Governance is a serious business that should be operated with earnestness of purpose, punctilious attitude, wisdom and concern for the attainment of goals. It is the most serious of businesses that are managed in any particular country or nation because it efficiently and effectively coordinates all the other businesses and the individuals and groups that operate them. In the light of this, it should be accorded the prime attention it rightly deserves.
Sadly, Nigerian politicians erroneously view governance as trivial affair, a revel, or beer parlour concourse or popularity contest, a jamboree, and profession and means of livelihood for themselves and their family, and as such war their way into governance. Most of those who shoot their way into governance positions do not have the slightest idea of the essence of public office, leadership and governance. They lack the vision and orientation about what governance is.
Therefore, they pursue selfish agenda upon which they aggrandise themselves. In their jaundiced, warped, inept, inefficient and corrupt orientation and tendencies, they mindlessly operate with levity, impunity, and circumvent the modus operandi, policies and laws of the country with the result that the country has run aground.
There is a conspiracy of our politicians to continually and perpetually inflict on us slavery, abject poverty, deprivation through successive administrations rather than render good governance. They have made the economy sterile, wrecked the country, emasculate the citizenry, puerile looted the common wealth and destroyed their psyche by stripping them of self worth and reduced the country to a society of criminals and brigands.
Today the mismanagement of the processes and the resources of governance have created phenomenal economic doldrums, multi-dimensional poverty, societal regression, rather than transform the country because our politicians have no regard for due process and mentoring.
According to Sanmi Adekola in Boardmanagement.com of February 12, 2022, “Great leaders give the people what they need, average leaders give the people what they want. Society progresses with great leaders, society stagnates with average leaders. With bad leaders come retrogression. Trees produce their kinds – society deserves the kind of leaders they get.”
Graham Allison, a co-author of the book ‘Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World,’ notes that Lee Insisted that Governance was First and Foremost About Results.
“Just change the word ‘governance’ for leadership and the lesson is the same. As the saying goes, ‘Hope is not a strategy.’ A company’s goals are just that, goals.
An executable plan that takes into account an organization’s strengths, its place in the market, the trends around them that are creating opportunities or challenges, is what will generate the measurable results in line with its goals.
“In the same way that companies are measured on quarterly performance, share prices and market caps are determined by the future worth. In other words, yes, we have to make our numbers for this quarter and the year, but we also have to be placing big bets – with conviction and investment – for the future five to ten years ahead.
“To paraphrase his words, “the acid test of any company is not the greatness or the grandeur of its ideal concepts, but whether, in fact, it is able to produce long-term results.
“Lee demanded of leaders both intellectual and moral superiority. Great companies demand of all leaders that they put the greater good of the company above their own personal or career interests.”
Leaders set the gold standard and set an example for everyone in their country or organization. This shows up not just in their words but in their deeds and how they interact and make decisions each and every day. Like our parents, we learn from our leaders on how to be. As parent’s ourselves, our own legacy for our children and grandchildren are the values that they live and practice.
“In every company and in every country, there are a set of rights and wrongs that are cross boundary and cross levels. One of the key areas that Mr. Lee focused on was eliminating corruption in the government. He saw that this would lead to a stratified country where the super-rich gained a continuing advantage based on their wealth, often gained at the expense of the poor and underpaid who lived a substandard existence through in effect, paying tithes to corrupt leaders.
“Superior moral leadership shows up in every single thing a leader does, every single day in every single decision that they take. Like our children and grandchildren carrying on our values, so do our employees through our actions and how we behave in an honest, unwavering allegiance to doing what’s right and just.”
Due process refers to a course of formal proceedings carried out regularly and in accordance with established rule and principles. It abhors arbitrary, unfair and unreasonable treatment of issues.
Instead, it prefers and takes into cognizance gradual and phased method or process towards achieving a goal, or a decision by individuals, organisations, governments to determine the best option or course of action to meet an end or need. It involves defining the extant problem, chewing it over, asking clarifying questions, and gathering information. When these steps have been taken, the next and major initiative is evaluation of available options which will invariably open up a gamut of clues towards making final decision. Such a decision taken will, ipso facto, guarantee, to a significant level, reliable, anticipated and dependable result and conclusion.
