The Emerging Pan-Nigerian LeadersArticles/Opinion Saturday, October 12th, 2013
By Omozuwa, Gabriel Osamwonyi
Nigeria’s unenviable status of development is often attributed to the divisive politics of recycled leaders. Their abject failure to embrace the spirit of innovation and cooperation, and become a unifying force for national transformation has endangered the stability, peace and progress of Nigeria. Hence, there is a growing clamour for generational shift in leadership.
It is axiomatic that Nigeria’s legitimate aspirations for peace, sustainable socioeconomic development and global prominence can only be actualised by Pan-Nigerian leaders. Misguided ethnocentric autocrats cannot harmoniously operate within the framework of democratic institutions and effectively harness the power of liberal ideals for sustainable national development. Given their skewed perspective of the driving forces of human development, cultural renaissance and economic growth, they resort to acts of violence to dramatise issues they seek to push to the fore. It must be said though, violence at best is a savage catalyst of social change; it does not create win-win situations or promote the spirit of reciprocal altruism, which are drivers of development in egalitarian societies.
It is trite knowledge that many Nigerians are disillusioned about the state of the nation. This disillusion is fuelled in part by the perennial atavistic struggle for power by the self-styled wasted generation. They are at it again; squabbling for ethno-religious supremacy, painting apocalyptic pictures of 2015 and overheating the polity in ways that impede duly elected public officers from providing good governance. This, in part, explains why Nigeria is not in the league of Asian Tigers, though we shared many development indices in the 70s. The struggle for power for power sake or for self-divination is retrograde. It has made some frontline leaders with clannish syndrome to jeopardise our collective quest for a better future.
The interesting thing is that while some are lamenting over the undesirability of recycled leaders, others are benefiting from their wealth of experience through a process of “reverse mentoring.” Reverse mentoring as a leadership development concept helps mentees to inculcate the meritorious values of their mentors and shun behavioural addictions, mindsets and methodologies that cause such mentors to meet their waterloo. In other words, it is a fail-safe system of assimilation without contamination.
As our democracy is going through progressive stages of consolidation coupled with the growing ubiquity of the social media, there is a weakening of the power base of political profiteers that exploit our perceived differences. Their capacity to misinform the populace is waning. This is because, extant technological platforms are giving voice to the voiceless, thereby, aiding the unhindered expression of multiplicity of viewpoints and creating multi-polar system of power in virtually all strata of society. Citizens are becoming more empowered and engaged in the political process.
Another reason for optimism is that many patriotic, detribalised and politically sophisticated youths are effectively harnessing the enormous power of the social media to entrench merit-based, solidarity-inclined and value-driven political culture in Nigeria. Their approach is largely bottom up. They are creating oases of enlightened conversations in our thorny socio-political landscape, so that, reason would always trump sentiments. This is significant against the backdrop that common descent almost always wins when it attacks common sense in our public space.
A definitive mark of the emerging Pan-Nigerian Leaders is that they are resolutely devoted to safeguarding our social conscience and entrenching the liberal values of freedom, equity and individual rights. As sentinels in democratic watchtowers, they raise the red flag whenever forces of destabilisation seek to make a sortie against our cherished national values and unity. Asa, the musician with stellar reputation personifies the ethos of this patriotic class. Hence, extolling right actions and denouncing wrong doings in ways that are not prejudicial is the motif of her music.
The literary works of the award-winning poet, Dike chukwumerije, who in my opinion is a cream member of this league of emerging Pan-Nigerian leaders, demonstrate that their sense of judgement is not distorted by tribal orthodoxies or ethno-religious protectionism. Objectivity is their watchword. The operational standard of their social enterprises emphasises avoidance of assumptions, cultural stereotypes and prejudices that perpetuate repression. They put Nigeria at the centre of the picture. Their ingrained religious principles are instrumental to national development, not detrimental to it.
Another salient feature of the emerging Pan-Nigerian leaders is that they embody the spirit of the world-changing lover of Gentiles, Paul of Tarsus who said, “For though I am free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all… I am made all things to all men.” In other words, they are not sloganeers, they are servant leaders. They are thinking-and-doing social agents of transformation. Service to humanity is the centrepiece of their system of social beliefs.
The strategic interventions of the Ajegunle.org project aimed at transforming skid rows and combating youth unemployment with ICT are glowing tributes to the service orientation of the emerging Pan-Nigerian leaders. The Ajegunle.org project, which is under the auspices of the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), provides cutting-edge ICT training to poor youths in slums. This is possible because they have made a mental shift from the idiocy of the wasted generation to the pragmatism of “The No-Excuse Generation.”
The no-excuse generation is not oblivious of the formidable challenges confronting Nigeria, yet, it is stimulated to action by the abounding possibilities for national transformation. Understanding that champions are made in the theatre of conflicts and challenges, not in the armchair of wishful thinkers, they do not mooch around lamenting societal ills; rather, they initiate remedial actions for the emergence of a strong, united and ever-progressive nation.
The luminary footballer, Victor Moses is another exemplar of the patriotic spirit of emerging Pan-Nigerian leaders. In 2002, when he was eleven, his parents were killed in Kaduna during a riot. Thereafter, his uncle took him to London, where he honed his football skills. When the clarion call came for him to serve his fatherland, he obeyed without hesitation. Given the tragic death of his parents, it would have been passable, if he developed ambivalent attitude towards Nigeria. But he did not. The no-excuse, Pan-Nigerian leaders are not ambivalent about our national aspiration, culture and prestige. They eschew tribal rhetoric and do not play the blame game. Like Victor Moses, they are agents of social reconciliation and reconstruction, not of retribution and destabilisation.
Nigeria will be transformed when a critical mass jettisons parochialism, atomistic thinking and the infantile understanding of the essence of power that make it difficult to focus on the populace without funnelling public resources into private pockets. Nigeria will be transformed when you become an agent of change in your little community and bridge ethno-religious divides.
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