LEADERSHIP BEYOND POLITICS IN OUR CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY – SIR OAU ONYEMA
A paper presented as Guest Speaker in TNEP-THE NEW ENUGU PROJECT, STAKEHOLDERS’ SUMMIT 2021, held at Ingrace event center, Rangers Avenue, Independence Layout Enugu on 5th day of June, 2021.
TOPIC: Leadership BEYOND Politics in our contemporary society.
Succinctly, Leadership has been described by Wikipedia as ‘the action of leading a group of people or an organization’. While Politics means ‘the way that people living in groups make decisions. Also, making agreements between people so that they can live together in groups such as tribes, cities, or countries… Those who play politics in a democratic setting are Politicians, and sometimes they come together to for political parties, with which they obtain political power, form a government, and then start ruling as ‘Leaders’. This form of leadership ascribed to them, irrespective of their level of academic qualification and competence.
In this scenario, a party leader is created, and he acts as the official representative of their political party. The party leader is typically responsible for managing the party’s relationship with the general public, while those elected through the outcome of elections in a partisan politics starts governing, and they are presumed ‘the leaders’. Surely, they are leaders in a utopian society.
However, in our contemporary society being Nigeria as a nation; it has its peculiarities. These stems from the uniqueness of its politicians, their attributes, conducts, and the prevailing sentiments that guides their conduct, particularly their insatiable ambition for wealth and leadership, irrespective of whether their occupation of leadership position is positive or negative, to national growth and development. Not only this, other factors make our contemporary society unique, especially the multiple social vices and political rascality, which are currently being poorly attended to. These vices plague, and try to stifle and suffocate our society. They includes, but are not limited to, corruption, banditry, kidnapping, Herders menace, cultism, Religious extremists murdering people without reservations, Ritual killings, Armed Robbery, vandalism, unknown gun men, and Arsonists menace. On the part of political rascality, it breeds increasing debt profile of the nation, gross inflation of the naira, ethnic bigotry, nepotism, and general impunity of government at various levels. Consequently, triggering-off the current multiple ethnic agitations for disintegration of the country.
Another peculiar challenge is the behavior of our people with political power, wherein the common denominator in citing of infrastructure is favoritism, and pure political considerations, irrespective of whether the location is viable or not; clearly indicating an abject lack leadership on the culprit. Simply because he or she feels that, being ‘leader’, such project must be cited in their domain, or as it pleases them, irrespective of whether it is viable and sustainable or not. Hence, creating spates of hopelessness and waste to the system, through abandoned and moribund projects.
Indeed, something brought about all these deviant behaviours, and I can conveniently attribute such to poor instinct on our part, to expand our scope to incorporate the true meaning and attributes of LEADERSHIP BEYOND POLITICS.
Simply put, we have a very wrong connotation about leadership and politics, which creates a stereotyped lackadaisical attitude on the citizenry. We tend to wrongly believe and accept the connotation that politics offers leadership. It does not.
What offers leadership is your knowledge, skill, training, disciple, vocation or trade. Unfortunately, POLITICS IS NOT A TRADE. It cannot therefore offer you leadership.
However, we tend mis-conceptualize that once we cling to political position, we have become leaders; no wonder that the bickering exists even before an illiterate legislature, and a trained opinion-molder / business mogul who controls a conglomerate of businesses and personnel; all about, who is the leader of their community. In essence, whose opinion should be listened to by t tothe members of the community. This ought not to be, if we actually understand that Politics does not offer us pure leadership.
A situation where a political appointee automatically starts basking on the glory of his Political Appointment, and the euphoria that ‘he has been appointed the leader of his community’, is another menace, clearly interfering with our local governance and Community’s development. One will see pure opinion-molders with leadership attributes, being challenged and made jest of, in an issue that his opinion ought to be sacrosanct and imbibed, in the interest of the community.
We should know that politics or political appointment does not create leaders. Normally, political appointments ought to create SERVANTS, who have to strive to inculcate leadership attributes to himself, so that he will become a LEADER. Without, those attributes aforementioned, such appointee is not a leader, and should not go into conflict with the actual leaders in his domain, so that their community will grow. In the words of Nelson Mandela – “A Leader is like a shepherd”, and woo betide that shepherd who lacks knowledge and skill.
The type of leadership obtainable from politics is to me a pseudo-leadership which is transient and tenured. What inculcates the right leadership in a person-in-power in my own view are, as earlier mentioned: his knowledge, skill, training, disciple, vocation or trade. When we lack deep roots in xm these, and peradventure finds ourselves in politics/power; to make a good input to the system, we MUST first appreciate our handicaps and incompetence, and then do all things possible to make-up our deficiency. Such things to be done are, appointing people with needed attributes that make up a leader, around us. It is only by doing this that we can learn, borrow ideas and then get remolded by training, and then lead well. This exactly, is where nepotism, favoritism and tribalism bites us hard. Inclination to nepotism, favoritism and the likes hampers us from being the actual leader we ought to be, and then lack the requisite knowledge to lead our society well, and get rid of social and political vices that nose-dives our economy.
