Political Leadership: The Driving Force For National And Social Transformation.


                                   EHIDIAMEN DESTINY ODIANOSEN, ESQ 

                                        DELIVERED THIS DAY    9TH APRIL 2021

I have had the privilege of being in leadership position in my small corner and capacity. During the course of my leadership, I was able deduce the weak points and strength in that position, but more also it has prepared me to be strong to tackles leadership challenges . I authoritative holds the view, that the topic distilled and selected by the organizers of this event is germane in our pursuance for an utopian society . Over the years since the effluxion of the British Colonial Rule on 1st October 1960 , the Concept of Leadership is wrongly interpreted , especially by those who are at the helm of political affairs, they seen it as a Money fetching business.

I think is of urgent national Importance for us, politicians and the members of the society to have deep knowledge about the intricacies of leadership, for the cause of the exorcism of the spirit of corruption which we erroneously thinks that it is what leadership gives opportunity to do .
Leadership crises in Nigeria have been attributed to failure of political leaders to imbibe democratic principles and provide necessary infrastructures which will served as an anodyne and analgesic to mitigate the strangulating economic hardship in Nigeria . .

However, a critical analysis of the extant literature indicated that selfish desires of political leaders to wield powers and control the state apparatus, corruption, recycling of leaders, illiteracy and lack of political education and wrong interpretation of politics by the players and their admirers are primarily responsible for the tissues of leaderships ineptitude in Nigeria and inability of political class to truly discharge their statutory and Constitutional functions. In today’ democracies, we citizens, elect individuals to represent us.

In today Democracy we elects and selects leaders to represent us on our on our behalf. In this way, political leaders embody the beliefs and wishes of a cross- section of people and must act as citizens’ representatives. However, nowadays, a crisis of confidence seems emerge between citizens and politicians. The particular leadership pacing political systems can give to us an interesting point of view to understand this phenomenon. In this way, it is essential for all of us, citizens, to understand what define us as such, what is our role, what kind of power is in our hands. It is also necessary to understand what the role of politicians elected as representatives.

What is leadership?
In the bid to find an exhaustive definition of leadership, I find importance to make reference to the immortal and indelible word of Martin Luther king, 1929 – 1968
‘’it time for political leaders across the ideological spectrum to realize that, while partisanship is understandable, hyper-partisanship is destructive to our country. We need more visionary Leaders who will earnestly strive for bipartisanship and policy solution that can move America Forward”
The Nigeria legal jurisprudence have also gave an apt and illuminating definition of leadership in the of Case of Balonwu v. Obi

“We lack good leadership in our body politic. A good leader is someone who is able to lead and has the ability to influence his people positively to attain and achieve greater heights for the good of humanity. A good leader is selfless and has only the interest of the people he is leading at heart. A leader’s action always has a rippling effect on the society. The leadership’s wrong actions can destroy the society and bring it to naught, whilst the acts of a good and seasoned leaders could catapult our country Nigeria to the country we all dream about. It is great men and great leaders like Indira Ghandi, Roosevelt, Mrs. Thatcher, the Kennedys, the Nkrummahs, Nelson Mandela that have made their country the pride with which we all adorn their country. These men were all people of great standing who acquired the moral right to lead their people and as much as possible they kept to this moral right and immediately a leader loses this moral right, he ceases to be a leader. A good leader should adhere to law and observe same. Leaders cannot exist without followership and so everyone must observe the constitution and obey State authorities, because no authority exists without God’s permission, and the existing authorities have been put in place by God who had allowed them to swear to an oath to uphold the Constitution. Therefore the followership should endeavour not to oppose the existing authority for whoever opposes them unduly has himself to face the wrath of the law. Therefore, I enjoin the followers to love their leaders and pray for them to do good and the followers should refrain from acts that is calculated to stop the smooth running of the affairs of government, so that together and in love with their leaders, a very strong and indivisible state shall henceforth emerge where the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be adhered to.” Per. Denton-west, J.C.A.

Another scholar defined Leadership as both a research area, and a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual, group or organization to “lead”, influence or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations. Often viewed as a contested term.

