Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Vacancy! 21st Century Leaders required.

All over the world everything Obama is now celebrated and interesting. I vaguely remember being laughed off many dinner parties and drinking arguments amongst Nigerians in at least two continents or four different countries on account of my belief that the then Senator Obama will become President. I remember the derision that met with my pronouncements starting with a post here as far back as 2004/2005. The cynicism with which the possibility of an Obama Presidency was viewed in the sitting rooms of the Lagos Cognisenti was quite painful and dismissive. If however you have been a Nigerian idealistic Nationalist as I have been all my life you live with derision and disdain as a matter of course. Now they shamelessly shout hosanna Obama.

The point of that little tirade is to bring this back to some core set of issues for us in Nigeria about what the President Elect actually represent. Many locate victory and possibility in his ethnicity, his Charisma, his vision and organisation and all of this is part of the truth but very few recognise that he is the first of his generation to rise to this exalted office. A President unburden from the cultural battles of the 1960s, fashioned in the pragmatic 70s, evolved to majority in the Reaganomics of the 80s, inspired by the dotcom of the 90s and now in full service to shape the 21st century. A timely fruition of a Pragmatic radical whose commitment is unwavering but not hobbled by any ideology, a true commitment to by any means necessary.

In Nigeria where I live we have had many leaders who are in the mainstream of the Neo-colonial awakening that has had us in thrall since independence. At the core is are the following assumption that:

- formal education is the only credible problem solving tool and passing exams certifies true learning.
- westernisation is modernization
- development especially through infrastructure as well as industrialization is the main indicator of progress
- to achieve all of the above leaders through government can and if effective will orchestrate transformation leading to all of the above.
-all these will happen with the right leader who will ensure that this is all done within a few months of being elected.

These assumptions are what has led to or have been excuses for coup detat in the country. The orthodoxy of these assumptions is only tempered by the fact that there are two camps; the afromarxists who believe in all of the above but want it done through a centrally managed process and ; the arrangees who use the pursuit of the above to maintain the tradition of patronage and rent seeking. To my mind neither is better but a read of Adegoke Adelabu's Afica in Ebullition is quite insightful and still accurate on these people

We truly lack 21st century thinking not even the 22nd century one that we will truly need for transformation. The job description for what we lack are the following :

We need leaders with the following characteristics:

Curiosity: A true interest in our history and anthropology especially pre-colonial history as we seem to have the pattern of repeating them.

An Idealist sorrounded by competent managers

Complexity and Systems thinking: A basic understanding that we are and reside in a place where things are emerging and interlinked often requires the humility to see clearly what is emerging rather than confuse activity with progress.

Identifying the key questions: The humility to recognise that the challenge is not to find answers but to discover the real questions that we need to collectively answer as a nation.

Help us to discover our priorities

Free the people to do work that matters for the next generation

Execute at moments of clarity like a ruthless warrior

Recognise that we need to jump the stages to a new Africanness that is totally unprecendented

Build the links for the people so that they can interact and cooperate of their own volition

Inspire Nigerians to be Nationalistic not necessarily Patriotic

Elevate our women from the oppression of pre-set roles

Put the pursuit of ideas at the core of National discourse

Define excellence in terms of productivity

Recognise there is no Justice , there is Just us.

At the core of all of this is a core and respect for who we are , who we are from and who we can become.

If you are out there somewhere then it is time to set forth. We cannot afford not to take steps even baby ones. I remember that in 2004 while jogging to Barack Obama's DNC speech my heart told me that this was the future President of the United States how I wish I have the same view of any Nigerian in Public life. To be fair Governor Fashola represents a bridge to this role but I suspect we will not know fully till his second term. He has been bold and resolute, disciplined and focussed which is a rarity amongst our public office holders. He deserves quite a lot of support but we need more than one person and we need a movement. The median age of Nigerians is 17 we need a generation of leaders imbued by the spirit and competencies of this time. They need not be saints but must be obsessed by the need to transform our society in a sustainable way. Nothing less will do.


afrofunkycool said...

Thank you.

Regarding the current governor of Lagos state all i can say is

1. The leadership in Lagos believe in the outdated assumptions our leaders have...
They are concentrating on infrastructure without noticing the people ...CCTV in lagos when there are no jobs and there is social discontent.

Can anyone really know the cost of the new contracts our leaders are always awarding?

In lagos the police still routinely extort money from the public. The governor is the chief security officer for the state and nothing is being done...
Yet we find the lagos state government announcing contracts for new roads and also big business friendly decisions while the poor are being marginalised. Of what use is a Lagos that is friendly to investors and big business but not it's own people?

I would have expected a focus on Education, Civic Dut ( love thy neighbour ) and also the provision of social sevices like public toilets, possible social security and a friendly raproachment with progresive governments in countries with our level of development...

But more importantly is the fact that under no circumstances can it be stated that there is a democratic system of governance in Nigeria. If the current governor does not owe his election to the people but his political Godfathers who will he serve? Really ..who will he serve?

Finally according to most scientists Lagos and Bayelsa states are at risk of flooding and even in the case of Bayelsa total loss of Land space because of global warming rise in sea lagos the government is spending billions on developng and reclaiming lanf from the sea. With my experience in the Nigerian financial markets i know greed drives most so called public works in Nigeria..

Reading you page is always a pleasure . Maybe the time is coming for you to thow your hat in the ring.......
Sincerely yours

Onibudo said...

Galvanating Galactus! Na You be that? E be like say u don get witch for body since I last saw you. Anyways the truth is that the Governor of Lagos State cannot go too far ahead of the paradigm without losing relevance. I am no great fan of the Nanny State myself my own angle is to shift our economy from consumption and celebration of what you buy to productivity and recognition for what you produce. As for Gov Fashola there is a lot going on beyond infrastructure and into building Human capital but a Politician has to build edifices to create the Political capital in our system. Here is to hearing from you bro.