By Damiete Braide
Who Will Save Nigeria From Ethno-Religious Strangulation? Gideon Onyedi, 2020, Treasure Networks, pp. 262
Over time, the challenge with the Nigerian state has been blamed on bad leadership, including Chinua Achebe, in The Trouble with Nigeria. To promote the humanity of accidental citizenry of one contraptional polity has begun with a shrill cry from Gideon Onyedi.
For fear that the nation may not be in existence in the near future, Onyedi choses to become the weeping prophet of transformational- transformative leadership. He painstakingly mirrors the nation’s trauma as it were, and advocates for drastic reforms to salvage what is left.
In his book, Who Will Save Nigeria from Ethno-religious Strangulation?, the author draws attention to the bane of national growth and peaceful coexistence, the insecurity issues as all self inflicted.
Onyedi boldly states that Nigeria’s problems boil down to ethno-religiosity. In the first chapter, he makes the case for exemplary leadership which regions like the North, South, West and East have experienced with the likes of Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegu, clearing the air about Nigeria lacking great leaders. His focus, however, is that “Nigeria is without one single leader in the mould status and character of the aforementioned at the national level, with corresponding national consciousness and unquestionable patriotism, devoid of ethno-religious bias, sentiment, pressure and considerations.
In the next chapter, he advocates for moral and innovative leadership, a service and people oriented method of bringing sustainable stability. He insists that applying pristine methods and approaches hinged on universal values will serve as the antidote to the endless conflict and looming disintegration.
He further xrays leadership procedures of credibility, legality and morality on chapters 10 and 12. He avers that the nation owes it to herself to find a transformative leader and not a political leader who thinks he owes patriotism to a certain region or class of people who voted him in.
Underlying this internal chaos, Onyedi further digs into the root cause — colonialism —as a fundamental fault which African leaders have failed to correct till present. This is why it seems other colonial African countries are facing the same storm.
In chapters six to eight, he highlights the foundation of the ethno-religious crises tearing the nation apart. In his advocacy for innovative leadership, he says sustainable peace and national development involve multi-dimensional creativity with engaging and inspirational ideas, knowledge and ability to harness all resources, human and natural, and promoting overall citizenship ideals to offer fulfilment and achieve a productive and edifying socio-economic and political attainment and harmonious relationship in an institutional, local, national or global environment.
In Part Four, the author harps on the pillars, pitfalls and prospects of leadership. He analyses the Buhari-led administration, highlighting the phenomena of the lessons and fears it has presented over time. The analysis echoes the ideology and persona of the president, who cuts the picture of a private citizen. He dares everyone to be a Muhammadu Buhari in context yet doesn’t reserve his worry as to the ruling out a possibility of a future for others.
“Our president, Muhammadu Buhari, by all standards, in all intent and purposes, has always remained the man he is in life, in history, in objectives and pursuit, in human relations. He is consistent in sincerity. Consistency in principle. I have only one fear: he appears to be ruling as if there will be no tomorrow for others to have another opportunity to govern Nigeria.”
This concern is extended to the educational sector, a case of the many unfulfilled promises to the African child — an educational system that cannot unburden its people from flagrant disrespect for the rule of law, a big man’s right that failed.
The author commends the likes of Mallam El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, and Babagana Umara Zulum of Borno State for their commitments to transformation in education. For Nigeria’s education to be revived, he says, it would take redirection of national culture and values, great leadership, delivery and implementation of policies.
The last part of the book draws readers into a subtle consciousness. It prods the mind that, without quick intervention, the bomb may go off on all. The increasing agitations and insecurity requires transformative leadership, he stresses. An inclusive governance, which is the focal subject of Onyedi’s preoccupation, undoubtedly, is a piece that smacks of patriotism and in-depth knowledge.
The way he weaves past and present history makes it easy for readers to reflect and relate to the subject matter. His tone is prompting, unrelating in punctuality the consciousness of any well meaning citizen to play a role towards the reshaping of the society.