A Memo to the Emerging Leaders of a New Nigeria
The past history of Nigeria is a story we tell based on hazy recollections of virtual realities we went through since the last five decades. The future of the country is a daydream produced by our hopes and fears. Fear because of the re-appearing of the same old, fake and greedy politicians without integrity and trust. The long list of accussed corrupted political leaders recently published by the Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) shows they have not changed. Hope because of the emerging of the young, dynamic, patriotic and responsible leaders with exemplary of decency, hard work, integrity, technological innovation nedded for improvement of the lot of the common man. Leadership has become a major traffic jam or 'go-slow' to Nigeria's development. Leading without vision in Nigeria has brought political and socio-economical catastrophe since the 'no victors, no vanquished' civil war, the six successful coups and four failed ones that led to the thirty years of accidental military-installed dictatorship and the present twelve years of inept and corrupt 'democratic' kleptocrats. To be an effective and responsible leader, your followers must have great trust in you. A person's observable behaviour is an indication of his character.
The Giant of Africa that could be able to feed the whole of Africa with its fertile land area of 923,773 square kilometres of land, about four times the size of United Kingdom (234,000 square kilometres) cannot produce enough food for its own citizens. In the 1970s, a country rated as 33 rd highest per capita income in the world has now become the 13 th poorest nation in the world. Nigeria, one of the world's most strategic nations has sunk into a politicized tribalism, ethnic and religion jingoism, social and economic dilapidation. The world's tenth most populous country refuse to take advantage of its population, human and natural resources to rule the world, or become a super power and set the pace for others as future of the world belongs to Africa. Without any doubt, only emerging of responsible and patriotic leaders can save Nigeria from sinking. A leader is a person who directs the activities of others for the good of all. Leaders do not command excellence, they build excellence, that is, being all you can be.
There is no country in the whole world that does not have a Nigerian community and professionals in all different fields. With all the returns from the oil sector, our leaders has found it difficult to provide undistrupted electricity supply and clean tap water for all. At a time when other African countries are setting plans to embark on new generation Metro-rail- transportation, the nation cannot run prudently and successfuly a railway transportation from Kano to Lagos and Calabar to Maiduguri. Since the discovery of oil in the late 1950s, that make us to be the largest crude oil producer in Africa and the second largest oil reserves in Africa, this country cannot boast of modern and standard four or five-lane highways from Ibadan to Benin and Abuja to Sokoto as way of reducing traffic accidents on our roads. It is sad that the less priviledged children and individuals could not reach their full potentials because of inability of government to provide a standard and high-quality curriculum education and public institutions. If action is not taken by now, all these developments might not happen in the next fifty years. Leadership is defined through action. It is the active engagement of the mind by the exemplary leaders with the surrounding environment that causes development. Effective leaders take the action that has a high probability of success.
At twenty first century, we cannot train, kit and renumerate police force that will not take bribe apart of taking responsibility of preventing armed robbers and kidnappers from endangering the lives of the populace. The offical vision of the Nigerian Police Force is 'making the country safer and secured for the attainment of national aspiration' and the mission 'is to deliver qualitative and efficient security and law enforcement services to citizens of Nigeria'. But there is no security of live and property in our fatherland. How could one explain that the tenth most petroleum- rich nation in the world has millions of people living in deplorable conditions and in great poverty. Government with good, dynamic and responsible leaders is the only institution capable of overseeing such developments, at least in a well-planned way. Nigeria has not been opportuned to have such leaders since independence. This is the time for responsible leaders with integrity and possibilities of progressive, transparency, accountability and visionary governance. Success can only be achieved when there is a unity of effort.
