Nigeria News – When Our Leaders Were Scholars

Nigeria News takes a look at the present crop of leaders compared to those of the past.

Almost all of them were lawyers. They had the intellectual capacity to lead. Besides, they grew their spiritual lives and would not compromise it with politics.

The late sage and the first Premier of the old Western Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was a lawyer, his deputy, Samuel Ladoke Akintola, a lawyer, Chief Fani-Kayode, a lawyer, Bode Thomas, lawyer.

And in the north, the likes of Tafawa Balewa, the late Prime Minister, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the first Premier of northern Nigeria were scholars. In the East was the Zik of Africa, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alvan Ikoku and Francis Akanu Ibiam and Michael Okpara. These were men of letters.

These great leaders tutored their disciples to take after them and these included Chief Richard Akinjide who later became the Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the first republic.

He also contested against another lawyer, the Cicero of Esa Oke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, late Chief Bola Ige for the governorship seat of the old Oyo State.

Chief Ige was murdered while serving as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the third republic.   

Then, the political landscape of Nigeria was dominated by lawyers. Between the two noble professions of Law and Medicine, parents preferred their children to study law. Their heroes were Awolowo, Bello and Azikiwe.

Politics in Nigeria was synonymous to law. Lawyers were politicians. They boasted with their academic qualifications and for anybody to contest their position, he must have better credentials.

Until the military struck in 1966, Nigerians enjoyed politics of wits played by these cerebral human beings. The rivalry among them was what the country needed to develop.

However, the story has changed. Many of today’s leaders are half-baked with questionable credentials. They lack the intellectual and spiritual capacities to lead. Men of easy virtues. Gang of looters whose interest is about how to embezzle money.

As the legend Afro singer, late Fela Anikulapo Kuti reasoned, “There is a problem and it is about those who are leading us. Soldiers.”

To him, soldiers are not supposed to rule but to be ruled by a democratically elected government of civilians. He noted that the United Kingdom and the United States who exported democracy to Africa would never allow the military to rule in their lands, yet these nations allowed the misrule of military leaders in Africa.

And since the military tasted power in Nigeria, the polity had changed, the quality of leadership had been compromised to the extent that the West African School Certificate of the present President Muhammadu Buhari is being questioned.

Twice, he had been asked by the Independent National Electoral Commission to produce his WASC, twice he had told the commission that the results were with the Nigerian Army.

Buhari’s academic life has raised many questions but his military background and qualification are enviable in the sense that he rose to become a general in the Nigerian Army. However, the president has performed below average in the area of mental power.


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