Durotoye: Our Generation Must Show Leadership to Change our Story


Fela Durotoye, renowned leadership coach and trainer, says the nation’s potentials can be attained and dreams of citizens realisable. But the time of sitting on the fence by the present generation is over. Raheem Akingbolu writes

During one of his recent lectures, Fela Durotoye, the chief executive of Gemstone Leadership Centre, told of an experience he had at a traffic light. According to him, the light controlling his lane had shown red which made him stop even when there was no traffic from any of the other two directions. However, the car behind him, a state of the art Lexus sports utility vehicle, SUV, being driven by woman was hooting behind him apparently asking him to move despite the red light. Her reason, understandably, was because since there was no car in the other directions, he should move on even when the traffic had not shown green.

“That experience taught me something”, Durotoye said. “It showed that ability to do the right or the wrong thing has nothing to do with social status. It is about how one conditions his or her mind. The pain I had that day was not that the woman swore at me, but because there were two lovely girls on the back seat aged between six and eight who would probably grow up believing that it was ‘normal’ to move when the traffic light shows red.”

We Need to Restructure our Reasoning…
Durotoye believes Nigerians have to change their mindset about how the country is being run and how every individual has to play his own role in building a Nigeria of everyone’s dream and make the country the most desirable nation on earth to live in by 2025.
He says he chose to become nation builder as far back as 2004 when he decided to go beyond consumer care coach and become a leadership coach whose mandate went beyond making companies sell more and make more profit. According to him, he decided to invest in building human capacity for societal development.
“My journey started in 2004 when I started to understand that there was much that needed to be done about Nigeria,” Durotoye told a national newspaper recently during an interview. “At that point, I had looked at the circumstances of the national anthem and I realised that it was a prayer and if God answered that prayer, it would literally birth the best country in the world.”

Our National Anthem is not a Song, But a Prayer…
The renowned leadership trainer said a careful look at the wordings of the second stanza; they are prayers that if answered, the nation would be a land that every citizen would be proud of.

“When you look at all the lines of the national anthem one of the other, they are prayers. For instance, the second stanza: ‘Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause. Guide our leaders right, help our youths the truth to know.’ So, if you go through the national anthem, you would realise that it is a prayer. But the question is why are we praying and not acting? It is because many people take the national anthem as a song and not a prayer.
He added that as a result of this, he saw Nigeria as the most desirable nation to live in the world by December 31, 2025. This was in 2004.

“I have held on that word and my job is to build a people who could lead and deliver. Hence, nation building has been my job in the past few years and I have given up everything for it.”

Youth Have Every Reason to Lose Hope…
Fela’s parents were academicians. His father, who died when Fela was still less than 12 years of age was a university professor. His mother too is also a professor. Therefore, he is a guy who knows the value of qualitative education. But it is also shame that most of the young persons of today’s generation do not only value education, they also do not believe the nation has anything to offer them. How will they then be prepared to take over leadership? But Durotoye says, despite this, the Nigeria that Nigerians dream of is still possible.
“I am absolutely convinced that the Nigeria of our dreams, where everything works and everyone is working to make things work is possible,” Durotoye enthuses.

“I have seen it and I know it is not only a possibility, it is a reality. But like every architect sees a house before the rest of the world sees it, I have seen the future of Nigeria. What I am trying to do is the job of an architect, which is to bring in all the people with various skills and tell them what it is that I have seen and give them plans and whatever tools they need to work with. I have seen engineers building cities, medical workers building a new health care sector, teachers raising great people in great schools. We can build it because I have seen it. We will build it. I am so convinced that we will deliver the future. Now, are there people who have not seen it? Of course yes. Do they also see things that discourage and distract then? Absolutely yes! I don’t blame ant young person who has given up on Nigeria. You know, one interesting thing is that I am 46 years old and I had a great privilege of seeing almost what you would call the tail end of the good old days. When I was in the primary school, we drank water from fountains, not from boreholes; I grew up on the then University of Ife (Osun State) campus, I went to the staff school, then later got admitted to the school. The point I’m trying to make is that I had a Nigeria where everything worked. I went to a school where it cost N1,260 to do a master’s degree programme per semester. So, I have seen a bit of the good old days in Nigeria and something tells me that the best is always before us, not behind us.”

We Must be Involved in the Electoral Process…
Fela says Nigeria has always been ruled and not led. And that is why he thinks there are many Nigerians who are not involved. And they have to be.

“There are almost 90 million Nigerians who are of voting age. We have almost 70 million who are registered as voters. But only 28 million votes were counted in 2015. Mind you, I said counted not actually cast. What happened to the other 40 million votes? They were protest votes of those who did not see what they wanted in those two candidates. Therefore, those who have not gotten their permanent voter cards should do so now. The time to get involved is now.”

Perhaps, he has his points. May be if the right values are enthroned as Fela is pushing, perhaps, the woman who was hooting behind him when the traffic light was in red will probably know the meaning of doing the right thing even when no one is watching.