The role of political leaders on development in Nigeria

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CHAPTER ONE/INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Leadership is at the heart of public sector governance, and it is vital to the overall development of a nation as well as the welfare of the citizens. According to Lawal and Tobi (2006), the quality of leadership affects the pace of development in any country.

Baets (2011) opined that there is a dearth of leadership skills required for effective public governance in Africa, and Ojo (2012) highlighted the leadership crisis and political instability in Nigeria. Ngowi (2009) studied the effect of political leadership on economic development in Tanzania and concluded that leadership is the defining factor that shaped the nature and path of economic development in that country. Poor leadership, and the endemic bureaucratic corruption that has characterized public sector governance since independence in 1960, have been blamed for the slow pace of development in key sectors of the Nigerian economy, especially in the infrastructure sector (Lawal & Tobi, 2006; Ogbeide, 2012). A change in the right direction in the governance of infrastructure development in Nigeria might create a favorable climate for economic growth and social stability. Achebe (1988) stated that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the Nigerian character except the persistent leadership failures. Burns (1978) pointed out that leadership is a moral necessity, and its expression and achievements are best measured by such virtues as liberty, equality, justice, opportunity, and the pursuit of happiness. In my opinion, these are good reasons for developing infrastructure in Nigeria.

Government exists to serve the needs of the public, and good governance exists to ensure that those needs are served efficiently, effectively, and fairly (Deloitte Global Series, 2012). This means that governance has a lot to do with how authority is exercised in institutions and the traditions of government, which includes the process of bringing government into being and holding it accountable (Davis, 2011). The United Nations (2007) defined governance as the way society sets and manages the rules that guide policymaking and policy implementation. Toikka (2011) stated that public governance is concerned with the conduct of governments at all levels to bring about the best possible benefits to their citizens. Therefore, governance can be good or bad depending on the manner and mode of governing (Rotberg, 2005). Lawal and Tobi (2006) pointed out that good governance should focus on the welfare of the people, and should be geared toward the provision of good infrastructure that will promote the happiness of the citizenry.

Oyedele (2012) posited that the success or failure of a leader or government is measured by the level and nature of infrastructure development embarked upon by the leader or government and how well it meets the aspirations of the people in democratic governance. Good and effective public governance helps to strengthen democracy, promote economic prosperity and social cohesion, and reduce poverty (United Nations, 2007).

Good governance must be perceived to solve social problems. Rotberg (2005) observed that governance is good when it allocates and manages resources to respond to collective socioeconomic and political problems. Cheema (2005) argued that good governance should promote gender equality, sustain the environment, enable citizens to exercise personal freedom, and provide tools to reduce poverty, deprivation, fear, and violence. Arguably, two key elements should be added to the list of things good governance should address that are vital to the Nigerian circumstances and the goals of this study – infrastructure development and reduction of corruption .While Akinwale (2010) argued that the development of a society depends on the availability of infrastructure, Zuofa and Ochieng (2014) found out that corruption was among the key issues responsible for infrastructure project failures in Nigeria. This finding justifies the inclusion of bureaucratic corruption as one issue to explore in this study.

Researchers have mentioned different aspects of governance. Nzongola-Ntalaja (2002) identified three main types of governance. They are political or public governance, economic governance, and social governance. The three types of governance are inseparable and interrelated, particularly in the Nigerian context. It is difficult (a) to distinguish between the impact leadership has on each of the type of governance, and (b) to isolate its effects. In fact, leadership should affect all the aspects of governance simultaneously, and the results should be seen in all spheres of development (Kemp, Parto, & Gibson, 2005). This study was focused on role of political leaders on development in Nigeria it focuses on leadership and governance of infrastructure development in Nigeria by political office holders.

Statement of the Problem 

A political leadership problem exists in Nigeria (Achebe, 1988; Mustafa, 2004). Madueke (2008) found that Nigeria is in dire need of transformation, and suggested that additional research should be conducted into the role of political leadership in national development from the Nigerian experience. Nowhere in Nigeria’s public sector is the need for transformation more compelling than the infrastructure sector (Akinwale, 2010; Mbanefo, 2000; Olaseni & Alade, 2012). The hopes of millions of Nigerians have been dashed due to repeated failure by successive political leaderships to provide good governance in Nigeria’s public sector, which is needed to build sustainable infrastructure for the creative engagement of the citizens and generate national development (Ogwu, 2001). Good infrastructures serve as catalyst for economic growth and also provide the platform for the sociopolitical transformation of the nation (Akinwale, 2010; Olaseni & Alade, 2012).

