o confound men, you have to play god by being a genius, have power, or a lot of money. Men are more difficult to reason with if they have a prior determined position, and if you urge them to do good because it is good. They are creatures of selfish interest that recognised the morality of acting selflessly. Therefore, they are prone to hiding their selfish interests behind selfless objectives. There has to be something in it for most people before they can commit to cause. Now and then, there are common interests like the need for a good government and wars which threaten all, when men can be persuaded to act for the best interest of all. The secret of leading men would therefore include knowing how to help them find selfish interests in most situations and at the same time, convincing them that they are acting in the best interests of all. No profession provides such opportunity like politics and the clergy and no others are more abused by insincere, selfish and unscrupulous men. This is a profession that attracts the best and the worst of men and disasters always follow in any country when the worst of men are in control in these professions.
Therefore, to lead men, one must as Machiavelli said in the ‘Prince’ realise that they are liars and deceitful. Moreover, at all times, one should know what one expects of men and how he wants them to achieve it. Most important, a leader must know those who would oppose him and be prepared to provide a coherent argument and evidence for his position and be capable of containing them within the law, whenever they decide to act against him. However, while the critics and opposition wait, the leader must be, honest, just and fair to all, to give them no reason to act out that which they would nevertheless do without reason. A good leader must also know those who are loyal and reward them in a fair and generous manner. What a leader must avoid is acting unjustly and vindictively. If a leader acts vindictively, he only loses the affection of those who would not have opposed him and at the same time, give those who would have opposed him reason to act against him.
A leader should from time to time show mercy to some who would not have shown mercy to him to convince those who he would not show mercy, that they do not deserve it. This is the act of leadership. To succeed a leader must have a political, cultural, social or economic organisation to create the enabling environment for the people to unleash their creativity on the world. Leadership is both a science and an art which requires stratagem in the use of power.
Unfortunately, the structure we operate in Nigeria is one that stifles creativity and innovation. It makes the people subservient to the leaders. Disempowers them in the selection of their leader and compels them to curry the favour of leaders in other to get what is theirs' by right. This is a complete opposite to the way true democracies operate. Under the Nigerian system, people feel pressured to declare their loyalty to the leader instead of the leader being tasked to gain the trust and loyalty of the people by their performance. The Nigerian system would seem to ignore the fact that true loyalty is earned and not bought. It is earned by the democratic process which leads to the emergency of leaders. Declaration of loyalty is only an issue in organisation where democratic process is subverted, like autocratic and tyrannical states and associations.
Any organisation where there is a single revered leader who cannot be challenged or held accountable is not democratic. It breeds an environment that stifles freedom of thoughts, creativity and innovation on which development depends. This lesson has been reconfirmed by the fall of communism and many tyrannical rulers and the recent fall of Lehman Brothers and Mummer Gaddafi of Libya. The fact is that in political system as in any other organisations, there would be disagreement between members within a group and between groups on principles and methods. A good and viable country or organisation must have effective mechanism for resolving conflicts and holding their leaders to account. This is the secrete of the success of the west. It is not rocket science. However the Nigerian system is characterised by rascality, lack of discipline and impunity. The political parties are unable to discipline their members because they often subvert due process. How does a political party which supports the losers in a democratic election to subvert the winners, except the winners to believe in it and respect its authority? This is perhaps one reason why whenever any political party attempts to exert its authority on its members a new political party is born or there is migration to another political party which becomes destabilised in attempt to accommodate the huge ambition of politician of fortune.
Conflicts are inevitable in any origination or society where men have freedom of thought. The challenge is to put in place a just, fair and robust mechanism for resolving or containing it. This depends on the leaders upholding the constitution, due process and the rule of law and everybody accepting plurality of views and encouraging civilised debate which is the right way of showing the superiority of one's position and persuading the members on the direction the organisation should take. This is true democracy. In cases where accommodation of one's view is not possible within an organisation, the person must be free to pursue his or her ideological convictions lawfully without molestation from the opponents. This is the Beauty of democracy and liberty and why no people will ever know peace like the one we enjoy in England, until they accept and become true to it.
