Opinion

WHO SHALL SAVE EKITI FROM THIS MESS?

Before now I have always thought the problem of our society, as well as in particular respect to Ekiti State has gone beyond just the general idea of infrastructure. It would surprise you to know that an act of violence and intolerance in our communities has something to do with the kind of leaders that we have, just as it is also connected with the personality, settlement and behavioural tendencies of the people.

I have written before about the disposition of my people in the past. The difference in character of our people before the advent of democracy and now has become very significant. During those past years, we have a typical Ekiti man being hardworking, diligent and tolerant among other chief virtues. The only character that outsiders perceived to be arrogance and stubbornness is an assertive nature of my people. And this is only even used to an advantage when issues that concern development arise. The goodly characters have since been eroded, and the perceived vice has evolved into a brutal manifestation.

The cause of this is neither the advent of democracy nor the infrastructural changes. The significant change that caused this difference in mood of our people is Leadership. Let the truth be known and be told: Ekiti State lacked and has always lacked responsible leadership!

I will have to restate here, like I have often written in my previous discussions that leadership is not just an office or position. When an average Nigerian hears the word leadership, what comes to mind is the office or position of the head of a political party or other body of people. This is a very wrong notion. Leadership and the ability to lead are beyond this. Leadership is the ability to guide, direct, and/or influence people. Leadership is an act of guidance or direction.


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Anyone that doesn’t have useful virtues that can influence, guide, instruct and direct a people does not have any business to occupying any office in any organization, religious or a political office. I have written in the past about characters of responsible leadership among which competence and emotional intelligence is the most important. How many of our current political leadership can be said to possess these two important characters?

There is lack of a modicum of empathy in most of our present day leaders: their measure on the scale of emotional quotient is just abysmal. This is a character that people must begin to look out for in our emerging leaders. It is the lack of this emotional intelligence that makes our leaders to behave without any recourse to their conscience. How can a sitting governor refuse to pay salaries and pensions to a civil service for over Six months and yet he is comfortable with their very obvious sufferings?

Maybe I need to expose this: the non payment of salaries and benefits by a governor or a leader of any organization does not only prevent a worker from putting foods on his table for himself and his family. That is only the immediate effect; the attendant effects include that such a denied worker may not be able to pay his children’s school fees or provide for the other basic needs which mostly form children’s psychological perceptions. Such a worker may find it impossible to carry out other family and community obligations which ordinarily would have allowed him to contribute to his community development. This is just to paint a shallow narrative; the chain of incapacitations by the lack of payment of salaries is so long and even extends to the economy of other people in the society who are not salary earners. And like Karma, it cuts through and back to the government or the organization itself.

The most devastating effect is that such a worker is rubbed of his dignity. He loses respect from family especially his wife and children because he is unable to provide for their needs. He loses face in the community because he is unable to contribute his own quota to the general development of his community. Only few men can still have their ego remain intact in this kind of situation. I know this from experience; the last time such a ridicule of lack like this occurred in the life of civil servants in this state was the period of the military regime, before 1999. And all these for what; because a leader betrayed his own responsibility?

I thought I have seen the worse when I first considered and wrote about the dispositions of youths in Ekiti as against the type of leadership we have been hitherto cursed with. I was so dejected to notice that the situation is getting even worse. Young people in the state, in an attempt to fend for themselves, are now involved in many unwholesome practices in order to survive. I was in the state capital, Ado over the weekend and deliberately I interacted with some young people and also curiously observed some others.

I don’t want to talk about their frustrations here again because I have written about it many times before now. The summary is that their hopes, dreams and aspirations have not been met and because of that they have been disappointed. Many of them have toiled under an atmosphere that has stiffened the elements of their hard work. Whereas in the same atmosphere, they have seen men in government and their leaders oppress them.

Many youth in the state are now involved in an unhealthy competition for the scarce resources. The state is now a somewhat jungle where there is a precarious race for the survival of the fittest. I see young boys who are supposed to still be under the tutelage of their parents and guardians trying to fend for themselves. I see young ladies in the shabbiest form of appearance trying to hustle. Teenagers and young boys-‘Yahoo boys’ now see internet fraud as a vocation that demands commitment. I marvel at the number of young people that are involved, and their numbers keep rising!

