Many remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, but for those who do not, God was angry with the people of the two cities that were so endowed because of their sins.
God’s anger was so much that Abraham, whom He had promised inheritance of the earth had to intervene to enable the people escape the wrath of God.
Abraham, it was said, pleaded with God to save the people from the impending rage of fire because of the righteous among them, but when none was found, God unleashed punishment on the people and they perished.
The situation compares with Nigeria, a heavily endowed country, still struggling with poor leadership, especially since the return of civilian rule in 1999.
When the military regime of retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar hurriedly handed over power to civilians on May 29, 1999, to quench the anger of Nigerians over the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, the expectation was that in a short period, the lot of the citizenry would improve.
However, nearly 20 years after, many feel that the years of agitation for civil rule were wasted as their conditions had got worse with a high level of crime, unemployment, poverty, uncertainty, among others.
The military regime of retired Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, which lasted from Aug. 27, 1985 to Aug. 26, 1993, had promised so much for governance, especially with a long power transition plan but blundered with the annulment of the June 12 poll.
The seven-year transition period, which started with the inauguration of a Political Bureau on Jan. 13, 1986, held much promise because of the systematic approach adopted by the regime.
The regime had relied on the contributions of scholars and experts who charted a course for a clearer future, thereby giving the people hope of a sincere promise.
However, hope, especially among politicians, was dashed by the annulment of the presidential election and inauguration of an Interim National Government on Aug. 27, 1993.
The Interim Government was removed by the late Gen. Sani Abacha on Nov. 17, 1993 and heralded the rise in power of a despot who promised plural participation in politics, but instead plotted his way to remain in power.
The frustration and financial losses by experienced politicians suffered between 1986 and 1998 led to the emergence of new political actors in 1999, a generation schooled in the use of force rather than argument as a means of survival.
The generation comprised persons with limited intellectual prowess and a lack of respect for order and processes
Since then, key political actors have been associated with different kinds of crime, such as murder, robbery and stealing as well as cultism.
At the inauguration of the National Assembly in 1999, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Salisu Buhari, was found to have forged the degree which he presented as his qualification to contest election into the National Assembly.
A member of the House of Representatives from Benue, Charles Abah, lost his mandate in the 2015 general elections after being found guilty by a court of forging the diploma certificate he presented to contest the election.
Former Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun resigned her appointment after admitting that her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate was forged.
Recently, the Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, also confirmed that he did not participate in NYSC as required by the law.
Beside this, numerous state governors and key political actors have issues over their academic credentials.
Among them are Gabriel Suswam, Governor of Benue from 2007 to 2015; Godwin Obaseki of Edo as well as Ademola Adeleke, the PDP candidate in the Osun Governorship Election of Sept. 22.
Sen. Buruji Kashamu from Ogun is fighting to stop his possible extradition to the U.S. to answer charges of drug offences while he was living in that country.
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki is facing investigation over the April 5 robbery attack in Offa, Kwara, where he was governor for eight years and has represented for another eight years in the Senate.
The Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, acknowledged taking oath in a shrine to enable him to become governor of Anambra in 2003, but the crisis which followed after his inauguration led to his removal from office in 2006.
Sen. Iyiola Omisore, a former deputy governor and candidate for the Osun Governorship Election, was arrested and detained in 2002 over allegations that he sponsored the murder of a former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige on Dec. 23, 2001.
Some state governors have been accused of sponsoring state crime, such as hostage taking in the Niger Delta region, crisis between farmers and herdsmen in the North Central region, religious and ethnic conflicts like Boko Haram insurgency as well as the murder of political opponents.
Currently, former governors Jolly Nyame of Taraba and Joshua Dariye of Plateau are in jail for money laundering and fraud, while James Ibori of Delta and the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa completed their terms for similar offences.
Former governors Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State, Orji Uzor-Kalu of Abia, Ikedi Ohakim of Imo, among others, are facing trial for the mismanagement of the resources of their respective states during their tenures in office.
Numerous individuals who served as ministers of the Federal Government and commissioners at the state level have been accused of betraying their oath of office, while governance at the local government level is in disarray because of greed, corruption and incompetence of politicians.
The essence of politics is service to community by leaders who command respect because of their vision.
In Nigeria’s First Republic, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello and Obafemi Awolowo earned the trust of the people because of their vision of a prosperous independent Nigeria.
That era witnessed focused leadership which used available resources to set up enduring legacies such as University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University) and University of Lagos within six years.
These four institutions remain the guiding light for Nigeria’s dislocated education system.
The First Republic also saw the exploitation of the agriculture potential of the country by the regional governments for development.
The Second Republic, although short-lived, witnessed traces of focused leadership as some of those who guided the first era were still around to guide the younger who learned from them.
The era witnessed the establishment of state-owned universities to expand access to education to the youth as well as rural industrialisation, which was terminated by the military coup of Dec. 31, 1983.
Not so the Fourth Republic and thereafter, which has lasted longer than the previous republics combined.
The later period has been riddled with confusion and headed to nowhere.
The performances of leaders in the different eras have been reflections of the characters of politicians of each period and their upbringing.
In the First Republic the leaders were driven by passion to liberate the people from colonial bondage, similar to the attitude in the Second Republic when politicians wanted to free the citizens from the vestiges of military dictatorship.
Politicians since the Fourth Republic have, however, demonstrated poor breeding having participated or learnt from the military whose orientation is the use of force to secure passage.
Military dictatorship which lasted for 25 years manifested chaos, greed, incompetence and dislocation of the social order, and featured at the time majority of the current crop of politicians grew up.
It was an era when force was seen as right as those at the helm defied logic to achieve goals irrespective of the consequences.
Abraham intervened in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah after the people cried to him.
He believed that there were still men of honour and integrity whose innocence would save the people from the anger of God.
Like that era when God promised not to destroy the two cities if there were few righteous men remaining, can we find 10 good men among today’s crop of Nigerian politicians?
An analysis by Chukwudi Ekezie, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)