DEVELOPING A NEW GENERATION OF LEADERS: THE FOUNDATION FOR NIGERIA’S PROSPERITY

Linus Okorie urges the country’s leadership to invest huge resources to nurture a new generation of leaders who will lift many out of poverty

The concept of leadership is a very interesting factor that can determine how fast Nigeria can go as a nation. The kind of leadership that has been practiced across Nigeria for decades has been predominantly self-serving leadership. This kind of leadership has no place for human capital development or real transformation. This type of leadership has imposed huge levels of poverty on Nigerians.

There is huge lack of political will amongst most leaders at all levels to execute policies that can impact positively on the people. This has resulted in the failure to tackle the economic challenges facing the people in all parts of the nation. It is now very obvious that while the good men and women were sleeping and uninvolved, the country’s decision making arena witnessed a huge influx of mediocrities and the result is so damaging that we should not be surprised we are where we are.

It is up to the new generation to simply as a matter of urgency stage a deliberate war against all forms of ideology that has taken us backwards. Nations of the world are making great progress and we must be at the center of that prosperity. We must show great commitment to jettison old ideas of self promotion, stealing of public funds and intolerance of one another and embrace the spirit of patriotism.

Our nation is looked upon by citizens of the world as a failing nation that has squandered opportunities for greatness. Some friends of Nigeria still believe that our nation can make great progress with proper leadership development at all levels.

Nigerians are a hopeful, optimistic and happy people who have resiliently waded through tough and turbulent economic and political climates of past administrations yet believe in a better tomorrow. This faith which has kept us is a seed of patriotism that needs to be pulled from the sub-consciousness of our minds and nurtured into greater awareness until it permeates our entire being and reflects on our attitudes and natural dispositions.

We must develop and greatly invest in our people to provoke great levels of patriotism. Patriotism is the display of love for the society and nation where one is born. In a country like the United States of America, there is an unconscious integration into the system (often referred to as a “Melting Pot”) that seamlessly blends and integrates foreigners from all racial demographics into the prevailing national ideology – “Liberty and Justice for All”, most often called the American dream.

Many people often ask the question, “is there any such thing as the Nigerian Dream?” My answer is “yes!” Our own case has been a total lack of understanding of our core values. We need to awaken and answer the questions: Who are we? Where are we? Where should we be going? What do we believe in? What is worth dying for? Leaders in all spheres of influence, whether teachers, business executives, parents, public officers, etc., should try to answer these questions. Only then can we embark on the journey of nation-building.

We must build systems and campaigns that must drive our point home. We are Nigeria. You are Nigeria and Nigeria is you.

We must help emerging leaders to imbibe the spirit of patriotism which is, “I represent Nigeria. I am Nigeria. Everything I do will either bring shame or be a pride to Nigeria.” If we personalize Nigeria, we will find it easy to obey an eleventh commandment, “Love Nigeria as you love yourself.” It is an urgent message and the fact is that if we don’t act, our children will inherit the wind. We are the new generation that live for the future. When a man stops living for himself, then and only then has he started living.

We must know that the world is watching, one thing the whole world waits to applaud is our sense of collective purpose and our sense of national identity. It will show in the way we drive, keep our environment clean, respect other people’s rights, love each other, help orphans and destitute, treat our fellow citizens when in positions of power, and the way we speak about our country.

If we are to be taken seriously by other continents of the world, we must first of all become serious with ourselves by seeking solutions and be willing to implement them. Every Nigerian must be a part of the problem-solving process by taking responsibility rather than apportioning blame. Nigeria has come of age and should therefore begin to create new systems and institutions that represent the Nigeria that we would love our children to live in.

Going forward as a matter of fact, whenever the elections are taking place in Nigeria, the new thinking must be how we can come out enmass to bring about a free and fair election. Good and quality men and women who have refused to step out to run for office saying politics is a dirty game must show patriotism now by coming out to vote the right people in. The opportunity to show patriotism is right before us. Let us elect men and women of vision, character, and competence with no consideration for tribe or religion. Let us practice what the great American president inspired the world with, “Do not think of what America can do for you, think of what you can do for America.” Let us as a continent think of the common good. That is the way to go and believe me Africa will work.

According to Ronald Reagan, “The very essence of successful leadership is the ability to grasp and hold a vision.” Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. It becomes very imperative for every individual who desires to play any significant role in shaping society to as a matter of necessity develop a great sense of direction because to the person who does not know where he wants to go to, there is no favourable wind. It is simple, you must audit your life to see the reason people are not following you despite your efforts. No amount of complaining can solve this loyalty question.

Leaders are dealers in hope. I know with all certainty that in these times of uncertainty, Nigeria needs men and women who are driven to succeed. Men and women who will have the courage to dream of things that never were and find the energy and commitment to make them happen.

It will require vision to mobilize the people of this great continent to rally behind great ideas to pursue a common cause of achieving greatness.

It will interest you to know that nations that have made great progress followed the same principles. Singapore as a nation took the very best of her young people and inspired them to see a great future that they must achieve. The minds of these young people were groomed to have no place for small thinking. The big thinking made a demand on their potential. That was how they started their own journey to greatness. Big thinking precedes great achievement.

We must do same here in our nation. Every generation needs a resolution. I am calling on young men and women in this country who have found purpose to rally around our vision of a great country where everything works. Let us resolve that destiny is not of chance, but of choice; not something to wish for but attained. It requires discipline, commitment and hard-work. The very nature of vision will stretch you to be your very best. Vision will task your mind; it will make great demand on you but I assure you that it will inspire you to great achievement.

If you are bored with life, if you do not get up every morning with a burning desire in your heart to do something, then you do not have enough vision.

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. We must be a consortium of individuals who will be lost in the pursuit of big dreams of what our nation can become and have the discipline to do the right things that will help us achieve our dream.

I conclude today by calling on the Nigerian leadership to invest huge resources to groom and nurture a new generation of leaders who will develop the capacities and commitment to help our country come out of poverty.

And one last thing, great people of Nigeria, you must remember if a person does not have a purpose for waking up, sleeping becomes interesting.

Okorie is a Leadership Consultant and Author

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