One can recall those memorable childhood days while growing up in then peaceful, serene, friendly, loving and bubbling Tin city of Jos. Jos, the Plateau State capital was then a heaven on earth blessed with several night clubs, decent eateries, assorted fruits and other relaxation spots such as the Polo and Turf clubs, cinema theatres, zoological garden, wildlife park, friendly weather and hospitable people etc. The city was a thousand of miles away from ethno-religious sentiments, hatred, crisis or even suspicion amongst the inhabitants. As of that time, satanic agents from the collection of devil were still in chains far away from the famous Tin city.
Living in Jos was an experience exuding elation and excitement beyond description. The greener of the uplands adjoining the stretch of inter-town highways and roads was so alluring as well as adoring to be ignored.
Life was good in those days of yore as electricity supply outrage was seldom with direct supply from Kurra falls, and shorter in duration, if and when it occurred as the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) was managed by good hands. The water supply system was superb and very reliable. Notably, and of significance to this essay was the information platforms of those days of yore. The radio, television and few newspapers— nothing of digital social media as we enjoy today! In addition, there were very educative and entertaining magazines and novels for grab. My educated seniors encouraged me to read widely to better my mastery of the English language. It paid off as I was later representing my club (World Affairs) in secondary school (Government College Keffi) in debates and essay competition with other secondary schools such as Kings College, Lagos, Barewa College, Zaria, Provincial Secondary School, Kuru, Edo College, Benin etc.
I was an avid reader of the Kaduna based New Nigerian Newspaper, particularly the weekly column of Candido The man behind the mask and The Jos based Nigerian Standard Newspaper in Lighter mood weekly column by Dan Agbese.
Honestly, can one wish, albeit regrettably or inopportunely, a reverting to that time as in the early 70s and 80s? Are we truly as a nation nearing the New Nigeria of our dream, in colour, content and context with the vagaries of the plethora of problems pillorying our country presently that could apparently dim the hope of incurable optimists imagining a beautiful, better and brighter Nigeria?
There is no gainsaying the fact that our political landscape lacks real and rugged transformational or servant leaders that Nigeria is in dire need of at this time to usher us in that New Nigeria that our forefathers envisioned. There are many transactional leaders or dealers in political garments on the scene for pecuniary cum partisan gains, not really about the betterment of the people. It is high time many of our aspiring political leaders lined up to learn leadership processes, philosophies and practices. The true heart of leadership is altruistic —-selfless service. In addition, leadership is about vision. Moreover, leadership is not only influence but the ability to embark on a journey carrying along other participants–followers–focusing on a mutually agreed destination. In essence, leadership is a journey; if undertaken without followers, such a leader would just be on a walk! In the private sector, globally, leaders are trained within organizations and even sent to certain high grade institutions like Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, etc. It is unsettling and naïve for aspiring political and public leaders to think that they can lead successfully without the requisite training to prepare and package them. It was Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government Professor, Barbara Kellerman, author of “Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters?”, that once curiously posited: “Why is it that we educate and train our medical and veterinary doctors, security personnel, engineers, journalists, lawyers with great care and competence, but not our leaders.” Not done, she submitted succinctly and saliently: “The American military…….recognizes that to be effective it must educate leaders, train leaders, and develop leaders.” Anyone still wondering why American soldiers can hold their own anywhere, anytime or anyhow when duty beckons? If Nigeria can stop stagnancy and steer the ship of state towards a better rather than a battered Nigeria, it is high time our aspiring leaders deem it fit to learn leading ethos not just within the four walls of schools but in organizations and public offices, whether they are aspiring to be voted as local government council chairmen, state or national assembly members, governors or president! It should be as sacrosanct as that in order to nip in the bud the emergence of upstarts that can down Nigeria into a leadership abyss drenched and drowned in tears and throes!