In a laconic and concise form, leadership entails the ability to direct and influence group of people to achieve specific goals, the art of leadership arises from being able to lead oneself. In Nigeria, because of the value attach to leadership, as far back as 1989 there is CITIZENSHIP AND LEADERSHIP TRANING CENTRE ACT Responsible training people for leadership position , specifically Section 2 states the ACT states Act.
The objects of the Centre shall be to:
(a) provide training for the development of citizenship and leadership for
public benefit;
(b) enhance and expand individual awareness;
(c) inculcate in the individual, qualities of self-discipline, self-reliance and selfless service
(d) develop National consciousness and international understanding
Political leadership is considered as the concept central to the establishment and understanding of various political outcomes and processes. However, there is no general acceptable definition. Definition of leaderships, springs out from the perspective one looks at it . The leadership has borrowed ideas from many disciplines such as management, political theory, psychology, sociology and history. It is important for leaders to have dexterity to solve problems and be proactive when the need arises . They must create an environment that encourages political integration and accommodation through articulating and implementation of qualities polities .
Political leadership is influenced by various dependent variables including the views of a political leader or environment concerning various issues that affect the state of the environment being a major issue on which the government depends on, and the most government fails due to this environment factor. Such issues often have an impact on the social, economic, and political sectors or power of the said state. These are dependent variables because due to various uncertainties and the ever changing demands and expectations, political leaderships have often been forced to revise their policies in order to suit the demands of the environment. These values however, do not affect the independent variables but instead, they help to achieve them. It is to determine that how environment plays a vital role in affecting governance strategies
Political leadership, as well as followership, represents noteworthy contrasts crosswise over and within individual states in reacting to both new worldwide issues and conventional administration issues. The effects of globalization create increased demand for new types of worldwide and supranational administration. Globalization as bundled transnational stream of individuals, investment, informational ideas and authority raises the importance of leadership within global associations and agencies. Historically, leadership is a concrete solid phenomenon in terms of structures and techniques since they change with the progression of time. In order to influence events and results, leaders should be ready to desert strategy instruments and thoughts that fail to work in newer environments. Rather they should have the capacity to embrace new ideas and reconsider the old including some prior disposed of thoughts and strategies for adjusting to situations if the circumstances demand it. Different researchers endeavor to show in different ways that key strategic inventive adaptation is the most effective way compelling political initiatives in an assorted set (Gallagher, 2012) of social settings. Developments and innovations may take diverse structures though. Despite the fact that the majority of researchers have a commitment to democracy, human rights and ensuring a sustainable environment, significant others do not completely concede to what these ideals mean hypothetically and infer for all intents and purposes.
According to (Egeberg & Trondal, 2009) political leadership is outlined as a multidimensional phenomenon and a part of multi-causal social procedures that result in concrete political aspects such as election results. Matters of leadership and management, as well as political initiatives from the national to the global levels, are generally and effectively seen as a subtype of human social administration. However, many alludes it is an exceptional ‘thick’, and conceivably complete, subtype. (Hirano, S., & Snyder, 2012) . In order to comprehend, clarify and make predictions of political leadership, it is paramount to examine the convictions, qualities, characters, power relations, and acts of leadership and followership. This includes analyzing historical scenarios and social, institutional context. In fact, the leaders along with their followership are usually involved in circular procedures of inspiration and power exchanges that are characteristically hard to separate into a casual grouping.
Considering politics as leadership creates a complex scenario in concluding the notewortheness of its causal roles with leaders needed to mobilize significant followership to accept policy remedies for, aggregate issues or emergencies (Hirano & Snyder, 2012). In addition, leadership is a typical movement intervened by society, for its respective leaders now that ‘identity’ business visionaries are occupied with giving myths to make, reshape or upgrade national and political frameworks. All the while, leaders and their followership are influenced by whatever they make. Political leadership is a standout amongst the most broadly experienced and implicitly comprehended aspects just like climate change, focal human rights discussions about the trade-off between security and civil rights. Interestingly, the aspects of political leadership are hard to define in light of the fact that it is reliant on institutional, social and historical connections and circumstances both specific and general (Hirano, S., & Snyder, 2012). Observational operationalization of the context of leadership includes a large group of methodological issues, particularly those relating to the meaning of variables and the problems of spurious relationship. Nevertheless, the leadership phenomenon obviously includes leaders included in some kind of imaginative adaptation with group objectives. According to the Oxford dictionary, a leader is one bestowed with a duty to lead or command a group, an organization or nation. To is to cause one to go in the direction one instructs and towards a destination. From these definitions, it is evident that goal setting and motivational aspects commonly define leadership attributes .

