by Akinola Odunukan
In the favorite words of a former leader of this nation, who coincidentally got in by the barrel of the gun rather than the choice of the ballot box: “Fellow Nigerians,” we are at a crucial point in the history of this country – a time when the nature of the leader in place might just be the difference between life and death. Blunt as it may sound, and painting quite a harsh outlook, yet in all truth this is fast becoming the prevailing reality of the times.
Gone are the days when Nigerians could afford to trade their votes on the basis of peanuts, breadfruits or the tastier plate of rice, as if they never really mattered. The wager is much higher now than ‘stomach infrastructure’ as our present day circumstances call for certain kinds of stringent leadership choices. Anyone less than a leader who is proactive, organizes effectively, empathetic, and one who knows when to put aside politics while acting in the best interest of the collective, might just not be good enough.
Here again we are almost at the crossroads where we have to make the choice of our lives. But the stakes have never been higher, with the continuance of our survival dependent on the path we choose to walk. At this rate, the margin for error keeps getting ever slimmer with the consequences standing at quite grave heights. What we need now is business unusual. It is high time Nigerians started demanding for really tangible manifesto points and substantial debates which pressure the candidates to spell out in very coherent terms their plans and angles as it pertains to managing the state in general; and more interestingly crisis response.
If we were to consider just two of the worst cases plaguing our collective existence right now: the ‘Boko Haram’ scourge and the ‘Ebola virus’ respectively – even though some are quick to point out that each of these peculiar troubles have picked two extreme points to begin their attack – Boko Haram in the North and the Ebola Virus from the south. It wouldn’t be hard to agree that any of these two or the combination of both, if allowed to fester could virtually shut down our economy at the least, or worse still terminate our entire existence.
Without trying to compare persons or governments, picture how the different approaches to tackling these two scourges could lead to very devastating ends or otherwise, and then you might begin to understand the very magnitude of the case in point. Meanwhile, the latter explains without a trace of doubt the need to have the right arrowheads in place who can think clearly, implement structures and rally troops effectively to tackle our seemingly multi-ended problems.
Upon closer inspection, the stark reality we are now being forced to understand is that our lives could rise or fall on the basis of the decisions we make at the polling booth. Those effectively serve as determinants of the kind of leadership saddled with the responsibility of orchestrating our individual and collective destinies over a space of four years, or potentially eight. It would be that these persons are not just responsible for steering the ship of the nation alone, but also responding proactively to catastrophic situations and overwhelming emergencies within the period. If such a decision were left to the fickle whims of stomach infrastructure alone, then the eventual calamities should not be blamed on anybody else but the ones who squandered the chance to make the most of their franchise at the polls.
However it is essential to add that the central matter goes beyond just the perspective of followers alone. Even the leader must now understand that the job has moved past child’s play or business as usual. The requirements are fast evolving, and as such evoke the clear conditions: ‘deliver or be gone’, more so because numerous lives could be preserved or lost on the basis of decisions made or wished away. A word they say is enough for the wise. It would be in the best interest of Nigeria and by extension Nigerians if we took heed of valuable advice while the opportunity yet remains, as the options could go further than being merely unsavory.
Rather than use a local example at the expense of sounding partisan, let’s consider a case where the leader’s ego and personal drive threatens the economy and the livelihood of a whole nation. In Vladimir Putin, Russia has a leader who has refused to see the world as ‘ours’ instead his actions portray him as one who sees it as ‘mine’. To this end, he chooses to ride rough shod, defying set standards and ultimately throws the fate of a people and the businesses in his country into jeopardy, just because of his cynical perspective. It tells you how far the approach of one man could go to affect the destiny of a whole nation. Compared to his immediate predecessor Medviedev, Russia and the World seem to be the worse off.
In closing, Nigeria has got way more potential than we are harnessing at the moment. We live in a nation which has all of the resources to take care of itself, and lend to the world, if only we learned to diversify our economy properly, and make each aspect autonomously yield as much as it possibly could. The latter in turn demands that we have a leader who can look at all angles and run this nation as a conglomerate, devoting unreserved energy to develop various sectors – making them work to their maximum potential – without fleecing one to build another, or abandoning a once vibrant one just because the other is in a boom.
We need leaders who have the mindset that no revenue is too much; it only has to be deployed as judiciously as possible with a comfortable percentage put aside for the rainy day, and the development of our posterity. In the end we have a clear choice to make, and having a good picture of who we want should drive our passion to do the right thing, not just for us and now, but also for the sake of generations unborn.
Photograph: National Mirror & Nigeria intel
Akinola Odunukan is a content and concept developer plus social media buff, who is quite passionate about Leadership, Self-improvement, Personal and Team development. He writes at http://mticoach.com . You can follow him on twitter @dekynsIV