Political Affairs

Nigeria’s routineer leadership and the politics of 2023

By Augusta Nneka

Political science, government and governance, arguably a field under the social sciences. Like other concepts in this field, the human factor cannot be ignored when practising the theories taught in these fields. However, it seems the current political elites have forgotten this fact.

Over time, civil organisations, non-governmental organisations and political scientists have been calling on the review and amendment of the Nigeria 1999 constitution. Like other problems that demand a change in the status quo, this concern raised by Nigerians who are affected directly by the constitution has been ignored completely. Rather than confront said concerns, the government chose to implement more laws that ignore the root causes of dissatisfaction among people and settle for ‘solving’ surface problems. Walter Lippmann calls this type of leader, the “routineer”.

Nigeria currently suffers from such leadership. The leaders who have forgotten humanity while making laws for humans. We have seen such cases many times in the course of our recent history in the country. Such as the Twitter ban, the Lekki massacre, the rejection of the women’s inclusion bill, the promotion of the social media bill etc. The government has shown a pattern of using laws to curb the humanity of governance and try to make leading ‘easier’ rather than humane. What this will lead to is the death of life in policymaking and governance.

The constitution has always been a mere guideline open for the interpretation of the current leadership. While the concept of the rule of law proclaims the constitution as supreme, it does not deny creativity in leadership. This is a fact that seems to be foreign to our current leaders. Now, policymaking seems like a lacklustre competition of looking for ways to limit the human mind. It is now a tool to bury problems that the government has no way of dealing with. Rather than understand the dissatisfaction of the people, the policymakers will take away the tool used for expressing such discomfort. If the people clamour for better representation on the street, then protest should be banned. When the people become robbers and a nuisance to the society due to lack of jobs, stricter laws are made to fight crimes rather than provide jobs, because the routineer just cannot be bothered to provide creative solutions to the root problem when the surface problem can be handled with stricter laws. I mean, why bother to create new systems that consider human nature, when the security forces are mobilised at the whims of the president. At the end of the day, the country is in a crisis and demands a leader who sees the people as humans before numbers needed just to win another election.

The 2023 elections are approaching. The primaries should be held in about three months or less. Aspirants are preaching solutions to the many problems that Nigeria is combating. Out of the aspirants, very few are thinking of creative solutions. We are still hearing the textbook impractical solutions that cannot and will not solve Nigeria’s problems. We cannot ignore the strategic implication of this election as it is essential to the very survival of the nation. If a routineer is elected, the possibility of another eight (8) years of underdevelopment is very high.

My advice; innovation and creativity is paramount in gauging the mental capacity of a statesman. Without a change in the formation and implementation of laws, the country has very little chance of moving forward. Hence, the necessity of having a leader who might even be considered unorthodox in leadership. One who promotes innovation and creativity in statesmanship and governance. A person that admits that political science is not a science with predetermined answers. A proper politician who will understand how crucial human nature and social change is in governance. This will be almost impossible to achieve, but if we can get the electoral bill signed after five (5) tries, who is to say we cannot vote a leader who actually understands that the human nature of change is not taboo in policymaking.

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