Where are the transformational leaders of Nigeria?


(First draft, to be edited with references added to it.)

Ozodi Osuji

      In the 1960s black Africa gained independence from its European colonial rulers (Britain, France, and Portugal). Since the emergent leaders of Africa were born and socialized under European colonialism, they had no experience in ruling modern political organizations and necessarily made mistakes. This was expected; Africans needed time to find a pattern of running their countries that is congruent with their needs, not what Europeans told them are their needs.

     In his book, Africans, Ali Mazrui, a political scientist who taught at the University of Michigan and University of Jos, said that Africa has witnessed the influence Europeans (Christians), Arabs (Muslims), plus, of course, their underlying African cultures. He said that the interplay of these three forces contributed to the breakdown in governance in Africa. What system are they going to govern under, British, French, Portuguese, Arab or their traditional African modes? He concluded that it was practically impossible for Africans to govern from each of the three traditions and that what needed to happen is the political decay we saw in Africa and that from that death, a new synthesis on governing methodology would arise, one that borrows from all three structures to give Africans a new manner of governing themselves, a pattern that is their own; he hoped that this expected synthesis would finally dispose Africans  to dig themselves out from the political comatose they seemed to be in.

     May be Professor Mazrui was overly optimistic but most of us agreed with him that Africans needed time to assimilate the three strains of influence on how to organize society now in their heads. To my way of thinking, however, sixty years seem sufficient time to have made that new synthesis.

     The British formally began ruling Nigeria in 1900 (they took the area over from the Royal Niger Company). They ruled for sixty years (1900-1960), during which they superimposed the Westminster form of Parliamentary Democracy on Nigerians. Nigerians did not practice that form of democracy before the advent of the British, so they had to make tons mistakes in trying to do so.

      Nigerians subsequently chose to practice the most expensive and corruption making form of governing, the American Presidential system, a system designed to enable white folks to control the African Americans in their mist. Nigerians are still working with that form of non-democracy calling itself democracy.

     Add Nigerians underlying ways of governing themselves (Islamic in the North, a mix of Christian and indigenous systems in the South), folks like me expected the system of governing in Nigeria to collapse and for a new one to have evolved in sixty years. But what has evolved in Nigeria is unmitigated, total disaster, not government; Nigeria is now a system of undisguised corruption.

     The correct name for today’s Nigeria is corruption capital of the world; this is because nothing is done in the country without bribing someone, even picking up a supposed free application form from a government office requires one to bribe someone; the police are everywhere on the streets collecting money from motorists; government officials charge ten or more percent of a business’s capital outlay before they allow it to start operating and the shakedown continues when the business is in operation.

     This astonishing level of corruption is clearly unsustainable. But for its oil revenue, Nigeria would be classified as a failed state. However, we cannot give up on the country. We still hope that somehow, may be a miracle will happen and Nigerians produce leaders who can save the country from the precipice; she has had enough tutorial time to know what to do and ought to be now doing it.

      Every human being has a learning curve, and time to learn about his environment and know what he needs to do to realistically adapt to its exigencies. In this light, the first sixty years of post-independence African self-rule can be understood as a period of making mistakes and learning from those mistakes and thereafter finding a pattern of governing themselves that is suited to the conditions of Africa (not to Europe or the Arab world or to the Asian world or to North America).

      By the 1980s some Africans began observing what is wrong with the governing of African countries. Once elected to political offices, for example, African leaders seldom relinquished power when their nominal five years term is up; instead, they scrap the constitution and ruled for life. Political offices became family offices and jobs are given based on nepotism, to family members and friends and to those who can proffer sufficient bribes.

     Chinua Achebe, an eminent Nigerian writer of novels, ventured into political writing and wrote a pamphlet called The Trouble with Nigeria. In that book he identified leadership as the key problem with Nigeria. He saw the lack of development in Nigeria and the amazing level of corruption in the country as due to bad leadership.

      Achebe’s book identified the problem but did not show how to solve it. If corrupt leadership is the issue, how do you produce clean leaders who would solve the problem, and what type of political institutions do Nigeria and other African countries need? Achebe was a writer, not a political scientist or business leader or an attorney, those who traditionally paid attention to public and business leadership matters.

