• Monday, February 26, 2024
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BusinessDay

Redefining leadership: A path to economic stability and collective prosperity in Nigeria

But Nigerian leaders don’t see serving the massesin the light of sacrifice, of self-abnegation, of self-abasement. For them it is to gain weight, enlarge harem, add so-called side chicks, cultivate sybaritic habiliment, change wardrobe and eating habits to match new patrician status and gargantuan tastes, wire money abroad in savings and for indulgence homes and, finally, move into the phase of h

In Nigeria’s socio-political landscape, a perplexing conundrum persists: the transformation of leaders from champions of the people to figures seemingly aloof once power is attained. This disconnect, often resulting in decisions starkly contrasting with the nation’s economic and social realities, is deeply troubling. A prime example is the decision to send an astonishing 1411 delegates to a conference in Dubai, a move defended by the government but seen by many as a blatant case of fiscal irresponsibility.

This disconnection from reality is plainly evident in the country’s economic trajectory. The alarming 53% increase in the USD to Naira exchange rate – from 753 to 1170 between May and November – starkly highlights the dire economic situation. This scenario, largely a product of administrative inefficiencies, policy misalignment, and corruption of the previous administration, has worsened under the current administration, contradicting promises of economic stability and good governance. The economic downturn has severe consequences, exacerbating the suffering of Nigerians. The middle class is eroding, transforming many into beggars. The desperation for migration is at its highest in decades, yet the administration continues business as usual, mirroring the apathy of preceding governments.

Read also: The psychology of follower-focused leadership

In response to these challenges, a multi-faceted approach towards governance and economic management is imperative:
Leadership by Example: Effective leadership transcends policymaking; it involves embodying the desired change. Leaders must reflect the sacrifices they expect from their citizens, including reducing their salaries, curbing non-essential government spending, and adopting lifestyles that align with the economic conditions of the average Nigerian.

Rationalizing Government Expenditure: The excessive delegation to Dubai serves as a stark reminder of the need for fiscal discipline. Every governmental expenditure must be rigorously assessed for its necessity and contribution to the national interest, preventing wasteful spending and ensuring optimal use of resources.

Transparency and Accountability in Governance: Government’s decision-making, especially in financial matters, must be transparent and accountable. This entails providing clear justifications for decisions, such as sending large delegations abroad, and ensuring effective utilization of public funds.

Stabilizing the Forex Market: The foreign exchange market’s volatility is a critical economic issue. Stability can be achieved through policies that attract foreign investment and promote economic diversification, alongside efforts to bolster foreign exchange reserves and ensure a transparent forex allocation system.

Promoting Local Industries and Manufacturing: A robust economic model necessitates a focus on local industries. Supporting local manufacturing and businesses reduces import reliance, saves foreign exchange, and generates employment. For example, using locally manufactured vehicles for government purposes would conserve foreign exchange and stimulate the domestic automotive industry.

Investing in Infrastructure and Human Capital: Infrastructure development is vital for economic growth and stability. Investments in roads, power, telecommunications, and other key sectors will boost business, attract foreign investment, and enhance quality of life. Equally important is investment in education and healthcare, crucial for a skilled and healthy workforce.

Inclusive Governance and Stakeholder Engagement: The government must engage with various stakeholders, including the private sector, civil societies, and international entities. This inclusive approach ensures comprehensive and responsive policy-making.

Cost-Cutting Measures at All Levels: Implementing cost-cutting measures throughout all government levels is essential, including downsizing bureaucracy, minimizing overseas travel, and adopting energy-efficient practices in government operations.

Fostering Economic Resilience: To build an economy resilient to global shocks, Nigeria must diversify its economic base. Moving beyond oil dependency to sectors like agriculture, technology, and renewable energy is crucial. This diversification will create a buffer against global oil price fluctuations and open up new avenues for growth and employment.

Enhancing Social Welfare Programmes: Strengthening social welfare programmes is vital for cushioning the effects of economic hardship on the most vulnerable. Programmes focused on food security, affordable housing, and healthcare access must be prioritized, ensuring that the basic needs of the populace are met.

Promoting Educational Excellence and Innovation: Education is the bedrock of societal advancement. Investing in educational infrastructure, teacher training, and technology integration in schools will prepare future generations for the challenges of a globalized world. Emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education and innovation will drive development and position Nigeria as a leader in the global economy.

Read also: Opportunity for transformative leadership program beckons on W/ African candidates

Environmental Sustainability and Climate Action: Environmental sustainability must be integrated into national development plans. Addressing issues like deforestation, pollution, and climate change is essential for preserving natural resources and ensuring a livable environment for future generations.

Building International Partnerships: Nigeria must actively seek and foster international partnerships for trade, investment, and cultural exchange. These partnerships can provide access to new markets, technologies, and ideas, further bolstering Nigeria’s position on the global stage.

Encouraging Entrepreneurship and SME Growth: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of any economy. Providing support through favourable policies, access to finance, and business development services will spur entrepreneurial growth and job creation.

In conclusion, Nigeria is at a critical crossroads. The decisions and actions of our leaders today will shape the nation’s future. A shift towards prudent, accountable, and genuinely committed leadership is needed. The road to economic stability and collective prosperity lies in responsible governance and leadership that not only promises change but also embodies it in every decision. The Nigerian people are prepared to support leaders who display these transformative qualities – leaders who truly represent and serve the people.