It's Not By Academic Qualification And Luck But Competence And Vision
Luiz InÃ¡cio Lula da Silva is widely regarded as the best president and the most popular politician ever in the history of Brazil. He led his country through its eight most progressive years. Lula - as he is popularly called isn't known to be very lucky in life. He surely had very little of it.
He couldn't read until he was ten years old, quit school just two years later and never to return to the classroom again in his life. Yes! At a tender age of 12, he began working fulltime to support his family as a shoe shiner and street vendor.
At age 14 he got his first formal job in a copper processing factory as a lathe operator and at age 19, he lost the little finger on his left hand in an accident which would trigger his participation in the activities of the Workers' Union. So he became a unionist and progressively held several important union posts.
He rose through the ranks as he was elected in 1975, and re-elected in 1978, president of the Steel Workers' Union in the region of Sao Paulo.
Beginning in 1989 at the age of 44, Lula ran for President of Brazil three times unsuccessfully. He would eventually achieve victory in the 2002 election, and was inaugurated as President on 1 January 2003. He won re-election in 2006 as served as President till 31 December 2010.
With many years of proven track records of effective leadership, vision and capability as a unionist, Lula, a man with hard luck and immaterial education (only four years of formal education) led Brazil for 8 peaceful, progressive and prosperous years.
As a man with vision, he knew what he wanted for his country and nothing would stop him. He had drive and this kept his aspiration burning even while he lost three consecutive elections.
In October 2010, The Washington Post , evaluated his term saying "Under Lula, Brazil became the world's eighth-largest economy, more than 20 million people rose out of acute poverty and Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics, the first time the Games will be held in South America."
This is what happens when Competence and Vision cross path.
J acob Zuma, the president of South Africa had NO FORMAL education. It's incredible that he did not attend school for even a day. Do I know another president like that? Yes! Andrew Johnson the 17th President of the United States from 1865 to 1869.
Andrew was a tailor's apprentice in his youth and was illiterate when he got married at 18 to 16 year-old Eliza McCardle in 1827; she was the daughter of a local shoemaker. His wife taught him how to read and write.
Andrew had a progressively successful political career matched with great track records of performance before being elected to the second highest office in the US.
He was elected a mayor, then, member of Tennessee House of Representatives, member of the US Congress where he served for ten years from 1843 to 1853, Tennessee governor from 1853 to 1857, US Senate (1857-1862) and the military governor of his occupied Tennessee during the civil war between 1862 and 1865 where he was exceptionally successful.
On 4 March 1865, he was inaugurated as the vice president to Abraham Lincoln in his second term and would become the president 42 days later upon Lincoln's assassination.
Andrew was selected by Lincoln as his running mate based on his adept performance, capability and vision and they were both elected by the people based on their visions and capabilities.
What Zuma lacks in classroom education, he makes up for it with his wealth of experience in grassroots and national politics.
After many years of struggle that included 10 years of incarceration with Nelson Mandela, Zuma started serving in the National Executive committee of the ANC in 1977 when the party was still a liberation movement. He had been a member since he was 17 years old in 1959. By the time he became ANC president in December 2007, he had already served the party/movement for over 30 years.
He was also an effective deputy to President Thabo Mbeki from 1999 to 2005.
Save for his sometimes raucous personal lifestyle, with no academic certificate he can call his or any luck associated with him either, Zuma is effectively leading Africa's biggest economy in this time of global economic uncertainties.
In the last presidential election held on 16 April 2010, Nigerians had the opportunity to choose a president who would lead us towards the promised land but we chose sentiment above reason.
We were influenced mostly by the considerations of luck and academic qualifications of the candidates much more than any other factors.
We lost the golden opportunity to scrutinize the candidates thoroughly and make informed choice based on their achievements in previous management and public service roles and their visions for the country. We are all paying for this national error.
The state of our nation is a clear pointer to the fact that for a nation to progress, it needs much more than the education and luck of its leader.
As 2015 is only 37 months away, if we are lucky to remain a united nation against the US prediction and all odds at home, the chief among which are the incessant attacks of Boko Haram and uncontrollable corruption, rather than luck and higher degree, we must make capability and vision the uncompromising prerequisite in our future leaders.
A word is enough!
Rufus Kayode Oteniya -