A trite maxim says that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Planning is an apt requirement, a desideratum for the attainment of results in all facets of engagement in life. Without planning, all efforts go to waste and the project or programme will dither and totter. Planning is alien in developing countries, especially in Africa where the inept who by chance are enthroned by mentally impaired fat cats, or who fraudulently impose themselves on the people.
Bereft of ideas, they act on whimsical impulses. In this light, decisions and actions are misplaced and perverted. The socio-economic and political fortunes of the country are distorted and grounded. I am persuaded that we in Africa, especially Nigeria, must begin to develop and cultivate effective leadership through mentoring.
According to Lucy Lloyd, leadership mentoring is a tried and trusted method for developing the best leaders of tomorrow. It creates a strong pipeline of capable leaders commonly referred to as succession planning. It is one of the core jobs for all executives and professionals who ensure that success is achieved today, and also set the company up for success tomorrow.
This means that an organisation must constantly have one eye trained on the future, and the people who will take it there. Though this is the system in advanced climes, it is not applicable in Nigeria particularly in state governance.
Mentoring involves sharing some incredibly wise and valuable snippets with mentees to help them navigate the coming years, and to be better prepared for what is to come. This is what leadership mentoring does for prospective leaders. It provides them with a forum for setting, discussing and dissecting a path to leadership with someone who has walked that path before. It is a deliberate process.
It has taken me this while to establish the setting and authority to interrogate the proclamation to abrogate fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu during his swearing-in. Without recourse to planning, which is what due process anchors, constrictions arise, creating difficulties for the effective realisation of the policy or programme.
President Tinubu’s pronouncement was hasty, probably done to impress, to achieve popular acclaim, and delivered with impunity. A leader must first be thoughtful, to weigh decisions and actions against possible impacts, especially on the citizens.
Lamentably, selfish intentions and tendencies, as well as the parochial interests of politicians and the ruling class deny them the capacity for compassion towards the citizens.
The absurdities, desecrations and mindless mockery of democratic tenets as seen in Tinubu’s pronouncement has created and induced vengeance of the people manifesting in banditry, terrorism and all manner of violence. It the late Segun Okeowo who asserted that “Where consultation and participation are denied, and where oppression and suppression are rife, confrontation becomes inevitable.”
The late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa noted that “impunity destroys the confidence of the people in the authority and role of the state. It makes healing and social integration, rehabilitation and reconciliation difficult, if not impossible.”
We are told that the subsidy removal is for the interest of the country, to mop up and free humongous funds for the purpose of infrastructural development. The interests of the whole are inseparable from those of the individual, but when you want to do good, do it because it is good; not because men praise it; and when you avoid evil, avoid it because it is evil, not because men speak against it.
There are consequences for ruinous decisions and actions such as was taken by Tinubu on subsidy without consultation, an indication that he was playing to the gallery.
Tough, thoughtful, objective decisions must be made and one must do the right thing for the country but in time of war, in time of great problem or difficulty, the first casualty is truth. The ambience in Nigeria is that of war and many have crucified truth in order to earn their meal tickets.
Rhetoric, unilateral or spontaneous actions don’t make a good leadership, but painstaking, planning on how to go about issues do. Tinubu, as a Nigerian, needed to be circumspect, especially because some ingenious or disingenuous Nigerians are wont to circumvent policies and programmes of the government to their own fertile, attractive and bountiful enterprise and advantage. There can be no progress if the things we believe are divergent, different and at opposition.
We are not a wisdom society – we are a knowledge society; knowledge becomes outdated and so our actions and decisions. Wisdom demands that our decisions and actions rest on clear guided and smarter methodology of accomplishing goals, without mistakes, for the greater benefit of all. Leaders must connect to their people emotionally and physically so as to be able to influence them at all times.
In an age when symbolic acts help us make sense of the world, leaders have to show the way to the people through symbolic acts of leadership such as transmission of messages and dialogue in such a way that uplift their welfare and living standard.
Regretably, most of our politicians move behind their conscience as we move behind the barrow. We push the barrow in front of us in the direction we want to go. We ought to think first, seek advice, and then consider the consequences. It is disappointing that many, including former Governor Nyesom Wike, have argued that the president was right in taking that step. He talked so much about people being selfish for taking the other position.
Truth is that Wike and his ilk are the selfish ones. They are the ones who think only about themselves and what they get, neglecting the fetchers and hewers of wood, the civil servants who get just the crumbs, as it were, whereas they should actually get the huge chunk of the nation’s resources.
