Friday, September 16, 2011

The Ideal Nigerian Leader: Integrity

Picture obtained from
I remember an incident that occurred during my secondary school days. That particular day, I climbed a chair and began writing on the board: “Vote for me and I will give you gari and water every day, Vote for me and I will make sure that you work on your legs while my family members and I use limousines, Vote for me….” One of my teachers, Mr. Oyenuga saw me and he asked: “So you want to be president? I couldn’t proffer an answer but since that day, we’ve had a better teacher-student relationship. Thinking back on that day I can only laugh and wonder “what sort of manifesto is that?” and what sort of electorate would vote for an individual bearing such manifesto. But then thinking about that incident again, isn’t it true that hundreds of Nigerians starve while our leaders and their entourage feed fat on government money. Their manifestos may seem all prim and proper but in the end when the veil is lifted, their promises are in its crudest sense just like those I wrote on the board back in secondary school. Given the fact that the world today and indeed Nigeria has had its fair share of deceptive, selfish and corrupt leaders and the fact that in the timeline of history today; Nigeria is facing its most damaging challenges and yet we still have the opportunity to launch ourselves into the limelight we must ask ourselves: “Who is the Ideal Nigerian Leader?” (Or rather what sort of distinguishing qualities must the leader who will launch Nigeria into all of her glory and splendor possess?)
So what sort of qualities should the ideal Nigerian leader possess? Should he be extra rich so that when he ascends political office, the multiple zero figures dancing in front of his eyes wouldn’t be a source of temptation, or should he be average, not-too rich because a rich person might only to seek to promote interests that will increase his wealth while an average person who understands the pains of not having enough might feel for the plight of his former not very well to-do compatriots  and maybe (just maybe) will promote interests that will better their lives. Or should this leader possess just an ordinary school leaving certificate or should he be a well renowned Prof.? The questions posed above are basically ethical questions and the task of proffering answers would not be one that can be carried out with ease. However, I can identify certain must-have qualities which every leader who can and will lead Nigeria and Nigerians into the Promised Land must possess.
The first and most important quality which any leader must possess is INTEGRITY. Without integrity you can never be a better person talk less of a better leader. If as a leader the people (your followers) cannot take you at your word then all hope is lost. When deceit, lies begin to permeate the leader-follower relationship and integrity begins to seep out of the relationship, the bond between the leaders and the followers is broken and the eventual result of such an occurrence, would be that such a leader will not be able to achieve any meaningful change whatsoever with his followers or amongst his followers. Any leader who can secure the trust of his followers will be able to get them to believe his vision will get them to run with it. A leader full of integrity will be able to say to his followers: “Follow me into the fire and I promise you we’ll come out unscathed on the other side” and his followers will without hesitation follow, because they trust him and believe in him. A leader without integrity on the other hand will say to his followers: “Follow me into the fire and I promise we’ll come out unscathed on the other side” and his followers with much hesitation will reply with something like: “Go on and let us see you come out on the other side FIRST, who says if we follow you in; you wouldn’t turn your back on us the first chance you get.” I have of recent being reading the book “Everyone communicates, Few Connect” by John Maxwell and it he shares a word from Presidential Historian Robert Dallek who insists that successful presidents exhibit five qualities that enable them to achieve things that others don’t, these qualities include: vision, pragmatism, consensus building, charisma and trustworthiness (integrity).  The above thus evidences the fact that for the Nigerian leader who will be successful and who will lead a successful nation, integrity is paramount; integrity is utmost; integrity is important….in fact integrity is everything!!
P.S. To be continued                                                        

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