I once heard that the governor and people in government have been previously accused of philandering with young ladies and students in the state campuses. In fact I heard they have been referred to as Oko Olosho. In truth, it is not just the incumbent; all the previous governors and people in government right from 1999 have been involved directly or indirectly, through their actions and inactions in turning young ladies in the states into cheap whores.

No wonder, the only industry our politicians here invest and thrive best is hospitality businesses. One would have thought that an attempt to industrialise such a state like this would have been given the right of precedence. Industrialisation would have provided jobs, market chains and a decent earning at livelihood.

But our leaders would prefer to deprive our parent of salaries and benefits so that they lack the will and power to control and take care of us, and thus push many to fraud and prostitution’.

When I said that ‘politicians are no longer to be seen as only looters of a nation’s treasury, (and that) they are now looters of a people’s mind’, this is what I mean!

One wonders the reasons for the inhumane treatment of the people by just a handful few of our country leaders against a country population of over 170 million people! In the case of Ekiti, a one-man Mopol and a totalitarian governor is messing up with destinies of over 5 million residents of the state and even children yet unborn. This cannot be acceptable!

Like Burge Edmund when he urged Britain to adapt a more liberal policy to his colony, US before the independence war, ‘the concern with me is not whether politicians have a right to render their people miserable but whether it is not their interest to make them happy.’ With our experience in this clime we can safely conclude that it is the interest of our politicians not to make us happy. I think this is very unfair! People deserve to be happy and it is their right to be provided with an environment to achieve the end by leaders. Whether or not they are is now a choice left for them to make. Unfortunately in the case of Britain, had they listened to Burke, the war might have been averted.

There is nothing fuelling the division currently being clamoured in our nation other than the neglect of people on the part of our leaders. It started from individual states like ours and eventually culminated in our national outlook. This is so unfortunate.

We as a people have our part to play. Going forward, I think we must carefully consider those we entrust our commonwealth in their hands. We have the power to elect, which is also our right and we must use it wisely. We cannot afford to be cheaply deceived and later taken for granted in the event whereby our voice is lost. The loss of voice is the loss of dignity and decency. The loss of voice is the greatest problem of this new age.

You must have a voice and also help others to get their voice back. This mainly is the task of a new-age leader. Interestingly, technological advancement and internet tend to give this voice back to all people. A new-age type leaders must emerge with the bulk of these resources at his disposals. You are one of the new-age leaders to extricate this country from its difficulties. How you use this advantage is now my concern.

Leadership is making matters better. When you have learnt and understand that leadership is not just a political position and that the ability to guide, to inform, to instruct and to direct is the whole essence of being a leader, then we can all start making a difference. The realization of this simple fact will make both the leader and the people to know how they fit in into our national, sectarian and organizational goals and objectives. The ignorance of the same fact is why many leaders and people alike are not thriving in their positions- This is the pain of many people and you can hear it all in their VOICES.

Before my people perish because of several untoward actions of our current leaders, there is a need for the emergence of a new-age leader who is wise. And a wise leader is simply a woman or man that has character, competence and more importantly empathy. These are the three implements of a leader we should follow and elect in Ekiti. We don’t need recycled politicians, what we need is freshness, what we need is a leader with empathy, what we need is a leader with compassion, what we need is a leader who is young and accountable, a leader who genuinely identifies with the people.

We cannot also truly bank on office holders who have looted our treasury in the past to contest elections. Nigeria is not the time and place of Abraham Lincoln who contested four elections in the US before ascending the presidency. We cannot count on leaders of our clime to still retain the same commitment to do us an overall good when they have wasted their resources in previous campaigns in elections they have lost. They are characteristically coming to recoup what they have lost, if not more.

I know a lot of friends perceive me and my views as views of a Pollyanna but that’s exactly what I am. Only that I am realistic about my convictions and hopes about my state and Nigeria. I believe things will get better when our leadership gets better.

 

** VICTOR DOOBIG is available for FREE speaking engagements at conferences, schools and seminars and TV shows, especially to young people in areas of Leadership, life goals as well as issue related to general human development. HE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT ACHIEVEMENT OF A RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP AND CITIZEN-WELFARE BASED GOVERNANCE WITHIN THE NIGERIAN POLITY. He can be reached via http://facebook.com/victordoobig or Whatsapp (08032231532).

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