Nigerian Poor Governance and Leadership Term Paper



Nigeria made a significant step towards democracy in 1999 by proclaiming itself as a democratic country. The establishing of the Forth Republic inspired people to hope in the bright future — the future of equity, social welfare, justice, and peace. The country is known as “the giant of Africa” has a great potential in human and natural resources. However, the current situation does not coincide with expectations.

More than fifty years of independence have not brought Nigeria the desirable prosperity. In the paper under consideration, we will examine the concepts of the good governance and leadership, the problems concerning the implementation of these concepts in the Nigerian government; then we will investigate the history of Nigeria paying particular attention to the role of Olusegun Obasanjo in undermining and violating of the democratic rules and the way his activity has resulted in current problems in government, and, finally, we will focus on possible solutions for improving the governance in Nigeria.

The Concepts of Leadership and Governance

It is of great significance to be fully aware of the notion of “good governance”. There is a tendency to blame bad governance for everything evil in the world. Researchers are trying to find out the essential elements of proper authority. The most widespread definition of it presupposes the procedure of executing (or not executing) of particular choices and decisions. A skillful rule consists of the following features: transparency, accountability, effectiveness, efficiency, and participating. The ideal regulation minimizes the level of corruption and takes into consideration the opinion of the masses (What is Good Governance, n.d.).

There are other detailed definitions. All of them describe similar features in different words. For instance, some scholars define good governance as an overall totality of the reforms, accountability, development of technologies, and the ability of the government to lead, direct people, and deliver public services correctly (Nwekeaku, 2014). Good governance is an integral part of progress. Leadership is a constituent of good governance. A leader is someone who can induce others to executive authority. Nigeria lacks a successful leadership and masses of people cannot control themselves as far as society is an organized structure.

Specific features of the personality, ability to rule, and influence characterize leaders in general. According to Lawal, Imokhuede, and Johnson (2012), the best solution for Nigeria is to embed the transformational leadership. This system sets particular goals, envisions the ways of their accomplishing, and allows the population to participate. The transformational leader plays a significant and direct role in governmental processes. A leader takes all responsibility and is ready to face challenges.

The Overview of Nigeria

The Federal Republic of Nigeria is the full name of the country. The population of Nigeria comprises 177 million people. The country is the major producer of oil in Africa and is a significant seller in the global market. Though Nigeria has immense potential, more than half of its population lives in total poverty. In 1970, Nigeria experienced the oil boom that should have facilitated the improvement of the economic situation.

Bad governance and corruption became the main blocks that hindered progress. The primary problem of the industry concerns the production of oil. Niger Delta is the core element of the whole industry. It is a center for terrorists’ attacks and violence. The business includes illegal selling of oil. There are a few people who benefit from it. In 2015, the first transparent presidential election took place. It was the first example in Nigerian history when the opposition candidate won.

The history of Nigerian independence started in 1960 when the country achieved partial independence from Great Britain. Before that time, Nigeria was one of the British colonies. The government comprised conservative parties while opposition — liberal ones. Besides, a sharp conflict between the two ethnic groups took place. Such aggravations led to the Civil War in 1967. The next crucial stage in Nigerian history was the oil boom in the 1970s. The country became a member of OPEC.

That was the period when the nation expected to have a better future. Revenue was immense, and the military juntas executed the functions of government. The authorities did nothing to make the standard of living better and let infrastructure and businesses function efficiently. Thirty-three years of military regime ended in 1999 when Nigeria became an independent democratic country. Though the elections were not fair, the new government made an attempt to fight corruption and enhance development (Nigeria. History and Politics, n.d.).

Governance of Olusegun Obasanjo

Olusegun Obasanjo, who was the former head of the country, became the President of Nigeria in 1999. Though elections were not exactly impartial and transparent, he was the first leader who managed to alter the political system significantly. Obasanjo’s political activity is rather controversial. He is known as the president who has improved life in Nigeria and, at the same time, as one who has undermined the democratic principles. Obasanjo’s administration established and guaranteed the initial stage of Nigerian rule of law. Olusegun Obasanjo expressed devotion towards directing the state into the right channel.

