1.1 Background to the Study
Many forms of governance, institutions and bureaucracies that were transferred to a majority of African states at independence were, for the most part, ill-adapted to the African realities and the continent’s development challenges (Afegbua, 2012). Therefore, one of the major challenges that have faced African states and particularly Nigeria since the advent of political independence has been that of establishing and sustaining appropriate governance, institutions and practices that would engender democratic leadership and promote sustainable development at the grassroots levels and beyond (Yimer, 2015).
In Africa, in general, leadership and governance have been identified as major problems militating against growth and development in all sectors of the economy and the grassroots levels not being exempted. The need for leadership in any nation or state is very essential. This is because nations or states exist with stated ideologies and leaders are ‘machineries’ for achieving such stated ideologies. Organisational goals will remain unrealistic without a ‘designated individual’ known as leader. As a result, leaders are ‘central instruments’ to any organization. Success or failure of an organization lies in the hand of a leader (Lamidi & Adeyeye, 2013).
One of the major challenges facing Nigeria is how to create a context of stable political and socio-economic environment for policies and programmes to be implemented. The issue of getting the right leadership to fight corruption and propel good governance has been a recurring decimal in Nigeria and Africa in general. Once this enabling environment is created, it becomes easy for the people to confront and resolve challenges facing them by using resources within their environment to create a condition of life where each stage is progressively better than the preceding one. However, this is not the case in Nigeria due to corruption and bad governance. Good governance encapsulates transparency, accountability, freedom of choice and liberty for the people to pursue their individual and corporate interest. Indeed, at the core of Africa’s underdeveloped status are corruption and leadership deficit (Anazodo, Igbokwe-Ibeto & Nkah, 2015:42).
Leadership and good governance are crucial to realizing any giant stride taken in pursuit of development anywhere in the world, Nigeria is not an exception. The reverberation effects of the failure of leadership, corruption and bad governance are visible and being felt down to the grassroots levels of the Nigerian society. Unemployment and employment for cash, insecurity, crude oil thefts, crisis in education, dearth of infrastructures such as health services, transportation, accommodation, communication, medication etc are all common features in Nigeria. It is an irony that of all oil producing nations, Nigeria is the only country with the history of crude oil thefts (Anazodo, Igbokwe-Ibeto & Nkah, 2015:43).
An examination of Nigeria’s socio-economic and political history reveals that many of its leaders over the years have been using the “iron law of oligarchy” which explains the triumph of the leaders’ ambitions for office over the membership’s revolutionary goals (Olayiwola, 2013:43).
The country is confronted with a myriad of problems and challenges that are seemingly defying solutions. Indeed the Nigerian situation is a paradox. Nigeria is a nation blessed with abundant human and natural resources. Yet, 60.9 per cent or 99.3 million live in absolute poverty, and 61.2 per cent live on less than a dollar a day with grassroots dwellers almost neglected and cut off as poverty pervades in the local communities (Essoh & Udoh, 2014).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The problem of leadership, governance and its pervasive bearing on social cum economic development in Nigeria is multifaceted. The root cause of inequality, poverty and underdevelopment in Nigeria is attributed to bad leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land, climate, water, air, or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to their responsibility, to the challenge of personal example, which is the hallmark of true leadership (Ijewereme & Dunmade, 2014).
Developmental research indicates that Nigeria is fraught of poor leadership, bad governance, corruption and weak bureaucratic institutions. It is an axiom that since attainment of political independent, Nigeria has never been governed by selfless, truly transformational and intellectually endowed leaders. That is, Nigeria has never selected its best sons to positions of leadership and mediocre leadership can only lead to mediocre government without any serious achievement (Egbefo, 2014; Essoh & Udoh, 2014).
However, in order to curtail this menace and enhance grassroots development, the Nigeria government has taken some steps to address the twin challenges of corruption and bad governance in the country. These measures include public service reform such as monetization to reduce waste and reduction of over bloated personnel, the establishment of anti-corruption enforcement agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Independent Corruption and other Practices Commission (ICPC) etc. Despite the establishment of these policies and measures, the situation remains rather worrisome as poor leadership, corruption and bad governance continues to pervade every facet of the society while service delivery at the grassroots levels remains an allusion to behold (Anazodo, Igbokwe-Ibeto & Nkah, 2015:54).
Poor leadership and bad governance have impacted negatively on Nigeria’s democratic stability and her economic development especially at the grassroots levels. This holds to the fact that majority of elected representatives that are meant to steer the affair of the people at the grassroots levels in Nigeria are product of political corruption, they got their party tickets through political godfathers and mandate through election rigging. The implication of all these are mass poverty, unemployment and insecurity that enveloped the local communities. It is against this backdrop that this study seeks to explore the relationship between leadership and good governance at the grassroots levels in Nigeria with a special reference to Ojo LGA of Lagos State (Ebegbulem, 2012).
1.3 Objectives of the Study.