• Monday, May 27, 2024
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BusinessDay

Leadership is about serving humanity

Leading with an open heart: The power and peril of vulnerability in the workplace

“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” John Maxwell, High Road Leadership: Bringing People Together in a World That Divides, 2024

When it comes to improving the well-being of individuals and creating positive societal change, the conversation consistently revolves around the role of leadership. Whether the desired change is small or significant, the evaluation of leadership is always essential. The transformation of any society is a reflection of its leadership.

Leadership involves qualities such as humility, influence, trust, integrity, character, commitment, accountability, transparency, and setting a good example for others to follow. It is not just about giving speeches and asking people to make sacrifices while living a lavish lifestyle. Our president has repeatedly emphasised the need for sacrifice, particularly in terms of paying higher taxes to help revive the struggling economy.

“Our president has repeatedly emphasised the need for sacrifice, particularly in terms of paying higher taxes to help revive the struggling economy.”

As higher taxes and sacrifices are demanded by governments, the people will equally demand higher standards of service, accountability, and responsibility from our elected and appointed officials. To this end, Mr. President and all state governors are kindly requested not to suppress the good in themselves while in office to provide for the needs of the people. Why? There is hardship in the country, and people are looking up to our leaders at national and sub-national levels to fulfil their promises.

Leadership should prioritise the well-being and security of all individuals, not just a select few. It is important for leaders at all levels, from national to sub-national, to address the needs of the vulnerable and deprived in society. Just as Pope Francis a decade ago at the World Economic Forum, Davos, urged business leaders to use their wealth for the benefit of humanity, leaders in government should also focus on ensuring a fair distribution of resources and support for all citizens.

We anticipate that our leaders will involve all sectors of society in creating and implementing policies. However, this is often not the case, leading to challenges in addressing inequality and ensuring freedom for all members of society. It is evident that many developing nations, especially in Africa, are struggling with the impacts of inequality and poverty exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and inadequate governance.

In 2022, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) published its Multidimensional Poverty Index Report, revealing that Nigeria has 133 million individuals living in multidimensional poverty. The report indicated that the National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) was 0.257, showing that impoverished individuals in Nigeria face just over one-quarter of all potential deprivations. In my view, these individuals are struggling to endure the hardships brought about by financial difficulties in a country considered the largest economy in Africa.

Inflation rates are concerning, as they are causing financial difficulties for many Nigerians. The high cost of food items and essential products is adding to the financial strain. The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security has attributed rising food inflation to various factors such as food reserve depletion, insecurity, flooding, weakening of the Naira, and supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19. Nigerians are looking for solutions to these challenges, and it is important for leaders to not only be aware of the problems but also provide effective solutions.

Many reforms are being planned, including the removal of fuel subsidies and an increase in electricity tariffs. However, these changes may worsen the hardships faced by the people. The removal of these subsidies could have negative effects on the economy, leading to slower growth, increased inflation, higher poverty rates, and a rise in job losses in the informal sector.

It is important to note that responsible governments do not abruptly end subsidies for their citizens. Even developed nations provide subsidies to support their economy and citizens. The idea behind removing subsidies is to allocate the saved funds towards national development. However, in many cases, these funds are not utilised for the intended purpose, leading to a decline in essential services and overall living standards.

The importance of leadership in implementing reforms cannot be overstated. It is crucial for leaders to provide adequate notice to the people and have a clear plan of action to address any potential risks. Without strong and honest leadership, reforms may not be successful, and public funds may be mismanaged. As an example, a state government with an internally generated revenue of N33.63 billion over a 3-year period (2019–2022) has reportedly allocated N15 billion for the construction of an ultra-modern residence for the governor. This state, located in northeastern Nigeria, has a reported multidimensional poverty rate of 86.2 percent, according to the NBS. So, what is the poverty reduction strategy in place to ameliorate the suffering of the poor in the state?

There is still time for leadership at all levels of government to make positive changes and for Nigerians to hold their leaders accountable. The challenge lies in the fact that some leaders prioritise serving both humanity and money rather than solely focusing on serving humanity. It is crucial for leaders aspiring for success in office to focus on the well-being of the people they serve. The future of Nigeria hinges on whether leaders choose to prioritise the country’s survival over personal gains. Our leaders should strive to serve humanity, not money. Thank you.