According to Omotoso (2013), the following reforms and policies exemplify Obasanjo’s dedication and intention to boost progress: Constitutional Conference, Monetisation Policy, Economic and Financial Crime Commission, Banking Reforms, Policies Towards Poverty Reduction and Alleviation, Revitalisation of National Food and Drug Administration, National Economic Empowerment Development Strategies, Emphasis on Infrastructural Development, and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission. The overabundance of programs presented the fact that the government tried to perfect the state’s socio-economic situation.

The introduction of such policies would become a grand triumph if they were realized. Obasanjo’s administration did not accomplish any of them (Omotoso, 2013). The other outlook involves the description of the way Obasanjo has violated the fundamental concepts of good governance and democracy: constitutionalism and the rule of law. The growing democracy of Nigeria experienced mockery in 2003 and 2004 correspondingly. The first case happened in Anambra State in July 2003. President Obasanjo snatched Chris Ngige, the Governor of the Anambra State, and made him resign unsolicited. A year later, the President obliged Plateau with a state of emergency without applying to any other instances and without taking into account the constitutional laws.

Chris Ngige was the elected Governor of Anambra State when unknown attackers abducted him on July 10 in 2003. Two days later Ngige introduced the resignation letter to the public. Chris Uba organized the whole process and promoted it. Uba was Ngige’s political Godfather. Such action was the direct infringement of the Constitution thought it took place without any hitch. According to the investigations, Uba successfully “supported” all of the members of the Anambra State House of Assembly and the Governor.

The whole situation was legally relevant. Later, some of the reporters discovered that a group of discontented politicians organized the performance. They did it to teach Chris Ngige a lesson for his disrespect. The President could not have noticed such direct neglect of the rule and law. Obasanjo did not assume any measures. The logical conclusion was that Obasanjo knew about the abduction, let it happen, or even assisted (Ariye, Ogbomah, Pullah, & Derie, 2012).

The next case happened in Plateau State in 2004. Olusegun Obasanjo imposed a state of emergency in Plateau State on his own. He did not follow the procedure envisaged by law. Several civil disorders happened in the state. The religious and ethnic crisis arose three months before the event, and it became the ground for the subsequent events. The main thing about the crisis was the conflict between the indigenous population and Hausa nationality. The clash was based on prehistoric attitudes. The aggravation of the relations resulted in a series of killings. President Obasanjo had no right to impose the emergency state unilaterally. He defied the process of law and decided to employ his justice (Ariye, Ogbomah, Pullah, & Derie, 2012).

Critical Problems of the Nigerian Government

Corruption and fuel crisis are the most urgent issues in Nigeria. Corruption is something trivial and ordinary in Nigeria. It devastates the weak democracy of the country. The main causes of the corruption in Nigeria are ineffective financing, fragile government, and the total habit for doing businesses with the help of bribes (What Causes Corruption in Nigeria, n.d.). Obasanjo’s administration made an attempt to dispose of corruption by producing a bill suggesting the establishment of an Independent Corrupt Practice Commission or ICPC. The President sent the bill to the National Assembly after his inauguration in 1999.

The proposed law should forbid corruption and chastise persons who were engaged in any bribery. Politicians disregarded the bill, and the Nigerian population became extremely disappointed. Two houses examined the case only in a year. Even more, some of the state governments jeopardized law enforcement by claiming that it lacked legal power and was against the constitution. As a result, the court recognized the incompetence of ICPC and suggested the launching of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). The whole procedure protracted for six years and did not bring excepted results. ICPC was inefficient since its establishment. It was feeble and dormant.

Apparently, the Commission could do nothing with a flourishing corruption in Nigeria. The situation was rather different from EFCC. The chairman of the Commission, Nuhu Ribadu, showed a real interest and desire to eradicate corruption in the country. On the initial stages of its development, EFCC functioned successfully. Nuhi Ribadu was involved in political affairs and started abusing his power. Economic and Financial Crime Commission became an instrument of influence, harassment, and pressure. Nigerians believed that the system would work. EFCC received many petitions and complaints every day though they did not study them.

