It is widely acknowledged that a country devoid of visionary leaders can hardly experience stability and peace. That is the story of Nigeria in recent years. Leaders with vision inspire citizens and mobilise them for nation building.
History throws up quite a few outstanding leaders, true heroes of their time, who set the moral and political tone for their societies. Such leaders as late Chief Obafemi Awolowo readily come to mind.
Awolowo was a Nigerian nationalist and statesman who played a key role in Nigeria’s independence. He founded the extinct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in the Second Republic. The highly revered sage was the leader of the Yoruba people. He steered the ship and charted a course for the Yorubas.
Chief Awolowo never imposed himself on his people. They chose and accepted him as the leader of their race. Even former President Olusegun Obasanjo acknowledged Awolowo’s greatness in his book “My Watch” and described him as a man with profound leadership qualities.
During his reign as Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Awolowo introduced a free education scheme which enabled the Yorubas to be educated massively. That is why in nearly every home in the South West, there is hardly any family that is without an academic doctor or even a professor. It is unarguable that the Yorubas are the most educated and successful race in Nigeria.
It is unfortunate that Nigeria has always referred to itself as giant of Africa. But this purported greatness has only been in population not in development. If the country had had leaders like Awolowo from independence, things would never have been the same.
The massive poverty in the land can be attributed to poor leadership and my fellow Nigerians have failed to realise this fact. However, I think 2019 is offering another opportunity for us to elect visionary leaders that will take the country to greater heights. We must think and choose rightly this time around.
Another visionary leader who has emerged in our time is the governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike. Some people may not reckon with this fact but that is the truth. Given his fine political attitude and high performance level in governance, Wike possesses a rare leadership quality that is commonly referred to as “lid”.
A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Na’Abba, corroborated this fact in some publications in the Beacon Newspaper of 23rd February and 8th March, 2018, respectively. The publications were titled: “Na’Abba Backs Wike For Presidency”. In the publicity, the former Speaker urged the governor to join the presidential race. This is what the erstwhile Speaker said:
“The message I have for Governor Wike is that this kind-hearted politics, this statesmanship that you have demonstrated, please continue. Nigeria needs politicians like Governor Wike. With this kind of posture, one day you will become the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Na’Abba obviously identified the good quality in the governor and saw him as one who can chart the course of the country.
Late Nelson Mandela of South Africa was another leader the world will celebrate forever. The man who suffered 27 years in prison in order to set his people free from the oppression of the white minorities, displayed leadership qualities no one has ever demonstrated.
Mandela showed the highest level of forgiveness when he pardoned the white minorities for the many atrocious acts they committed against the blacks. It takes a very great leader to chart this course. The South African whites are still surprised at Mandela’s great leadership qualities which no one has ever possessed.
One thing that separates great leaders from other leaders is how they invest in their followers. Great leaders realise that as they need a growth plan to be better leaders, so do those who follow and work for them need a plan to be better followers and eventually succeed them.
The truth about leadership is that those who would lead tomorrow must learn today. Leadership is developed daily, not once. That is the reason Nigerians must cry vehemently and long for a leader with the lid spirit.
Nigerian leaders and aspirants for leadership will do well to read the signs of the times and heed the admonition for change in leadership style and actualise such positive dreams as will pull the country from the brink.
Time is running out on our leaders. But if they experience the much-needed conversion and toe the line of sanity, they may dissuade the people from the inevitable option of a popular revolt.
Clarkson is a student of International Institute of Journalism, Port Harcourt Satellite Campus.