      I was at graduate school during this era and upon reading Achebe’s book and noticing its shortcomings in proffering solutions to the problem he identified, I wrote my first book, called Leadership Arts for Africans. It was a manual on leadership, how to set goals, seek capital (money) and gather people who would enable one to accomplish those goals; the book delineated what leaders do in the day-to-day business of managing and governing large-scale organizations.

      Other Africans authored books on leadership. Of course, few people bothered to read our books and even if they did Africans had not made sufficient mistakes, collapsed, and from their fall learned what to do if they are to put their countries on the correct path; instead, Africans muddled on and kept making tons of leadership mistakes and the result is the political decay that is todays Africa.

     (Only Rwanda, in black Africa, can be said to be well governed; its leader, Paul Kagame can be called an outstanding political leader. The rest of African countries can be correctly called Misgoverned Areas of the World, MAW.)

     The leading lights in the study of African leadership say that what Africa now needs is transformational and revolutionary leaders. Africa now needs leaders who are doers, not mere Ivory Tower scholars talking about leadership; Africa needs action-oriented persons who have goals and gather men and material and use them to accomplish those goals and objectives. These leaders must be totally dedicated to the accomplishment of their transformational goals.

       They must begin by organizing their political parties as if they are military formations and train their members in rigorous military leadership skills, military tactics and strategies and thereafter engage in protracted campaign to overturn the kleptocrats that currently make royal messes of Africa.

     This new breed of African leaders must be completely committed to their goals; dying from fighting for their goals is considered an honor. Africa needs martyrs who have fought and died for the goal of a well-run Africa.

     These new breeds of political leaders cannot be the business-as-usual African rulers that have no goals other than taking bribes. The new leaders must have clear cut political and economic ideologies that they believe is worth fighting and dying for.


     A political ideology is a belief on how the human polity ought to be governed, held fervently in the minds of the ideologues. A Political ideology is not based on science in the sense that its beliefs can be evaluated and verified or falsified but they are beliefs that actuate human political behavior.

     There are many political and economic ideologies in our extant world, including Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Conservatism, Liberalism, Fascism, Corporatism and mercantilism.

     Capitalism is predicated on Adam Smith’s 1776 seminal book, The Wealth of Nations; in it he advocated free enterprise economy, as opposed to then prevailing Mercantilist economy where the state-controlled trade. In Free enterprise economy, individuals are allowed to pursue their economic self-interests. People have certain needs and enterprising folks supply those needs to them; thus, the forces of demand and supply are allowed to determine what is produced and sold in the capitalist political economy and this is said to be the most efficient means of distributing goods and services; the blind force of the market somehow makes sure that resources are efficiently allocated in the capitalist political economy.

     Communism began after industrialization, when folks noticed that factory owners, owners of capital, capitalists worked their workers like they were slaves; workers worked twelve hours a day, six days a week and seldom made more than survival wages; even children were worked like slaves. Men of good will like Charles Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Robert Owen cried out against the exploitation of labor. Karl Marx and his friend, Friedrich Engels wrote the Communis Manifesto in 1848 and later Der Capital. They advocated collective ownership of the means of production to avoid a few rich people exploiting the many poor people. Russia became the first communist country in 1918; upon the death of V.I Lenin, Joseph Stalin transformed Russia into a totalitarian, authoritarian, monolithic dictatorship; in Russia freedom and liberty went out of the window. Thus, communism had serious problems.

    Some wanted a communist state where the leaders are elected, and not just forced on the people. Socialism is a system of governance where communist thinking folks are elected hence must answer to the public at regular elections and, hopefully, would not be as brutal as Russian communist leaders in oppressing the people; Stalin simple killed whoever he did not like; the man killed more people than the fascistic Adolf Hitler.

     Fascism is extreme nationalism. Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump are examples of fascists.

     Corporatism is a system where the leaders adopt a market economy but guide it so that it does what served the interests of the state; here, private enterprises work with the state for the good of the people. Japan, China, and most of Asia is corporatist; the private sector and the public sector work in cahoots to enrich the country.

