Will Our Real Leaders Stand Up?!!! By Hussaina Ishaya Audu

About a forthnight ago, on Amanpour (CNN), Christiane asked Prof. Wole Soyinka a very pertinent question, one I think all Nigerians must give critical thought to: after this – the kidnapping of the Chibok girls and the robust media coverage provoked by the #bringbackourgirls campaign and the reluctant response it evoked from a drowy Jonathan – “can Nigeria ever be the same?”

I remember the the annulment of the June 12 elections by the Babangida Junta in 1993 and the murder of the Ogoni nine by the Abacha Dictatorship in 1995. I remember the passions these events stirred within Nigerians and our collective indignation, and the condemnation by the international community. And I remember how the embers of our national outrage cooled and were over taken by separatist sentiments. The June 12th 1993 debacle which was effectively the disenfranchisement of every adult Nigerian – irrespective of sex, religion, tribe and tongue – has become a flickering flame kept alive by the south-western states alone. The country returned to status quo and it was business as usual – again.

That was what Christiane Amampour was asking: is it going to be business as usual? After this hullabaloo about the insensitivity and ineptitude of Nigeria’s government are we going to accept another four years of ineffectual leadership? It is no longer just about Jonathan anymore; I believe we are now on trial. Every adult Nigerian has a responsibility to decide whether we are going to allow the Chibok Calamity to go the way of June 12, or if after this, it is going to be business unusual.

Nigerians are already offering reasons why we should return Jonathan to power in 2015. In his aricle, A Season of Conspiracies Against Goodluck Jonathan, published by Premium Times on Tuesday 13th May, Femi Aribisala articulated the sentiments of a section of this country which blames the North for everything. He said, “Let us call a spade a spade. There are well-placed Nigerians, especially in the North, sponsoring aiding and abetting terrorism for the sake of political gain.” Aribisala further contended that the North has inadvertently made it necessary for Jonathan to put himself up for re-election next year; anything less “would be tantamount to succumbing to black mail.” He further stated: “To accede to the defeat of Goodluck Jonathan by a Northern cabal is to promote the interests of the Boko Haram.” And again, “We must forget our differences and join hands to ensure that Jonathan prevails in spite of the stumbling blocks and minefields put in his way.” I have also heard others contend that if Jonathan is not allowed to enjoy his second term, the militants in his home region will not let sleeping dogs lie.

While Aribisala admits that Jonathan has not been able to address the “age-old problem of corruption”, he nevertheless contends that “Nigeria has been making giant strides under his administration.” He goes on to list a series of successes which he believes should be attributed to Jonathan.

Aribisala’s argument is that we should accept – no, we must ensure – another term for Jonathan because –

1)    failure to do so is to all intents and purposes an acquiescence to BH’s subversive rule, and

2)    Jonathan has recorded a measure of success so we should let him carry on doing the job.

My purpose in this essay is not to dispute Aribisala’s claims about Jonathan’s successes, or his claims that a Northern Cabal fuelled the fire of insurgency in the country to subvert Jonathan’s government; it is to question his reasoning as to why we should accept another four years of Jonathan, and propose a challenge to Nigerians to move with the wind of change that is blowing across our nation.

Aribisala’s argument is based on the ‘appeal to the consequences of a belief’ fallacy which basically presumes a position to be true because if people did not accept that position as being true, then there would be negative consequences; or put another way, P is true because accepting that P is true has positive and pragmatic consequences. This line of reasoning is fallacious because the consequences of the belief have no bearing whatsoever on whether the belief is true or false.

Believing that our rejection of Jonathan is an acceptance of BH’s rule is not evidence that this is in fact true. How can my rejection of inept and insensitive rule be equated to acceptance of terrorism? How is that logical? To my mind, Aribisala’s argument is a form of manipulation to force one to agree to 4 more years of questionable leadership. Yes, I agree that we have had worse. However, why must the only option we have be to ‘manage’ or ‘make do’ with Jonathan? Why must it be business as usual – again?

It is important to distinguish between a rational reason to believe (evidence) and a prudential reason to believe. The former is evidence that objectively and logically supports the claim, while the latter is a reason to accept the belief because of some external factor such as fear, a threat, or a benefit or harm that may stem from that belief. Predicting doom and destruction if we reject Jonathan is not rational and logical; it is a failure to recognise that there can be alternatives.

