Prof Achebe’s book was written in 1984 and Rev Fr. Ajakaye’s article was a discourse of the Danjuma/Obasanjo’s public fallout. I am sure the Danjuma interview has been widely read, and therefore does not need a recanting here.

In a recent article, “Is Nigeria Really A Failed State?”, I had posited that I do not consider Nigeria as a failed state. In the same article, I briefly mentioned that it is the leaders we have been unlucky to have in this country that have failed us, and not the country, Nigeria, per se. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with us as a people and as a nation, only the leaders, most of the time aided by sycophants, praise-singers, political jobbers, and those who, ever since they were born, have been living fat off the Nigeria people and their wealth, without ever putting anything worthwhile back in return. I however admitted that on the face of it, and from our perceptions of historical data, Nigeria has not been governed well, and if care or decisive and prompt actions are not taken, there is the possibility that Nigeria may eventually become a failed state, as the prophets of doom are already insinuating. Some feedback I received was very vicious. Several Nigerians, and even one or two foreigners, who professed their love for Nigeria, criticised my thinking and implied that I am living in this world blind, not to see that Nigeria is a failed state. Thankfully, I was still able to get positive feedback from those who could read between the lines and did not hide behind the façade of tribalism and political chicanery.

Fortunately for me, in his article in The Guardian of January 28, 2008, “Let this Empire be”, (published before my own and which I never even saw before I wrote mine), Prof Niyi Akinnaso had pre-empted me. He wrote, “Certainly, Nigeria is not a strong state. It is not a collapsed state either because there is no vacuum in state authority, there are no non-state actors competing for authority, and political goods are not depleted. The question is whether she belongs to the weak or failed category. To classify Nigeria as a failed state is to see the Nigerian cup as half empty by focusing on her weaknesses at the expense of her strengths and potential. For example, one would need to exaggerate the powers of the Niger Delta militants and deny the existence of state authority in the distribution of political goods. Such an attempt would be tantamount to putting Nigeria in the same category as Somalia and Sudan which continue to top the list of failed states. By the way, Nigeria has never been categorically classified as a failed state, although alarm bells were sometimes sounded. It is not the case that Nigeria lacks the resources to produce adequate political goods. The problem is that they are not adequately sourced or distributed at federal, state, and local levels owing to corrupt politicians, administrators, and contractors. Necessary state institutions exist but they are not encouraged or allowed to function effectively or their operators are otherwise compromised. The economy is feeding on the oil boom, a strong stock market, and a consolidated banking system, but the rewards are concentrated in a few hands.”

The Danjuma/Obasanjo face-off has merely highlighted this dearth of leadership, blatant corruption, selfishness and moral deficiencies emanating from our leaders, both military, political, past and present. Nigeria is more cursed than failed, I would say.I will stress that, until I read Lt. Gen T Y Danjuma’s “exclusive” interview, he was one former military leader that I have the utmost respect for. I used to admire him as a military man along with the likes of Obasanjo, Mohammed Shuwa, Murtala Mohammed, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Joshua Dogonyaro, Joe Garba, Kaduna Nzegwu, Benjamin Adekunle, etc. The moment I read his expletives and ranting in the interview, it did not take me more than 2 minutes to jettison all the admiration and respect I have had for him for over 30 years. A word of caution here, lest people misunderstand my motives. As far as I am concerned, both Danjuma and Obasanjo can go to hell, based mainly on how the two of them (with so many other pseudo-patriotic Nigerians) have colluded to treat Nigeria as their own personal fiefdom.Reading that interview, it was hard not to come to the conclusion that Danjuma smacked of arrogance, bitterness, selfishness, bigotry, lack of remorse, pomposity and that trait of Nigerians who have tasted one form of power or the other –“I am an owner of Nigeria”, with reference to Seyi Oduyela’s “”Owners of Nigeria”. “Nigeria in the last 44 years has been stolen by a cabal and turned to their own. These few robbers have created dynasties for themselves and they pass us round. I have to call them owners of Nigeria because that is what I think they are and the rest of us are tenants. Who are these people and why are they owners of Nigeria? They cut across all the geo-political zones of Nigeria. We have them in the West, North, East and South-South, also the Middle-belt. Our living has been subjected to theirs, we live how they want us to live, do what they want us to do, sneeze when they ask us to, eat what they offer us. This is pathetic, but I think we caused it. They are able to do this to us because we allow them to have access to wealth while we remain complacent. We hail them, worship them, sing their praises, kill ourselves because of them, fight each other for them to live. They enjoy seeing us dying, suffering, queuing at the gas stations, running after commuter buses, begging for crumbs from their table, even when it demands that we struggle with their dogs to get it”.

