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Nigeria’s Leadership Crisis and the Complicity of Its Citizens: A Call to Action.




By Amb Aliyu Bin Abbas

Nigeria, a country rich in resources and potential, has been shackled by inept leadership and a citizenry often too apathetic or fearful to demand change. Since gaining independence in 1960, the nation has seen a downward spiral in governance, marked by corruption, mismanagement, and a lack of accountability. This article explores the failures of Nigeria’s leadership and the complicity of its citizens, particularly the youth, in perpetuating a cycle of stagnation and decline.

Leadership Failures
Nigeria’s leadership has consistently been marred by corruption and self-serving interests. The political landscape, dominated by a few elite families and influential “godfathers,” has fostered a system where personal loyalty often supersedes merit and competence. High-profile corruption cases are rampant, with billions of dollars intended for development siphoned off by public officials. This corruption has resulted in a lack of essential infrastructure, inadequate healthcare, and a failing educational system.

Furthermore, ineffective policies and governance exacerbate these issues. Poorly conceived and implemented policies fail to address the core issues of poverty, unemployment, and security. This ineffectiveness is compounded by a lack of long-term planning and continuity, leaving the country in a perpetual state of crisis.

The Role of Citizens
The behavior and mindset of Nigerian citizens play a significant role in sustaining this cycle of poor governance. Political apathy and cynicism are widespread, with many Nigerians believing their votes do not count or that change is unattainable. This apathy allows corrupt leaders to remain in power unchallenged.

Complicity among the citizenry, driven by a desire for short-term gains, also perpetuates the status quo. Some citizens engage in “stomach infrastructure” politics, accepting immediate material benefits in exchange for their votes. This short-term thinking undermines the pursuit of long-term societal improvements.

Moreover, fear and repression are potent deterrents against protest and activism. The Nigerian police and military have a history of using excessive force against demonstrators, creating a climate of fear that stifles dissent.

Religious and ethnic divisions further fragment the society. Politicians often manipulate these divisions to maintain control, preventing a unified front against bad governance.

The Influence of Religion and Democracy
Religion and democracy in Nigeria have been double-edged swords. While offering community and solace, religious institutions sometimes preach doctrines of submission and acceptance, discouraging active resistance against oppressive regimes. The commercialization of religion also distracts citizens from pressing social issues.

The version of democracy practiced in Nigeria often lacks genuine representation and accountability. Elections are frequently marred by rigging, violence, and voter intimidation, leading to a disconnect between the government and the governed.

The Need for Youth Activism and Civil Engagement
Youth activism is critical for any transformative change. Nigeria’s youth, who make up a significant portion of the population, have the potential to be a formidable force for change. The #EndSARS movement in 2020, which protested police brutality, demonstrated the power of organized, peaceful protest. However, sustained efforts are needed to bring about lasting change.

Educate and Mobilize: Initiatives to educate young Nigerians about their rights and the importance of political participation are crucial. Grassroots movements and civil society organizations can play a pivotal role in this regard.

Demand Accountability: Citizens must hold their leaders accountable through persistent advocacy, transparency measures, and legal action against corruption.

Promote Unity: Overcoming religious and ethnic divisions to form a united front against common challenges is essential for meaningful change.

Leverage Technology and Social Media: The digital age offers tools for organizing, raising awareness, and mobilizing support. These tools can help bypass traditional barriers to activism and foster a more informed and engaged populace.

While Nigeria’s leadership has largely failed to meet its responsibilities, the citizens, particularly the youth, must recognize their power and responsibility in demanding better governance. The path to a better Nigeria lies in collective action, education, and a refusal to accept the status quo. As history has shown in other nations, sustained civic engagement and protest can lead to significant changes. The challenge is formidable, but the potential for a brighter future exists if the populace, especially the youth, rises to the occasion.

Nigeria’s journey to true democracy and development depends on the awakening of its citizens to their civic duties. It is time for Nigerians to reclaim their country from the clutches of corrupt leaders and pave the way for a prosperous and equitable future.


Amb Aliyu Bin Abbas
Youth President
National Youth Alliance (NYA)