The kidnapping of the Chibok girls has brought Nigeria under the glare of a global searchlight. The world is watching us. All eyes are on us. Amanpour was voicing what the entire world is thinking: are we going to take advantage of this global intervention into our country’s affairs to demand for accountable governance at last? Or, are we going to continue offering excuses as to why we must accept the likes of Jonathan? Isn’t it time for us to stop accepting mediocre leadership and begin to prepare the ground for the emergence of a new type of leadership?


Perhaps the reason why we have not had credible leaders emerge as possible candidates for 2015 is because the country has not been ready for them before now. And while we continue to believe that our options are so restricted and one dimensional we will continue to attract second-rate leaders.

I reject Jonathan’s leadership because it is time to reject any leadership that cannot take us to the Promised Land. Nigeria is on the cusp of change; we have reached a stage in our history when we as a people can end the trajectory of our nation’s downward spiral. The time is ripe for change! Look at what is happening in the world today. The nations of this world are groaning for change.

It may well be true that a Northern Cabal is behind Jonathan’s woes, but maybe, just maybe, what the Northern Cabal intended for evil, is what will turn around for our good. Who would have imagined that a small group of disaffected citizens carrying placards and insisting that the government pay attention to the plight of some insignificant and marginalized plebian girls carted away into the unknown by BH would snowball into a campaign that has attracted global empathy and invited world powers to participate in their rescue?

This is a season of change. In the words of Mountain of Fire and Miracles “POWER MUST CHANGE HANDS!!!”


Ps: I do not attend MFM.

Ms. Ishaya Audu, a lawyer, and an educational administrator is a member of the Premium Times editorial board. She writes from Abuja.


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  • avatar

    blah blah blah and let Buhari the treasonous northern coup plotter come and rule us again. We know the score madam. it is not going to work any longer. we are fully awake now

    • Yakub

      Corrupt, vile and irresponsible apologists of Jonathan, Buhari with his squeaky clean integrity will remain your tormentor till you are flushed out in 2015. Hussaina is here talking about the emergence of a new, patriotic, competent and visionary leadership, and your are coming with an overly stupid, partisan crap that will not serve any body any good. Remain there in your swamps, the global train of good governance, responsive, transparent and transfromamtive leadership has taken off.

      • salako

        Dont blame him he only knows Buhari thats why he always talks about buhari. dude, shortsighted human.

  • Lanre

    An interesting and educative piece Ms. Audu. However, Nigeria is a lost cause. The leadership is bankrupt and corrupt. The followers, poor, uneducated,illiterate, scrounging plebeians. The tiny minority of educated and enlightened folk like you are clearly frustrated. Please don’t be. Remove your hopes from Nigeria and seek out your own salvation (In a restructured, confederation of Nigerian States). The current subsisting political arrangement reinforces mediocrity that is why June 12, 1993, missing $20b dollars, Chibok (which has shown the rot in leadership and the failure of institutions) would never matter.
    Look at the trajectory of Nigeria from when you were a young damsel and ask the question:
    – Could I ever imagine the day the wife of my country’s president will not be able to pronounce the word “Child”?
    – When a serious, criminal event (such as the kidnapping of children – as in Chibok) would be the subject of caricatures by the spouse of a Nigerian President?
    – When over 200 people will be killed in the beautiful plateaux of Jos in a single day?
    – When a Nigerian President will tell the citizens of his country not to disturb him over the kidnapping of fellow citizens, but rather to talk to the terrorists? Obviously the terrorists are accountable to the protesting citizens.
    I am sorry Ms. Audu. I have no hope in Nigeria. A leadership inspires hope in a people. A leadership spawn by Babangida,Obasanjo, Buhari, Danjuma, Gusau, Abubakar, Gowon, such as we have now (Jonathan) can only govern illiterates, impoverished folk, thieving corrupt political and business elite. The solution lies in a Confederate Nigeria where the people of the Middle Belt (Benue, Plateau, Southern Kaduna and Northern Minorities) can have their own region. Free to practice their own religion as they deem fit; free to elect leaders they wish. That is my wish for the Yorubas of West Africa – where I am from.

  • Okechukwu Ononaeke

    Hussaina, you missed this one! The problem of Nigeria is not leadership. The problem of Nigeria is STRUCTURE! If you bring a Barrack obama to the current Nigeria, he will be worse than Goodluck Jonathan. Running a country should not require a genius. Nigeria should be structured in such a way that ordinary people(e.g Deng Xiaoping or Lula da silva) will produce extra-ordinary results. The structure is wrong and will never ever work as is. Please stop the crap about leadership!