TY Danjuma seems to think he has a monopoly of everything about Nigeria. He was part of many bloody and bloodless coup-de-etats; he installed leaders; he appointed ministers and military governors; he had a say on who and who is not promoted in the Army; he showed his distaste for “foolish people like Enahoro”, and “absolutely useless people like Aguiyi-Ironsi”. He apportioned to himself some sort of Alpha and Omega of Nigeria. He also showed from the interview that despite his being a Northern Christian, and who would like to be remembered as a statesman, he is just a petty tribalist, who wanted revenge on “Igbo officers who had murdered Northern officers”. And this is a man who would like to be treated and regarded as an elder statesman. A man who could not for the world, see that his many violent interference in the political development of Nigeria has brought nothing but misery, poverty, bloodshed, corruption and the like, to his people, be they southerners or northerners, Christian or Muslim.TY Danjuma also seriously and pertinently exposed himself, albeit inadvertently, as a former military officer who had made his money via a corrupt way of life and through the opportunity granted him – or rather seized by him and his cohorts – for being at the top of governance of Nigeria for many decades as a result of patronage, forcing his way into power and negotiating his stance in most of the governments that have ruled Nigeria. He said he single-handedly raised $7 million to finance Obasanjo’s first term election, with half of this princely amount coming from is own pocket. Well, there we have it. How did TY Danjuma make his money? If he put down $3.5 million from his own pocket, two questions arise: If he can afford this much, that means he has a lot more than this, how did he get so much money and what business was he engaged in after his retirement from the military? Secondly, if he put down $3.5 million to finance one person’s election, what was he hoping to get in return? He of course wanted more, and the only place he could possibly get that, was being in Government.The answer to the first question might be because of the oil blocks he got from the Government (and I think this was what caused the problem between him and Obasanjo when the oil block was taken away from him, probably on the orders of Obasanjo, his friend and then President). We all know that all these “owners of Nigeria” just allocate the oil blocks to themselves. There is hardly ever any Minister or junior Minister for Petroleum, or PDP party officials, or former, very top military officers, who does not have an oil block, which they then sell on to foreigners, therefore making a fortune, without moving a finger. A nice little corrupt earner.The second answer is that Lt. Gen Danjuma eventually became the Defence Minister under the man whose election he helped to finance.

This was his payback. How effective was the Defence Ministry when our General was the Minister? Can anybody put their fingers on exactly what was achieved by that Ministry under the Minister? What was the Ministry’s budget, expenses, etc? Were the military paid on time? Were the living conditions in the barracks improved? Were the military’s ability to defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity enhanced? To say I was disappointed with Lt. Gen Danjuma, based on his interview, will be putting it mildly. I was appalled and aghast at his state of mind and thinking. Again, this all says something about the people who have been ruling us for several decades, their warped mindset, their intelligence, their commitment to our welfare, their sense of responsibility and integrity. I could picture the General, war –hero and plotter of many coups, ranting during the interview, casting aspersions on his erstwhile military and political co-travellers and laying emphasis and some degree of bitterness because he had to beg for promotion, after it was himself pushing for other officers’ promotions and national honours. It was very sad, to note that this was what became of the Nigerian military class. It was also appalling, frightening and worrying to note that this is a reflection of the mind-sets of our leaders, like Rev. Fr Ajakaye succinctly put it “They seek their own good at the expense of the country ….. a dangerous trend in our struggle to reform our country in all its ramifications, particularly in the area of good, firm and sincere leadership.” Danjuma also inadvertently exposed the true agenda of the military class in their various interventions in Nigeria’s governance. It was nothing more than personal aggrandisement, personal benefit, acquisition of wealth at the expense of the Nigerian people, destructive jealousies and personal vendetta, unhealthy quest for undeserved national honours, promotions and wealth, personal ambitions, oppression of the people, trampling on the civil and human rights of their people to position themselves for further government largesse. Please look back at our military and political history: which of our leaders had really done well or enough? None. They could not, even if they had wanted to. They could not fathom what true leadership is. They do not have the moral and intellectual ability or the capacity to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, good and bad governance. It was not because of their education, but because of the low level of their natural intellectual capacity. How do you expect a soldier who bears a grudge simply because he was denied promotion and national honour to perform as a true leader of men and women? Such leaders will never care about the welfare, the unity and survival of their people. In fact, such leaders will continue to fan the embers of divisive hatred between the people in order to distract attention of the people they govern from reality.

So if we are not at each other throats or trust each other because of our tribal affiliations, we will be hacking each other up because of our religious beliefs. And these were exactly what has been happening to Nigerians.My conclusion is basically the same as Rev. Fr Ajakaye ” all well-meaning Nigerians must join hands together in our search for true leadership, rather than allowing (an evil) cabal to keep ruining the country, all in the name of leading or ruling.”Obasanjo, Danjuma, Anenih, Atiku, Buhari, Babangida, Abdulsalam, Chris Uba, and others of their ilk too numerous to mention, LET NIGERIA BE!!!!!!. Nigeria belongs to all of us, not them alone. They have to let loose their evil reins or they will pay for it in blood. They have never had anything to offer to Nigeria before, and they have absolutely nothing more to offer Nigeria now or in future. All of them are being exposed or are exposing themselves one by one.As Albert Einstein said, Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. These aforementioned so-called leaders and many more like them are major part of the Nigerian problem, in fact all of them created the problems, so it is impossible for them to solve the problems. As long as they are there, never leaving hold of power and position, still stealing our money and acquiring wealth, positions and influence, and then positioning their offspring in power, to continue their nefarious activities, dubbed “ruling”, Nigeria will always have problems and will never progress. The country might even disintegrate. All of these pseudo-leaders who like posing as leaders, are leading the country on the path of ruination and destruction. And the irony is: If they are allowed to destroy the country, they also destroy themselves. What gaineth them?A word is enough for the wise.

CSN: 53230-2008-16-18 

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