• Friday, June 14, 2024
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Between continuity and change in leadership

Between continuity and change in leadership

The development of any nation does not only depend on economic growth but it is also a function of the quality of leadership in all strata of the society. As a concerned citizen who is bothered about the quality of leadership in our country, I posted a contribution in the Harvard Business Review in the new year 2015 to confirm whether leaders are born or made. Within two weeks almost 200 comments emerged across the globe with very thought-provoking and illuminating comments. Some of the commentators are of the view that leaders are born, while some believe that leaders are made. There are several others who believe that unless leaders are born they cannot be made. Individually or collectively, we are all eligible to express our opinion on the leadership question in Nigeria.

As a former public servant who held various leadership positions, I have had reasons to personally observe leadership at organization, state and federal levels for almost 35 years. I came to a conclusion that culture plays a significant role in the emergence of leaders in organizations and indeed our society. Until we redefine our culture as a people, the chances are high that those to be voted into office in 2015 have same values as those voted out of office.

The cultural dimension of leadership, however, will not be subjected to analysis in this piece but kept in abeyance for the future. Regrettably, it has been observed that most leaders in our society emerge through intrigues and mischief. Though this assertion is debatable, nonetheless when leaders emerge through intrigues and mischief, the organization they superintend pays the ultimate price for such an aberration.

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Leadership is not about popularity, it is about taking responsibility. Political leadership at all levels of government is about delivering the mandate of the people and prudent management of resources. It is about the well-being of the people. From 28 March, 2015, Nigerians will take their destiny in their own hands once again by either voting for change or continuity in leadership at state and federal levels of government.

When Nigerians talk of change, what do they mean? They mean change in leadership motivated by choice and desire for a prosperous and economically developed nation. Continuity in leadership, on the other hand, is not that forced on the people, but earned through strategic, bold and well-thought-out vision for the future. The choice for change or continuity of political leadership belongs to the people, not government or the military. Most Nigerian leaders have often claimed to be pragmatic and committed in a bid to conceal their inadequacies.

But their pragmatism and commitment only epitomize disappointment, consent to underdevelopment and the status quo, a recognition that nothing else is possible and an indulgence in failure. Adopting Plato’s metaphor of the metal in which men are categorized as gold, silver and lead, most of those who have led or aspiring to leadership positions in Nigeria would indisputably be lead of the lowest possible grade available within the country. In our clime, outsourcing of leadership positions and responsibilities to subordinates who are inept is common in public offices.
Election time is here again and politicians occupying ‘juicy’ public positions are strategizing to remain in office to fulfil personal mandate and ambition. Synchronously, the electorate is seriously considering either continuity of the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan (GEJ) or change in leadership to General Buhari, presidential flag bearer of the APC, through the ballot box only. In this year’s elections, rigging and violence will not endure; it is the ballot box that will be used to influence either a change or continuity in leadership.

Democracy confers the power on the people to choose a leader or leaders of their choice. Whatever the choice being made by the electorate through the ballot box, leaders will emerge this time through the concept of ‘one man, one vote’. According to Confucius, ‘man has three ways of acting wisely. First, on meditation; that is the noblest. Secondly, on imitation; that is the easiest. Thirdly, on experience; that is the bitterest’. The experience of the electorate occasioned by poverty and hunger including unemployment in the midst of plenty is immeasurable. The electorate will be willing to deploy enormous experience at its disposal to determine which direction the pendulum of voting will swing in this year’s elections.

For those Nigerians who seek continuity of incumbent chief executives at the state or federal levels including the assemblies, they will carry out an assessment of programmes and promises (if any) made by individuals and political parties during electioneering campaigns. For those who need a change in leadership, they will be examining the manifesto, identity and beliefs of the APC and other political parties, while assessing antecedents of their candidates.

It should be noted that the political arena needs either a change or continuity in leadership in this year’s elections. The call for an interim government is deplorable and should be disregarded by all peace-loving Nigerians as it is undemocratic, illegal, unconstitutional and unacceptable. From which political party will the interim government emerge? Those who are professionals in fabricating leaders through intrigues and mischief are about to set up their production line again.

They should be warned that democracy in Nigeria is no more business as usual as the legitimacy and legality of an interim government are questionable. The call for an interim government is from those who are enemies of Nigeria. Nigeria has gone beyond interim government and we are forging ahead with democracy irrespective of its challenges. Nigerians must be given the opportunity to have either a change or continuity in leadership which is an expression of their collective will. Nigeria is greater than any individual or groups of people, and thus, those singing anarchic and treasonable songs should desist with immediate effect.

Carl Von Clausewitz, the famous Prussian General and military strategist, in his book ‘On War’ intelligently alludes that the survival of any nation depends on the people, military and government. Further, he affirms that the centre of gravity of any nation lies in one of these. In a democracy, the people are the centre of gravity and ditto for Nigeria. The 2015 general elections are either for continuity or change in leadership, not an interim leader.

MA Johnson