- 3 commissioners suspended for improper dressing in Ebonyi
- CBN issues two new merchant bank licences
- Ekiti PDP accuses ACN of attacking members
- Daniel eulogises HID Awolowo at 97
- Jonathan hails Koroma's re-election
- Collapsed man: Edo dep gov threatens Airhiavbere
- Communal clash: Police arrest gang leader, 12 others in Nasarawa
- Corruption: There ‘ll be no sacred cow - Jonathan
- Amosun’s wife tasks students on reading culture
- Flooding: Dangote committee sets N50bn target
- Adamawa LG election conducted peacefully
- 1999 Constitution: Women group calls for amendment to gender-biased provisions
Mandarin garlands for Fashola
In a clime where visionary leadership is scarcer than hen’s teeth, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola stands out as an exemplary visionary leader. Since his assumption of office in 2007, he has consistently demonstrated his firm understanding of what leadership is and what it is not. Unlike many Nigerian politicians, who are hooked on the junk that leadership is about popularity, Fashola is propelled by the conviction that leadership is about impact. Any leader, anywhere and at anytime who places popularity above impact has missed the mark by an aeon.
The bane of many Nigerian leaders is that they want popularity rather than significance. This warped mentality clogs their ability to envision the right things for the people. They forget that though a leader may mingle with the people physically, he must be ahead of them mentally. No leader leads from the rear, mentally. If he is unable to lead from the front mentally, he is unable to lead the people out of the woods. He must be able to envision a great future for them in his mind.
He must be able to dream of and work towards the realisation of a future that the masses cannot imagine because of the pains involved in getting to such destination. A leader who fails to see beyond the people he leads is merely titular and on a voyage to irrelevance.
It is saddening but the reality is that many Nigerian leaders are on the same mental level with the people they seek to lead. Thus, they talk like the masses, think like the masses and of course act like them. They are crippled by the same fears and concerns that limit the followership. In a time of crisis, instead of exuding words of inspiration, they spew out fear, despair and desolation. The reason is simple; no one can lead a people to a future he has not been in his own mind.
This issue of being ahead of the led mentally was Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s edge. Even the most ardent of his detractors would not find it uneasy to admit that the former Premier of the defunct Western Region had a well-developed mind. Mentally, he was well ahead of the people he was leading. Thus, he was able to envision for them a future they could not fathom. One cannot but wonder what was on the sage’s mind when he thought of starting a television station in 1959, when France, a first world nation, had yet to join the world of television. Most people around him must have wondered what was wrong with Chief Awolowo to have conceived of such a project. The same thing must have happened when he decided to build the nation’s first skyscraper, Cocoa House, in Ibadan, the first modern stadium in the country, Liberty Stadium and a number of other projects. He was able to do all of that primarily because he was not living for the moment but the future. While the masses are driven by immediate concerns, leaders are propelled by future possibilities.
That is the connection between Awolowo and Fashola. Awolowo was forward looking and so is Fashola. It is much easier and convenient for the Lagos State governor to look the other way on the issue of okada riders, especially when some politicians consider the distribution of motorcycles to be deployed for commercial purposes as a poverty reduction strategy. But Fashola chose the unpopular pathway of restricting the use of commercial motorcycles on major Lagos roads.
There have been arguments that restricting the use of commercial motorcycles within the metropolis would send some people into the labour market. True as that may be, methinks the question to ask is which is better; getting people to retool so that they can improve their lives or letting them continue in a trade that not only endangers their lives but also puts others at risk?
While majority of the masses would choose the latter, visionary leaders would go for the former. Does that mean that the visionary leader hates the masses? Far from it! When his actions bring pains to the masses, the visionary leader is equally pained but he knows that instead of trying to be nice to the people by giving them placebo, both he and the people are better off when he allows them to experience the present pains so that they can have a better future. A visionary leader knows he has the responsibility of helping the masses to make the shift from being present-focussed to being future-minded.
But Fashola did not attract my attention because of his posture on okada riders but rather on his position about teaching Chinese language in Lagos schools.
While marking his 2,000 days in office, he told his audience that his government decided to introduce Chinese language in its schools because of the increasing importance of the language. According to him, “I think we must continue to think about what our world would be like in the next 20 to 30 years and anybody who is being honest with himself would see clearly that from Britain to the United States, the Chinese are becoming our largest trading partners.”
So, while many of his contemporaries allow themselves to be besotted by challenges of the moment, he is concerned about future possibilities. Fashola is already thinking about the threat our inability to speak Mandarin may likely pose in 30 years.
That is the making of visionary leadership.
Re: Corruption- A vote for capital punishment
Two points against death penalty: it never really deters. We have had death penalty for armed robbery 40 years yet robbers have grown in number.
—Tubde Ipinmisho, Abuja
Your write up on corruption is quite interesting and well analysed. Nigeria is undoubtedly one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Who will deliver us from this serious bondage?
—Lekan Oladeji, Ilora
You have spoken the minds of Nigerians. But who will bell the cat? You or me?
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