    • Yakub

      @Okechukwu Now this is obfuscation typical of Jonathan’s apologists. You cannot wish away Jonathan’s incompetence and blatant irresponsibility as a leadersunder the guise of the spurious argument that the problem of Nigeria is structure. Is it structure that makes us unable to search, find and bring back our girls? Or is it structure that enabled Dizeani, as Minister, to blow away 10 billion naira of hard earned nation’s money on chartered private jets for her frivolous trips abroad? What is the problem with the so-called structure you are talking about? And if at all we need restructuring (another euphemism for separation) is it not a visionary leadership that will bring it about. Historically and contemporaneously it is great leaders that build nations and not the other way round. Let us stop this complacent, defeatist tantrums and face squarely the reality that we need a new crop of leadership in Nigeria, that will rise to the occasion and put this country on track.

      • Okechukwu Ononaeke

        Yakub, if you can not understand how structure produces results, then you are beyond help! Nigeria’s structure as is can only produce monumental corruption and mediocrity. No more, No less! A thousand Barrack Obamas can never make it work. A thousand years of experimentation with ‘excellent’ leaders of Nigeria as is will produce results worse than mediocrity. Nigeria’s structure explains why since 1960, all our leaders ended up as monumental failures. The structure of Nigeria confines the performance of Jonathan and those who will come after him, no matter how well intentioned to mediocrity. Structure is the primary thing that determines performance, not individuals. Nigeria as is, is structured to fail. If you want Nigeria to work, re-think the structure. it is as simple as that.

        • Sword of Damocles

          really, that simple? who would have thunk it?

    • Thepeople

      Both Hussaina and you Okechukwu have a point. Structures and national institutions are necessary to solve the problem of Nigeria and build a greater Nigeria. But who creates, establishes, foosters, and protects these structures that enables the ordinary people to produce extra-ordiary results? the leadership. Like most things in Nigeria, these structures exist only in name and logo. Where they exist, they are barely functioning, where they are functioning, they are dysfunctional. They are dysfunctional because of greedy, corrupt, shortsighted, selfish, unpatriotic, feeble and incompetent leadership.

      • Amaka Igwe

        That’s the point: structures and processes are put in place by purposeful leadership. GEJ hasn’t the capacity and experience to initiate and sustain these – that’s why we need fresh heads with better thinking. Okechukwu can not see that structures and institutions don’t run themselves, they are driven by well meaning leadership and this is what we crave for which can not be delivered by bros Jona.

        • Okechukwu Ononaeke

          And where will you find this well meaning leadership? PDP or APC or at the corruption-ridden sub-national governments of Nigeria? Perish the thought! Nigeria as is can only produce and will always produce the type of leaders you have had since 1960.No more, No less! When a system is incapable of working or delivering results, What do you do? You destroy it and create a new system based on best-practices. Only then, can true leaders emerge. There are templates for a new Nigeria that will work.

          • abeem

            Mr. Ononaeke, talk is cheap but facts are sacred. I can’t comprehend what you meant by “structure is the problem” without a more detail explanation about what you meant by that phrase. And even if you are able to proffer a more explanation, you will still need a forthright leader to implement your recommended solutions to “create a new system based on best-practices”. Judging by the antecedents of Jonathan from his days as deputy governor to governor in Bayelsa to his ascendancy to national politics as vice-president to acting president and now president, do you think he, Mr. Jonathan Goodluck in all honesty, has all it takes, as a leader to lead Nigeria to the utopian state that you have in mind?

  • Mosaku 147

    Madam,you have said it.”POWER MUST CHANGE HANDS” first.after then,we can begin to think about restructuring ourselves peacefully.

    • Okechukwu Ononaeke

      Yes, Power must change hands to Mosaku! However, know that in Nigeria’s case, THE SYSTEM IS THE SOLUTION. Unless you are a politician, the struggle should not be about who becomes the next president of Nigeria but about how to create a new Nigeria that is designed to deliver, that engenders a corruption free, justice and equity driven society.We will not require a genius to run It.Indeed, ordinary people will run it and produce extra-ordinary results. The current Nigeria as is, will render every genius in Power impotent. It has never worked and will never ever work! It is designed to always fail.

  • 12to34

    Real national leaders have become scarce commodity. I remember with relish when all northern leaders were supporting annulment of Abiola election but one Northern Adamu Ciroma stood up and asked IBB to give it to Abiola because he won ‘ fair and square’

  • Okache

    You did not give Soyinka reply to that Amanpour’s question.