This brings me to the rather unfortunate development in my state of origin Abia and the megaphone politics employed by some Igbos leaders to attempt to get one of them elected as the president of the country. The obsession with the presidency by Igbos is taking a very interesting turn. It has become a case of a people believing their belief and them not allowing it to be informed by knowledge and evidence. In fact, it would seem that it is held with the same intensity and conviction with which fanatics hold their religious belief. They simply believe it there turn to produce the next president and therefore they must have it. It would seem that they have failed to study the political situation and cycle and evaluate the factors that have enabled other people to emerge as president.
This claim that it is the turn of Igbos to produce the next president is riddled with illogicality. First, Nigeria is not operated as a one party state and second, Nigeria does not function as a true federation and multi-party democracy. Therefore any position or equation about Nigeria that does not factor in these two variables will be defective.
It would seem to me that the Igbos who think that if they shout loud enough that the presidency would be ceded to have not taken these factors sufficiently on board. Nigeria democracy is a contraption for ethnic groups to jostle for power and resource control. For many years, it was done on the bases of who controlled the army. During that time, the north repeatedly carried out coups to replace any government they figure was not acting in its best interest. Now it is still done on that basis but in a rather subtle way by ensuring that whoever emerges as president will be acceptable to the military and allow it to retain many of its undemocratic powers and influence in government.
The fact which many Nigerians may be unaware of is that Nigerian security forces are not loyal to the nation but to the government in power. Moreover, they are not neutral during elections. They usually do whatever the government in power wants them to do. They are not motivated by the ideals of democracy or noble values. Ours’ is not a true democracy, but autocracy in transition. Anybody who doubts this should just look at the powers of the Nigerian president and state governors. For instance, the security forces ensured the re-election of T A Orji as the governor of Abia state during the last election by ensuring that the votes of the people did not count. Since his re-election, he has depended on them to govern and conducted himself more as an autocrat than as an elected governor who is responsible to the people. His utterances and conduct lack the humility expected from a politician who derived his power from the people. He treats his responsibility as a favour to the people and expects the people to be grateful because he is attempting in a very poor and unacceptable way and manner to do what he is elected to do. He becomes angry when he is compared with others in similar position like him who are performing far better and believes that the people are blind to the plundering of their treasury which has being going on in his watch. He denies reality and instructs everybody in his government to simply apply denial and sophistry. Sometimes, I wonder where Nigerian politicians get their audacity. I continue to say that Igbos should put their house in order and demonstrate that they understand multi-ethnic politics before they can succeed in their quest to produce the president of Nigeria under the current circumstance.
This is because the variables that determine outcome in Nigerian politics would suggest that the woes of Igbos may not be really due to marginalisation but the inability of their leaders play the politics aright. It did not have to take more than forty years after the civil war to open Enugu Airport for international flights. It is another example of the failure of Igbo leaders and politicians. Since the end of the civil war, Igbos have tended to produce leaders who are corrupt with only a few who were great and honest. The war created a situation which made it possible for the worst of Igbos to gain power because it would be in the best interest of the victor to deal with the worst of the vanquished. It is a common political strategy. The British preferred to deal with illiterate Nigerians instead of the educated ones. They disliked Obafemi Awolowo because of his brilliance and preferred those who would not question their actions or challenge their unfairness. It would seem to me that my people have failed to realise this.
The result has been that the other ethnic groups have exploited the greed of Igbo leaders to get what they want. In the period, Igbos claim to be marginalised, every single Igbo leader has become a millionaire. How did they make their millions during a period when their people are marginalised and region underdeveloped? I suppose it is fair to suggest that Igbo leaders first account for their millions before they can make a credible case for marginalisation. Sam Mbakwe was able to do in the short time he was in power more that Ogbonnaya Onu, Orji Uzor Kalu and T A Orji have done for Abia sate. The underdevelopment of Abia state is personal to me, and I believe those responsible should be held accountable, if Nigeria is a true democracy. No Igbo leader who have been in a position to make changes but failed will have my respect no matter his title or wealth because they are nothing but common criminal. This is why I find it revolting that Igbo communities in diaspora can find the justification to honour those who are responsible for the underdevelopment of Igbo land. It says so much about Igbos as a people. The most serious problem confronting Igbos is corrupt leadership and this must be dealt before any progress can be made. As the Bible says righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach.
To be continued.