LEADERHIP EDUCATION: PANACEA TO BUILDING A NEW AND GREATER NIGERIA
Nigeria as a nation birthed 100 years ago and began its journey of self-rule 54 years exactly this year, 2014. One can say that we have confidently as a people led our nation for more than half of a century since after is northern and southern protectorates were amalgamated. Many believe the problem with Nigeria today began with its amalgamation while many will disagree with this. The myriads of problems and issues that have bedeviled Nigeria’s rise to greatness have been blamed on much reason, some of which are tribalism, ethnicism, corruption, nepotism, dictatorship as a result of long eras of military rule. Sure enough, these are obvious contributors to the backwardness of the Nigerian nation. Many have also blamed the paucity and lack of utter altruistic leadership as one of the woes of the nation. A notion to which a larger number of Nigerians concur.
Today, when you find yourself in any public gathering, be it in a public bus, social or political gathering or on a family’s dining table, the musing and whining about Nigeria’s problem usually ends up on the kind of leadership we have while no questions are being asked on the kind of leadership we ought to have and what efforts any one is making to realize them.
Most Nigerians believe that the Nigeria’s problem is now beyond human remedy. An average Nigerian is of the opinion that only God can redeem this nation from its leadership quagmire. Well, I bet to differ. In life, one simply gets what one wants or asks for, and as a nation, we have only received what we have worked for over the years, 54 years ago. Unfortunately, the level of musing, complaints and hopelessness will continue to increase until we come to the realization that we reap what we sow, thus to reap good leadership we must sow good citizenship- one that is patriotic; that will eventually translate to good leadership.
I am not writing this piece to dwell on the Nigerian problem like a lot of people do, I am writing this to proffer the only solution to redeeming the Nigerian nation. Reflecting on Prof. Chinua Achebe’s book, “The Troubles with Nigeria” published in 1983. The same problems he listed which all bothered on selfish and visionless leadership meshed in tribalism are the same problems we face today as a nation after 31 years of publishing that book. If we cannot find a solution to a problem that is nearly as the age of our nation, it is as well a fact to say that there is no future for our country or for our children.
People have called for re-orientation, re-branding as a solution to the Nigerian Problem. Well, all these have to do with one simple thing- LEADERSHIP EDUCATION. When a people do not know what to do, they do what they think is the best, however, their best may not be good enough. Likewise when a child grows up learning that corruption is accepted in the society, that crime and all other kinds of social vices are all a way in the society, because they are treated with kid gloves and instead of frowning at such life style society celebrates the perpetrators, young children will eventually grow to aspire to such life styles because it is the vogue. This is typical of the country we live in today. Corruption, avarice, selfishness, inhumanity and violence have been elevated above selflessness, peace, altruism, visional leadership. We have poor leaders and bad leadership style in Nigeria because we as Nigerians in all sections have failed to teach our children about leadership and its sacred place and importance in the society.
Most parents are concerned about how well their children does in their academics, but care less about their view of the society, what roles they play and what they can contribute to a positive and progressive society. Today’s parents care more about their children becoming doctors, engineers, architects, or basically earning a university degree, but don’t pay attention on teaching them about character formation and development as well as other virtues such as integrity, selflessness, honesty and building a personality that advances a good society or even what leadership role they can play in their chosen career in advancing a better society.
Success in all aspects of life begins with clear vision and executed based on sound leadership principles. If we succeed as individuals and fail as a nation, then we haven’t succeeded in any way. If we succeed as a nation without successors to continue on our successes, then we have only succeeded to fail.
“The worth of a nation, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it”
~ John Stuart Mill
A community or society is made up of people. People who are from different family backgrounds, thus the society begins with the family. If we have failed as a nation, it simply means we have failed in our various families and roles as family members. Many may not agree with this, but the truth remains that a society is a reflection of its people. Families therefore are the building blocks upon which societies are erected; as a result bad families thus beget bad society. It is in the family that the education of a child begins, as a matter of fact, no one teaches a child more about life and the tenets of life better than the family. The school only plays a secondary role in shaping the personality and character of a child. The school mainly teaches a child or a person how to become a professional in a particular area of life’s career but not how to develop characters and attitudes that advances society based on honesty, integrity, selflessness, love and care for other humans. These are mainly the responsibility of parents and elders in a family, and that’s why in a traditional African society, when a person misbehaves or acts irresponsibly, the first question people usually ask is, who are his/her parents? Which family is he/she from?
However, a typical family today is busy. In fact, some families are more busy running organizations and churches than they run their own family. Every family is struggling to make ends meet, to put food on the table, to be able to afford a means of survival. As a result, the role of mentoring, teaching and character formation for the child have been relegated if not completely abandoned. The result is that today, many young person’s aspire to be pop stars, top musician or movie celebrities than aspire to lead for change to make a difference in their local communities. Since leadership in our nation has been left for miscreants and sycophants, how then can we have good and citizen driven leadership?
Until we stop apportioning blames, realize and accept the roles we have played in shaping the current situation and circumstance our nation is in and the roles we ought to play to steer it in the right direction to the desired future, we will continue to bicker, whine and complain about leadership in our nation, and continue to mortgage the future of our children and the generations to come to bad leadership and its concomitant negative impacts.
Leadership education in families and school is the only panacea to the current national quagmire. It is the only way out for our nation and the only means to building a greater country. It may take time, but the time to start is now. It is never too late to begin to teach a child about leadership and what leadership roles and responsibility he or she owes the nation. It is never too early or late to begin to teach a child to put his nation first (patriotism and nationalism). Successful countries today built their nations upon patriotism and nationalism. Patriotism and nationalism has been the raison d’être that fired most of the achievements of great nations and great people in the world today.
There is no way we can achieve a great nation sans imbibing leadership qualities built around patriotism and nationalisms as well as all other core attributes of character and personality. To get it right, we must develop a clear strategy and policy on leadership, develop an academic leadership curriculum to be taught at all levels of our educational system alongside programs and initiatives that will assist parents and care givers teach and mentor the younger generation in the right principles and way of life that advances society. America with all her glory and achievements recognizes the role and importance of leadership, hence why history and leadership education are core subjects in their education curricular. If we seek a great future for our nation, we must prepare for it now! And the only way we can achieve it is by re-engineering the leadership path of our nation by teaching and mentoring the younger generation who are the leaders of tomorrow on the right path of leadership.
Our society is in dire need of role models. In our current situation, we hardly have political role models with exceptional leadership qualities to look up to or who the younger generations can aspire to be like. Our politicians must aspire to present themselves worthy role models that younger generations can emulate. Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Aung San Suu Kyi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Barack Obama, to mention but a few all represents worthy role models for their nations and the world. We must as a nation be counted and represented in this list of individuals who have shown exceptional leadership and have impacted the world by their leadership style.
Above all, we must pay absolute attention to the leadership needs of our nation and provide the necessary support and education that will expose our children to leadership skills, help form their character and develop a strong personality that exudes patriotism, service and selflessness.
The responsibility to a better Nigeria is not only in the onus of the president or the governor. We all, even in followership are called to leadership in the very infinitesimal corners of our private lives. What we do in our small corners, have reverberating effect and impact in the larger center of our communal life. So what we do when no one is watching is as much as important in shaping our future as a people. When leadership fails, nothing else succeeds!
“A nation is not defined by its borders or the boundaries of its land mass rather, a nation is defined by the people who have been unified by a cause and a value system and who are committed to a vision for the type of society they wish to live in and give to the future generations to come.”
Nwokedi Don Emeka is the founder of Agape Leadership Center for the Children & Youth, Abuja- ALCCY