We’ve had many essays that addressed leadership problems in Nigeria. Many columnists have posited that the only way out of the quagmire Nigeria’s in is to push for leaders that have ideas and that can make things happen. Where most of these arguments fail is that they do not make it clear that as important as it is to have good leaders, it is even more important to have good followers.
Nigeria’s leadership problem may predate its followership problem but the effects of both problems are equally devastating. The problem of followership has always been there but nowhere is it more pronounced than now.
In the past, there were radical voices amidst the followers that challenged government’s actions and spoke relentless truth to authority. We had Gani Fawehinmi. We had Tai Solarin. There’s Fela, Soyinka. We had Chima Ubani. We had radical voices that led the student movement against unfavorable government policies.
But this generation has the biggest case of bad followership. The few voices that used to speak have either been bought over, silenced or have joined government and are not worse than those they once spoke against. There’s Femi Falana who has become a voice that rails selectively.
There’s former NLC President and Former Edo state Governor, Adams Oshiomole who joined politics, became Governor and became a thorn in the flesh of his people. A man who once rejected the Federal Government’s ‘no work, no pay’ rule turned around to do same to his people.
There’s former Ekiti Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi who was an active voice in the NGO world and who pushed for democratic ideals before joining government, but when he ventured in, he became a different man.
And there’s Osun state governor, Rauf Aregbesola, a man who was part of the civil society, who fought alongside the people right until he became Governor, but what became of him? He became that person that fought the people he fought alongside and sent policemen after his former comrades.
But I digress….
Nigeria’s followership problem has never been more pronounced than it is today. Citizens have become accomplices in the destruction of the nation. Rather than monitor the activities of leaders, followers coin excuses to defend leaders’ actions, excuses that paid spokespersons have difficulty coming up with.
It is really simple. Nigeria has leadership problems but it has even bigger followership problems. Until the problem of followership is solved, irresponsible leaders will continue to be on the rise. Until citizens stop seeing challenging government as lack of patriotism, the country will not move forward. So, as important as it is to call for responsible leaders, it is imperative that we emphasize that responsible and responsive followers are a must for any nation to progress.