Okwe Obi, Abuja
Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege and the spokesman for the Yoruba cultural group Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, at the weekend sparred on what encourages bad leadership in the country.
While Omo-Agege blamed political followers who allow themselves to be financially induced and become thugs, Odumakin laid the responsibility on political office holders who trump up bad policies, hoodwink the people, and leave them desolate and pauparised.
According to the Senator, no bad leader can rig elections without using his followers. And bad leaders cannot remain in office without the backing of his supporters.
Speaking in Abuja at the 10th annual lecture organised by the Change We Need Nigeria, Senator Omo-Agege advised Nigerians to thoroughly scrutinise political candidates before voting them into elected office.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Otive Igbuzor, he said: “When people vote, they express the ‘type’ of government they want and they deserve. When we vote aright; according to our conscience, good leaders naturally emerge. On the contrary when they accept inducements, offer themselves as thugs to snatch ballot papers and create terror during elections, bad leaders become the trophy.
“No bad leader can rig elections without using the followers. No bad leader can remain in office unless he gets the followers’ permission, sometimes tacitly by way of political apathy; sometimes overtly by way of re-election.
“Even when the leader goads the led, it takes political apathy and tepidity on the part of the followership for evil to prevail.”
But the Afenifere spokesperson, reminded the Senator that followers retreat to their cocoon and do not pay attention when they see leaders misbehaving, adding that followers would naturally abide by the rules when they see leaders doing same.
“The fact that followership is not a problem in Nigeria is very clear and can be seen in 1984 when General Buhari came as head of state and introduced a war against indiscipline, Nigerians fell in line,” Odumakin said.
“When there is a change in government they come with their rhetoric and people try to comply in the first few weeks or months and when they see that it’s all deception, they go back to their mold. No citizen is entirely bad or good. Society produces its own character.
“It is the kind of leadership that we have that produces the kind of followers that we have in Nigeria.
“In a situation, where the people do not matter, and you have pauperised them, they are not empowered to act or change government, you don’t blame the followership. When a fish begins to rotten, it starts from the head and not the tail. It would be wrong to say it’s the followership. It is leadership that cast a vision for the society and tell people the way to go.
“We are ruled by impunity, whims and caprices by those in power. There is no social contract. The essence of social contract is that you have a constitution. Leadership is the only job in Nigeria that qualification is not needed,” he argued.
One of the conveners of the lecture, Cosmos Ilechukwu, concluded that the problem went both ways, saying that “it is mainly on leadership; because the average Nigerian is a good follower. Let the leaders get it right and Nigeria will be okay.”