Analysts have over the years, admitted that corruption has been the bane of Nigeria’s political, social and economic development. Prominent authors like the late Professor Chinua Achebe in his book titled The Trouble With Nigeria, blamed leadership for the woes of the country.
However, a society gets the leader it deserves as leadership is a product of followership, especially under a democratic system of government. On this premise, it would be correct to say that a good leader was a good follower before assuming a leadership position and therefore, developed good leadership qualities as a follower and not after assuming leadership role. This implies that it is possible to identify someone that could be a good leader at the level of followership.
The Longman English Dictionary defines the word ‘leader’ as “the person who is in charge of a group, organisation or country, etc.”
The word ‘corruption’ is defined as “dishonest or immoral behaviour, especially by people with power.”
A certain African proverb says that it is difficult to learn how to be a left hand user at adulthood. In this context, it is a good follower that can possibly evolve into a good leader. So, it is possible to identify a follower who is most likely to be a bad leader if the opportunity emerges. Identifying a Nigerian citizen and resident who is likely to be a very corrupt leader if he or she assumes a leadership position is a simple task.
The bank customer who walks into the bank, sees a long queue he ought to join, despises the queue and walks straight to the counter, seeking to be attended to before others, is dishonest and self-centred and will make a very bad leader if given a leadership position. A job applicant who falsifies his age in order to get the job is a dishonest and potential corrupt leader.
A nuclear family member, who is given an amount of money to share with blood brothers and sisters, and he or she keeps the money all to his/herself, will be too corrupt to be given a public office to head. The parent that encourages his or her child to get involved in examination malpractices or Advanced Fee Fraud (419) will be a disaster if such parent assumes headship of a public office.
The civil servant who sits on a colleague’s promotion or retirement file in the office because of refusal to bribe him, will make a terribly corrupt Head of Department. Owners of corporate organisations who connive with government officials to defraud Nigeria are likely to run corrupt administrations if given opportunity to head public office.
The car driver who stops his vehicle at the middle of the road to exchange pleasantries or make phone calls without considering the traffic obstruction being created by this action, is too immoral and selfish to occupy public office. The trader or bus driver who inflates prices of commodities or fares suddenly to take undue advantage of an unfortunate customer’s situation is a potential corrupt leader.
The clergyman who applauds the criminal in his church or mosque because of personal gains is corrupt and therefore, should not be considered for the headship of an association of clergymen. The list is endless of qualities and attitudes that indict a follower as a potential corrupt leader.
The bitter truth is that no Nigerian should expect a public office holder at the federal, state or local government level to operate honestly without exhibiting the corrupt attributes that have been inherent at the level of followership.
This subject is important because corrupt leadership is a problem of today but corrupt followership is a problem of both today and tomorrow. The good news here however is that it is possible for us as Nigerians to begin to identify corrupt leaders while they are still followers and deny them access to leadership.