Leaders’ Achilles



The legend of Achilles, a great warrior in Greek mythology, has it that he was dipped into the river Styx by his mother Thetis in order to make him invulnerable. His heel wasn’t covered by the water and he was later killed by an arrow wound to the same ‘unprotected’ heel.

Today, the phrase ‘Achilles heel’ is used to describe a powerful person’s fatal weakness, and in Nigeria, the story is not different, where infallible past leaders have lost their holds on power due to one issue or the other. And if care is not taken, this may happen again.

When the Generalissimo from Otta returned to power in 1999, he rode on a crest of goodwill across the country. To be candid, he did his best to manage an almost unmanageable nation with core issues predating him. However, the allure of power became too powerful and his subtle quest for a third term led to his undignified exit.

Although his successor from Katsina had good intentions concerning Nigeria and planned positive changes, a fatal illness didn’t allow him to achieve his lofty aims. Into his shoes stepped the amiable leader from Bayelsa, who emerged through consistent luck; a trait similar to his name. However, his perceived slow reaction to the issue of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls proved a major banana peel to his quest to return to power in 2015.

Now, here is another leader whose wave of popularity was greater than his predecessors and whose principled mien and personal integrity endeared him to millions of Nigerians who voted him into power in 2015, and has granted him entry into the innermost sanctums of powerful world leaders.

But it seems great leaders in Nigeria are born with Achilles heels. To the current numero uno, the issue of killer herdsmen has assumed a frightening dimension, despite his directives. Ironically, the actions of these vicious killers may impinge on the return of the ‘Principled One’ to power next year, if care is not taken. So much for infallibility…just saying

– Abimbola Akosile