August 30, 2010

Leadership, Politics and Elections

2011 elections too many aspirants and no inspiration
Politics is also show business.
The performance must be convincing and flawless. Every little error is magnified a thousand times. The actors cannot afford not to act the part in totality. You have to be capable of rousing a sleeping lion in the people you meet and from everyone under the sound of your voice. The politician must at least appear to be connected in a special way like no other to the situation, the emotions and the needs and wants of the people. Not since Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Odimegwu Ojukwu and Herbert Macaulay have I seen or heard of any public figure that can wield such influence. The leaders we have since then are lame dock consensus politicians. Consensus politics is very bad for democracy. Let's all fight fair and test our ultimate acceptability of our dreams and visions (if we've got any) on the ballot. Obasanjo, in the later stages, appeared to fit the bill. When you see or hear him speak (especially during his second term.) you could feel that someone with authority, influence and character is speaking. He does not wear a power suit, only a babariga, but you get the sense he is in charge nonetheless. Never mind that Obama said Africa does not need strong leaders. I understand that he meant warlords and warmongers (of which Africa has got a lot of, including Ojukwu). But I tell you Nigeria needs leadership, strong leadership and strong leaders. Leaders who are in tune with the mood, feelings and needs of the people and are capable taking advantage of an opportune occasion  to give direction without contradicting the national interest and established policies and procedures. At this time I do not see anyone, not one that has
that potential. The approval ratings of all the present crop and generation of leaders is going to be based mostly on sentiments. Like oh! lets vote a new face. Oh! lets vote someone not from the North. Oh! lets vote someone that will favour us. That is why all the talk is on zoning. There is no real principle, no character and there is no expectation of a landslide victory in the coming 2011 polls given a fair election process. The politics I see is that of arm twisters; Common-give-it-to-me and snatch-it politics. That is why the major players are all going from one caucus to another and one meeting to another meeting and so on. ACN, OPC, Northern leaders whatever, Ohanneze, PDP NEC, Governors group etc. These are all arm wrestling meetings. None of them is appealing to the electorate none of them is populist.
Leadership is about giving direction that people feel confident to follow.
The PDP was the party that won the “independence” from military dictatorship. It was formed by the G18 leaders that stood out and spoke in a fearless manner against the dictator Sani Abacha and his cronies. So the party was built by the most eminent and influential figures of the time. And they practically demonstrated their credentials. They easily won the election later. But that credential is worn thin. The progressive PDP have become conservative. The People’s Democratic Party has become the “People’s” National Party. Conservative not of a cherished principle but of a corrupted status quo. The leaders have become flag bearers of corruption and suspended service delivery. Ever budgeting and awarding high tech contract but with no real achievement and no completion of any worthwhile project. The plundering of the treasury has continued. Even in the midst of an oil boom and increased earning foreign borrowing is increasing. Poverty has persisted in the midst of even more plenty. But no other group has really challenged PDP with a credible alternative. There should have been a good plan by a new G’x’ with a solid plan and a solid campaign of opposition to wrest power from PDP in a couple of years. This is not on the ground. The opposition is not a coherent stable party formation. The opposition is only a few individuals (like Buhari etc) and they do not have a convincing programme, they cannot sustain the support of a particular party but they continue to hop from party to party to platform hoping for a miracle and hoping to benefit from an already built party structure. To win a free election you need time to sink deep into a political structure and demonstrate your ability to lead by participating actively in building that structure. And gain the confidence of your peers. Not like Obasanjo (jump out of prison and jump onto an already built winning  platform) or like Babangida (who is also trying to jump unto an already built platform) which was, in fact, built up in opposition to his dictatorial administration. He should have contested on a different platform (a possibly retired generals party, call it what you may) to prove to us that he was right in the first place that dictatorship is best for Nigeria. Even Obasanjo is better. He can be excused as having been in jail after speaking out in opposition against the dictator and was in principle aligned to the position of PDP at the time. Not so with IBB.
Abiola was a true populist. We need someone with that charisma, self belief and able to muster the resources needed to run an election and win it. President Jonathan is a reluctant candidate. He has failed to ride the waves. He seems quiet honest but he does not carry that air of authority and self confidence without  aloofness  that is needed in a political leader. He tries to connect to the people and listens to them but a leader also needs spontaneity. His effort at this has mostly been a disaster. Can you not feel FIFA just over the shoulder? The knack to make a fell swoop decision that gives positive direction to the public is a leadership virtue. You cannot be a popular President if you cannot do that. Especially in Nigeria. Your advisers will quickly gain your confidence and insolate you from the public into “a presidential bubble” and turn you into a resident; where everything is fine and all your policies work 100%. Or better still they will indirectly dictate those policies for you. Among the present crop of leaders there is no MKO Abiola, no Bill Clinton, no Barack Obama, no Tony Blair and none. All we have, the best we have is a Gordon Brown (someone that rose to power by virtue of political succession and may lack the leadership to maintain it). Then worst still we have ‘chancers’ (Atiku, Buhari) and outright Wolves in sheep clothing. Do you know of any current aspirant that is capable of connecting with the people, that really cares? I would like to know of that one.


Emeka K Duru said...

Rabble rousing as good oratory does a politician make but does it a good Leader make?
Zik,Ojukwu,Awo,K.O.Mbadiwe and so many others,remember Shetima Al Mungonu?These people could make the stones rise up to count.They coloured the political landscape,because they were reach in ideas and language of delivery.Our problem today is that we are barren of ideas but wax lyrical in deceit.

Anonymous said...

true leadership must be a right mix of good "oratory", intention, and character to do as you say. the last part is what has been lacking. But also now the first is lacking as well.

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