Consequently, the government did not manage to terminate the issue of corruption (Omotoso, 2013). The Nigerian crisis in government always started from the election. A few authorized bodies introduced the willingness to organize an impartial election. This problem is the most severe burden of Nigeria. The democratic and transparent election in Nigeria is more like a dream than an achievable aim. Almost twenty elections took place since the period of colonization.

Various kinds of deceptions comprised a vital part of every electoral process. Here belonged the disappearance of ballot boxes, misrepresentation of results, pressure on voters, and even assassinations. For instance, blackmailing, corruption, oppression, and terrorization formed the basis for the general election in 2007 from the very beginning. Corruption resulted in the $400 million loss of oil revenue since 1970. Even more, every governor who took the office plundered the state’s money (Inokoba & Kumokor, 2011).

The other critical problem in Nigeria is the fuel crisis. Though the country belongs to the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC), it faces a challenging problem concerning the fuel supply for its population. On the one hand, the sales of crude oil are the primary income of the country. On the other hand, all people suffer from a terrible lack of energy resources. The reasons for oil scarcity are not clear up till nowadays. Nevertheless, most scholars agree that bad governance and a high level of corruption have led to this.

There were numerous cases when militants, illegal organizations, or even representatives from the native population destroyed the oil pipelines on purpose. Adenike and Ojukwu (2010) addressed to the frustration-aggression theory to explain the situation. Aggression is the very act of pipelines destruction while frustration exemplifies the dissatisfaction of oil usage by particular groups of people. The bright illustration is the rebellion in the area of the oil-producing —Nigerian delta region.

Delta region is the heart of oil extract. Consequently, a lot of companies try to take possession of it. They may face the oppression of the government. The third link concerns the people who are anxious about the pollution of the environment. Collier (2007) introduces an investigation that shows the issue in a different light. The noteworthy thing is that the number of protests concerning nature protection does not coincide with the number of regions with oil wells.

It is not logical as far as more wells can do more harm to the environment and provoke protests. Taking this into consideration, one may come to the conclusion that oil companies and governments have caused the fuel crisis. The crisis negatively influenced all layers of society. People had to stay in long queues to get fuel for extremely high prices. The outcome of sharp increasing prices led to the skyrocketing of the cost of all types of services. That is the way bad governance in Nigeria brought the country to a state of severe poverty.

The Promotion of Good Governance

The core problem of Nigerian governance lies in the approach to leadership. According to Olu-Adeyemi (2012), the looting of state wealth is the principal goal of any governor. Thus, the promotion of the right rule should commence from the leadership system. The authorized bodies have to start from the implementation of the fair electoral processes by introducing the policies and reforms aimed at controlling and regulating it. Nwekeaku (2014) suggests several measures for Nigeria to become a democratic country. First of all, the government must distribute natural resources equally and facilitate the improvement of literacy between citizens. Secondly, the rule of law should prevail in all branches of power. It goes without saying that the eradication of corruption is necessary for successful reforms.


The concepts of good governance and leadership presuppose the rule of law and the transparency of the legal activity. Nigerian government violated these rules since 1960. In 1996, Nigeria proclaimed itself a democratic country. Olusegun Obasanjo became a leader who undermined democratic principles and whose rule resulted in the extreme level of corruption and a harsh fuel crisis. The government of Nigeria has to change the system of leadership and follow the rule of law to open its potential and become a prosperous country.


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Ariye, E., Ogbomah, T., Pullah, E., & Derie, E. (2012). How President Obasanjo Undermined Democracy and Good Governance in Nigeria. Current Research Journal of Social Sciences, 4(3), 222-227.

Collier, P. (2007). The Bottom Billion. Oxford, Great Britain: Oxford University Press, Inc.

Inokoba, P., & Kumokor, I. (2011). Electoral Crisis, Governance and Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria. Journal of Social Sciences, 27(2), 139-148.

Lawal, T., Imokhuede, K., & Johnson, I. (2012). Governance Crisis and the Crisis of Leadership in Nigeria. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 2(7), 185-191.

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