The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly. —Jim Rohn
Letter to my country people:
General Olusegun Obasanjo is renowned for his many letters on issues of leadership and development. According to Udeme Nana these letters help this respected brass to speak truth to leadership.
Obasanjo’s letters are usually written to convey his feelings, thoughts , the attitudes or mindset towards an issue of national and continental interest.
His letters capture the environment and take a lot of reflection since they could be read and analysed by other parties, inferences drawn and preserved for posterity. The act of letter writing offers this army engineer the opportunity for reasoning and deep reflection. This leads to deliberate conceptualization, selection of words from an appropriate register, organization and presentation. It provides him the opportunity for correction of errors in thoughts and facts set down, and an overhaul in presentation if, after circumspection, it is considered necessary. This is not always the case for the elder State man. On the occasion of the visit of some students across the continent mid October 2023 to his Presidential Library in Abeokuta in Ogun State (South West Nigeria) Obasanjo did not hand over a letter for the students to take back home to leaders of their different countries, he bared his mind on the failure of leadership in Africa in person and highlighted how we can focus on development instead of engrossing ourselves in political frivolities.
Give us solutions not wars and problems:
The political and economic woes of Africa are known to all in Africa.
We are still grappling with the right economic system to adopt , our economies and currencies are weak and any small hiccup in global system destabilizes sub Saharan Africa.
He wonders why this is always the case. He expresses displeasure with this new form of neo colonialism and wonders if we would ever be free from this problem. As a reaction to the challenge General Obasanjo said African leaders must develop indigenous answers to the various issues the continent is currently facing. The delegation, which included students’ leaders from Ethiopia and the Tigray Region, was led by the President of All-Africa Students’ Union, AASU, Osisiogu Osikenyi.
Media reports say that the students were on a “thank you” visit to Obasanjo for facilitating the permanent cessation of hostilities agreement between the government of Ethiopia and the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front, TPLF, in Pretoria in 2022.
According to the former president , “no problem in Africa is too great for us to solve.”General Obasanjo said it was important for Africa to consider the peculiarities of its people in designing and implementing workable home-grown solutions to the problems confronting the continent. General Obasanjo said that African Union, AU, had taken a lead in finding home-grown solutions to the continent’s problems with the way it resolved the civil war between Tigray and Ethopia.
“It is a great lesson for us to know that yes, whatever may be our problem – political, economic, social in Africa, we can solve them if we go about seeking solutions rightly. “What is very important and which I want you to take very seriously is that, what we were able to achieve in Tigray between TPLF and the Government of Ethopia is what you and I will regard as finding African solutions to African problems. “This is what our leaders have been clamouring for even from independence in the early 1960s.
“No problem in Africa is too great for us to solve; problem of peace, problem of insecurity, problem of youth unemployment, lack of empowerment, lack of skill acquisition and general bad governance,” Obasanjo said.
Discussing Frivolities in the Face of Development Challenges:
It is a shame that African leaders recently flew to Russia to beg President Vladimir Putin to allow the flow of grain exports out of Ukraine and Russia to Africa. Why can’t this continent of 1.2 billion people find solutions to its grain supply challenges through collaboration. It’s shameful that 54 countries are grain dependent on 2 countries.
African leaders should utilize the occasion and start a journey of self reliance in grain production. African countries are more dependent on EU Countries than each other. African leaders fight over political differences. Election cycle that should be a carnival in democracy and exchange in progressive ideas are usually turned into mini wars and blood letting exercises. According to Mo Ibrahim our aging African leaders are determined to take the continent into their graves and this should be prevented by the youth population because the tomorrow of Africa is better than today.
Africa is in this predicament because we have neglected corporate governance in the public sector. To make progress we must imbibe the critical value of governance in the public sector. The five principles of corporate governance in the public sector that must be adhered to are responsibility, accountability, awareness, impartiality and transparency once these are woven into the fabric of the public life the sky would be our limit in Africa.
According to General Colin Powell Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers (citizens):stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can’t help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. “African leaders you heard”
Michael Akpofure Umogun is a Chartered Marketer with interest in public policy