As the transition period has come, it is imperative for Nigerians to wake up to their functional roles and responsibilities in the polity and politicking process even as the process is not completed until leadership of the national and state assemblies are inaugurated. If leaders need education and enlightenment, to become fitting and functional, those members of the national assembly followers also need patriotic political education and engineering to elect their leaders not the anointed for imposition on the 10th National Assembly. To have a bubbling and focused National Assembly electing Sen. AbdulAzeez Yari and Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase as Senate President and Speaker House of Representatives remains the only option for better legislation and improved welfare of all because the time has passed when national lawmakers are forced to play into the whims and caprices of dealers in leaders’ garb by accepting overtures thrown at them.
It is upsetting and unsettling to see some analysts siding with those set party anointed national assembly members pandering to those transactional leaders (dealers) citing ethnicity, religion or geo-political zone as the raison d’etre for such indecorous and odious mannerism. In essence, it is not just those seeking for leadership that need to be trained and equipped, other members also need enlightenment and education that will empower and embolden them to become fitting and functional lawmakers that cannot be induced or coerced to elect dealers as principal officers, though some may be wealthy, but lacking and lackadaisical in competence, character, capacity, capability and charisma. In order for Nigeria to accomplish and achieve the dream of a “New Nigeria” from 2023, functional and fitting national lawmakers must arise to be active in the campaign for credible leaders of the national assembly by interfacing, interacting and interrogating aspirants jostling to be elected irrespective of their political parties. Who are they? Where are they coming from? What have they got to offer for good legislation? Do they have professions or careers? Have they served in organizations or public offices meritoriously or creditably before? Do they have mentees or protégés they had worked upon in the past, and presently are working upon? Where are those mentees or protégés now? What are their vision statements, core values and strategies? What are their seeming trajectories in the ladder or lattice of leadership hitherto?
In the emerging field of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL), students and scholars have professional lens depicting developmental deliverables in terms of policies, plans, programmes and projects.
These are otherwise referred to as interventions. Invariably, these are visible to lawmakers and citizens as there are key performance indicators culminating in outputs, outcomes and impacts in tracking or monitoring these interventions. MEL practitioners and scholars, in going through the cycle and closing the loop, adopted a terminology referred to as “Lessons Learnt (LL)”. In essence, LL contextualizes the content of: What works? What does not work? Why it works? Why it does not work? The bottom line tinkering, if our case in Nigeria will not be as a barber’s chair often engaged in motion without movement, then, we should be asking retrospective or reflective questions in line with LL. Truth be told, as it is said that combination of sagacity of the gray headed as well as that of the toddlers culminated in the founding of our ancient cities. It is high time altruistic aspiring leaders and functional followers come to real terms in collaborating to move Nigeria forward and upward. The more we the citizens tolerate bad leaders to hoodwink us, the more we seemingly and surreptitiously sink Nigeria into the abyss.
Reading the lips of the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote who posited thus “if bad and inexperienced politicians control power in Nigeria, my wealth may turn into poverty, and I am not ready to become a poor man”, one would have thought that so even the wealthy worry!
However, the wealthy in the likes of the Dantatas, Atikus, Dangotes, Alakijas, Otedolas, Adenugas, AbdulSamads, Elumelus, Auwalu Ranos, Tinubus, Arthur Ezes, Bola Shagayas, Olu Benson Lulu Briggs, Jack Richs etc, should be more wary in waddling through the world of wild wilderness of politics and politicking in Nigeria. My tinkering is that Dangote and his club members should be more concerned about our common patrimony rather than their personal possessions. If they all reason to tow this line of thought, which is not too late anyway, then, they would be more fixated on educating, enlightening, emboldening, empowering and ennobling more followers to become fittingly functional so that in the process of time, some citizens will aspire to core and crucial leadership positions. Through studies, I could see Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore’s instinct in inculcating and institutionalizing leadership development programmes with a view to raising many leaders within the public service and going further in enrolling certain cerebral citizens in their youths, into such high-grade schools to groom them for future leadership roles. If such policies are adopted and applied in the context of Nigeria with all sincerity, there will surely be a great path to a better, brighter and more prosperous Nigeria; a New Nigeria, possibly with more progressive, prosperous and positive prospects than the prime perception of our present leaders. Those frontline wealthy men and women can champion the crucial and core course of action that can enhance our common trajectory towards a glorious New Nigeria! It can be better than one can imagine!!
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues