This pocket size book, authored by the famed Nigerian literary giant, Chinua Achebe is brief, concise and insightful. The 63 paged ‘epistle’ (under ten chapters) diagnosis the issues that confront Nigeria and finally concludes with authority that ‘the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership’.
Despite the book highlighting some of the major draw backs to Nigeria’s growth and development, the reasons articulated mirrors the challenges that afflict many African States.
Chinua Achebe points out that a visionary, goal-oriented, compassionate, brave and fearless, non- ethnocentric, honest leader is what Nigeria desires if she is to prosper economically and politically.
He chides the inherent expression of ‘cooperation’ among legislatures on different divide when it comes to their welfare, writing “ while the electorate is thus emasculated by such instigated divisions, the successful politician will link up even with his tribal enemy…in order to promote measures of common interest to their new elite class’’.
This observation is not only peculiar to Nigeria. It is a feature across many African political landscapes.
Chinua Achebe made an appeal to the electorates to rise above tribalism and elect the politician who will advance a nationalistic course. Electorates should ask the politician ‘Why do you want my vote?’ adding that the electorate ‘must treat the easy answers of politician (to this question) with appropriate scepticism’.
In his view, the educated elites have a major role to play in the politics of Nigeria by holding the politician to account on behalf of their fellow countrymen. The educated class should not give the expression ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ a breath of life.
The Trouble With Nigeria is a blistering, uncharitable vitriol on the political system of his country. One could sense the “Things Fall Apart” author’s frustrations, indignation and pain as to why Nigeria and its people continue to ‘perform below our potential’.
The reader could also detect Achebe’s unflinching anguish at the treatment the Igbo’s were subjected to during and after the decade long Biafran War especially under the Gen. Gowon led administration. He lashed out at Chief Awolowo for his high-handedness and deliberate machinations to cripple the Igbo people both economically and politically.
The writer also singled out Mallam Aminu Kano whom he likened to Mahatma Ghandi for praise. A man with a ‘selfless commitment to the common people of the land’
The Trouble With Nigeria was written by Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian for Nigeria. But the fundamental issues discussed in the book are peculiar to Africa as a whole. That is, Nigeria was employed as an example to highlight the larger problem many political watchers have identified as bane to the continent’s viscous movement towards development- LEADERSHIP