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Leaders add value to their followers

As a leadership enthusiast, this is another opportunity for me to add my voice to the leadership question in Nigeria. I was asked a question by one gentleman in his mid-thirties at a public lecture on leadership. “Who will add value to our lives,” he asked? In my view, his problem with the current political leadership seems deep-rooted in a country where the unemployment rate in the last quarter of 2020 was 33.3 percent. And the debt of the nation, according to the Debt Management Office, stands at about N32.22 trillion as of September 2020.

The statistics released recently by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that over 23 million people are out of work with the highest inflation rate in 4 years of 17.33 percent (yr-on-yr). I thought the poor economic performance of the government must have infuriated the gentleman. I did not ask him if he is unemployed or underemployed youth. But I could see the frustration in his eyes.

In spite of efforts at nation building in the past 60 years, Nigeria is more insecure and less stable politically with huge unemployed and underemployed citizens

The gentleman drew the attention of the audience to the CBN’s defence of the naira with US$5.62 billion in three months. What a strategy, he asked? No response because I am not an economist. He went further to say that, “defending the naira with hard-earned dollars without significant local production is like pouring water into a basket.” His contributions and questions were weighty. But let us not lose track of the main theme of this article which is on leadership.

Each generation looks for leaders, statesmen and stateswomen who will do what is right and just. And who will bring about reformation in the country? God-fearing leaders would be examples to the present generation as they strive to leave a legacy of greatness for the next generation to build upon. In spite of efforts at nation-building in the past 60 years, Nigeria is more insecure and less stable politically with huge unemployed and underemployed citizens than she had ten years ago.

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That is not to say that we have not had men and women who have contributed immensely and have influenced the nation and the world by their outstanding leadership abilities. But they are few in number. I am not saying that those leaders who did well in the past and those who are currently pulling their weight in the assignments given to them were, or are without fault. Those who have done well, if any, have simply exemplified the essence of leadership qualities that we need to remember at this time in our nation.

There was a time in our country when we were taught that a person’s word was their bond when corruption was the exception. Children were taught good morals, right was right and wrong was wrong and we felt safe in our respective communities. Then human right or freedom of expression was not the right to do as you please regardless of who you hurt. My understanding in the 1970s and early 1980s as a young man was that freedom was the right to live truly, speak truly and deal truly. That was my country and the world where I grew up. It was a safe country.

Have you taken account of the country we live in today? If you have not done so, I have taken account of the country we live in today. By my own assessment, the government appears incognizant of the growing threats posed by banditry to our national security. We live in a dangerous but peaceful country where most of our cities and communities are filled with crime and immorality. A country where some educated individuals in leadership positions say banditry is not a crime. So, who are those controlling our society, moulding the minds of our children and society?

It is my desire that my grandchildren and future generations should have a better world – a world where the royal law of love is evident, experiencing the more abundant life where there is equity, justice and peace. It is imperative that Nigeria is in dire need of a reformation.

Nigeria needs strategies for transforming the workplace, the city and the entire country. Although, I am not aware of any time – tested formula that could be applied to building a nation. Since the days of Adams Smith, most economists and politicians have agreed that the wealth of a nation is not based on the wealth and opulence of its leaders, but on education, productivity and competitiveness of its citizens.

I am optimistic that the change we would love to see would be actualized when Nigeria can muster committed leaders in all tiers of the government – executive, legislature and judiciary – and equally in the private sector. However, a country with largely ostracized citizens who are under the yoke of insecurity and are increasingly crippled by economic circumstances must produce committed leaders. So, when will our leaders add value to their followers? It is necessary to ask the question because “leaders add value by serving others.” Thank you!

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