Nigeria’s existence has been plagued by unpreparedness at various times in history. Notwithstanding the cries of Nigerians for sovereignty, its occurrence in 1960 caught us unprepared. The fact remains, while the warmth for independence was beginning to be chilly with the proposed 1st October of the said year, there was no proportional preparation for self-rule by Nigerians including those who were at the helm of affairs.
The Colonial Masters, with the proclamation of Nigeria’s Independence on 1st October, 1960 did throw the “baby Country” into a comma. While their departure became real, they were looking for a Nigerian who could work for their interest. And the possible figure who could protect their interest was Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, whom his feat for the mantle of leadership, in all ramifications, met him unprepared. He took upon himself the task of making the policies of the white realistic without taking into consideration the plight of the black Nigerians.
His failure to proactively take into consideration the yearnings of his commoners into consideration sent him to his grave on 15th January, 1966. The exit of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa made Nigeria a power-tussled Nation when Gen. Aguiyi Aronsi, on 16th January, 1966 replaced Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Aguiyi Aronsi too was not prepared to lead the nation. He was rather power conscious and hastily came on board without any clear vision of repositioning the “baby Nation.” His administration was not any different from being the first citizen full or orders and decrees. He was ousted from office through the power that flowed by barrels of guns on July 29, 1966.
Another Unprepared Nigerian leader was Gen Yakubu Gowon who took power after a military coup d’état and was overthrown in another. His unpreparedness after assuming office put him in a dilemma; the threat of keeping or dividing a baby nation in just seven years of existence known as Nigeria’s Civil War (hereinafter referred to as Biafra War) which lasted from 1967 to 1970.
Also Read: Civilians still targets for Boko Haram despite military success
The Unfortunately Nigeria saw an indecisive Gen. Murtala Muhammad leadership. Murtala was not himself prepared for leading the country but his lack of strong will forced his assumption of office when younger soldiers, in their want that Nigeria be returned to democratic rule, overthrew Gen Yakubu Gowon and imposed Gen. Murtala Muhammad as the military head of state.
His leadership ended in cold blood on February 13, 1976. Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, if not for the death of Gen Murtala Muhammad, was not prepared for leading the Nation as number One citizen. Though, many would argue that his handing over to Alhaji Shehu Shagari on October 1st, 1979 was an act of brevity; I have seen it rather as act of cowardice due to the fact of his unpreparedness. As a result, he was in a rush to handover immediately lest, he would follow the road to his grave as his predecessors had. Besides, his come back to power from 1999 to 2007 as a democratic president was surrounded by the same unpreparedness.
This was because the return of Obasanjo as the Civilian President of Nigeria was rather a compensation of the Yoruba people over the nullification and subsequent death of MKO Abiola. A prisoner like Obasanjo had no thought of himself to contest for an elective post of such since he did not know the problems of Nigeria when he would be made a civilian president. His re-branders (IBB and Abdusalaam Abubakar), haven cooked him, brought him with the hope that he would hand over power to them at the end of his tenure.
As a matter of fact, Obasanjo had very little to offer due to his lack of preparation for presidency even as a civilian president – he has only ended up accumulating for himself. As a democratic President of Nigeria with constitutional rights and privileges, Alhaji Shehu Shagari took over from Gen Olusegun Obasanjo as the first elected President of Nigeria to exercise full executive powers. To many, Shagari is considered a champion of Democracy due to his administrative programmes for improving the welfare of many Nigerians; which has always being the yearnings of the greater majority of the Nigeria’s people. But due to his lack of preparation for the task he would assume, his administration was full of controversies and issues of corruption resulting from religious and political violence. To end such governance, this administration was toppled.
Also Read:PDP blasts Buhari over AIT’s ban
The dawn of Maj. Gen Buhari as a military Head of State on 31st December, 1983 caught him unprepared. This was because the coup d’état that overthrew the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and brought on board Maj. Gen. Buhari and Idiagbon was carried out by the middle and High ranking military officers who, haven toppled the government, only selected Buhari to rule the nation. Though, GMB was not prepared for such a task, his innate charisma and zero tolerance for corruption popped him up for action. He justified the military’s spasm of power by declaring War Against Indiscipline of all manners and sorts. Gen Ibrahim Babangida, in no distant time, took over from Maj. Gen Buhari. His come to power was a mere power tussle since he had no interest of the populace at heart. Though, he is well-known to have been liberal – fusing both military and civilian administration under one canopy, his administration ended under heavy pressure in 1993 when he nullified the most widely held to have been freest and fairest elections in Nigeria.
