I am from the most populous and dynamic country in Africa – Nigeria. Nigeria is home to some of the most ingenious, assiduous and industrious people you’ll ever meet. Nigerians are vibrant and highly social people with an unbreakable spirit.
Nigeria lies in the western part of Africa, and the country known as Nigeria was founded in 1914, a result of the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria. Prior to that, and before the arrival of the Europeans, a number of different civilisations – all linguistically, religiously and politically distinct – existed. We now have a country made up of diverse tribes and cultures, religions and tongues. As a result of the differences, this marriage has been rocked countless times. This has resulted in numerous (valid) calls for restructuring which has obviously not happened yet. One major area where conflicts arise is that of leadership, who should lead, which religion should the leader be from, what tribe… The issue of leadership has long been a serious bone of contention for Nigerians.
On The March Again
I’ll borrow this slogan from the late MKO Abiola’s ‘Hope 93’ Campaign song, Nigeria is ‘on the March again’ to elect new leaders into its executive and legislative arm of government. It’s no secret that Nigeria has been bereft of good leadership for a while, this has led to a worrying mass exodus of highly skilled Nigerians recently.
There’s never better a chance to turn things around for Nigeria than the upcoming 2023 elections. Young Nigerians have been agitating for inclusion and different groups have been formed to promote this cause. Whilst I agree that we need brighter minds in governance, I must opine that it’s not entirely about age. For instance, we currently have two ‘young governors’ whose performances have been abysmal. More than age, the criteria should be based on education, experience and skills.
Skills to look out for in a leader
The importance of good leadership cannot be overemphasized. Leaders shape nations, communities, organizations, even homes. Good leadership is crucial in ensuring that a structure works successfully. A good leader utilises the strengths of everyone under their leadership effectively. I would like to use the human body as an example, I believe the leadership of our body falls on the head, the head houses the brain and thus, controls the entire body. Our body, though each part has its own purpose and ability, still needs the head to function, the head controls every part of the body and when the head is in good condition, the body is more likely to function properly. A loss or degeneration of any other part of the body does not necessarily mean the body will cease to function, as long as the head is functioning properly, there’s a chance of a decent existence.
That’s the approach I have towards leadership, if the leader of an institution is right, every unit works harmoniously.
Now that we know how important leadership is, what should we then look out for in a leader? Beyond religion, beyond tribe and even age, there are more intrinsic values that we overlook because of these factors.
Education is a key factor in selecting leaders as is experience. These two are easier to identify than skills. Skill is the ability to do something well and skills are developed through life experiences and learning. Here are a few leadership skills to look out for;
One of the most important traits of a leader is without doubt, integrity. Integrity is basically being upright and principled. It’s a firm adherence to a personal moral code of conduct. Integrity itself carries many layers, it involves being transparent, honesty, contentment, inclusiveness, being truthful, disciplined and fair play. A leader of integrity will give people what they duly deserve, without prejudice and favouritism.
Ability to delegate
No man is an island and no one knows it all. Even the most intelligent amongst us still need support to function adequately. A leader that can’t delegate is a failure waiting to happen. A good leader has to be able to identify people that can perform relevant tasks. You can tell a person that’ll be able to delegate effectively by the people they surround themselves with.
As with any kind of relationship on earth, communication is also key when it comes to leadership. A leader should be able to communicate with the people. Effective communication includes the ability to listen to others as well as interact with them beneficially.
An influential leader is a plus to any society. influence is the ability to affect the behaviour of others in a particular direction, leveraging key tactics that involve, connect, and inspire them. A leader should know how to get things done by engaging their team and by leveraging on personal networks and connections.
A leader is there for a reason – to lead people – and different people come with different problems and complications. A good leader should be sensitive to this. Empathy simply explained, is understanding the needs of others. It is understanding that others will have differing opinions and involves understanding how the feelings of others impact their perceptions. It doesn’t mean a leader should always agree with how others see things, but being willing to appreciate what they are going through. An emphatic leader leaves his people feeling safe and cared for and can easily earn the trust of the people.
Leadership to serve
Leadership is a call to service and a good leader is a servant. It (leadership) should be about serving the greater good and not-self aggrandizement. A good leader needs to make time to become more familiar with the people and the issues they face. Think back to the best boss you ever had (if you’ve worked as an employee before). What was that person like? Maybe you should look out for those qualities in whoever you chose to vote for.
Choosing a leader should be done with a lot of thought, It should be done wisely. Whatever you do, make sure you get to choose and that means voting. Get your PVC (Permanent Voters Card) and ensure you exercise your right. You cheat yourself when you don’t exercise your voting rights, saying votes don’t count is a silly excuse, how will it count if you don’t vote? Voter registration is on, and you can register to vote on the INEC website. We are a country bound in freedom, peace and unity, we’ve come a long way and have always weathered the storm, no matter how tempestuous. Let’s get it right this time, we owe ourselves as well as coming generations. Get your PVC. I’ll end this with a quote from Cornelius Adebayo’s exile memoir – Running For Dear Life
A great poet Milton observed that ‘God has made men strong enough to stand, yet free to fall” What we do with our opportunities will determine the fate of our country.Cornelius Adebayo
Look out for posts on interesting candidates as we march on to the 2023 elections.