There are veritable indices in election or selection of a leader, the emergency of leader in a group of person is mostly rooted in ability of person or past performance personality characteristics were found to be reliably associated with leadership emergence. The list includes, but is not limited to (following list organized in alphabetical order): assertiveness, authenticity, Big Five personality factors, birth order, character strengths, dominance, emotional intelligence, gender identity, intelligence, narcissism, self-efficacy for leadership, self-monitoring and social motivation. Leadership emergence is the idea that people born with specific characteristics become leaders, and those without these characteristics do not become leaders. People like Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and Nelson Mandela all share traits that an average person does not. This includes people who choose to participate in leadership roles, as opposed to those who do not. Research indicates that up to 30% of leader emergence has a genetic basis. There is no current research indicating that there is a “leadership gene”, instead we inherit certain traits that might influence our decision to seek leadership. Both anecdotal, and empirical evidence support a stable relationship between specific traits and leadership behavior. Using a large international sample researchers found that there are three factors that motivate leaders; affective identity (enjoyment of leading), non-calculative (leading earns reinforcement), and social-normative (sense of obligation).

The relationship between assertiveness and leadership emergence is curvilinear; individuals who are either low in assertiveness or very high in assertiveness are less likely to be identified as leaders.

Individuals who are more aware of their personality qualities, including their values and beliefs, and are less biased when processing self -relevant information, are more likely to be accepted as leaders.

Big Five personality factors
Those who emerge as leaders tend to be more (order in strength of relationship with leadership emergence): extroverted, conscientious, emotionally stable, and open to experience, although these tendencies are stronger in laboratory studies of leaderless groups. Agreeableness, the last factor of the Big Five personality traits, does not seem to play any meaningful role in leadership emergence.

Birth order
Those born first in their families and only children are hypothesized to be more driven to seek leadership and control in social settings. Middle-born children tend to accept follower roles in groups, and later-borns are thought to be rebellious and creative.

Character strengths
Those seeking leadership positions in a military organization had elevated scores on a number of indicators of strength of character, including honesty, hope, bravery, industry, and teamwork.

Individuals with dominant personalities – they describe themselves as high in the desire to control their environment and influence other people, and are likely to express their opinions in a forceful way – are more likely to act as leaders in small-group situations.

Emotional intelligence
Individuals with high emotional intelligence have increased ability to understand and relate to people. They have skills in communicating and decoding emotions and they deal with others wisely and effectively. Such people communicate their ideas in more robust ways, are better able to read the politics of a situation, are less likely to lose control of their emotions, are less likely to be inappropriately angry or critical, and in consequence are more likely to emerge as leaders.

Individuals with higher intelligence exhibit superior judgement, higher verbal skills (both written and oral), quicker learning and acquisition of knowledge, and are more likely to emerge as leaders. Correlation between IQ and leadership emergence was found to be between .25 and .30. However, groups generally prefer leaders that do not exceed intelligence prowess of average member by a wide margin, as they fear that high intelligence may be translated to differences in communication, trust, interests and values.

Self-efficacy for leadership
Confidence in one’s ability to lead is associated with increases in willingness to accept a leadership role and success in that role.

High self-monitors are more likely to emerge as the leader of a group than are low self-monitors, since they are more concerned with status-enhancement and are more likely to adapt their actions to fit the demands of the situation.

Social Motivation
Individuals who are both success-oriented and affiliation-oriented, as assessed by projective measures, are more active in group problem-solving settings and are more likely to be elected to positions of leadership in such groups.

Narcissism, hubris and other negative traits
A number of negative traits of leadership have also been studied. Individuals who take on leadership roles in turbulent situations, such as groups facing a threat or ones in which status is determined by intense competition among rivals within the group, tend to be narcissistic: arrogant, self-absorbed, hostile, and very self-confident.