    Conservatism is usually the dominant ideology in any society; here, people are proud of their history and institutions and resist changing them; they want to improve their society but not discard it, conservatives generally do not like foreigners crashing into their world; they are patriotic and tend to see people as capable of evil; they fear anarchy and chaos hence want a powerful state, a strong judicial system, judges, prison, police; they tend to be law and order oriented; disobey the law and you are quickly arrested by the police, tried and  jailed. Conservatives are at home with Thomas Hobbes (1651) political theory, explicated in his book, Leviathan,  that says that in the state of nature people are selfish and warred with each other and the results was that life was nasty, brutish and short; to give themselves some security they established a powerful government that protected them and punished antisocial persons; and with John Locke (1687), written in his Second Treaty on Government that modified Hobbes’ excessive dictatorial government and made it a limited government, like what we now have in Britain, the  USA and the other Anglo-Saxon countries (Cañada, Australia, New Zealand etc.).

    Liberalism is conservatism with a soft heart; liberals want the public to pay taxes and they use some tax revenue to provide services for the poor, such as fund public education, and health care for all, but they are conservatives; the difference between American Republican Party members and Democratic Party members is paper thin; both accept capitalism and are nationalist, if not fascists. However, let it be noted that philosophically, liberalism means the acceptance of freedom and individualism, the desire to limit the role of Government in people’s lives. It is in accord with Locke’s limited government and Thomas Jefferson’s emphasis on small government that does not enslave people and tell them what to do as is done in Russia and other autocratic countries; John Stuart Mill summarized liberalism in his book, On liberty.

    Mercantilism existed before capitalism; however, one might say that it segued into corporatism; we do not have pure mercantilism anywhere in the contemporary world; what we have are governments raising or lowering import duties as means of protecting their local industries.

     I can elaborate some more on political ideologies but the purpose of this paper is simply to make the point that people’s political behaviors tend to be rooted in their political ideologies; political parties also tend to be predicated on political ideologies; in the real world, individuals tend to be a mix of the various political ideologies with only a few people being ardent communists or fascists, or pure capitalists or socialists; people tend to be centrists and moderates and congregate in the middle of the political spectrum and continuum.

      The Western world has existed long enough under capitalism (since 1776) and socialism (since 1918) to appreciate what is good in each and what is bad in it.

     Capitalism appeals to people’s self-interests; people tend to work hardest when they pursue what serves their personal interests; therefore, aspects of capitalism is good for the political economy; the wealth of the West is predicated on capitalism (and exploitation of non-white people).

    Socialism tends to stress collective good but, as we all know, people are not angels, they are human beings and work hardest in pursuit of their self-interests, so, blanket communism/socialism tends to kill the incentive to work hard and is unproductive; therefore, what needs to be done is to select aspects of socialism deemed a must for social wellbeing, such as the public paying for education through universities and vocational colleges for all young people, and the public paying for health care for all people; these two and a few other select areas are amenable to socialism provided that private enterprise is also allowed in areas where socialism prevails. For example, private schools and hospitals must be allowed, if for nothing else but to provide competition to the public sector; public workers tend to be lazy; it is true that it takes ten bureaucrats to change a light bulb!

     There are many forms of government, including Monarchy, Aristocracy, Oligarchy, Plutocracy and Democracy. Each of those have advantages and disadvantages; thus, finding a way to borrow what is good in each and combing them to govern society is ideal.

    In monarchy one person rules the human polity; in aristocracy  competition is supposed to throw up the best in society and they rule the rest of the people; in oligarchy the few rich rule the many people, as in contemporary Russia, in Plutocracy a few rule as in the USA; in democracy the people rule themselves as in ancient Athens; in large societies people elect their representatives to rule them (representative democracy, ala John Stuart Mill).

      In our time, many people prefer democracy even though it has many disadvantages, it tends to lead to mediocre and the mob ruling the human polity; look at the USA where brain dead persons like Donald Trump are elected by an equally dumb people and given power; the average member of the US Congress is hardly educated.

