Contrary to what the president’s media propagandists have bottled attractively and beautifully presented and displayed as first year achievements, the blunders and failures of the past year is too glaring even for the myopic to miss the tragedy of political hypocrisy.
The bad news is Nigeria is clinically dead. But the good news is its death certificate is yet to be issued. Our wounded national pride has been further bruised and battered by the unending cascade of corruption inscribed into our collective institutional memory.
As the Jonathan administration lunges into its second year, I believe it is necessary to dole out some nuggets of advice that may come handy for the administration to prevent a repeat of a year of missed opportunities.
Having watched Dr. Jonathan in the past one year, I could not agree more with Aristotle’s ethos that goodness and morality provides a solid base for persuading others to follow you.
In learning to lead, leadership is best caught than taught. Mr. President, if you want to be a truly effective leader, be an ethical and moral person. If you practice what you preach, people will trust you and believe you. But if they see you as hypocrite, your integrity and effectiveness are compromised.
In the history of mankind, we’ve seen that events shape destinies. Therefore, events more than ability often thrust people into positions of prominence. You’ll agree that you’re a beneficiary of events that catapult you into the presidency.
Without Nelson Mandela, South Africa will still be under Apartheid. Without Moshood Abiola, democracy in Nigeria will be a tantalizing mirage. Without Pastor Bakare and Wole Soyinka of the Save Nigeria Group, the Northern Mafia and Yaradua ultra loyalists in the National Assembly would have subverted the Constitution and robbed you of the presidency. Many times, events supply the indispensable variables for effective leadership.
Now that you’ve found yourself willy-nilly I might add, in presiding over the affairs of Nigeria, you have the unique opportunity to shape the destiny of this once prosperous country. Seems to me you’re afraid of greatness. This is evident in the way you’ve handled responsibilities of your office and your responses to critical, urgent national problems.
Mr. President, you’ll find some wisdom in Shakespeare’s words. Listen to him: “Be not afraid of greatness. Some men are born great, others achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
Leaders possess different talents, abilities, and leadership styles. Some are quiet, such as the erstwhile action governor of Lagos State Lateef Kayode Jakande aka LKJ, while others are flamboyant and bombastic. Yet, some are eloquent while others find it difficult to express themselves. But one thing is common to successful and effective leaders: they mobilize people to achieve common good.
Mr. President, don’t run from the possibility of failure. Effective leaders are willing to fail. Their action is guided by the belief that it is better to attempt something and fail than not to try at all. Have the courage to take risks. Have the courage to fail!
One of America’s finest presidents, Teddy Roosevelt is talking to you. Hear him:
“Service is rendered… by the man who… is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming… (emphasis mine) If he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Majority as we now know is not always right. In fact, there is what is called tyranny of the majority. As president, it’s your responsibility to listen to competing opposing views, but you should know when to act independently. When Pastor Bakare insisted that the Constitution be upheld in matters of succession to the presidency, he was castigated by many of his colleagues. He was undeterred by their verbal attacks. Instead, he acted independently. Thanks to Pastor Bakare for his courage. Smooth succession to the presidency was assured. Constitutional crisis averted.
If you want to succeed, exercise self-rule. Leadership position calls for discipline and good habits. Allow discipline and good habits to control the essential parts of your life in the matters of judgment calls, decision making, appointing people to high office, evaluating events and choices, setting national agenda and priorities. First rate statesmen choose and set the right priorities and then organize their lives to implement them in orderly and expeditious way.
Self-rule also involves how to resist temptations. Self-rule will teach you how to rebuff corruption, and other evils associated with a corrupt system like the one your administration currently operates. It also teaches you how to live above reproach. Self-rule will always guide and drives you toward moral excellence.
Mr. President be humbly hospitable. You can’t govern people successfully unless you know them. Get to know Nigerians. I mean the poor majority. Be an up-close and personal leader. Take time to see how and where Nigerians live, what they eat, the water they drink, the hospital they attend for medical care, visit the schools Nigerian children attend, travel on the roads which kill hundreds every day, spend a night in any city in Nigeria where black out is the norm. You ought to know the people in a very personal way!
Mr. President, no lie can live forever. Your “transformation agenda” has not transformed anything in the past year. Crimson stain is all visible on all the basics of life for Nigerians. Colors of pain, sorrow, brokenness, frustration, etc., are the dividends of your first year to Nigerians. This is the disturbing truth.