Making a case for Acting and Valuing Followership

At every point in time in every a society or any form of arrangement wherein a set of people have agreed to live and organise themselves together through a realisation that they are much more better, that way, than the state of nature, there is always a cadre of responsibility expressed and inherent for every member in that society.

By so doing, there subsists a chain of process and actions that creates a somewhat unique ecosystem that each and every individual has a role to play. Roles and responsibilities that not only sustain that system but grows it over a long period of time.

Specifically, there will be two cadres or levels of organisation with various sublevels in every society. There are the leaders and followers. This leaders, in this context, will represent those set of people charged and allotted the responsibility of charting the success of the arrangement for the sake of coordination and mutual understanding of that arrangement among other reasons.

With the age of time, there have been several evolvement of the leadership arrangement in societies world over. From the choice for a divinely chosen individual as manifested in kingships to the present day desires for a democratic system among several other previous systems, what is clear is that it will continue evolving. Although some of these arrangements still subsists side by side in even in this present day, what matters in the end, however, is acceptability by followers.

But of focus here, is followership. Many at times, the focus of players in society has always been geared towards the actions and behaviours of leaders without attention to those who are meant to benefit from the actions and inactions of leadership. Followers or the people have the ultimate power to accept or modify the actions of their governments.

Question is to what extent has followers or the ruled influenced the actions of the leaders? As a common experience, one factor that determines this, is the level of orientation and literacy of the people being ruled. For nations in the West and across North America, there is clearly a better orientation as regards this. Each government policy stems from a deliberate effort to better the standards of the followers and ruled, in nearest futures as they manifest.

Disparity however exist for countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. There is a plausible evidence of combined high handiness of the leaders/rulers and a pervasive sloppiness of the followers that creates a system that lacks a flow of responsible governance. Leading to insinuations that maybe the ‘State of Nature’ as described by Thomas Hobbs and his erudite colleagues would have been a more preferable system for organising ourselves.

To use Nigeria as a case study, one can easily classify followers into three categories. Those “who don’t care, those who do care but do not take actions and lastly those who care and take actions”. Many Nigerians fall in the first categories and my reasons for this are not farfetched. For a majority, their major concern is getting their daily bread and just getting by. Unfortunately, the recent fuel crisis in Nigeria which has affected all, irrespective of status has seemed to make everyone a voice to be heard.

For followers to value their place in the society, there must be conscious effort by them to change the status quo. This goes beyond, forming pressure groups to drive their opinions and making demands of the government but each and member of the group forming first a personal opinion of what he wants and which he can channel into the group to achieve a better Nigeria.

For Nigeria, with pervasive corruption in the public sector and civil service, a chunk of these corrupt practices are aided by followers. If the Transparency International ranking of Nigeria is anything to go by, which ranks Nigeria 136th least corrupt nation out of 168 countries on its radar. The fight against corruption will be best achieved through a deliberate action by followers to not take and receive bribes. Today, if one visits the secretariat of one the ministries to get as much as a stamp on document, such a person will shelve notes out of his pocket at different bureaucratic levels.

The response of the people towards the recent Panama Papers Leak scandal in Nigeria and even in Africa also shows our tolerance for corruption. A number of ranking government officials were mentioned as having offshore untaxable and secret assets in the Tax heaven of the Panama Republic. Up across the Mediterranean, in Ireland, we saw the Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, resigned when it revealed his secret offshore assets. Even the President of USA and the British Prime Minister had to declare their incomes and tax payments details just to reassure the people of their clean accounts.

We have a sitting senate president who despite his false asset declaration made in 2003 and his pending case in the Code of Conduct Tribunal, had his name mentioned in the Panama Papers yet still parades himself as the custodian of legislative processes in Nigeria. If such persons can do such, what do we say of the distinguished senate that plans to circumvent the laws of the Code of Conduct Tribunal so as to forestall the legal proceeding of the tribunal, to rescue their boss?

Another recent case that bears on the impunity of the government in valuing its citizens is the case of the second anniversary of the #BBOG (Bring Back Our Girls) Campaign that saw the activists gather to commiserate 731 days of the kidnapped Chibok girls and making demands of their government to rescue those girls by visiting the Presidential villa. A responsible government only had to give audience to them and reassure the activist of its desire to rescue them but, they were barred off and we had a President out of the country and a Wife of the President launching her book on beauty therapy on the said day at the villa. She has however promised after a backlash, to donate proceeds from the book to parents of the #chibok girls and a desperate travel to Maiduguri days later.

In the state of all these hullabaloo, it is pertinent that as followers and citizens we can’t afford to remain in the first two categories of followers. We need to take active and coherent actions that places a high premium on us and society. One of such is imbibing a deep spirit of patriotism towards the Nigerian state through support and upliftment of the government in its positive efforts. There will also be a need to speak and imbibe progressive thoughts towards the state irrespective of political divide. It is retrogressive to pray and wish for the downfall of a government, this only means that we want to see Nigeria retrogressive in the future.

Furthermore, the realisation of the ultimate power of votes should be effectively used as a tool not just to remove a bad government but to install a better one. Governance should always be a step forward derided of nonsense sentiments. The 2015 election was a step forward but if demographics are too be analysed, we are not there yet. Nigeria with about 70 million registered voters in 2015 of its 170million people only saw 29 million meagre individuals come out to vote during the election. We can improve on this.

Lastly, as citizens and followers it is also very important that we perform our civic responsibilities and duties. We need to use that pedestrian bridge, dump our refuses in the right places, and also ensure we pay our taxes to the government. Clearly most individuals in the public and civil service and likewise regulated corporate organisations pay their taxes. Less can be said of individuals in the informal sector as well as several organisations and firms who declare false profits to decrease their tax burden. As the current Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, recently revealed that 363,000 (three hundred and sixty three thousand) companies do not and has never paid taxes to the federal government. All these must stop.

To conclude, the world and Nigeria in particular will be a much more wonderful place to live in if people value their places in the chain of processes that make up society. Let us look at providing the solutions to our collective problems as a nation through a bottom-top approach that starts with the people. With a clear, good and positive mind and actions of the people over a long period of time that is transferable to generations, Nigeria will gradually retake its pride place among Nations.


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Articles by Abiola Ayodeji Gbemisola