       If Democracy is the chosen political system, then folks hold elections every five years to elect new political leaders, but democracy does not have to take the form of oligarchy called democracy in the West.

     The Chinese model of democracy whereby people at the grassroots, every five years, elect their representatives, who then meet at the center and elect a national committee to rule the country for five years, and that committee selects its president and cabinet and allows them to rule and report to the committee annually, seems to have better leadership outcomes than the plutocracy that calls itself democracy in the USA (in the USA the leaders practically spend millions of dollars to become elected to even the city council; the USA is a place where the rich buy political offices and rule the poor).


      Political parties are organizations that campaign to form governments; each political party tends to appeal to persons with certain political beliefs, ideology. In the USA there are the Republican and Democratic political parties; in Britain are the Conservative and Labor political parties; in Germany are the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats; in France are Conservatives and Socialist and even Communist political parties. African political parties are expected to become revolutionary parties with revolutionary leaders.

      The leaders of the anticipated political movements are to be selected from age 35 onwards. In his book, Republic, Plato recognized that young people need a period of rigorous training before they become leaders (he called them philosopher kings). In our world, formal education starts at age six; there is six years of elementary education, six years of secondary education and six years of university education (four years in undergraduate school and two years in graduate school to obtain a master’s degree… leaders must have masters level education in law, business administration and political science). That means that formal education tends to end around age twenty-five; thereafter, a person who is interested in leadership joins political movements where his leadership training continues.

     Would be political leaders must undergo another ten years of rigorous apprenticeship in leadership in formal leadership organizations before they can be elected as leaders of society, hence from age thirty-five and up.

     The political movements would compete for the opportunity to rule society. Some will emerge victorious; they would then rule for specified periods of time (five years).


     In the bourgeois states of the West, an argument can be made that interest groups are really those who make most public policies. Nominally, however, interest groups are organized around professions and activities; members pay annual membership fees and the groups hire powerful lobbyists who then lobby legislatures, executives and even judges (the US Supreme Court is virtually in the pocket of Religious Conservative Interests Groups); interest groups exist to influence decision makers in government so that their decisions reflect what is good for their groups.

      For example, the American Medical Association kills any effort to socialize medicine, the National Rifle Association lobbies against any efforts to control guns, even if it means that every day in America gun men kill people.

       In the context of Nigeria and Africa, interest groups are not well organized, although it is apparent that Fulani folks are organized to rule the country in perpetuity and fight any change they see as not serving Fulani interests in dominating the country (no doubt they will vigorously fight the Federalism advocated by this paper).


      As I pointed out in a book on ideal political constitution for Nigeria and Africa, Africa is constituted of ethnic groups and that, therefore, we should make each ethnic group a state (if it is too small then make it an autonomous county within a state). Africa has about five hundred large tribes so divide Africa into five hundred states, and let each state govern itself (along US states); let each state have control over its economy.

     However, all natural resources are divided, fifty percent goes to the federal government and fifty percent goes to the state of origin; states tax their people and use the tax money to pay for their government and functions and do not rely on the central government to fund them; this is called true federalism.

      Set up this system and establish the rule of law where any person who takes brides or is corrupt is quickly arrested, tried and shot to death, as they do in China; fear of death is the only way to check the absurd level of corruption in Nigeria’s and many other African countries.

     If you want to be rich there is nothing wrong with that desire, then go to the private sector and make your money there, but if you want to work in the public sector your motivation must be public service, doing what serves the welfare of the public.

      If Nigeria and other African countries do not embark on the path of governing themselves well, we might as well let them die. Yes, let Nigeria collapse and go out of existence rather than keep her artificially alive; Nigerians live in abject poverty, the average Nigerian earns about two US dollar a day, while a few persons steal most of the country’s oil derived wealth.


     In Nigeria, people produce children as if they are rats. No couple should have more than two children; if a couple has three children, the man must undergo vasectomy and the woman must have her tube tied; you cannot go on producing children without the ability to provide for them and making Africa the poverty capital of the world. The smaller the number of children a couple has the likelihood that they would attain what Americans call middle class living.


