I once read the story of a European who accompanied his Nigerian friend to a worship centre. At the end of the service, the European, who took notice of all that happened during the service, asked his friend why Nigerians pray to God about everything; from electricity supply to provision of potable water. His Nigerian friend responded: “What can we do? You just have to trust God for these things.” Apparently shocked by the response, the European said, “If you must trust God for something as basic as electricity, then you don’t need leaders.”
In my article on Personalised Leadership, I defined leadership as the art of getting things done. Since getting things done is synonymous with making progress, leadership is critical wherever and whenever progress is desired.
As in business, the difference between a nation that is making progress and a nation that is not making progress is leadership. Nigeria is where it is today as a result of the cumulative effects of what the leaders have and have not done over the years.
The need for leadership is paramount from the point of deciding what to do. Getting three people to agree on a choice between two alternatives is a difficult task let alone millions of people choosing amongst several alternatives. To avoid the deadlock that can result from choosing amongst multiple alternatives, people appoint leaders who are entrusted with the power to act on their behalf.
This is where Nigerians cannot seem to get it right. The received system of choosing leaders – democracy – is not working because those who hijacked power years ago have refused to let go. They use different ploys to perpetuate themselves in power. Their most potent weapon is poverty. With about 60% of Nigerian youthful population living below the poverty line, our leaders have an army of poor and unemployed people at their beck and call.
Notwithstanding the resolve of Nigeria’s past and present leaders to maintain their stranglehold on the nation, what has made their desire a fait accompli is the fatalistic orientation of the masses. When it comes to doing something to change unpleasant circumstances, a typical Nigerian assumes s/he is powerless. We resort to praying to God for things we should deal with.
Nothing depicts the Nigerian masses commitment to fatalism better than the statement – “It is well.” After deliberating on a knotty issue for a while, we end the discussion with “It is well.” This statement has many deleterious effects. Primarily, it guarantees that we don’t solve our problems. People solve problems when they see problems for what they are and give their attention to solving them. However, when the orientation is that ‘it is well,’ we don’t allow our minds to come up with solutions.
Some years back, Nigerians were rated as the happiest people in the world. This wasn’t because we were dealing with our problems (which were plenteous even then) but we simply glossed over them with “It is well.” With the carnage going on in the country, it is now obvious to everyone that our happiness was unfounded.
God cannot be mocked
The little experience I have about God is that He will not do what man can and should do. Eli, the priest of God, knew that much. He shirked his responsibility to train his children and he paid dearly for it (see I Samuel 2: 12- 36).
It is our responsibility to participate in the electoral process and appoint quality public leaders into positions. That we shirk this responsibility through ignorance, indifference, and insensitivity is the reason we end up with charlatans in power.
After creation, God looked at all He had made and concluded that they were very good. If we have been fearfully and wonderfully as the Psalmist echoed in Psalm 139:14, why are we making God look like He made fake products by going to Him for challenges He’s equipped us to handle?