Of responsible and responsive leadership


I have at various forums and through variegated platforms canvassed a new regime of rectitude in public service and commitment to the wellbeing of the greater number as the permissible minimum expected of leadership. Incumbent on leadership is the ability to find the best men at all times to entrust with private or public trust. The tragedy of power however, is that it attracts men and women of variegated tendencies and proclivity. Power to the vain is opium, to the sane a vehicle to do God’s will and make lives better. To the present crop of leaders that bestride the Nigerian political kaleidoscope, I would that you make the minimum a regime of responsible and responsive governance.

Jesters and praise singers will sing discordant and nebulous tunes to power; supporters will urge and nudge that certain steps be taken indiscriminate of how it resonates; social and political commentators will say it doesn’t matter so long as things change for the better; and the one in power always confused because a cacophony of voices trading bias and prejudice dominates the politico-social amphitheatre; to those found in this cesspool I leave the ageless reprimand of Niccolo Machiavelli to wit ‘The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him’; from court jesters and praise singers depart.

The psychology of responsible and responsive power is far less complex than the journey to power itself. Responsible and responsive power sits on a time tested tripod which is justice, equity and fairness. Revenge and revanchist propensity is how not to lead. Exclusion as opposed to inclusion by any guise or logic is how not to lead. The sacrifice of excellence at the altar of mediocrity is how not to govern. To sacrifice the major for the minor will tilt the balance against the scale of justice, to a true leader the led indiscriminate of creed or clan must count as one.

I have argued in many of my writings that when the bias of region and religion counts for little to leadership; that when tribesmen lose to statesmen in the order of protocol; that when leadership sees in ‘us’ greater benefit than it sees in ‘I’; and when electoral pain and inconvenience is diminished by the call to nationhood, our journey to prosperity and progress shall have begun.

However in our socio-political debate, mischief makers have exploited our gullibility and have chosen to misinform. Across the electronic and print press as well as on the social media, I hear and read several positions like ‘it doesn’t matter whether the President or the Governor’s appointees are his brothers or kinsmen so long as they deliver’, some argue ‘that it does not matter whether Indians and Haitians are appointed to serve, so long as things work’ and others would conclude ‘that the only thing that matters is what puts food on the table for the people’. This sadly is the position of the bandwagon but certainly untrue.

This fallacy must fail because there is nowhere in God’s universe where responsible leadership buys into such hokum. Justice is the call on leadership to justly dispense of the rights and liabilities of public trust. Equity is the inevitable demands of balance and spread across the social, regional and ethical divide that obtains. And fairness is the age-tested moral minimum incumbent on leadership.

When the craftsmen of the Nigerian Constitution talked about the Federal Character normative in Chapter Two of the 1999 Constitution as in the others before it, they did not vote for mediocrity but placed a heavy responsibility on leadership. They entrusted leadership with the challenge to at all times grow and nurture men and women of excellence and integrity across the length and the breadth of the nation. For those who lampoon the Federal Character normative but like our sisters support affirmative action and the Beijing Conference normative on Women empowerment, now is the time to demolish your hypocrisy.

I believe that the reality of our history makes the present organizational minimum even more strident; leadership at all levels must search out the best from the divides that inhabits the space. Excellence cannot possibly excuse exclusion, and to those who think otherwise there is nowhere in the world where the Chief Executive of a public trust is told that it does not matter who and where his staff come from, excellence is not the exclusive preserve of any stalk, colour, creed, clan or tendency.

The failure of leadership to search out the best hands across the geo-political divides should not be blamed on the federal character normative. Like successive leadership paid lip-service to the true intent of that normative, we witness almost an organic relegation of youths in choices for governmental trust. Rather than grow the youths through serious responsibilities in governance, leadership thinks them best as aides and menial staff, sooner than later those who lampoon the Federal Character normative shall begin to canvass for 30% or 40% youth involvement in leadership, another hypocrisy waiting to rupture.

May I state without equivocation that there is nothing wrong with the Federal Character normative. Every nation upholds same whether in a written or an unwritten format. May I state without fear of querulous critics that the Federal Character normative does not excuse mediocrity but engenders balance, peace, brotherhood and inclusivity. May I also state that there is no region in this country that suffers the dearth of competent and credible hands, jesters and praise singers must therefore spare us the kindergarten dialectics that blames the quota system or the federal character normative for our chequered history.

In this era of change where the preponderant number of those who berthed the ballot based revolution of March/April are youths, the commensurate quid pro quo is for President Mohammadu Buhari to search out young men and women of unrivalled passion, proficiency and patriotism to drive the nation state to the place where the promises of democracy will become true and the change we promised made real.

In Lagos State, this Centre of Excellence that has become the halcyon memento of our brotherhood, my candid advice to my big brother Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is to reflect on the beautiful historicity of Lagos and return from the air of revenge that colours his appointing nuances. He should not forget that the wisdom displayed by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and sustained by Babatunde Raji Fashola who both had non-Yorubas as commissioners and aides are not only commendable but exemplary.

Governor Ambode is father over a cosmopolitan state of variegated peoples and tribes, he therefore should engage the best of his children, maybe not like the Federal Government but at least like his predecessors. You cannot advance the argument of a metropolitan Lagos only when you need more resources from the Federal Government and discountenance same in your appointments.

Power bestows enormous responsibilities and Leadership connotes parenthood; revenge, payback, segregation, nepotism and selective nuances must be treated as Shibboleth by he who must be documented amongst the greats. Without doubt a responsible and responsive leader is one who fixes square pegs in square holes and round pegs in round holes knowing that justice, equity, fairness, power sharing, resource control and inclusion are the organic minimum for peace, progress and prosperity, need I say that mutual trust and confidence is the turf on which the best must play to make Nigeria great again.

  • Prof Nwaokobia Jnr is the D-G of Change Ambassadors of Nigeria.

Culled from: http://thenationonlineng.net/of-responsible-and-responsive-leadership/


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