Failed Leadership │© Fola Daniel Adelesi

Following the recent events in Nigeria, I am compelled to write about failed leadership. This is not just about those in political offices but about all of us. It may seem glaring that those in the political offices have more direct responsibilities in what has brought us this far but that does not leave us out. We are not left out because we are the electorate. The seed of our used or unused franchise is what has germinated this bitter harvest!
To start with, I am totally disappointed that more than a hundred people, as at the time of writing this piece, have died and it happened in probably one week. Unfortunately, the Federal Government of Nigeria under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan, went ahead with its planned centenary celebration, which in my opinion is just another waste of resources. To add insult to injury, General Sunni Abacha was also honoured during the celebration that took place in the same week that more than forty students died. First you wonder what he was honoured for and then you begin to think if the award should have continued in the first place.
When I heard that the President was going to address the nation and I heard the focus of the address, I was annoyed. I also listened to the presentation that lasted more than twenty minutes and the President did not spare up to a minute to talk about those students who died. Just for a few minutes I wondered what would have happened in some other countries if these kinds of killings were going on.
I know that the centenary celebration could have been cancelled or at least postponed just to honour the slain students. I also know that by now, in some sane countries, where the people value human life, the President himself would have visited the states of the incident rather than threatening to remove military force just to prove a point to a subordinate and score cheap political point. It resonates in my mind right now when I remember the words of Rev. Sam Adeyemi who keeps saying that we do not value human life in this country.
We all are involved in this in one way or the other. The failed leadership that we are seeing at the top is, ultimately a representation of failed processes. It is the processes that we are a part of on daily basis. No leader emerges in one day and in isolation from the society. While this, what we are getting now, may not be what we have bargained for, it is still a product of some decisions that we have taken some years back.
It still remains a mystery why a country can be so rich and the people are going through hardship on daily basis. If twenty billion is missing from the nation’s account, then I can figure that this nation can confidently pay a million naira to its over one hundred and sixty million citizens without feeling it! While I don’t expect the government to do that, I think that it is failed leadership that is making us go on like it. We all are not leading right! And now I can’t wrap my head around the fact that we want to spend seven billion naira just to talk in what we call national conference! A real leader does not need to spend too much time talking! Some people say it is corruption but I see clearly that this is more than corruption. When a leader does not have a clear vision he can’t take the people anywhere even if he is not corrupt. It is worse when a leader is corrupt but the absence of corruption does not automatically make things right.
Just before you exempt yourself, think about the things around you and the things you have also done. Think about how you intimidate the teachers of your children or how you tempt them to get things done for your children. Think about how your treat your maids so much so that your children think that they really can’t amount to much and ought to be treated as trash. How are you even leading in your place of work as a leader? I have seen employers who should be called slave masters because of the styles they engage in their offices. Yet, the same people never got these kinds of treatments when they were employees! This is not just what is happening at the top. What is happening at the top is glaring but there are worse things that individuals are doing that nobody talks about.
One immediate solution I can proffer is that we also should go back to learn, study, observe and even enroll in classes to know more about what true leadership is. We should study the lives of great leaders around the world in order to follow their footsteps and not just quote the things they are saying. When I read about Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln, I wonder when such leaders will ever become a reality in our country! Is this a mirage? No it is not. It can be real if only you and I take up the responsibility and evolve into real leadership. Even our founding fathers like Awolowo and Azikwe gave great examples that we have suddenly abandoned.
Most of us know what is right and we really do not have to be taught like kids any more but we just refuse to do those things. Start with yourself and ask if you really have a heart for the people. Ask yourself how you have been treating those you have to handle. Have you been perfect with other people? I don’t expect you to be perfect but when you understand leadership, you will then see that it is about influencing people positively. And to influence people positively, you must have won their hearts. You also cannot win people’s hearts if you do not have their interest at heart.
While some people have been advocating taking to the streets for the ongoing sad events in the country, I make bold to say it may never fix the problem but there is a long term solution that lies with all of us. In a couple of months, most of the political leaders will start running to the different states and trying to convince – why did I use that word? – buy over most of us. Most of them don’t convince and have no such skills to do so. The onus lies on us to be wise enough and think if we want to go into this mess for another four years or we want to be out of this. If we forget the mess we are in and don’t take the right decisions again, then we are the ones sustaining the failed leadership.
Let us remember that our apathy cannot get us what we want. Our participation may not seem to amount to much but it can definitely change something. Keep quiet is one way we have also been a part of the failed leadership. More importantly I have already suggested that we should get trained in the art of real and true leadership in order to get involved and change things.
While this is not about telling anyone what to do, it is important for all of us to think and to see what we must do. So I would like to hear from you all. What should we do to move out of this failed leadership which is not just about the political space but the work place and personal leadership as well?
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There’s a sequel to this post coming to you in a few days.
Fola Daniel Adelesi
President/CEO,
Edible Pen.
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