During a TVC media chat on 6th June 2023, Wike said Tinubu has shown leadership and capacity. That may be true but did he show responsibility, understanding, experience, knowledge and vision in taking that decision? My answer is no. Responsibility is a prerequisite for freedom.
For people like Wike, the right, freedom and welfare of the masses do not matter. That is why no thought is spared for them when decisions, policies and programmes are made.
The consequence of that abrupt action was the notice of strike by the NLC. Wike condemned the Labour organ contending that it does not represent the masses because he is oblivious of the fact that when Labour is talking for its members, it brings to the consciousness of the government the larger issue of the welfare of the masses of this country. From there government will undertake a holistic social welfare programme for the masses.
In an interview by the NTA on the vexatious issue, Peter Esele, an Oil and Gas expert, used an analogy to explain what was expected of the President. He said, “We can remove subsidy withour eyes either open or closed. Open in the sense that we come together, agree to do so and decide on how to mitigate the effects. On the other hand, we remove it with our eyes closed. That is to do so and damn the consequences.”
Peter Obi, former Anambra State governor, has maintained that subsidy should be removed because, according to him, it is organized crime but not without relieving policies in place, adding that rather than go through a forceful removal, he would provided various relieving policies to cushion the effect of subsidy removal.
This is responsibility in action, taking into cognizance the welfare of the masses. Without such recognition, there will be tyranny. Thus,
Tinubu’s first step was wrong. The worrisome trajectory in our situation is that very few people can discern the truths from falsehoods. The unconscionable social media campaigners and influencers have subverted and done violence to feelings and aspirations of the masses.
Yet he is not done. He set to earn more ovations by mindlessly creating greater hardship when he signs the electricity tariff bill without any form of palliative in place. Tinubu is inexplicably insensitive.
Truth, like beauty, is often in the listener’s ears. Those in government bring prejudice and self interest to bear on any situation, and truth is what conforms to their pre-conceived notions, especially if it serves their self-interest, thereby fostering injustice. Injustice occurs when powerful persons or group uses superior position to mistreat others.
Justice impels us to desire and insist that we should be accorded due rights. Anyone who has felt the sting of injustice despises such behaviour. In Nigeria, it is becoming difficult, if not practically impossible, to see leaders who standout of the pack to provide real leadership and good governance that recognize the dignity and welfare of the people.
Nigerians are impotent to handle situations because they are ignorant, inept and badly educated or uneducated. That is why they permit impunity and the desecration of democratic ethos. Unless checked now, democracy will not survive in this country.
Unfortunately, the masses applaud the impunity and deprivations. How do you explain such narrative? Late Steve Biko explained it when he asserted that the greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. They have captured the mind of the masses with
Nigeria’s invidious governance template manifests in the distribution of sachets of magi cubes, sachets of salt, transistor radio, 5 kg bags of rice, mats, wheel barrows or commissioning a borehole, donation of motorcycles or tricycles to few persons as achievement, or ‘dividends of democracy’ which are indices of bad leadership and poor governance. These do not obviate poverty or bring about socio-economic growth or development.
Our rulers must create substantial reduction in gruesome level of poverty and terminate the gaping disparity between minority rich elite and the large population of the poor whose living standards are far below any threshold in contemporary world.
Empowerment and eradication of poverty must start with improved welfare and income for workers to be able to put at least two square meals on their table daily, enable them pay house rents and save to take care of. Savings will encourage investment and stimulate the economy growth. You can’t promote welfare while at the same time promoting impoverishment and enslavement.
I am persuaded that we need a man embroidered with compassion and love for our people and nation; credible, dependable and trustworthy. A god-fearing man who will be readily accepted as a symbol of unity, who can bring genuine reconciliation, guarantee peace and tranquility, completely insulated from variegated conflicts that mark the antecedents of actors who can apply the principles of malice towards none and charity for all, a man with requisite intellectual capacity and moral perpendicularity, a dynamic, energetic, thinker.
The best we can bequeath future generations is to start now by creating men who they can honour and respect; great souled men who will fill the masses with admiration, who will inspire them to carry their spirit into their own lives to make our country great.
*Okey Elebe can be reached via email: email@example.com