• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Leadership: Beyond the glitz and glamour of public office

Leadership: Beyond the glitz and glamour of public office

Leadership plays a critical role in nation-building. True leaders are responsible for setting a clear vision for the future of their nation, and for creating a strategic roadmap that outlines the specific steps that will be taken to achieve that vision.

They inspire and motivate their citizens to work together towards this common goal. Leaders also establish strong institutions and values that promote economic prosperity, social harmony, and political stability.

Leaders should lead by example, demonstrating the values they espouse through their own behaviour. They must have the ability to make tough decisions, and the courage to take bold steps when necessary. Effective leaders are inclusive and work to ensure that all members of society are included in the nation-building process.

Leaders also play a critical role in fostering an environment that encourages innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. This involves investing in education and human capital development, providing the necessary infrastructure and resources to support businesses, and promoting a culture of innovation and risk-taking.

In short, the role of leadership in nation-building cannot be overstated. Strong and visionary leaders are essential to creating a thriving and prosperous nation that can withstand the challenges of the 21st century.

A shrewd observation by an unknown individual once stated that a great nation is built over the course of a generation by committed leaders. This sentiment echoed the teachings of esteemed political economist, Adam Smith, who believed that a nation’s wealth was not a result of its ruling class’s affluence, but instead, the productivity and industriousness of its citizens.

The process of building a viable nation requires conscious statesmanship, and it must be a constantly evolving and dynamic process that requires constant care and re-invention

In today’s age of globalisation, a viable nation must be equipped with strong institutions and values that will ensure its sustainability in the modern era. The process of building a viable nation requires conscious statesmanship, and it must be a constantly evolving and dynamic process that requires constant care and re-invention.

Despite the perpetual challenges, true leaders remain undaunted and welcome these obstacles as opportunities for growth. Just look at China and India – with the largest populations in the world, they have become important global players. And what about Japan and Singapore? These once “third-world” countries with limited natural resources have masterfully transformed into major driving forces of the global economy.

Nigeria has often been referred to as the “giant of Africa,” a title that seems rather misleading considering that its reputation is solely based on its population and oil wealth. In reality, the measure of a nation’s greatness is not limited to such factors but is determined by its level of productivity, industrialization, competitiveness, and political stability.

Productivity, in particular, is a crucial indicator of a nation’s efficiency and long-term development prospects. However, Nigeria’s productivity levels are hampered by a host of challenges, such as weak industrial linkages, devaluation of its currency, multiple foreign exchange rates, inadequate infrastructure, high tariffs, and the usual management and production hindrances associated with manufacturing. As a result, the cost of production in the country remains exorbitant, thereby stunting the nation’s industrial growth and economic prosperity.

Nigeria’s inability to compete with its international counterparts due to exorbitant production costs is a harrowing reality, rendering the popular notion that Nigerians are hardworking people with an abundance of human resources mere fallacy.

The intricate political structure of the society further complicates matters, as it reveals a dishevelled system that has supposedly hobbled its political and economic progress. A federal republic by name but in reality, Nigeria is a unitary state.

In fact, Nigerians have long lamented this political structure, which seems designed to lead the nation down an unenviable path of economic and political instability. Such instability has consistently had a negative effect on the performance of both economic and social institutions, restricting progress. This erratic environment befalls many African nations, with Nigeria taking the lead, as it struggles to adopt the democratic culture and thrive among global contemporaries.

During the 2023 election season, it’s disheartening to witness the ugly behavior of some Nigerian politicians and their thugs during the presidential, gubernatorial as well as National and state assembly elections. The idea that electoral processes should breed hostility and division is truly confounding. It’s essential to recognize that a strong and prosperous nation cannot arise from the ashes of political instability and thuggery.

Political instability in a nation can cause a myriad of negative effects, particularly after a violent election. The immediate aftermath of such an event can create a sense of fear, distrust and division among the citizens of the country. The violence can leave psychological scars on individuals and communities leading to long-term emotional distress that can take years to heal. Additionally, there can be economic implications with major disruptions in business and trade, which can lead to a further weakening of the nation’s economy. It can also result in the disruption of basic services and the failure of basic infrastructure to function properly.

Read also: What successful leadership looks like

In such a climate, foreign investment may dry up, leading to a further decrease in economic activity, an increase in poverty and a decline in the standard of living. The government may also become more repressive, further eroding trust and faith in governmental institutions. Overall, political instability can have a devastating effect on a nation, severely hindering progress and development, and causing long-term damage across all aspects of society.

It is a prevalent notion that political instability erodes the institutions responsible for policy formulation, thereby weakening policy monitoring and implementation mechanisms. Despite Nigeria’s substantial human and mineral resources, the country’s leaders have struggled to build a viable nation due to various factors, including socioeconomic inequalities, constitutional challenges, weak governing institutions, and leadership inadequacies.

For a nation to prosper, its citizens must have equal access to basic necessities such as food, shelter, health, education, and transportation. Unfortunately, disparities in the quality of life between different regions and social classes prevent Nigerians from achieving a common sense of citizenship. Regrettably, this marginalization and sense of inadequacy leave many Nigerians feeling excluded from society. Nigeria, like many other countries, is a nation of unfettered capitalism where the strong gets stronger and the weak get weaker.

Some public intellectuals in Nigeria have suggested that the 1999 Constitution be revised due to its various imperfections. However, as a democratic society, it is essential that we follow the law and not succumb to acts of impunity. To address various issues of exclusion and marginalization in bureaucratic and political positions, such as monopolies, merit-based opportunities should take precedence over the principle of federal character. Only then can Nigerians have genuine confidence in the justice and stability of their nation.

Weak institutions of governance continue to be a major obstacle in the pursuit of a viable nation. In order to ensure effective performance and measure the success of such institutions, we must establish clear standards, hire skilled Nigerians who possess both technical expertise and moral integrity to interpret rules, and promote transparency and accountability to inspire public confidence. However, in the past few years, the realization has dawned upon most of us that leadership cannot be reduced to mere integrity alone. Rather, it requires a commitment to the rule of law, a demonstration of democratic tolerance and a sense of fairness.

We need leaders who possess both vision and ability to see beyond the glitz and glamor of public office. Above all, we need democratic reformers who lead by example rather than empty proclamations. Nigeria is in dire need of leaders who are doers, not tricksters. We demand leaders who will leave lasting legacies and be remembered for years to come. Let us unite to build a viable nation, not just for ourselves but also for future generations. Thank you.