When it comes to responding to political crises, there are three “temperatures” of a leader: hot (responsive), cold (rebellious), and lukewarm (indifferent).
The world is looking for scientists. The church is looking for theologians. And Nigeria is looking for men and women of vision. Nigeria’s leadership position is vacant.
Africa in general and Nigeria in particular, have been ruled by blind men who do not see ahead with clarity. They only think of the moment and hardly anticipate possible consequences of their choices.
For too long and too wrong, Nigerians have suffered needlessly and endlessly from rulers that have been inebriated with corruption. Thus, Nigeria has become a classical example of withered hopes for the multitude of its poor.
The events of late in Nigeria should keep those of us who genuinely love our country awake at night when others are snoring hard.
The stories coming out of Nigeria everyday make us wonder who is really in charge of the country – President Jonathan or the Boko Haram terrorists.
In addition to the slaughter of thousands of innocent Nigerians by the Boko Haram, the riotous living followed by destitution experienced by our people further alienates them from the human race.
Corruption – the dreaded word – is Nigeria’s number one enemy and killer. The leadership is deeply embroiled in it and unwilling to extricate itself from the evil. Corruption and cluelessness have become the Siamese twins of the Jonathan administration.
Nigeria is a country where truth is more terrifying than fiction. The other day, Mr. Jonathan confessed to a “small corruption” in the land. Mr. President, small corruption?
With all these frightening problems, the president wears a happy face with his disarming signature smile and custom made fedora hat. He looks unruffled, unworried, and unscathed. I don’t know how Mr. Jonathan can go to bed peacefully at night.
It's not enough to govern a country by wearing fedora hat and smiles. Government is a serious business. Nigeria is witnessing unprecedented rampage and carnage and it appears the worst is yet to come.
President Jonathan has remained aloof and literally asleep at the wheel. The hues and cries of distraught Nigerians are all but fallen on deaf ears.
The tale of intrigue and bloodshed overruns the land. The recent clashes between troops and the Boko Haram Islamist militants in Baga, Borno State, with 187 dead and hundreds with life threatening injuries left the Jonathan administration with no excuse or explanation.
President Jonathan has proved time after time that he’s a leader out of control. Here is how:
(i) He misunderstood the times.
(ii) He lost joy over little problems.
(iii) He needed friends to build his self-image.
(iv) His greed and ambition make him unhappy.
(v) He listens to the wrong people.
(vi) He thinks too highly of himself.
(vii) He sets himself up for failure.
(viii) He’s reaping what he sowed.
At a time like this in Nigeria, we need a leader who will make the needs of Nigerians his personal burden. The individual who will embrace the burden and feel morally compelled to act on it.
We need a leader who practices the Law of Sacrifice: a leader must be willing to give up to go up. The vision becomes his or her possession. And most importantly, the person will call others to join the cause, often at great personal risk.
Examples of such leaders abound in history at different times and age. Esther saved the Jewish people from being exterminated. Joseph kept his people alive during the famine in Egypt.
Moses led the Israelites out of slavery. Samson and David delivered the Hebrews from the Philistines, and Gideon delivered the people from the land of Midianites.
President Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu saved South Africans from Apartheid. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks delivered African Americans from Jim Crow. Mahatma Gandhi delivered the Indians from unjust rule of the Brits. The list goes on and on.
These leaders were able to achieve their goals only when their cause becomes more important than their lives. Those who saved their lives would lose it, and vice versa.
We need a leader who must put the cause of Nigerians above his instinct for self-preservation – and not only live, but enable many others to live as well.
When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go. Nigeria needs a leader who must overcome whatever keeps him from moving forward.
We need a leader who will see his fate like that of the rest of Nigerians. If we don’t take risks, we can never expect to rise to the occasion. The leader will fare no better than the rest of Nigeria if he didn’t take risk and act.
A leader could lose more than an opportunity if he refused to take action. Of course, doing the right thing at the right time can seem risky. In the long run, a leader incurs a greater risk by not taking action. For failing to take action, a leader could miss out on his mission in life.
A leader will never accomplish his mission by remaining idle. What paralyzes a leader from acting? Fear? Image? Whatever keeps a leader from pursuing an opportunity, he’ll succeed only by making one timely decision after another.
Nigeria needs a leader that will keep his finger on the pulse of Nigerians’ basic needs. Such a leader will always find opportune time to lead. And now is the time!
We need a leader that will understand what Nigerians need, but also what they need from him. A leader that will get in touch with our people’s needs.
A leader who will continually ask: what is the mood of my people? What do they desire to accomplish? What do they need from me, their leader?
We need a leader who will surround himself with key people that will tell him the truth that he hates to hear. A leader that will ask key influencers what they’re feeling before taking important decisions.
A leader that will ask himself: Do the key influencers see the same opportunity that I see? Are they discerning the same timing? A leader that will get feedback from his key people before taking action.
Nigeria needs a leader with the courage to risk, to reach, and to put himself on the line to seize an opportunity. Taking an advantage of an opportunity requires courage.
The call for men of vision by the 18th century American novelist and poet, Josiah Gilbert Holland, whose pseudonym was Timothy Titcomb reverberates truly and loudly today.
Titcomb probably had Nigeria in mind when he wrote his poem “God, give us Men!”
Listen to him:
“God give us Men!
A time like this demand strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will; Men who have honor;
Men who can stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog;
In public duty and private thinking,
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land and waiting justice sleeps.”
The president’s first name – Goodluck – might have served him well. In real life, luck is a combination of preparedness and opportunity. He has the latter in excess, but the former is refreshingly absent.
***We cannot drive a car forward by looking at the rear view mirror. We cannot use shoes as hammers, newspapers for umbrellas, and finger nail to tight a screw!