Leading Right: Nigeria (The Exclusive Edge magazine, Lagos; 2017) is a book in two volumes by Philip Ejiofor. It explores the challenges and solutions of leadership and governance in Nigeria. The book is autobiographical, being the collation of Ejiofor’s 30 years of experience in Nigeria’s corporate governance. It reaches into government and business, as an observer of the debilitating socio-economic condition of Nigerians.
Leading Right: Nigeria is a compelling review of Nigeria’s vision and delusion in the country’s past 56 years of independence. It contains thought-provoking nuggets of leadership principles and practices. Written in simple and clear language, the book explains what it takes to make leadership an interesting skill to be embraced by aspiring Nigerians. The book shows why our people are dying needlessly within Nigeria as a result of the poor handling of her armaments. It blames insecurity on the embezzlement of military budgets by the top echelons of the military and the politicians.
Accordingly, Ejiofor echoes the Tel Aviv District judge in Israel, Justice David Rozen, who said: “Bribery by its nature, does not limit itself, but spreads out, erodes and causes the collapse of public institutions and the rule of law.” Based on this premise, Ejiofor argues that the idea of giving corrupt public officials a soft-landing on accountability is tantamount to encouraging corruption in the country.
The author dedicates the book to two groups of people among them Nigerians at home and those in the Diaspora, who have suffered from the debilitating effects of corruption and poor leadership, the twin evils that have bedeviled Nigeria since 1960. Another cluster Ejiofor mentions are the disgruntled Nigerians, who continue to die without realising their dreams. He also hails those who have died from poorly conceived infrastructure owing to ineptitude and lack of foresight by the leaders.
The last group that earns Ejiofor’s dedication are the men and women, who fail to emerge from subsistence economy because the elite have stolen or appropriated to itself the socio-economic good of the country. However, the author remembers the politicians, the public officials and entrepreneurs who have acted in good faith but whose services are sabotaged by political jobbers at the corridors of power.
This book is modeled after the Nigerian Constitution. The first five chapters discuss the vision and the ideals of the nation. It covers service delivery, leadership principles, political party ideologies and federalism. Chapter six is devoted to explaining the executive arm of his dreams. But in Nigeria the executive power remains nebulous and poorly defined. In the United States, executive authority is laid bare by the Executive Powers Act. There the executive is immutable in moments of crisis or war.
Chapter seven covers the legislature. Except otherwise omitted, every appointment, policy option and military adventure must be approved by the Senate, which epitomiSes the equality of the federating states of the union. In the Nigerian Constitution, the legislature comes first, which signifies it as first among the three arms of government. As usual the judiciary is treated last. He chronicles the vicissitudes of the judiciary with citizens habitually having to buy judgments and detailing other character deficiencies of the Nigerian elite.
Surprisingly, Ejiofor treats the civil service ahead of the media: the Fourth Estate of the Realm. Here, with her poor leadership competencies, Nigeria is viewed as lost in the storm of global competitiveness, where nations slug it out in the interest of their citizens. He characterises Nigeria’s greatest drawback as the inability of her leaders to escape from primordial attachments hinged on ethnic and religious bigotry. The Fulani, through Ahmadu Bello, have plans of domination by dipping the Quran in the Atlantic Ocean. On the hand, the Igbo, through Nnamdi Azikiwe, avowed the domination of the lazy tribes of the Sahel.
Accordingly, where some leaders would have succeeded, they faltered because sycophants within their social milieu hoodwinked them into taking parochial decisions. In the opinion of Ejiofor, one of several reasons Nigeria has been stuck in this political quagmire is because, aware of their own injustice, past Nigerian leaders abridged history as a course of study in school, preventing new generation of Nigerians from knowing the challenges of their nation.
This lack of historical knowledge prevents citizens from discerning the quality of political leaders put forward by the political structures. The author amplifies his exegesis by quoting John Maxwell in his book Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success thus: “Mistakes (history) are messages that give us feedback about life. Interruptions that should cause us to reflect and think; signposts that direct us to the right path; keys that we can use to unlock the next door of opportunity; explorations that let us journey where we have never been before.”
Those are the advantages of the study of history, which previous leaders have denied us. Leading Right closes the conversation with an analysis of non-governmental organizations. Just like the judiciary, citizens and non-governmental organizations are made to undermine the enthronement of a great Nigerian nation.
The author, Ejiofor, had his first degree in History and Political Science from Onafemi Awolowo University. He gained his master’s in Public Administration from the University of Lagos while he is now pursuing his doctorate in public policy at Walden University, Minnesota, U.S. this is a highly recommend book for knowledge and wisdom. It is a must read for all.