Obasanjo's Leadership: An Overview


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Obasanjo’s Leadership: An overview



Gabriel Odor


culled from VANGUARD, December 6, 2005


PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo is the leader of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by virtue of his position as the President of the country.  He is in charge of the  day-to-day administration of the country.  Therefore, he is responsible for the efficient and effective governance of the country.  So his leadership will have great  impact on the general socio-economic and political development of the country.  Hence, an overview of his leadership will be based  on  the  definition of leadership  thus:


Leadership could be defined as the process of influencing the actions, behaviours, beliefs and  feelings of individuals in a social system towards goal- setting and  achievement in a given situation.


Since Obasanjo’s regime, ministers, legislators, top civil servants and politicians now spend most of their time in performing their primary functions instead of pursuing  contracts for themselves, relatives, friends etc.  It is no more business as usual.  People have to follow the due process to get government contracts.  State governors  are constantly reminded by the President to spend their revenue prudently and embark  on  meaningful projects which he takes delight in commissioning.

On the other hand, it is doubtful whether the President has  adequately involved his reference group(s) in some of the policies and decisions which he made and in  determining the methods or strategies for implementing them.  For example, some state governors were reluctant to implement the minimum wage because according  to them, they were not adequately consulted before the President’s announcement of the minimum wage to the nation.  One could also attribute some disagreement  between the Presidency and the National Assembly to inadequate consultations between the two arms of government.  The same could also be said of NLC strikes  especially  against  the series of increases of fuel prices.


Although some people oppose some of the president's policies due to selfish reasons, it is said that two wrongs cannot make a right. Therefore, since we are  operating a democratic presidential system of  government which entails division of functions among the three arms of government, he has to follow due processes in  making policies and decisions and making adequate consultations on important national issues.


However, the President must have foresight and go ahead to solve any problem promptly when it is absolutely necessary to do so for the interest of the nation and  thereafter send the matter to the appropriate authority for ratification or approval.

Leadership as a behaviour arising out of a situation and authority,  would be seen as an administrative behaviour arising out of a social situation and as a temporary  acquisition of specified amount of authority bestowed by a group or an enterprise, on a person as being capable of leading the group to accomplish the group's  goals  as well as satisfy their immediate needs.

Based on the above definitions of leadership, one could argue that President Olusegun Obasanjo is fairly doing well.  In actual fact, he is very much concerned with  the revival of the economy and correcting the ills of the nation but he is less concerned with the immediate comfort of the citizens. That is why some people advised  him to add human face to some of his economic policies.  They said that in his  attempt to solve economic problems and social ills, he tends to forget the immediate  needs of the people.  So my candid opinion is that while the president is using his power and authority to improve the economy and promote moral values, he should  consider the needs of the people in terms of maintenance of law and order, promotion of individual and general welfare, and promotion of economic activities and  essential services in the country.


Leadership as an agent of change is the behaviour of an indivudal which initiates changes in goals, objectives, procedures, inputs, processes and ultimately, the output  of social system. Based on this definition, nobody will doubt the fact that President Obasanjo’s government has vigorously initiated and instituted several economic,  social and political reforms to enhance the national development of the country.


Some examples include:  Due process: This is simply the process of awarding government contracts according to laid down transparent procedures. This policy has  greatly reduced the middleman syndrome whcih enables the non-contractors to get government contracts and sell them to contractors who do shoddy work with the  little money given to them.

National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS):  This is an economic policy which aims at empowering people to establish small and medium  scale industries and business enterprises which in turn helps to reduce unemployment and  boost the economy of the nation. This is one of the economic policies which  persuaded the IMF to endorse the Paris Club Debt Relief of $18 billion for Nigeria.


President Obasanjo’s government also organised a political reform conference where some seasoned politicians, professionals, traditional rulers and opinion leaders,  gathered to dialogue and expressed the views of their geo-political zones on some national political and social issues. I wish to appeal to Mr. President not to relent  his effort in persuading the leaders of the National Assembly to consider the final report  in  the interest of the country.


The war  against bribery and corruption presents President Obasanjo's government as the foremost government of this country that has openly and vigorously  instituted agencies to fight against bribery and corruption.  History will forever remember this government for working assiduously to fight against bribery and  corruption in both public and private sectors.  At least as of now, some public servants and public officers are afraid of the EFCC and the ICPC while performing  their functions.

Economic reforms are among the controversial policies of President Obasanjo's government. There is no doubt that the principle behind these policies  are  laudable.   But so far,  their  implementation  has not been quite satisfactory. These are policies that should be implemented gradually so as to avoid causing the people hardship.  Therefore, the government should be careful in introducing and implementing policies that  will bring hardship or lead to social instability.

Privatisation will help to make industries more viable. But the government must retain some shares in order to check exploitation by these companies.


From the foregoing overview of President Obasanjo's leadership, it is quite clear that he has positively influenced Nigerians, especially his reference groups, to be  duty-conscious and transparent in spending public money. He has tried to introduce some social, economic, and political reforms which if well implemented, will help  to enhance the general development of  the country



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