By Babatunde Jose
“Contrary to the way most people think today, the biggest crisis in the world is not climate change, political divides, deforestation, water pollution or any of the other global threats that make the headlines these days. The biggest crisis in the world today is the lack of really effective leadership” From Donald Trump in America to the thieving leadership in Congo, to the formless leadership of Boris Johnson in the UK, it’s the same problem. There is need for a new paradigm in leadership; need for a ‘conscious leadership’.
Conscious leadership is leadership that is not only skilled and competent but is embodied in someone who is self-aware and mindful, someone who practices some form of self-examination and constantly seeks to expand their awareness. When leadership becomes conscious and more self-aware people embrace it and our institutions will begin to recognize how dysfunctional they have become and the mediocrity their cultures have come to expect from them. It is only then that we can have meaningful change.
Social scientist Willis Harman observed that we are at a point in our history when security for some can’t be achieved until everyone feels secure’; that is, when the well-being of everyone becomes more important than the ambitions of a few.
Our current and past crisis are all evidentiary of a leadership that is bereft of vision and mission; a leadership that has lost its bearing and is tottering without direction or a clue to solving the myriad problems confronting us as a people.
Take for instance the issue of fuel and our refineries and the untold cost and hardship wroth by the importation of a commodity which we ought to be exporting. It has taken us 25 years of carelessness and lackadaisical attitude towards the national economy to arrive at this juncture: The only major oil producer importing refined petroleum.
Another area is the power sector which has remained an impediment to progress for everyone. Yet, other nations have found solutions to this problem. It is definitely rocket science to provide stable electricity to our people; but not in this clime where the leadership is clueless and the people acquiesce and accept ‘living in darkness’ as a way of life. The docility of our people is not only legendary but has made some analysts to come to the conclusion that suffering might, after all, be self inflicted. When a people fail to shake off the yoke of suffering imposed on them by their leaders, they might not deserve pity.
We therefore requires a new consciousness; a shift in the quality of leadership that is capable of leading us to the Promised Land and out of this morass. At the same time we also require a shift in the paradigm of the followership; a change in the culture of political departicipation and unquestioning attitude to one of disposition to protest at every infringement and abuse of fundamental rights: In short, a culture of protest and if possible defiance.
For how long can we sustain this African drama is a question no one can answer. Yet we claim we have leaders. Hmmm!!! We are all suffering because of the greed and avarice of a few: And our acceptance of that abnormality.
The cost of becoming a conscious leader is quite trivial when compared to the cost of continuing to deal with one crisis after another – like political disharmony, global warming, deforestation, genocide, floods, Fulanism, Deltaism, Kidnapping and terrorism.
Conscious leadership does not rely on a person’s title or position of authority. It can be adapted by anyone who sees a need for leadership and is willing and courageous enough to take a stand for change. Again, it is a lifestyle for which one volunteers.
Why not give it a try? What harm can come from all of us consciously evolving beyond our adolescence and maturing as more conscious leaders and followers?
The need to be responsible for our actions, either good or bad, was the central theme of a Friday sermon by Imam Muiz Zubayr of the Faith Unite Muslims, Lagos. Ustaz Muiz, in his sermon, emphasized that the decay and poverty in the country were as a result of failure of leadership. He quoted from Quran where Allah says: Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought, and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness. (Quran 42:30) “Therefore, the agony, evils, misfortunes, pains, economic instability, stagnation and backwardness being experienced in the country today are as a result of failed leadership. And we might as well add, ‘failed followership’.
Therefore, our misfortunes and sufferings are definitely not from God, but from ourselves,” said Ustaz Muiz. He identified justice as a dynamic characteristic of a leader. According to him, a just leader will, at all times, serve and prioritise the interests of the followers and not his own interest. See Quran 5:8
It is therefore imperative to remind our leaders: Allah doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; and when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice: Verily how excellent is the teaching which He giveth you! For Allah is He Who heareth and seeth all things. (Quran 4:58)
Let me end this piece with ‘words on the marble’ by Babafemi Ojudu in his piece: When did the Rain Start Beating Us?: “No one has cared to tell our governors that unless and until they mobilize the energy, talent and creativity of their people, the thousands of youths who roam about aimlessly and listlessly, will remain the way they are and get worse progressively. When the centre refuses to hold, things fall apart.”
“In their disconnect, we remain a people without respect, drifting in the ocean without compass. The rain has become a deluge and the flood, right before our very eyes, is washing our youths, our future away.”
“I dare say that it is going to be a long night, unless our local leaders are able to take a lamp to the darkness and make way for their people out of this long tunnel. That starts with diligence in choosing those who lead us. Not taken by appearances but digging dip for men of character: Dignity in integrity. This is the only magic wand.”
The progress and development of this country is therefore a joint responsibility from which we cannot run away.
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend