The necessity of leadership development in our society

Muhammadu Buhari

Events happening in Nigeria in recent times have once again brought to the surface the leadership vacuum that has long existed in this country. The EndSARS protesters made known that bad governance or bad leadership was at the heart of the hydra-headed challenges facing this country. It brought about such national challenges as insecurity across the country, unprecedented high rate of unemployment, a total collapse of critical infrastructure, hyperinflation, valuelessness of the naira against other foreign currencies, deep division and suspicion among the people, abject poverty that has made Nigeria the poverty capital of the world, and so on. There is absolute hopelessness in the country. The leaders at all levels have no vision in guiding their actions. The nation is obviously on a roller skate descending from the top of a hill and if care is not taken, an imminent crash is likely to be the next thing. The worrisome part of it all is that the leaders have displayed an absolute lack of necessary leadership competence in tackling these problems, hence crisis mismanagement is what we have today.
The trend is also discernible in our business organizations where a culture of cutting corners rules the business life of the people. Bribery and corruption are acceptable ways of life of the people. Government officials and public servants are complicit in deepening the culture of corruption that is prevalent in our organizational life. Even security agencies are not left out. The entire fabrics of our society are decayed and smelling and some people insist on pampering the status quo, all for selfish reasons. Few people in Nigeria today remember the days of patriotism when some people like late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe sacrificed a lot for the sake of Nigeria.
The rottenness in the social, economic and political lives of Nigerians is such that an overwhelming majority of Nigerians have now accepted it as normal and as such cannot imagine anything different. There is rottenness everywhere and nobody seems to care. People are appalled when someone behaves contrary to the accepted culture of corruption and moral depravity.
Of the rule of law, this exists only on the pages of papers. Selective application is the norm among the leaders and for the few privileged ones. The institutions of democracy are existing in names only and are manipulated at will to serve the interests of the few privileged upper-class people. The same is the case with the judiciary and legislative arm of government at all levels. They are all existing to serve the interests of the political leaders and their cronies. Other arms of government like the anti-corruption agencies exist merely in name and function mainly as political tools to tighten the hold of the political oligarchy that has held this country hostage for years. Majority of Nigerians of today realized how to dip down the drain the country has gone and have begun to clamour for the restructuring of the country so as to usher in true federalism. Some ethnic groups are insisting on total unbundling of the Nigerian edifice. All these are clamours for change in leadership style. It is a clamour for principle-centred leadership. All men all over the world have the potentials for principle-centred leadership imbued in them at creation. The development and application of these principles make all the difference between developed and undeveloped nations. For undeveloped people and nations, these potentials are lying dormant and latent, whereas, in developed nations and people, these potentials have, to a reasonable degree, been developed. The extent of development of these potentials is in direct proportion to the extent of development of their democratic institutions which in turn, translate into the extent of their economic, social and political development. As pure gold is covered by large layers of debris or dirt and needs the refiner’s fire for the beauty of it to become manifest, so this jewel of inestimable value called leadership potentials, are buried deep in the heart of man and covered with layers of experience, contrary learning, beliefs and values that hinder them from blossoming forth.
Leadership development has to be a deliberate policy or priority of our leaders at all levels. First of all, our leaders need to be awakened to the reality that Nigeria has a very serious leadership challenge that needs inspirationally dissatisfied leaders. Inspirational dissatisfaction is the beginning of change. It entails one asking strategic questions like: why are we in this situation? How did we get here? Is there a better situation? Can we be better than this? How? Casting an ideal situation or vision follows and then necessary requirements for achieving the vision. Leadership development will help people discover how to prioritize their desires, set goals and plans that achieve goals. It would awaken the creative capabilities of people and turn ordinary people into extraordinary people. For most Nigerians, the power of creativity embedded in the human spirit is latent. Leadership development would kindle the fire of patriotism in people and extinguish the evil of corruption which is simply an unpatriotic act of one robbing his own country and preferring underdevelopment instead of development. Leadership development would lead people to realize the purpose of public office which is essentially to serve the people and not to pursue self-aggrandizement that ultimately leads to nowhere. Our leaders need to become justly angry at having all negative labels placed upon their country. This anger should lead to embarking on a journey of emancipating this country from all these seemingly intractable problems bedevilling her. A new Nigerian nation is possible only if a new breed of developed leaders who are principle-centred arise to liberate the country. Real patriotism should call for leadership development in Nigeria that would transform the society and position her on the part of progress and respect among the comity of nations.

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