For over 50 years since Nigeria gained her political independence, the nation has experienced a continuous leadership problem which has culminated in poor infrastructure, resulting in the loss of trust in the leadership of the country by the citizenry (Transparency International, 2006; Zuofa & Ochieng, 2014). Nigeria has made several attempts in the past at restructuring the economy and reforming public sector governance through the introduction of public service reforms (Okonjo-Iweala, 2012). The government of Nigeria continues to implement various reforms, including privatization and concession of key services and infrastructure to private sector operatives (Okonjo- Iweala & Osafo-Kwaato, 2007). Mustafa (2004) argued that these reforms have not yet yielded the expected outcomes partly because of problems emanating from poor leadership, which has led to the low quality of life of the citizenry. The leadership problem is more evident in the area of infrastructure development, which directly affects the general socioeconomic well- being of all Nigerians (Oyedele, 2012).

The importance of infrastructure development in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. It is at the core of good governance and public welfare. Good infrastructure development in Nigeria is critical to the overall development of the Nigerian economy, which in turn impacts the standard of living of all Nigerians. In this study, I examined the role of political leaders on development in Nigeria

Research Questions 

The main research question of this study focused on the following:

  1. How has political leadership affected policy formulation and implementation in the infrastructure sector in Bauchi state, Nigeria?
  2. How has performance of political leaders affected public trust in the governance and development of Bauchi state, Nigeria?
  3. How has bureaucratic corruption by political leaders affected performance in the infrastructure development in Bauchi state, Nigeria?
  4. How have the various reforms of the different political era affected the development of infrastructure in Bauchi state, Nigeria?
  5. What form of leadership might better serve the infrastructure needs of the people of Nigeria in the future?

Objectives of the Study 

  1. To examine how political leadership affected policy formulation and implementation in the infrastructure sector in Bauchi state, Nigeria
  2. To understand the performance of political leaders affected public trust in the governance and development of Bauchi state, Nigeria
  3. To investigate how bureaucratic corruption by political leaders affected performance in the infrastructure development in Bauchi state, Nigeria
  4. To evaluate how the various reforms of the different political era affected the development of infrastructure in Bauchi state, Nigeria
  5. To understand how leadership might better serve the infrastructure needs of the people of Nigeria in the future

Scope and Delimitations 

By choice, this study was narrowed down to the study of Bauchi state Nigeria as a geographic entity, in relation to the impact of political leadership on the governance of infrastructure development. This was a major delimitation and definition of scope of the study. By electing to conduct a qualitative case study, which is the best approach for a study of this nature, the scope of the study has been narrowed.

Significance of the Study 

Few studies have been conducted on the impact of political leadership on development in Nigeria. Madueke (2008) examined the role of leadership in governance in Nigeria in a broader context. This was the first time that a study of the role of political leaders on development in Bauchi state, Nigeria was conducted. Furthermore, there is a dearth of literature about how leadership affects infrastructure development, not only in Nigeria, but in Africa as a continent. This study, therefore, has the potential to make a contribution to the literature on leadership and infrastructure development by filling this gap.

I explored the impact of political leadership on infrastructure development in Nigeria based on an interest in understanding the genesis of the poor public sector governance in Nigeria, particularly in the area of infrastructure development. This is intended to contribute to the reinvention of Nigerian public institutions by highlighting the failures of the past 50 years, and charting a new path that will help to improve the governance of infrastructure development and provide the needed support to economic growth in Nigeria.

 

There was a social change component to this study. The findings of this study provide a framework on ways to improve leadership and a general improvement of the Nigerian infrastructure sector in a way that promotes the standard of living of the people through the enhancement of the capacity of citizens to pursue productive ventures that will lead to consequential increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria. In the final analysis, this study would provide some useful findings on how Nigeria could evolve positively into transformational leadership that could replace the poor governance of the past half a century and manifest in good infrastructures which will bring about positive social change in Nigeria.

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