YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW: Leadership Failures holding back the Nation from emerging

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The young perceived to be the leaders of tomorrow may be lacking in many areas of life thereby making it difficult for the leaders of yesterday and today to give way and also making for a seeming less smooth transition or take over.

However, the leaders of yesterday and today have failed by not doing enough in leading by example the way they were led by the leaders before them. I recall that our founding fathers showed leadership, and sacrificed so much against leading with largesse.

From all indications, the takeover being envisaged by the young may never happen considering that money and wealth have become the only instrument presently available for reaching the people. Today, our very bright men and women are left confused and made to believe that the nation has failed them or that the nation has failed. Only finding consolation in, “if you cannot beat them, you join them’’.

Preparatory to celebrating Children’s day that took place on the 27th of May with the Theme, “A Better Future for Every Child’’, my colleagues and staff organized an interactive session between students and different groups of young men and women and myself for mentoring. Some of them read my book “How little We Are” and have been reading my weekly columns in the Sun Newspaper and most of them made reference to my position on leadership and asked questions on The leadership of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow in Nigeria. I reiterated from my previous writings where I wrote:

A simple definition of leadership by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “the power or ability to lead other people”. The ability to lead can further be distinguished by physical ability, mental ability, and in some cases, spiritual ability. The bottom line is before an individual can assume the position of a leader, they need to have the capacity to lead. Another important characteristic of a leader is a man/woman of integrity. Leadership is honesty that can be held accountable to the people that are being led at any time.

However, the burden of good leadership doesn’t just fall on those aiming to be leaders. The truth is we can’t all be leaders but we can all demand accountability in leadership like it was done in the early days of Nigeria. If we take time to reflect on the journey of leadership in Nigeria, from independence to date, it forces us to ask if our leaders were prepared for the challenges and obstacles they faced on their journey. With that being said, I find it very odd that we still dip into the same pool of leaders to select our heads of government during elections.

Hence my question is, what language do we understand when it comes to leadership? This question was not just directed to the current ‘leaders’ but even to the people, to the people who put them in those positions.

Albert Einstein would call it insanity that we vote for the same leaders and expect change as he is credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

In a country such as Nigeria where we need strong policies put in place by young minds with vision, it is tiring to see us continue to leave the fate of this country in the hands of the geriatric population. It makes me wonder when the youth will rise and take what belongs to them.

How can we say our children are the leaders of tomorrow but we have refused to empower them to take positions of leadership? By this, I don’t mean just vacating positions for them to occupy when they have not been groomed by the right example to lead any differently from their predecessors. Also, how can the youths be the leaders of tomorrow if they don’t take on the mantle (whether given or taken) to lead. We can all agree that a man in his 80s old has no business governing a nation, instead, he should be retired, spending time with his family and serving as a mentor to the young people in leadership positions.

There was once a time in this country when a 32-year-old man in the person of General Yakubu Gowon became Head of State – the argument of whether he was a good head of state or not is moot at this time. President Muhammadu Buhari was 41 years old when he became the military Head of State in 1983.

I am not here to point fingers at the youth or call them all sorts of names but I think they must take their future into their own hands for the sake of our beloved country.

Back in my day, the youthful population was actively involved in the matters of our country. We took part in student body elections at the universities and it was from there that the true leaders of our generation started to distinguish themselves not by violence but by strategic planning and execution. Today, I don’t see that happening in our universities anymore. Our youth have been distracted by all sorts of things that don’t align with the vision of a better Nigeria.

There seems to be a lack of courage within our youth that has anchored them from reaching their full potential. They are not properly engaged within political circles and have decided with reckless abandon not to concern themselves with matters of the state which unfortunately is a recipe for disaster. The leaders of today started very young and had a clear vision of what type of leaders they were going to become and when they were going to become those leaders.

In the young shall grow, I had written that Many young people I speak with today are interested in becoming entrepreneurs someday and hiring staff to work for them, yet some of this same group of young men and women are not willing to work for anyone or just downright act very lackadaisical at their place of employment. Some of these young ones tend to forget that before the student becomes a master, the student must go through various phases of training to sharpen his skills to prepare him for the position of leadership. How can you walk if you haven’t crawled? The young shall indeed grow and prepare themselves to change the state of the nation to a better state.

With our many failures as a country, it is a time for some kind of revolution and sadly that revolution cannot be led by the same people who have been a part of the rot.

The young shall indeed grow. I hope that the young are unapologetic about developing an insatiable thirst for knowledge and determined to be disciplined students through the process of growth.

The young must begin by taking a leaf from the recent writing by Bashorun J.K. Randle and his concern for the Nigerian project. He believes that the present generation of leaders has misdirected the population due to severe head injuries.

The young must, therefore, bring out their brains, have them examined and, if needed, be cured of head injuries inflicted by years of misrule and bad examples.It is no longer only important for the young to grow, rather the Young Must Grow if they want to change the leadership that has stalled the emergence of Nigeria as a great Nation.

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