      I have authored books and tons of articles on leadership, but for the sake of perspective here is how Wikipedia defines leadership, transformational leadership and revolutionary leadership.

Leadership, both as a research area and as a practical skill, encompasses the ability of an individual, group or organization to “lead”, influence or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations. The word “leadership” often gets viewed as a contested term.[1][2] Specialist literature debates various viewpoints on the concept, sometimes contrasting Eastern and Western approaches to leadership, and also (within the West) North American versus European approaches.

U.S. academic environments define leadership as “a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common and ethical task“.[3][4] Basically, leadership can be defined[by whom?] as an influential power-relationship in which the power of one party (the “leader”) promotes movement/change in others (the “followers”).[5] Some have challenged the more traditional managerial views of leadership (which portray leadership as something possessed or owned by one individual due to their role or authority), and instead advocate the complex nature of leadership which is found at all levels of institutions, both within formal[6] and informal roles.[7][need quotation to verify]

Studies of leadership have produced theories involving (for example) traits,[8] situational interaction, function, behavior,[9] powervision[10] and values,[11][need quotation to verify] charisma, and intelligence, among others.

       Transformational leadership is a theory of leadership where a leader works with teams or followers beyond their immediate self-interests to identify needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through influence, inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with committed members of a group; This change in self-interests elevates the follower’s levels of maturity and ideals, as well as their concerns for the achievement. [1][2][3] it is an integral part of the Full Range Leadership Model. Transformational leadership is when leader behaviors influence followers and inspire them to perform beyond their perceived capabilities. Transformational leadership inspires people to achieve unexpected or remarkable results. It gives workers autonomy over specific jobs, as well as the authority to make decisions once they have been trained. This induces a positive change in the followers’ attitudes and the organization as a whole. Transformational leaders typically perform four distinct behaviors, also known as the four I’s. These behaviors are inspirational motivation, idealized influence, intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration.

Transformational leadership serves to enhance the motivation, morale, and job performance of followers through a variety of mechanisms; these include connecting the follower’s sense of identity and self to a project and to the collective identity of the organization; being a role model for followers in order to inspire them and to raise their interest in the project; challenging followers to take greater ownership for their work, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers, which allows the leader to align followers with tasks that enhance their performance. It is also important to understand the qualities a transformational leadership can bring to a work organization. Transformational leadership enhances commitment, involvement, loyalty, and performance of followers. Followers exert extra effort to show support to the leader, emulate the leader to emotionally identify with him/her, maintain obedience without losing any sense of self-esteem.[4] Transformational leaders are strong in the abilities to adapt to different situations, share a collective consciousness, self-manage, and be inspirational while leading a group of employees.

Inspirational motivation is when the leader inspires their followers to achieve. This leader sets high and reasonable goals for their followers and their organization. They inspire commitment and they create a shared vision for their organization. Leaders that utilize inspirational motivation motivate followers extrinsically and intrinsically, and they are able to articulate their expectations clearly. Inspirational motivation is closely tied to productivity. Productivity leads directly to having a source of worth, and could be considered both inspirational and visionary, leading to a positive emotional impact on that leader’s followers.[5]

Idealized influence is when the leader acts as a strong role model for their organization and leads by example. These types of leaders consider the needs of their followers and prioritize their needs. They typically have loads of commitment and are very ethical. Followers of these leaders typically try to emulate their leader as they tend to identify with them easily. When subordinates try to emulate their leader, emotional attachments tend to form. Although controversial, Adolf Hitler would be an example of a leader that had profound emotional impact on his subordinates.[6]

Intellectual stimulation is when the leader encourages their followers to think for themselves. These leaders are creative, innovative, and are very open to new ideas. They tend to be tolerant of their followers’ mistakes, and even encourage them as they believe they promote growth and improvement within the organization. These leaders create learning opportunities for their followers and abandon obsolete practices.