Leadership Crises in Nigeria

  1. Desire to Wield Political Power: One obvious reason for political leadership crises in Nigeria is the quest for power exhibited by political leaders at both local and national levels. Political office holders in Nigeria, both past and present, are guilty of lust to control governance without good plans to effect changes in the economic and political life of the nation.
  2. Corruption: Different scholars have written widely on the causes of corruption in Nigeria. However, the particular one that fit into this work is the one by Oladele titled: Causes and Consequences of Corruption: The Nigerian Experience. According to him, a major cause of corruption in Nigeria local government system is institutional weakness. Corruption thrives in an atmosphere where both legal and political machineries could not stamp its authority. Nigeria legal system operates on a system that encouraged corruption. Judges of both high and lower courts have awarded rulings that are purely detrimental to the war against corruption. Some of these judges and their cohort lawyers catch-in into the legal loopholes in the system to grant court injunctions, restriction etc. On the other hand, policy makers and their agencies charged with the responsibilities of fighting corruption in Nigeria have failed to live up to expectations. Policy makers often make laws that breeds corruption in high and low.
    Recycling of leaders: A critical look of past and present leaders in Nigeria confirmed that some group of persons rotate leadership among themselves, at levels. Among these political classes, their main interest is to maintain the system of rotation against the general interest of Nigerians whom they claim to serve. The likes of Olusegun Obasanjo, Audu Ogbeh, Buhari and numerous others all over the country.
    Ethnic bickering and Hate Speeches: Elections and eventual emergence of a political leader is interpreted on the basis of ethnic affiliations and sentiments. Leaders are chosen based on where they come from and who they represent. Virtually all the political parties (both past and present) in Nigeria had their origins in tribal sentiment. This scenario continued to dictate the pace, political, social and economic development of Nigeria. More so, political leaders, through their actions, have shown no sign of bringing warring groups on a round table for discussion and resolution of presumed fear, hatred and suspicion. The current government of President Muhammadu Buhari, in his appointments, toed the old line of favouring one region and ethnic group against
  1. Enthronement of internal party democracy: Primary elections should be conducted under a free and fair atmosphere. Political aspirants should be given an opportunity to express themselves and contest for the candidature in their respective parties. The problems posed by political godfatherism and godson since the inception of democracy in 1999 is numerous to mention. The godfathers in most cases single handedly picked the godson to represent the party during the election under an oath to protect the interest of the master (godfather) against the interest of the masses.
  2. Poverty Alleviation: According to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report in 2016, a total of 112 million Nigerians are living below poverty line which represent 67.1 per cent of the country population of 167 million citizens. This report is indeed worrisome and a call for a concerted effort by concerned bodies to eradicate poverty wherever it exists in the country. Poverty is a disease of mind and conscience. A poor man can do anything to survive in an economy devoured by political monsters.
    Political leaders often use poverty and hunger to intimidate people in a bid to win and remain in power as long as they desired. Therefore, effort should be channeled towards poverty alleviation. Ekpo (2000) observed that “poverty alleviation in Nigeria had the effect of sustaining democracy, for as long as the poor remain poor unabated, there will be a tendency for them to lose confidence in government and her policies”. In as much as poverty rate in Nigeria still remain high people are bound to be manipulated by Politicians with good “stomach infrastructures” programme.
  3. Mass literacy and education: Education plays a vital role in politics and national development. Mass education and enlightenment can go a long way to solving the problems emanated from illiteracy and ignorance.
  4. National unity and Coexistence of every ethnic group in Nigeria: No good leader can make progress in an atmosphere where hatred and disunity exist among the federating units. All the ethnic groups such as Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Erik, Urhobo etc should work towards those things that unite us than those things that divide us.
  5. Money politics and excessive desire to acquire wealth through politicking should be discouraged with stringent legislation. There is need to build and strengthen institutions of the state charged with the responsibility of fighting corrupt practices that have tainted the image and economy of Nigeria.


Political leadership in Nigeria had been described as a dynasty where old failed leaders rotate ruler ship among themselves. Over the years, Nigerians have had visionless and unprepared political leaders, whose conduct and style have destroyed both the image and economy of the country. However, we examined the principles of democracy, good governance, problems and prospects of political crises in Nigeria. Political leadership in Nigeria have failed to provide the much needed direction for economic progress and development. Leadership crises in the first republic led to the first military coup d’état in 1966 and subsequent civil war that took over thirty thousand (30,000) lives. Then, the second republic ended in another military takeover. Even the current political leadership is bedeviled with crises of values, suspicion, and ethnic hatred and hate speeches in high and low places. In our quest to transform Nigeria into a state of Eldorado , the starting point for us to attain the goal is quality leadership


Ehidiamen Destiny Odianosen is an Associate at Mike Ozekhome Law Firm in Abuja. He is a legal writer, public affairs analyst and an active legal practitioner. He has unflinching penchant for examining legal principles and expressing same through legal writing. He has special interest in Property Law. He has published many informative articles on legal issues and public affairs matters.

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