Friday, April 10, 2015

Dear Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, What Nigerians Need Most is A Visionary Leader

What Nigerians Need Most is A Visionary Leader

In a country in search of heroes and nation builders, what Nigerians need most is a visionary leader for transformational leadership. But can the President-elect Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd) become the visionary leader of the Nigerian Dream?

Majority of our past leaders have been more of title chasers than nation builders, except for Chief Ọbáfẹ́mi Jeremiah Awólọ́wọ̀ (6 March 1909 – 9 May 1987), whom the great Lion of Biafra, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (4 November 1933[– 26 November 2011) called “the best president Nigeria never had” when Awó died in 1987.

Awó was indeed the first visiionary leader of modern Nigeria and no historian has disputed his examplary transformational leadership as the first Premier of the Western Region and national leader of the opposition in the First Republic and Second Republic. He used intellectual and poltical education for the socioeconomic transformation of his Yorùbá people from the leadership of the Egbé Ọmọ Odùduwà formed in 1945 to the establishment of the Action Group (AG) in 1951 and Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) from 1978-1983. And his visionary leadership is fully defined in the philosophy of Awoism by his followers and numerous scholars.
Awólọ́wọ̀ would have been Nigeria’s  Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) of South Africa or Lee Kuan Yew (16 September 1923 – 23 March 2015) the great first Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990, celebrated as the  founding father of independent Singapore and transformed  his country from the "third world to the first world in a single generation" under his visionary leadership. Another notable visionary leader was the great 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), aka “FDR” who won a record four elections as President of America from March 1933 to his death in April 1945. He led America through World War 2 (1 September 1939 – 2 September 1945), the worst human conflict in history that claimed  more than 61 million lives and  FDR also saw America through the Great Depression.

Africa has produced visionary national leaders such as Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein (15 January 1918 – 28 September 1970), the second President of Egypt  who is still eulogized today for his achievements in social justice, Arab unity, modernization policies, and anti-imperialism; Julius Kambarage Nyerere (13 April 1922 – 14 October 1999) of Tanzania, fondly called “Baba wa Taifa” (Father of the Nation) and the great António Agostinho Neto (September 17, 1922 – September 10, 1979), first President of Angola from 1975–1979. He was a revolutionary national leader who led the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the war for independence (1961–1974) and his birthday  is celebrated as National Heroes Day, a public holiday in Angola. Neto was adored by the great African writer Chinua Achebe (16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013) who composed the following poem in his honour.

Agostinho Neto

Agostinho, were you no more
Than the middle one favored by fortune
In children's riddle; Kwame
Striding ahead to accost
Demons; behind you a laggard third
As yet unnamed, of twisted fingers?
No! Your secure strides
Were hard earned. Your feet
Learned their fierce balance
In violent slopes of humiliation;
Your delicate hands, patiently
Groomed for finest incisions,
Were commandeered brusquely to kill,
Your gentle voice to battle-cry.
Perhaps your family and friends
Knew a merry flash cracking the gloom
We see in pictures but I prefer
And will keep that sorrowful legend.
For I have seen how
Half a millennium of alien rape
And murder can stamp a smile
On the vacant face of the fool,
The sinister grin of Africa's idiot-kings
Who oversee in obscene palaces of gold
The butchery of their own people.
Neto, I sing your passing, I,
Timid requisitioner of your vast
Armory's most congenial supply.
What shall I sing? A dirge answering
The gloom? No, I will sing tearful songs
Of joy; I will celebrate
The man who rode a trinity
Of awesome fates to the cause
Of our trampled race!
Thou Healer, Soldier and Poet!

The great Mallam Aminu Kano (1920—April 17, 1983) would have become a visionary national leader if he had succeeded in presidential elections since his leadership of Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) in the First Republic to his People's Redemption Party (PRP) in the Second Republic.

Contemporary visionary leaders in Africa include three winners of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. Joaquim Alberto Chissano, second President of Mozambique from 1986 to 2005; applauded for transforming the war-torn country of Mozambique into one of the most successful African democracies and Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires, former Prime Minister from 1975 to 1991.and President of Cape Verde from March 2001 to September 2011.

Can Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd) learn from these great visionary leaders in and overcome the challenges and trials of being haunted by ghosts of his past imperfections as a military dictator and become a true catalyst of national reformation and transformation for the nation building of a New Nigeria in the leadership of Africa in the 21st century?
Can he become the bridge builder and address the problems of religious intolerance and tribal bigotry of the lingering North-South Dichotomy caused by the divide and rule political policy of the British colonial government in Nigeria?

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme created in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war has failed to foster national pride and unity among the youths who are the future leaders of Nigeria, because of lack of a framework for their political education which the National Orientation Agency (NOA) can develop and implement from the grassroots and not by mere lip service and eye service slogans, jingles and posters. National orientation must begin from the formative years of Nigerian children when the Islamic radicalization of Muslim children begins when they become Qur’anic pupils in the mosque and that is when their sociopolitical orientation should begin with cultural and political education on religious tolerance and freedom of speech for peace and unity. A stitch in time saves nine, so from the nursery school class; we can identify and prevent the fringe elements of religious bias and tribal bigotry before they metamorphose into bloodthirsty demons of terrorism.

Visionary Leadership is not by mere “feel good” manifestos and speeches, but by being an accountable and exemplary role model for the citizens of the nation. 
As an anti-corruption crusader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd) must be honest and transparent from his closet to his cabinet. And not going straight while members of his cabinet are crooked. An incorruptible head of state with a corrupt cabinet cannot claim to be innocent of the crimes committed by the rest. Therefore, he cannot be a good leader with bad followers. There is no way a good director with a bad crew can make a great movie even if the director has a perfect script and fantastic actors.

The citizens of Nigeria have seen the worst of these interesting times, and they cannot be taken for a ride anymore, so they know what is best for them and they will not settle for less. Therefore, they want a national leader who will not disappoint them and later ask them for a second chance to do better. Four years is more than enough to prove and show the best abilities of visionary leadership in a country greatly blessed with awesome natural resources to make Nigeria the true giant of Africa without apologies or regrets.

 ~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima, from the new book "The Victory of Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Dream: My Testimony on the 2015 Presidential Election".

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