The heavy pressure that surrounded IBB led to his handover of power to Chief Ernest Shonekon. Shonekon had no clear vision of how his administration would look like. In a hurry, he accepted to man the affairs of the country under an interim government not knowing that Gen Abacha would, through a palace coup within three months, take over from him. Shonekon has been the most confused of all the leaders that came before him. But after him, little did Nigerians know that they would experience another confused leader in the person of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. GEJ’s confusion supersedes that of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who took over from the colonial masters without knowing the manner in which he would balance between the interests of the white against that of the black Nigerians. And Shonekon’s opt for a take over from IBB amidst warriors like Abacha in the Military then.
The unpreparedness of Chief Ernest Shonekon to lead Nigeria in an interim governance brought Nigeria a dictator, Gen Sani Abacha whom himself did not prepare. Like every other past leader, Abacha too was not prepared to run Nigeria. This is clearly seen in the manner in which he handled the affairs of the country. Human Rights Abuses were top most. The execution of people like Ogoni activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa and other brutal killings characterised his administration. As at the time of Abacha, the globe had taken the shape of becoming a village, but his inhumanity led to the disassociation and distancing of many countries from Nigeria.
Gen. Abdulsalaam Abubakar, an inconsistent military head of state who promised to hand over power when elections are conducted but after six months saw the joys of power and began to shift his stand until he would be compared by his wife, Fatima, (who was a high Court Judge at the time Gen Abdulsalaam took over power) to do so. His unprepared nature placed his inconsistency at the apex. Upon taking office, he promised to recover all the stolen money from Nigerians for the welfare of all. After an alleged recovery of a said thirteen trillion, the whereabouts of the money is not known till date.
The money from Abacha’s family had never been accounted for by Gen. Abdulsalaam who was proactively involved in probing the family. He has not told Nigerian of the DSTV South Africans are enjoying today. Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; a physically weak but mentally strong president, a green snake in the green grass, an unpredicted human being whose thoughts were not even understood by those who were drumming and dictating his choice of dance; a cowardly appeared human being but psychologically and philosophically brave.
A man whose possession of office was made out of fraud but act of governance took the rule of law. A man who deserted his friends but was constantly in their midst. A man who was not prepared to rule as president but got himself ready and feat on the seat…how much would you describe him?
Also Read: Buhari bars AIT from covering his activities
Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was not a physical person of brevity. He was forced to assuming the Number One seat at the exit of the canny OBJ as President. But upon his few years in office, he proved to Nigerians that for one to be able to change a system that is bad, one has to be right there at the helm of affairs. His message simply is this: you cannot win a war without being present on the battle field. Nigerians, extol Yar’Adua in your own light…!
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan amidst all the lack of preparations I may say that led to his assumption of office, providence is key … it is too early and still fresh in the minds of most Nigerians for me to begin to tell the world who GEJ is! His picture is still anew in our experiences. Until May 29, 2015 … I cannot paint his portrait. I implore you, dear reader; to pause for a while and weigh the ‘strength’ of this Nigeria’s president who is about to hand-over power without pressure … what would be your picture of him …? For me, he lacks absolutely the STRONG WILL to lead as President for six years… the most UNPREPARED leader Nigeria ever has … but his name is written in the annals of the nation…we shall live to tell of his wonders and glory!
GEN. MUHAMMADU BUHARI: using his taste of leadership at various times in Nigeria’s history, he has himself prepared for the task ahead. He has seen the decay that surrounds Nigeria and wishes to dust off the rust on the surface of the Nigeria’s economy, agriculture, security, unemployment, and to send corruption to zero degrees. This has been his quest since 2003 when he first contested as the presidential candidate of All Nigerian People Party (ANPP) but lose to PDP presidential Candidate, OBJ – a Gen. like himself. His zeal and passion to liberate Nigerians from the shackles of bad leadership propelled Gen Buhari never to give up. This made him re-contests in the presidential election of 2007 under ANPP but lose again to Yar’Adua of PDP.
In 2011, the unprepared, confused, and undetermined president, Jonathan of PDP who came to power out of sheer providence, defeated Buhari of CPC in a landslide. This made Buhari took to himself the promise that he would never contest for any presidential election in Nigeria again. But no sooner than later, his conscience came calling and informing Buhari of the need for him to remedy his country Nigeria of misrepresentation. Waking from his slumber, he picked up to the race again. Today; with all the struggles and aspirations, he is the president-elect, full of zeal to reposition Nigeria before he would one day breathe his last.
On May 29, 2015, Most Nigerians who stand to ask Buhari as John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus Christ: are you the Messiah we have been waiting for or we should look for another? No Nigeria’s president or head of state has ever been prepared to lead Nigeria as Buhari. We have not seen or heard any manifesto from them, but Gen. Buhari has assured Nigerians of his willingness to put things rights … with the mistakes of our past leaders, I will confidently, using the words of John of Salisbury, say that Buhari is like a dwarf sitting on the shoulders of giants. He will see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because his sight is superior or because he is taller than they, but because they raise him up, and by their great stature add to his.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.