Everybody knows that Nigeria’s EVERYBODY knows that Nigeria’s biggest problem is lack of good leaders. In addition to restructuring, Nigeria needs good leaders to make progress. My own definition of a good leader (in the Nigerian context, at least) is a President who can unite Nigerians and give every section of this country a sense of belonging.Once we get such a leader, even without restructuring, the country will move forward because it will be minimally shackled by the centrifugal forces of alienated agitators, separatists, terrorists, militants and economic saboteurs. These factors are bedevilling President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime in a way never seen since the end of the Biafra-Nigeria war 47 years ago, precisely because Buhari is the most incendiary sectional leader in our history.
Since the war ended, we have had leaders with varying measures of inclusive-mindedness. General Yakubu Gowon marginalised the former Biafrans (especially the Igbo) but he was not bloodthirsty; far from it. Obasanjo, as military Head of State, keyed into this Igbo marginalisation programme and allied with the North to build certain legacy institutions like the Kaduna Refinery, Ajaokuta Steel, and others. He completed the modernisation of Lagos infrastructure started under General Gowon, riding on the wings of the oil boom of that time.However, when President Shehu Shagari picked up the flag of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, he was firmly committed to bringing the Igbo back to the centre of the Nigerian commonwealth. He not only picked an Igbo, Dr. Alex Ekwueme (just nine years after the civil war) for Vice President, he also pardoned the ex-Biafra leader, ex-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who promptly returned from exile to join the Nigerian political fray.
In fact, left to Shagari, Ekwueme would have emerged as the President of Nigeria 30 years ago in 1987! Fancy how far Nigeria would have gone if the Shagari reconciliatory spirit had been allowed to power this great country in that trajectory.But of course, it was not to be! The war mongers who fought for the Federal side were still boiling with anti-Igbo vengeance and ambition to reward themselves for their war efforts with the oil wealth of the Niger Delta (their real reason for pushing the former Eastern Region into a war of unequal antagonists). Major General Muhammadu Buhari levelled charges of corruption against Shagari’s government and overthrew it. He took Nigeria back to January 15, 1970 in terms of integration.