Political Leadership in Nigeria: Our National Anthem and National Pledge.

Author:Mohammed, Iliyasu Biu
Position:Arise, O Compatriots - Report


Nigeria is a post-colonial political independent entity that has desired and striven for unity, peace, justice, self-reliance and multi-dimensional development and progress. This is expressed in her national anthem and national pledge. The country has embarked on several national development plans and public polices in the quest to achieve her dreams and aspiration since independence in 1960 till date. The second National development plan (1970-1974) outlined the following objectives: A united strong and self-reliant nation; a great and dynamic economy; a just and egalitarian society; a free and democratic society; and a land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens (National Planning Office, 1975). All these laudable dreams, visions and objectives embedded in Nigeria's National Anthem and National Pledge have all worked in reversed order most times. The colonial imperialism of subjugation, enslavement and open plunder of our human and natural resources laterally compares to the underdevelopment bedeviling Nigeria since 1960 political independence with "Africans under developing Africans" rather than European underdevelopment of Africa. Soludo (2006:8) notes that about 17 million Nigerians live abroad struggling to earn a living as Walter Rodney posits. The Nigeria state has had competing demands seen in the Niger-Delta crisis, State-Local government administration, citizenship-identity-minority questions, Islamic insurgency and pastoral-cattle-farmers violence amongst other variables in the matrix of development.

Indeed, tracing the nature and causes of the depth of underdevelopment within the facets of the Nigerian society is an uphill task given the easy manipulations of visible and invisible forces of divisiveness and disintegration at work. The first attempt by civilian elected government to rule in 1960 revealed the inherent weaknesses in our political ideology and value system, which was easily eroded by personal, ethnic, geographical, religious and narrow socioeconomic interests and the inheritance of the colonial (non-African) model of governance (and other forms of neo-colonialism). This was exacerbated further by Nigeria's military overthrow antecedent often done on the basis of awful conditions and corruption (Dawood, 2014:292). The issue of multi-facet corruption was so alarming in the 1960s that the military was left with no option than to remove the democratically elected leaders of Nigeria's 1st Republic from power.

The failure to tackle this menace has continued haunting us at all points to the path of great nation-states. Olusegun Obasanjo (1994) before his 'second coming' in a keynote address on Nigeria, the state of the Nation and the way forward" organized by Arewa House Kaduna quoted a foreign writer to amplify our condition thus:

Once Nigeria was considered the anchor and bellwether of a huge continent, blessed with clever and energetic peoples, favored with ample material resources (especially oil), and is Africa most populous country. But despite size and wealth, Nigeria lingers in the doldrums, perpetually a country of the future. It is pertinent to note that, the mismanagement of resources coupled with the political instability in Nigeria which saw military intervention five times successfully and spanning 29 years showed off its multiplier effect on the long years of decline in the economic and social wellbeing of the majority of Nigerians. The foregoing is in contradiction to the Nigerian National Anthem which says, 'To serve our fatherland' and the oath taken by political leaders to that effect.

The challenges before past, present and future Nigerian political leadership is examined in this paper within a cross examination of two national symbols, the National Anthem and the national pledge. In order to explore the way forward, the paper attempted to clarify some of the concepts used and useful comments made so as to enhance our understanding. The following are the objectives of the paper:

  1. To interrogate the impact of Nigeria's political leadership governance within;

  2. To determine the nexus of Nigeria's National Anthem and Pledge and national development outcomes.

    The paper intends to answer the following research questions:

  3. What are the roles of political leadership in Nigeria's national development?

  4. Can the National Anthem and Pledge give meaning to Nigeria's collective interest?

    The research methodology for this paper follows qualitative research method, using narrative and interpretive content analysis for this study.

    Conceptual Clarifications


    Vroom and Yetton (1973:24) describe leadership as decision making. They assert that leadership is the responsibility of making decisions as to who gets what, when and how in the society. Darth (2001:16) sees it as an alignment between leaders and followers' ideas towards a good outcome. Darth holds that leadership is all about arriving at a conclusion based on the initiatives of the leaders and the followers. Thus, leadership is the art of leading a group of people for the purpose of providing the greater good for the greatest number of people.

    Political Leadership

    Political leadership is: i) democratically elected ii) representatives who iii) are vulnerable to des-election, and iv) operate within, as well as influence a constitutional and legal framework. Their source of authority is v) a mandate: 'permission to govern granted by electorates... upon the decisive outcome of an election' (Chambers dictionary, 1993 as cited in Morrell & Hartley, 2006). Political leaders are democratically elected representatives that rule within the framework of the constitution. This definition favours only political leaders who are elected, while excluding those appointed and leaders who must have emerged through coup, in the case of the military. This definition is narrow in as much as it confines political leadership to only elected representatives of the people.

    However, Ogbeidi (2012:4) notes that political leadership as the ruling class bears the responsibility of managing the affairs and resources of a political entity by setting and influencing policy priorities affecting the territory through different decision-making structures and institutions created for the orderly development of the territory. Further, Ogbeidi believes that political leadership is the governing elite that manage the affairs and resources of a community, nation or country by making and implementing policies that bring about development. This definition is a broad one, as it reveals that political leadership entails the ruling elite whether they are elected or not, inasmuch as they bear the responsibility of managing the affairs and resources of an independent political entity.

    National Anthem:

    A National anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people (Bristow 2006). Furthermore, the national anthem is a self-identifying musical symbol of nation, country, nationstate, a people or an area with a self-identifying populace who regard themselves as a nation.

    National Pledge:

    The National Pledge is an oath of allegiance to a nation, nation-state, country, people or formal and informal nation. It is recited in schools during assemblies, Independence Day, and official government functions. A nation begins and is sustained with patriotism of the citizenry. As with when reading a love poem, the National Anthem and...

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