Bridging social capital and the imperative of leadership development in Nigeria
This paper asserts that there is a nexus between the nature and character of leadership and the stock and genre of social capital in a polity. Specifically, it posits that low levels of bridging social capital (generalised trust) in contemporary Nigeria are reflective of the abysmally low levels of leadership capital possessed by the holders of State power in particular and the political class in general. The paper takes its bearing from the following postulations: First, it asserts that leadership is the central actor in the creation and maintenance of social capital, whether bonding or bridging. Second, it argues that low levels of bridging social capital in post-authoritarian Nigeria is largely due to the inability of the political leadership to engender trust among the diverse people that constitute the State. The low levels of bridging social capital, therefore, have serious negative implications on inter ethnic and inter-group relations in the country. It concludes that an adherence to the idea of servant leadership would substantially increase the stock of bridging social capital in Nigeria and the spate of identity-related conflicts ravaging the nation (since until now, political leadership has not been able to create generalised trust) would drastically reduce.
Keywords: Bridging social capital; contemporary Nigeria; leadership development; servant leadership