Individualized consideration is when the leader establishes a strong relationship with their followers. These leaders act as a caring supportive resource for their followers and their organization. They mentor their followers and allocate their time to developing their followers’ potential. One of the ways in which leaders can develop their followers is by delegating specific tasks that will foster an individual’s development.[7]

REVOLUTIONARY LEADERSHIP. The term (revolutionary)—both as a noun and adjective—is usually applied to the field of politics, but is also occasionally used in the context of scienceinvention or art. In politics, a revolutionary is someone who supports abrupt, rapid, and drastic change, usually replacing the status quo, while a reformist is someone who supports more gradual and incremental change, often working within the system. In that sense, revolutionaries may be considered radical, while reformists are moderate by comparison. Moments which seem revolutionary on the surface may end up reinforcing established institutions. Likewise, evidently small changes may lead to revolutionary consequences in the long term. Thus, the clarity of the distinction between revolution and reform is more conceptual than empirical.

conservative is someone who generally opposes such changes. A reactionary is someone who wants things to go back to the way they were before the change has happened (and when this return to the past would represent a major change in and of itself, reactionaries can simultaneously be revolutionaries). A revolution is also not the same as a coup d’etat: while a coup usually involves a small group of conspirators violently seizing control of government, a revolution implies mass participation and popular legitimacy. Again, the distinction is often clearer conceptually than empirically.


     I deliberately presented lengthy quotations from Wikipedia on leadership, transformational leadership, and revolutionary leadership. The explanations of leadership and its several types by wiki are self-explanatory and need no further elaboration.

      In the context of Nigeria and Africa, what leadership entails is finding a way to recruit and train those who posit goals for their society and work with people and material to accomplish those goals and have feedback mechanism that enables them to evaluate how well they are doing in performing their function of leading the people.

     As at today, there are no political leaders in Nigeria. I see those in leadership positions in Nigeria as criminals in government; I have no respect for them and would like to line them up against a wall and shoot all of them to death. I have had enough of their shenanigans.

     The question that I have in my mind is how to recruit and strengthen leadership behavior in Nigeria and Africa. I suggest that we do what fascist and communist states did, have an intelligence agency and embed its members in the government, at all political parties, legislatures, bureaucracies, local, state, and central government bureaucracies, and these report any public official that takes bribes and engage in corruption to the leaders of the agency and they pick such persons up and try them at special corruption courts and quickly find them innocent or guilty and if found guilty shoot them to death and seize all their properties for the state.

      Elsewhere, I elaborated on other ways to root out taking bribery and corruption in Nigeria. I cannot rehash what I wrote in hundreds of pages in a paper I wanted to limit to five pages (because Nigerians have a tough time even reading a page, talk more reading many pages).

     Nigeria is embarking on another one of its charades that it calls elections. There are two main political parties, PDP, and APC. Additionally, there are many minor political parties. The PDP or APC wins most elections and rules the country and there is no reason to believe that the outcome of the 2023 election is going to be different.

       The Labor Party, under Peter Obi, seems to have found a charismatic candidate. Mr. Obi seems to appeal to youth across the country. Let us hope that Mr. Obi is not corrupt and hid his corruption well; if he is clean and Nigerian youth come out and vote for him and he wins that would be welcome change.

      Nigeria clearly needs clean, resolute leaders. That been said, Nigeria needs structural changes before she can have good governance. The country needs to have no more than twelve states based on ethnic groups (Igbo state, Yoruba state, Edo state, Ijaw state, Benue state, Plateau state, Niger state, Hausa state, Efik state, Kanuri state and Fulani state.)

      The country must return to something like the British Parliamentary Democracy and let go the corruption making US Presidential system. There are simply many institutional changes that must be made for good leaders to emerge in Nigeria.

      In the meantime, let us hope that competent leaders, not the deadwood called Abubakar Atiku, and Bola Tinubu ascends the Presidency in 2023; if either man is elected, things will remain the same in Nigeria until the country finally dies and is buried.

     The real question is why do Nigerians elect corrupt old men to rule them? The answer is amazingly simple; people elect and get the government that they deserve; that is, people have the government that is like them. Nigerians are corrupt and have corrupt governments; to have clean governments Nigerians must, at the individual level, eschew bribe giving and taking and all forms of corruption.

Ozodi Osuji

July 10, 2022

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