Partisan Politics on its own has the capacity of throwing any kind of person into power and position of leadership. This is because the basic underlining factor in nominating a Candidate of a political party in Nigeria is for now, and as we have experienced, is favouritism, and not competence or level of leadership attributes one have. This has not done our nation well, at all. But, what can we do, we must learn to work with the available, hence the need for self-appraisal, and our own ability to tell ourselves the truth. By that, we will appreciate that political power is not attribute of a Leader. Hence, that we must at all times have it at the back of our minds, the need to increase our proficiency in leadership through our knowledge, skill, training, disciple, vocation or trade.
We can increase the needed proficiency through enrolling for further education in citadels of higher learning, skill acquisition centers, undergoing specialized trainings, enhancing our discipline and self-respect, and ensuring that we individually have a vocation or trade which we must seek to build, enhance and develop at all time, either before ascending to political power, or while in occupation of political power, and most importantly after political power, so that we will remain focused at all time. I mean ‘developing an address, outside politics’. Like, I earlier said, POLITICS IS NOT A TRADE.
From my own perspective as a multi-potential professional who is in politics, it is not everyone who occupies political power that is a leader. This must sink into our minds, in other to save our nation from calamity. Less damages are done to the system, when this is well understood. Some are good in politics, while lacking the leadership attributes, which will make them a pure Leader. Anyone who occupies political power who lacks knowledge, discipline, skill, specialized training of any kind, and most importantly a prior-vocation or trade, is a disaster to the nation. Unfortunately, our partisan politics throw up a lot of such personalities.
It therefore behooves on us, to ensure that we individually improve our selves in the attributes that enable one to be a leader as earlier enunciated herein. This will make us to remain FOCUSED, SKILLFUL, CONFIDENT, AND GOAL-ORIENTED in our society, without being unnecessarily desperate to continue clinging to political power ad infinitum; as if that is our only hope.
All these my highlights on leadership beyond politics, will manifest better when the zeal to occupy Political Position, will be to lead and imprint one’s footstep in the sands of time; and not to go and acquire wealth.
If one belongs to any vocation or trade which he takes time to improve-on, one will appreciate that leadership is far beyond politics. And that politics only offers transient pseudo-leadership, which we will not be desperate over. Many people are leaders without being in politics. It is the knowledge, skill, discipline, training, vocation , trade or a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of a company that makes him to lead well, and grow his company into a conglomerate. A conglomerate is not grown through compulsion, or cohesion of the led, which we experience from some people that occupy our political power / leadership position. Conglomerate is grown from pure leadership attributes.
As the saying goes, ‘he who is not faithful over little , will not be faithful over much’ . In other words, he we has not proven his mettle in any sphere of life, trade or vocation, will hardly give us the right leadership we desire when partisan politics throws him up. Instances on this abound. Personally, I play politics, but have never allowed it to be my major pre-occupation. I ensure that I enhance my knowledge through constant academic learning, which made me belong to different trades and vocation. I lead in my sphere, and sustains my ‘address’, and can comfortably lead elsewhere. Surely, being pre-occupied with a trade or vocation has a way of instilling disciple and leadership skill on a person, and I urge our people and politicians to sit up, and find something doing at all times.
All in all, it is my opinion that all of us who participate in politics of our state, expecting to acquire political positions anytime soon, should as a matter of expediency find something else doing as our trade or vocation. One must not be a Professor, Lawyer, Doctor, Lab Scientist, Nurse, Engineer, Pharmacist, Physiotherapist, Architect, etc before it is said that he has a vocation or trade. A Mechanic, carpenter, metal fabricators, traders, poultry farmer etc are equally vocations and trade. Provided that a person strives hard to excel in his vocation, surely such comes with a lot of discipline required to mould a good leader, especially if such a person further enhanced his training and knowledge.
We ought to first, try to become appropriate leaders in our business sphere; rather than hoping to gain success only when we acquire political power. If we tow this line, we will be individually successful and comfortable, prior, within and outside political power. Observations has shown, that a person with the appropriate leadership attributes REMAINS RELEVANT IN THE SYSTEM, prior to ascending to political power, and even beyond politics.
Find a vocation or trade today, and enhance your leadership skill in advance; Politics indeed, is not a trade.
Chief OAU Onyema, AIMLS, PGDM, PGDIR, MILR, MBA, LLB. BL, DRS (KSJI)
Solicitor & Advocate