How Recycled Leaders Affect Nigeria’s Development


As far as sustainable business development and creating safer environments in the future, recycling plays a huge role. David Rainey says, “Integrating reuse and recycling in the value network is an important step in achieving environmentally and economically sound practices.” Rainey in is his work highlights how recycling could benefit industries and companies. Yet, he warns that recycling reduces the inflow of new catalysts. Reusing old products, in other words, would never spark new products.

With the aforementioned point at hand, one can argue that reusing old leaders in Nigeria would never birth new leaders with fresh ideas. It is futile, therefore, when we expect change from recycled leaders. Nigeria is a typical example of Rainey’s warning.

Nigerians, it seems, don’t seek new leaders, they want what they know and will try the same material even if it has been used and battered by time and other factors. A quick rundown of leaders in the fourth republic reveals Nigerian’s penchant for clinging to the old.


In 1999, after a general election that was replete with sleaze, the former general and former military president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo rolled into the democratic presidential seat. Nigerians expected that the leopard’s spot should have been removed with the showers of democracy. They discovered too soon that a wild animal in the past remains wild even after been domesticated by titular dispositions like “democratic president”. Sat Obiyan and Kunle Amuwo described Obasanjo’s regime as “anti-intellectual” and worse than Abacha’s regime. They also argued that Obasanjo used the opportunity to “insult, harass and denigrate” Nigerian academics and his enemies.

Like a general, he came with an agenda to wipe away his enemies. To do it democratically, he invented a pet project, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and then placed a rabid dog in charge, to pursue his enemies. The dog’s name was Nuhu Ribadu. Frisky Larr argues that Ribadu was used to “prosecute the president’s enemies”. Of course, the dog over looked the master’s corrupt practices.

One must add that recycled leaders are often shortsighted because they have personal missions. They come to a position with old ways of doing things and this often leaves an indelible mark on new leaders.

As such, when Goodluck Ebele Jonathan stumbled on the seat of leadership, he thought the space was for self-gratification. He proceeded to emptying the country’s coffers.

Ask any Nigerian what they would do when if they stumbled into office and they would probably say: “I would steal and work.” That was what Jonathan attempted to do but he placed one over the other and couldn’t tell the difference between stealing and corruption. Jonathan and his cronies almost licked the oil dry which drove Nigerians crazy.

Frustrated, Nigerians quickly ran to their recycle bin and, in there, they found a 1983 general. They decided to reuse it. However, they forgot to measure the cost of recycling. Again, as Rainey warns, his presence reduced the inflow of fresh ideas. It is such archaic mentality that made him say his wife belongs “to the other room”, made him treat the Fulani herdsmen crisis with levity and focus solely on elimination of corruption. Again, as seen in Obasanjo’s era, there are no long-term plans. Not one policy or action has been activated towards the development of education, health and social welfare of Nigerians. It’s obvious that no tangible or intangible sustenance or substantial positive results comes from existing or newly changed systems that clings on leadership styles of battered, tired and old leaders. It’s simply engaging in a journey in circles.

Nations that move onto new heights and achieve goals have young leaders who serve with strength and maintain clear heads to make good decisions. For example, Canada’s Justin Trudeau is forty-five years old and his policies and actions present a path to creating a better country and put his country before himself. This is not to say presidents must be young to lead, it’s to say that citizens must elect fresh leaders. Going into the past to search for a leader is expensive and would not add anything to the economic and social well being of any nation.

Nigerians need to search for leaders who have a long-term agenda, a fresh leader who is free from the stranglehold of godfathers and a leader who believes that the people’s welfare is more important than vendettas and personal riches. Change comes from leaving behind who and what we were, but redefining who and what we should be.

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