According to the first African - American to become the President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama; 'No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug trafficers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end'. Now is the time for faithful and responsible leaders in Nigeria to transform our gifted natural and human resources to prosperity. The time for a New Nigeria is now. The country needs a new set of leadership which are capable of mobilizing additional human, technical, financial and natural resources and find out the existing untapped ones. It is now the time for elusive social reforms, harmony between religious groups, administrative accountability and transparency, functioning and grassroots democracy. The country need hard-working leaders who are capable of decentralize decision making powers and resources to enable local authorities to provide responsive services to their citizens. All eligible voters must invest their votes for a brighter future in the coming general elections. According to Benjamin Franklin; 'employ thy time well. If thou meanest to get leisure' Nigerians have no time to waste again. This is the time for leaders who see urgent need to change this poor nation into great and prosperous one economically, socially and politically. Nigeria is in need of leaders with vision, goal and mission that can be demostrated with integrity, dignity, trust and patriotism. Leaders that have good understanding of human nature such as needs, emotions and motivation. Leaders that will not recruit green horns on excuse of the party allegiance or family ties in their winning team. Leaders that will inspire their professional cabinet and co-workers into higher levels of teamwork motivation to achieve realistic targets.
Leadership is organising a group of people to achieve a common goal. In a more simple form as stated by Alan Keith; 'Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen'. Leaders are people who have a clear idea of what they want to achieve and why. They are set out to influence the actions, beliefs and feelings of others in positive ways and to the advantage of the community or society. Leadership involves identifying potential problems and solving them before they reach crisis proportions. Good leaders analyze, plan and adapt their plans to new circumstances and opportunities. Great leaders are known by their beliefs and characters, jobs, tasks and human nature. They are also known by their implementing, motivating and providing direction to achieve a desired goal. Leaders should be cosistent in principles or values as it help to attain their vision. Humility is another vital attribute of a good leader. This help in learning from mistakes, getting feedback as they are able to listen to comments, suggestios and identify problem areas. Leaders do not just solve problems brought to them, they analyse situations, recognise potential problems and deal with them before they become more problems.
Dr. Warren Bennis defined leaders as '... people, who are able to express themselves fully. They also know what they want, why they want it, and how to communicate what they want to others, in order to gain their co-operation and support....they know how to achieve their goals'. Dr. Bennis also explained the great differences between 'managers' and 'leaders'. According to him in his work titled 'On Becoming a Leader' he stated that; 'Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing'. The basic principles of good leader are that they know their limit and seek self-improvement, be technically proficient, seek responsibility and take responsibility for their actions, make sound and timely decisions and set good examples. Leaders ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished. They will never embark on white elephant projects that will never end. Good leaders are concern for the task to be done and the people to do it. On the issue of task which is clearly spelled out, they emphasize on the achievement of concrete objectives by looking for high levels of productivity, and ways to organise people and activities in order to meet those objectives. On the issue of co-workers, leaders take great concern on these people needs, interests, problems,development and motivate them to make win and achieve their particular goal as a team.
Democracy according to Diane Ravitch '...is a process, a way of living and working together. It is evolutionary, not static. It requires cooperation, compromise, and tolerance among all citizens. Making it work is hard, not easy. Freedom means responsibility. Not freedom from responsibility' Every citizen have to engage and involve in fulfilling this responsibility in pursuit of community goals. The Nigerians positive response to the last voters registration exercice indicate that all citizens must be active, not passive to choose responsible leaders as the success or failure of the government is now their responsibility. Full participation of all Nigerians in the next general elections will determine their future. Voting for dynamic and responsible leaders will produce great societies and successful citizens. If you are chosen to lead in the next general elections, that means you have to act and play your part well as perfectly as possible. True leaders make promises and keep those promises.
Nigeria has all the potentials to be a great country,if not the greatest in the world. A great country where the nation does not take from the poor and give to the rich. A great country where the nation take care of its poor, its sick and the underpriviledged. A country is great when it looks its future through education of every child. The government that will identify itself with hope for the future. The government of a great country recognises the principle that the public must be protected and served by delivery of essential services such as social security and health insurance. A country is great not only by its name, population or geographical landmass, but by the competent management of a nation's resources and rendering good services that make its citizens meet their obligations and responsibilities. A corrupt country can never be great.
Written by, Adewale T Akande, Author, Educationist and Road Traffic Safety Consultant, Barcelona, Spain.