Author: COMRADE UMUNNAKWE C. MICHAEL
Conceptualizing leadership as the capacity to lead should be the mitochondria and the sole aim of any aspiring leader in any social stratification or different departments of the society.
If leadership is well underscored by the society, it should mean a task taken up by one without gravitation towards self aggrandisement. it’s unfortunate that some has misconceived leadership position as an opportunity to enrich oneself. If we collectively understand the essence of leadership, it will foster a culture of political accountability and reduce the insidious spread of corruption within the polity.
I see leadership as a vocation which is inherent in an individual by God or nature, true leadership is unleashed through the culture and disposition of a particular human person.
In the animal kingdom leadership belongs to the strong and valiant, to the daring and courageous, but behind these attributes is always the need to protect the weakest of the clan, to hold and defend territory, to feed and train the young and to promote discipline and well being among the herd.
In the human society the burden of leadership naturally falls upon a charismatic, selfless and service driven individual whose power is rooted in the transparent determination to use individual strength and wisdom, unity of purpose and the entrenchment of group order for the benefit of all.
The human being has impacted negatively or positively on this social balance by the manner in which he applies his innate endowments to his environment. A wicked and roguish disposition produces despots and tyrants. A sensible, compassionate and judicious inclination yields the charismatic type of leader and cultivates a loyal and loving following. An inept, lack-lustre and passive leader erodes confidence and elicits ridicule and opprobrium. The gregarious nature of man underscores the constant interplay of human forces and interests in the unending search to fill leadership roles.
Leadership is therefore not anything anyone is born with nor anything thrust upon anyone. Authentic leadership in the human society is not anything to be obtained through conquest or by the use of all available instruments of coercion. Authentic leadership is something to merit and earn, something that carries with it certain basic qualities accruing from latent and discernible abilities.
The good leader bears an acute sense of sacrifice and always shows a bias for the care and concern of the people. The good leader has an uncanny sensitivity to people’s needs and a veteran’s ability to manage the people’s resources. In time of crisis the good leader is an agent of reconciliation, one who shows unlimited commitment to reconciling disparate and contradictory forces. The good leader does not demand loyalty but is one whose charisma, candour and moral standing attract popular acclaim. A good leader does not predicate his reputation on propaganda nor on the patronizing efforts of sycophants and hirelings.
Leadership must meet certain criteria of assessment to retain the people’s popular appeal.
What are the democratic principles at play, and under what form of judicial arrangement?
Is there a fair and equitable distribution of wealth and resources?
Are all members of the society exposed to equal opportunities?
To what degree is the class system accentuated in the social structures?
Are basic rights and freedoms respected and are all citizens accorded equal protection?
Only when these and other positive social factors coincide in the leader of feudal stock can leadership under him be authentic. The distinction must therefore be made that a leader is a good leader not because he has feudal roots but because he possesses the tested qualities of good leadership. Society needs to continually reassess and re-evaluate qualities for leadership and demand those qualities of their potential leaders at all levels. This is the only way society can influence the type of leadership it gets and conversely get the leadership it deserves.
In Nigeria there remains a yawning vacuum to be filled by leaders of vision and courage propelled by a single-minded determination to mobilize the people towards the achievement of the much desired national reconciliation, social cohesion, political stability, economic prosperity and peace. We need leaders with the required wisdom and political will to champion the harnessing of the enormous natural and human resources of our land for the upliftment of all. We need leaders with a well thought out agenda for the transformation of our degenerate educational and health institutions, leaders that can restore hope to our despairing youth population whose frustrations are today manifested in widespread banditry, criminality and prodigality.
The task before the emergent leaders of our land is not a small one. The challenge before those who wish to lead Nigerians in the future is an enormous one. Thus our long hangover in a tyrannical mind-set must quickly give way to a pluralistic and democratic society which alone will survive the challenges of the twenty-first century. Limiting leadership to campaigning for political positions and perquisites is a futile exercise in social inertia and economic stagnation. Nigeria is yearning for leaders with the necessary charisma and integrity to champion the cause of channeling into productive enterprise, the many able-bodied but unemployed youths who are presently engaged in street thuggery, political banditry, drug peddling and secret cults.
Those who wish to be recognized as genuine leaders of Nigeria in Twenty-First Century must demonstrate a capability to reconcile divergent views and harmonize desperate interests in the land, since a house divided against itself cannot stand. Aspiring leaders in the Nigerian society of tomorrow must show a score-card of performance and accountability in the services previously rendered to the people, on the local, state or national level. Those who want to be acknowledged as leaders in our land must demonstrate their nationalism and patriotism by their self-sacrifice, their generosity, their sensitivity and their commitment to the common good of all Nigerians.
About the Author
Umunnakwe C. Michael is a law graduate of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra State. And convener of the Dynamic movement.